SALMON ARM - For her family, it’s getting used to seeing pieces of fluff all over the house, but for Melissa Nasby, being a fibre artist is about seeing what adventure is down the road.
In the last six years, Nasby has been working with felt as her medium to create a host of different art pieces, but in the last three, she’s discovered her true passion is creating characters.
"It’s definitely not your traditional use of wool. I sculpt it. Basically it’s using a technique called needle sculpting,” she says. "I’ve worked with a professional puppeteer and made five characters. (I’ve made) a lot of masks. There’s a lot of collectors and people who like dressing up - like going to Comicon; things like that.”
The artist runs much of her business out of her studio in Salmon Arm. But her favourite project took her far away from B.C’s interior. Nasby and Nikki Webber, a fellow fibre artist, collaborated on a puppet they named ‘Nym’ for a Jim Henson Studios contest last year.
“The character had to be a new character that would fit into the world of the Dark Crystal,” Nasby says.
Both artists discovered the contest just three weeks before it closed for entries, but managed to put together their character in time. Much to their delight, Nym made the top ten list and soon the pair jetted to New York where they received an honourable mention.
"We got to go and meet Henson's family members and we got to tour the studios. We got honoured live in front of a huge audience for creating Nym. It was just absolutely the most amazing experience,” she says, but adds one of her major highlights was meeting Snuffaluffagus of Sesame Street fame.
Nasby says she and Webber have a ‘joint custody agreement’ for Nym the puppet.
“We show her off and do talks and tell the story," she says. "We enjoy the memory of what she represents to us and we’re going to keep her forever."
This year she’s entered another contest and created a puppet of the character Immortan Joe from the summer blockbuster movie Mad Max.
Nasby’s latest accomplishment was celebrated at this summer’s Art Walk festival in Lake Country. She built a life-sized bear out of felt and named him Humphrey.
“The bear was originally built as an art exhibit in Salmon Arm to honour the salmon run,” she says. Nasby decided Humphrey best represented the food chain aspect of the run and set to work.
"At first it was going to be little. But then I thought you know what they’re just so majestic, it has to be big so I went with the life sized two-year-old grizzly."
She says she lost track of how long it took to make the bear at 500 hours.
After her scheduled art shows, the artist hopes to focus her work on creating puppets.
“I’m sort of phasing out of my other areas I currently work in and I want to focus in more on character creation,” she says.
As for what’s next, Nasby’s excited to find out.
“This little art adventure has taken me on quite a few journeys already,” she says.
For more about Nasby’s work visit her Facebook Page SoulFibre Studio.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Glynn Brothen at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 250-319-7494. To contact the editor, email email@example.com or call 250-718-2724.