Flagler Artists: An ancient art medium comes to life

Liz Canali is a local artist with an unusual medium, at least for modern-day America. She works with felt. While some may think the use of felt is restricted to pool tables, crafts, or hats, felt is an art form that still thrives in Europe, Australia, and third-world countries.
Felt as an art medium has been around for thousands of years, dating back to the Sumerians, and even they had written legends about the mythological origins of felting. If the Sumerians don’t know the origins of something, it must be an old tradition.
Canali specializes in a few forms of felting. Her first foray into the art of felting was hat making, which she learned while living in New England. There, she found a love for working with felt, despite the scarcity of felt while learning the craft. Eventually, she discovered other felting styles and ventured into a new creative space.
Two styles she learned were wet felting and needle felting. When wet felting, hot water and sometimes soap is applied to hairs from alpaca, sheep, goats, rabbits, and beavers, and the maker agitates the fibers. This process causes the fibers to latch and weave all into a single piece of fabric. This form of felting produces two-dimensional works.
Needle felting uses notched needles and lots of patience to create felt pieces without using water and agitation. When using the specialized needles, an artist catches bits of felt and fibers, pulling them into position. This style of felting produces art that is three-dimensional and unique to this style of sculpting.
Canali and her husband eventually gave up their 45 acres and came to Flagler County, where they live now. They raised their animals and lived off their land well up north, but they wanted a change. She had been making plenty of money up north crafting hats, but in Florida, hats didn’t sell as well. The move proved that her current business model needed to change and forced her hand into trying something new. Luckily, they made new friends, which made the move and lifestyle change easier to bear.
The move to Florida fundamentally changed the way she approached felt. It allowed her to find her creative voice. She found inspiration in the ocean, the sand, and the sky here. In an interview with Palm Coast Magazine, Canali said, “The ocean changes every day. It’s never the same twice.” She can find new sources of inspiration each time she walks on the beach.
She wants people to find serenity and peace in her work. Felt is a soft, delicate medium that requires a heavy appreciation for nature. Liz said, “I want people to feel the peace and serenity I feel when I am inspired by nature.
She hopes that as she creates, her art teaches her to become a more open and generous person. In her sign-off in our interview, Liz wanted to tell our readers, “Don’t be afraid to live your dream. It’s what I did, and I’ve never been happier.”
If you want to see some of her work, feel free to drop by her exhibition at the Expressions Gallery on Colbert in Palm Coast, FL. Visitors can come between 1:00 and 3:30 PM until November 5th.