Charity Van der Meer and her wearable felt
Charity Van Der Meer. What a felt maker! And what a woman! I had the opportunity to meet her here at DHG last year, when she taught a course at our headquarters, and I was blown away by her vitality and her friendliness. Charity is a generous person and you only need a few minutes to realize that.
Charity Van Der Meer is a felt designer. She creates weightless, asymmetric dresses, as well as hats and stoles with soft, attractive lines. I personally find her style sumptuous, elegant and easy to wear. In her creations, knitting and felting techniques combine, creating amazing clothes and accessories, thanks to Charity’s excellent knowledge of the materials. Another of Charity’s strong points is that she is great at transferring her knowledge. Indeed, in her workshop she teaches her students all the tricks you need to know to create a tailored article of clothing.
Do you want to get to know Charity better? Enjoy the interview!
DHG: dear Charity, how are you? I am very happy to do this interview with you, as I’ve had the pleasure of meeting you in person. Do you like being interviewed? Where are you writing from?
CHARITY: today I am writing from the Sonoma, North California US. I just finished a three days classcoats in this beautiful area. I felt privileged to be here and to teach in the newly opened school of fiber-arts.
D: standard first question: what was your first attempt at felting?
C: my passion for felting started in 2004 when I moved to the Netherlands, where I live amongst plenty of sheep in the County Drenthe. The sheep around me triggered my curiosity for trying something new. So I started experimenting with felt.
D: your signature style involves making extraordinary felt pieces which can be used to make clothes that are very easy to wear and have a very original style. Was this your goal when you started out or did it develop gradually?
C: I was born in Zambia, Central Africa, I studied in the UK where I qualified as a fashion and knitwear designer in 2002. I moved to the Netherlands, where I developed my own unique style to create a new avenue for fashion, named Sharit by Charity. Full of new ideas and new techniques inspired by nature and with the use of durable and ecological products, I create my collections. Through mixing of felting and knitting techniques I create unique pieces to express my love for fashion.
D: what do you think is the fundamental quality of a good felt maker?
C: a good felt-maker takes time to know and understand their material very well and should be ready to explore the endless possibilities that wool offers.
D: which is the fiber, or the fiber combination, with which you prefer to work?
C: I use mostly merino wool for designing and felting garments. I also use wool from local farmers from my countryside ‘Drenthe’, the so called ‘Drenthe Heide Sheep’, in combination with very fine South- African Merino. I like the combinations of natural fabrics, raw materials and organic fiber. Most of the time I mix silk with wool in the process, because it can be done in so many ways. Felt has given me an opportunity to express myself. There are endless possibilities, and I am constantly researching new materials and new techniques, trying to make other people understand the opportunities of wool with the emphasis on its natural and durable character. Durability is my main passion. The high quality of the natural material is actually reinforced by the felting process. It makes it stronger, watertight and resistant to dirt and other contamination.
D: what small piece of technical advice can you give to our readers? A tip which can always be useful for perfect felting.
C: a good felt-maker strives to know that there are endless possibilities in felt and wool and constantly searches for new materials that can be combined with wool and new techniques that can be used in felt. Above all she should understand the properties of wool with the emphasis on its natural and durable character. Be unique and produce quality felt and believe in your self and your abilities. Be creative and don’t forge to promote wool/felt to others.
D: I see that you often teach. How does it feel to share your knowledge with others?
C: Sharit – comes from Share-It. It reflects my passion to share my creations with others and to inspire them and stimulate their creative thoughts in many different ways. Teaching is my passions I love to share my knowledge with others. I travel all around the world teaching this amazing technique. My contact with so many cultures inspires me towards new creations. By traveling a lot I also meet many other artists and we are able to exchange ideas.
D: if you hadn’t become a felt maker, what other path would you have taken?
C: I often teach for institutes in the Netherlands and abroad. In South-America, Argentina and Uruguay. In South Africa I taught women from deprived areas to make use of their own resources by showing them how to use their own local wool. Nowadays through that process they are able to make their own new products and are able to support their families again.
Se ti è piaciuto questo articolo, potrebbe interessarti anche l’intervista a Shelley Jones.