Michelle McKee 12

At the University of Ulster, Belfast, I was engaged in creative studies on a Textile Art Degree, when I was first introduced to handmade felt.

Handmade felt is the result of rubbing un-spun wool with soapy water to form a fabric. I molded and sculpted the wool to make  wearables and home furnishings. I had noted in my ideas book at the time, that I wanted to ‘draw with the wool’.

It was almost twenty years later, before I started to experiment with wool picture making. After quitting my job as a window dresser/visual merchandiser, I spent time at home, combining my skills as an artist and feltmaker. During this sebatical, I nourished my inner child, letting myself play and have fun in my surroundings, which were full of brightly coloured unspun wools, silks, and threads.  I cycled around Donegal Town with my sketch book, capturing little snippets of trees, animals, farm buildings….the moody environment where I now lived. An easy going place that felt remote and far away…far from the cities where I had been born and spent time in before. I observed the land, the sky, the rugged atmosphere of Donegal. I listened to the voice of nature – a powerful silence that ignited my creative soul. I was at a time in my life where I was ready for change – I had the space, time, motivation, inspiration, and I was ready to pursue my journey of self discovery and artistic endeavours.

I now work from my studio at the Donegal Craft Village, where I make colourful, hand felted landscape pictures. Nature, animals, dramatic skies, transient seasons – the silent land still speaks to me and I respond by connecting and observing. Often I will notice a moment when the light, mood and content of a scene causes me to stop and take a breath. I record and reflect on that image and then later, I express those feelings and visions in the making of my felt art work. Colour blending is the fundamental and most exciting part of my craft. Different colours and types of wool fleece are mixed with various natural fibres by using hand carders to create a unique palette. The wool mixtures are then transformed into an original hand felted scene. I tune into my emotions to create a sense of movement and atmosphere in my work. My felted pieces are enhanced by using a sewing machine and hand embroidery to define images. The sewing machine is what I use to draw with. At this point, I feel like I am an artist working in reverse by sketching after the paint has been applied. The wool is my ‘paint’ and the sewing machine is my ‘pencil’. The embroidery and stitch complete the creation and add interesting textural details, which resemble a three dimensional appearance.

                                                                                                      Captured, Created, Crafted in Donegal


Michelle McKee 5

Education & Awards

BA Honours – Textile Art, University of Ulster, Belfast
Postgraduate Diploma – Fine & Applied Art, University of Ulster, Belfast
Smirnoff Fashion Award Finalist 1998

Member of the Design & Crafts Council of Ireland

Gallery & Studio

My gallery and felt art workshop is located on the outskirts of Donegal Town in the North West of Ireland. Nestled in The Craft Village, I work among fellow artists and crafts people who work with a variety of mediums including paint, glass, gold, silver, yarn, paper & ink. There is also an award winning café which serves delicious freshly ground coffee, home made cakes and gourmet lunches.

The Craft Village is surrounded by rolling hills, sheep and cattle, which makes it an ideal setting for my landscape art work. There is a charming courtyard and picnic area with free car & coach parking.