The rest of the story...

Here's where I tell you all the stuff that wouldn't fit in a 2-minute TV story.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Of Sheep, Felt, Necessity and Art

Lisa's Shop on Monterey, Va.
We had just finished trekking through the drifting snow.  The feeling in my toes had returned and I was ordering hot food and a cup of coffee, when suddenly, a woman approached the table.

"I am a felter," she said.  "You need to come to my shop and see.  It's just a couple of doors up."

Thus was my introduction to Lisa Jacenich.
Lisa Jacenich with felt she created.

Lisa and her husband Jim are, to quote their website "full time fiber artists."  That and so much more.
Jim Jacenich

Fox videographer Curt Schruth and I had just finished shooting our story on the late arriving maple syrup season in Highland County and had settled into a diner in Monterey.  Lisa has seen the news vehicle parked out front and didn't want to miss an opportunity to share her story.  I'm glad she didn't.

The more I learned, the more I realized it was going to be difficult to decide which parts of her story to tell.

Highland County lambs.

First of all -- I didn't know what a "felter" was or is.  I'm assuming most of the public does not either.

So a story on "where felt comes from" could be a story in itself.  Condensed version: Shear a sheep.  Clean and comb the wool.  Spread it out in large sheets -- like 6' x 10' or more, add soap and water, roll it up and agitate it for hours.  The wool compresses and you have felt.  Who knew?

Wool just before itbecomes felt.
Only Lisa is one of the few people in the world who have a special machine to agitate the wool.  (In some parts of the world they drag the roll behind a horse)  On top of that she is an artist who makes unique felt clothing.  And unique felt art.  And unique felt lampshades.  And she combines her felt with silk and other materials.  And her husband, Jim does something called kumihimo or Japanese braiding, which is cool. AND Lisa has been to that part of the world where they drag the roll behind horses to consult with people who make their houses from felt.

See what I mean?
Examples of Lisa's work.

Another other layer  in the weaving of this tale, is that Lisa and Jim are doing this in Highland County which is famous for it's sheep and it's beauty and is one of my favorite places.   So we had to show some of the countryside as well.

Fox Videographer Curt Schruth takes video of the shearing process.

This is not a painting, it's Lisa's creation from felt.

Souvenirs from Mongolia.

High Fashion felt.  Scroll down for more.

Bottom line is that there are multiple stories here.  From the art, to their decision to move to the country and become artists, to the fact that they have traveled to Mongolia where the world's best felters reside -- because they make their home from it, there is a bottomless pit of story angles. (I won't even get into the wedding dress she is making that involved a role of felt that was on a ship that Commodore Perry captained as the United States first visited Japan in the 1800's. )
 The bottom line is this.  Lisa is a talented artist, who is doing something that is rarely done anywhere.   Her creations are literally world class, and each one is unique.  And she is doing all of this while sequestered in a beautiful, small town in the mountains where life is causal and low stress.

All she needs is a little visibility.  I am happy to help.

For more information, you might want to check out Lisa's website or take a drive up Route 220 to Monterey.  It's a beautiful drive and there are great places to eat once you arrive.

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