Kentucky Crafted Artist Page

Tonya Vance

Fiber

Tonya Vance received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an area of emphasis in printmaking from Murray State University in Murray, Ky. After graduation she moved to Lexington and transitioned from printing on paper to printing on fabric and joined the Fiber Guild of Lexington, where she was introduced to the technique of wet felting wool. Through workshops Tonya learned to make three-dimensional pieces using flat resists. Through experimentation and practice she perfected her technique to create one-of-a-kind felted vessels. To create a vessel, Tonya lays short-fiber merino wool in thin layers around a plastic resist. Other materials, such as silk, cotton and yarn, are added for texture and surface design. When the design is complete, she sprinkles on warm, soapy water and carefully rubs and rolls the piece until the fibers are felted together. Once the fibers have interlocked, the resist is removed. Then the piece is formed into the desired shape, rinsed and left to dry. When making a vessel, Tonya usually starts with an idea of a shape and then decides on the size and colors, often inspired by nature or biology. She feels that the process of wet felting and the creation of vessels lend themselves well to these inspirations. She loves making vessels because they are versatile; they can be functional or decorative or both, they can have a myriad of shapes and a range of meanings. Likewise, wet felting is an organic and tactile experience, with an unlimited scope of possibilities. By combining the two, she strives to create beautiful, interesting and unique pieces that connect with people.