This Felt Artist Turns Fabric into Organic, Alien Creations

Marjolein Dallinga's curious creatures aren't coral or caterpillars, they're felt sculptures.

by Anna Marks
Jan 11 2017, 5:05pm

Swans. Image courtesy of Philippe Doucet

An ancient fabric, felt can also be manufactured into unusual styles; creating limitless works of art that stretch and inspire the imagination. Influenced by nature, Dutch artist Marjolein Dallinga uses felt as her primary medium, creating strange structures like toadstools, caterpillars, and spore-ridden, plant-like structures that appear lifelike when placed in natural environments. Each of her handcrafted creations mimics corals or mold-like matter, appear as ethereal and otherworldly as they do organic. 

Dallinga's work is inspired by mythology, fantasy, and the natural world's simple delights. The artist tells The Creators Project, “I find that my inspiration comes from not only dreams, fantasy worlds, feelings, and intuitions, but also from walks in nature, meetings with others, desires, and unrequited longings. I never have a clear plan or concept for a particular work. I just start moving, playing, and experimenting with the materials. There is a lot of experimentation that goes into my work.”

Vessel Craters. Image courtesy of the artist

A craft with a deep-seated spiritual and anthropological element, felting is used across countless cultures. A non-woven, soft cloth produced by condensing and pressing wool fibers, it is one of the world’s oldest materials and its contemporary use expresses humanity’s eternal connection with Mother Nature. Dallinga is interested in how societies have traditionally used felt, and, by using the natural medium, explores humanity's relationships to the environment. “We ourselves are a part of nature and there is endless inspiration to take from it. I am always open and in awe of her beauty and her constant changes,” she tells us. “I love having my work outside. It’s as if it belongs there.”  

Crater Spiral. Image courtesy of the artist

Attentive to the natural route her inspiration takes her, Dallinga does not see the logic in planning out her creations. “I think if I start planning my work too much it would become boring so I almost immediately start moving away from planning. I love to try out ideas in many different ways or repeat the same forms in different colors and sizes,” she explains. “Just those small tweaks make the whole thing express something very different.”

Shield on Knees. Images courtesy of Lucien Lisabelle

The artist also crafts experimental costumes worn in Cirque du Soleil performances. She views her felt outfits much like her sculptures, as communicative constructions that establish dialogues between humans and the natural world. “Although sculpture is usually perceived as a static art form. I see it more as a movement. There is a movement from wool fibers into felt,” Dallinga explains. “All my costumes are metaphors for relationships, desires, and longings for connection and solitude. It is from the dance of conflicting emotions that creativity and art is born.” 

Toxic. Image courtesy of the artist 

Moss Green. Image courtesy of the artist. 

Tounge 2. Image courtesy of the artist

To view more of Marjolein Dallinga’s work, click here.


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costume design
Cirque du Soleil
textile art