Hagstone Design, Hand Felted works by Emily Freeman

Maine Craft Portland: February 1st – February 28th, 2021

Center for Maine Craft: March 8 – April 30

Maine Crafts Association is proud to present the fiber works of Hagstone Design. Maine fiber artist Emily Freeman creates larger than life wet felted wall pieces and home goods inspired by the rocky coast and wilder corners of New England, along with a little lore!

Visit www.hagstonedesign.com to learn more about Emily Freeman and Hagstone Design

Hagstone: (hag stone, adder stone, holey stone, witch stone) is a stone with a hole worn through it by water. Many cultures associate hagstones with magic. Legend says one can look through the hole in a hagstone and see into the Otherworld.

Emily Freeman was raised in the countryside and when she was not outside exploring nature she spent her time drawing, painting and sewing. She discovered felt making while studying for a degree in Design Crafts having been offered the opportunity to volunteer with an experienced felt maker creating a version of a traditional yurt called an Alachig. Learning the process of wet felting on a massive scale gave her the skills and medium with which to express her creative ideas. This led to further adventures including a visit to a folk school in Norway to join an annual trip, via Viking ship, to harvest wool for sail making, followed by a work study scholarship at Penland School of Crafts in North Carolina. Over the past 20 years her ongoing travels have enabled her to develop her creative skills while at the same time providing the inspiration for her work which is a reflection on people’s relationship to nature and how they interact with the wilderness.

She currently resides in southern Maine creating work in response to the rocky coast and wilder corners of New England. Her work has been shown at the Farnsworth Museum, Artemis Gallery in North East Harbor and through the Maine sculptors association.

Because the natural world is her inspiration it is important for her to work in a sustainable and environmentally sensitive way. The fiber used in her work is undyed and primarily sourced from New England farms. The practice of felt making does not use any machinery but relies on soap, hot water and friction created by hand rolling. This results in each piece being completely unique in color, shape and texture. The additional components to the wall sculptures are sourced from construction waste which would otherwise end up in landfill.

The pieces I create are an exploration of our relationship to the natural world and elements. Working primarily in undyed wool sourced from New England farms I use wet felting technique to challenge our common beliefs of how textiles should be; replacing lightness and fluidity with stillness and weight. 

The wet felting technique is the process of manipulating wool fibers using hot water, soap and agitation (created by hand rolling then fulling) to stick together & form a fabric. By observing & understanding the characteristics of the fiber you are working with; how the fibers adhere to each other, rate of shrinkage & the influence of temperature & humidity you can control the process to create the desired outcome. 

My current work is inspired by the coast of Maine, specifically the rocks and boulders which line the shores. Over time I have grown to appreciate their quiet constant presence amidst the ever changing weather and seasons. My work is an attempt to reflect their peace and stillness within an ever changing and turbulent world.