Elaine Bailey Makes Sculptures from Felt
New Anderson Artists Guild member Elaine Bailey, a Georgia native, earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from West Georgia College and a master’s degree in management from Southern Wesleyan University. She spent her career in child protection and foster care with the South Carolina Department of Social Services, working the spectrum from intake and investigations to adoption, ultimately retiring as a regional manager. “I gave it my all when I did it, but it’s such a high-stakes, high-stress job,” she said. “I’ve enjoyed letting go of the stress.”
For many years, she enjoyed rug hooking. But her real artistic passion took hold when she discovered felting through YouTube videos a few years ago. This medium uses wool as the primary fiber, and various techniques make the fibers come together. One is needle felting, which involves lots of poking with a specialized needle. Another is wet felting, which uses soap and water and lots of friction.
She started out by making wearable items such as hats and scarves, as well as dolls. But recently she took an online class about abstract human sculpture, and she’s enjoying this new direction. “It’s very expressive to do an abstract figure, very freeing,” she said. “It’s similar to working in clay; the wool becomes wet and malleable.” It’s also very physical, involving the use of a steamer and a sander.
Pictured above from left to right are a needle-felted face, a wet felted hat, a sculpted piece in progress, a felting session at Artisphere, and two hooked rugs.
She recently taught six sessions of felting classes with the Clemson Arts Center during Artisphere in Greenville, with very positive responses. “They were quite engaged,” she said.