Heidi Hammel became a wool sweater addict at the impressionable age of 12, when her family traveled to Norway. She has worked with fiber ever since. Thrift and creativity prompted her to learn how to sew and decorate her own clothes. In early adulthood she designed and stitched fine embroidery on apparel and accessories, card-wove belts, made clothes and ran a commercial slipcover and re-upholstery business while earning a bachelor’s degree in Chinese Studies.
After twenty-five years as a leader in progressive education, she resumed a focused exploration of fiber arts in 1998. Two overarching principles guide her work. As a student and former teacher at The School in Rose Valley, which started in the heart of the 1920’s Arts and Crafts era, she absorbed the ethic that an artisan strives to make quality hand-made objects that are both functional and aesthetically pleasing. As the child of an avid naturalist, she learned to honor the intrinsic connections between all things.
Her work reflects her twin commitments to creating beauty that serves a useful purpose in daily life and judiciously reusing the world’s resources. She sews one-of-a-kind, wearable art from upcycled felted wool sweaters and silks. She embellishes her hats with hand-knit flowers, felted wool cut in traditional and contemporary shapes, silk flowers, upcycled and new buttons, and beads. Check out how she makes pompoms for her Beanie hats. Each item is a unique piece of functional art. By using familiar objects out of context, her work simultaneously provokes aesthetic pleasure and cognitive dissonance, which resolve into a chuckle of recognition.