ARTIST MEMBER Martha Simpson

My artistic endeavors have long been a part of my life. As a child, my mother engaged me in knitting and weaving at an early age. My parents bought a raffle ticket for a sheep at a county fair, which I won, and which it was decided I could not keep because it didn’t have the proper overhead in our yard. My life has mainly been engaged with trying to reengage with that wooly lamb through the use of different animal fibers in the textiles I create. Until I made a life sized one which resides by my fireplace, that insistency would not go away! Loving wool as I do, I began felting fifteen years ago, engaging myself in both nuno and needle felting. That was my passion until I saw that botanical printing could seduce the wool into beautiful images of leaves, flowers and berries. Eight years ago I began the humble beginnings of eco/botanical printing which became an obsession. In those days it was harder to predict the results that hours of work would produce. The process of extracting images from plants through immersion or steaming was and is time intensive, and if the conditions or time of year or materials or leaf are not just right, then part of the masterpiece can never be accomplished. My efforts have become predictable as I ventured on into this pretty unknown art form. I mainly use different types of fabrics, not just wool or felted wool, to achieve my outcome. Hikes and bike excursions take more time with my stops along the way for an unusually shaped leaf or flower to add new possibilities to my work. In each leaf are chemicals held tightly within its cells that, when released, create a like image of the leaf. It seems some fabric, a fallen branch, some meandering string and a bit of magic unite as mother nature creates an act of alchemy and the leaf goes on living!