Terminal D
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Philadelphia fiber artist Heidi Bleacher creates felted sculptural forms from raw wool using a technique known as needle felting. Bleacher’s sculpture recreates familiar, everyday objects from food like donuts and cakes to nature – bears, ladybugs, flowers, river stones, and mushrooms. Bleacher often alters the scale of her work as some elements are life-size, some are smaller than reality, while other forms are larger such as a mushroom that is 3-feet high.

Her work is representational yet stylized as the forms are not true to nature which creates a child-like playfulness. Both elements, the change in scale and stylization, allude to fantastical dreams and enchanted fairy tales.

In 2006, Bleacher started making handmade felt created from un-spun wool. Using a felting needle – a barbed needle originally designed for use by industrial felting machines – Bleacher uses a repetitive jabbing motion to turn natural wool into felt. By jabbing the wool with a barbed needle, the technique is described as “entangling the fibers to interlock the wool forming a dense felted material.” With every jab, the barbs catch the wool and matts it together. Bleacher says about the technique, “after a few hundred or thousand times, you have felt.”

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