As a multi-faceted fiber artist based in Appleton, the creativity found in Patricia Filzen’s pieces goes beyond the color and concept of the work; she first has to think about what materials to use and what to do with them. Filzen creates unique fabrics through the processes of weaving, spinning, felting and sewing. With these fabrics, she builds textiles, sculptures and fabric collages influenced by personal life experiences.
“As a fiber artist, I try to capture an emotion with fibers and colors,” Filzen says. “It’s a sensual response I want from the viewer, both physical and emotional.”
Filzen’s background is as a landscape historian, a museum curator and director, a gardener, and a retired sheep farmer. As a sheep farmer, she used the wool of her sheep for fibers in her art; taking a full year to process the wool and up to five years to complete works using the wool. Her degrees are in museum studies and preservation. She was also a founding member of Main Street Art Works, an art cooperative that survived as an active gallery and art studio for a little over 10 years in Hilbert.
In order to fully understand the process of Filzen’s art, you must know the difference between felting and weaving. Weaving is the process of creating a fabric through the interlacing of the threads, while felting is the process of matting together fibers, converting the fibers into a nonwoven fabric. Filzen uses a wet felting process, all done by hand, using wool from her sheep that she has dyed and spun, or other wools, fibers and exotics to create sculptures. For weaving, she usually uses her own handspun fibers to create woven garments.
Filzen’s art has been featured in several art shows including multiple showings in Japan, where she was humbled by the appreciation for textiles as an art form. In September, Filzen was featured at The Draw in Appleton in an exhibit titled “Surfacing,” an art show focused on the unique designs and fabrics found in her wearable art.
“My goal for Surfacing was to create unique fabrics from unusual threads,” Filzen says. “Weaving on a four harness loom, I chose threading and treadling patterns that would hopefully complement the threads acquired from either thrift stores over the years or that came with my original loom purchased here in Appleton 47 years ago. It’s all about ‘surfacing:’ bringing back old threads, salvaging unique threads that were discarded, and creating something totally new.”