Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Getting to know ... Dawn Liu-Smyth

Dawn Liu-Smyth
Although the craft has been around for hundreds of years, felting has taken off in popularity. Dawn Liu-Smyth, a local Toronto artist, has been in the forefront of this explosion and has taught at the 2012 and 2013 Creative Festivals. BeadFX has been fortunate to call upon her as a regular felting instructor. "I was inspired by a British Felt artist and bought a small needle felting kit from her at an arts fair," says Dawn. "I soon discovered that I had little patience for needle felting. I started experimenting with wet felting and never looked back."

"I grew up in a household with a lot of creative energy. My mother sewed and knit.  My father was a writer and also had a darkroom in the basement for his photography. My older sister was in fashion design school. So I just fed off of all that. I was the kid in family studies who, instead of making the one basic skirt, made about 5 garments instead," she says. "Beading was my first serious 'craft.' I remember looking at great pieces at craft shows and thinking, "I can do that." And, so I taught myself some basics and got busy.  I started with stringing and soon graduated to stitching, which I now prefer."
When deciding on new projects, Dawn does a lot of playing and experimenting. "I'm always interested in challenging the pliable nature of wool.  For example, my inset stone choker grew out of an experiment to embed stone in felted wool - something that wouldn't seem easy to do," she explains.

What inspires Dawn? "I love colour, especially the colours in nature. The brighter and bolder, the better," she exclaims. "I so often see things that inspire me and I need to find a way to record them. Pinterest  has helped a lot. Being able to have digital inspiration boards is quite handy."

Dawn is full of surprises though and discloses, "I love zombie movies! I have a totally perverse addiction to everything zombie. How crazy is that!?"

An instructor, Dawn enthusiastically shares her passion with others. "For me,  I just love seeing people making and doing, and then I become further  inspired by their creativity and passion." Her least favourite thing about teaching? "Working within a specific time period.  I would love to be able to just spend whatever time it takes and not finish until all the creative energy in the room has been exhausted," says Dawn.

Dawn's advice to others? "Trust your instincts and experiment," she says. "Sometimes experiments fail, but more often than not, you take away something new and innovative."

Upcoming classes with Dawn Liu-Smyth:

Create a Felted Cuff Bracelet (left) 
Saturday, January 25
10:30am - 2:30pm

Felted Boho Bag (right)
Saturday, March 22 
10:30AM - 2:30pm

Complete information about Dawn's classes are on the website; click on classes and go to the appropriate month's calendar.

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