Featured Image: Winged Vessel II Vessel, 2004; Co-Designer: Joi Rae Felt ; wool felt, bast fibers, leaf, urushi lacquer; H x W x D: 19.1 x 13.3 x 11.4 cm (7 1/2 x 5 1/4 x 4 1/2 in.); Gift of Anonymous Donor; 2009-41-1 Winged Vessel II exemplifies the guiding role materials can play in the creation of a new design. First, Monteith turned a variety of bowl forms in his woodworking shop, which Johnson used as molds for her felt. The modeling over the wooden molds created a felt strong enough to serve as a lacquer mold, replacing the usual cotton or hemp substrate for the lacquering process. Once formed, the felt vessels are firm but flexible enough that Monteith could distort the forms to give them their organic quality while applying and sanding the 50 to 75 layers of lacquer. The fuzz of the wool fibers acts as a scaffold that gives the lacquer greater strength and integrity. The lacquer, in turn, provides the felt with new textures. The combination of the two techniques creates contrast and strength while producing a visually appealing design.

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