- Associated Press - Monday, February 8, 2016

ROCHESTER, Minn. (AP) - Tarantula barrettes, the BB-8 droid from “Star Wars” and reproductions of works such as M. C. Escher’s “Drawing Hands” are all part of Amarama Vercnocke’s sculpting repertoire.

The variety alone may surprise you. Would it shock you to learn she sculpts with wool?

Vercnocke, 35, follows a dry-felting technique using a slotted needle to blend colors and compact wool into figures that must be seen - and felt - to believe.

Yes, unlike many artists, Vercnocke urges her audience to touch her works. She “gives adults that childlike experience of touching the art” and claims “touch is an art that needs to be explored.” She’s even planning an exhibit for individuals with vision impairments, who can feel the textures of her works, the Post-Bulletin (https://bit.ly/1QAlmxF ) reported.

“She’s familiar with the color-mixing techniques in painting; she’s capable of visualizing things in 3-D from sculpting and has the patience of slowly assembling small pieces into something amazing from her work with stained glass,” says longtime friend, Crysta McKenney. “That lends to a lot of her creativity with her fiber-based art.”

One of Vercnocke’s first contributions to the local art scene was a mosaic goose she designed as part of the Greater Rochester Arts and Cultural Trust’s 2009 “Goose is Loose” project, but her journey toward pursuing fiber arts and felting actually began when she “met” a friend’s small flock of sheep.

“Her sheep were so loved and taken care of,” Vercnocke said. Later, she began carding and dying wool from those sheep and spun it on a wheel given to her by her husband, Andrew.

Commissions of deceased pets are a staple in Vercnocke’s felt sculpturing.

“The sculptures she made of two of my late dogs, Dobby and Layla, are especially precious to me. I feel that she really captured the spark of my pets,” said Sara Reusche, who owns Pawsabilities Dog Training.

Vercnocke makes felted soaps and wool dryer balls, but she has increasingly immersed herself in the fine arts of 2-D and 3-D soft sculptures. Her works make the difficult challenge of blending color in dry wool look effortless, and her pieces are whimsically fleeting. One of her recently displayed pieces depicts a mermaid with fins ending in soft wisps of purple, white and indigo fibers.

Despite its delicate appearance, Vercnocke is quick to point out the durability of her works. She frequently has her three daughters, Rowan, 9, Kurie, 7, and Anari, 4, “play test” her creations.

Melissa Eggler, who met Vercnocke as a vendor at a local handcrafted bazaar, said, “She is always the first one to step up to help or to participate in an artistic event happening in town, and she is a very loud and proud advocate for fellow artists.”

Vercnocke’s support of the local arts scene might be a byproduct of her positive energy.

“I would say above all, Amara is energetic,” said Donna Feils, who commissioned a felted hot air balloon from Vercnocke.

Jan Reusche sums up Vercnocke’s art this way: “She really creates something from nothing. The shapes and colors come alive.”


Information from: Post-Bulletin, https://www.postbulletin.com

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