Creative Arts

Wearable Art: The Making of Kealwork’s Incredible Felted Rams, Ewes, Goats from Natural Materials

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Icelandic Ram

There’s something about dressing up like an animal; it brings us back to a time when we wore their skins because we hadn’t invented cloth yet; when we lived next to wild creatures, not above or away from them; a time when humans were legitimately afraid of scratches and whines and howls in the night.

Barbara and Richard Keal capture that older way of understanding animals in their wearable artworks, allowing the wearer to literally embody the forms of wolves, foxes, rabbits and rams.

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Felt cave dress (Seven Songs)

“The objects and garments that we make are intended to transport and transform their users, simple natural materials connect us with our origins as creatures of the earth.”

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Wild November Beast

“To me making is a conversation between material and myself. I am open to the use of any material that seems appropriate to the situation; the material is not my starting point. However I am in the process of a long relationship with wood and one that at this moment in time seems to be of endless possibility.” – Richard Keal

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Black Mountain Ram

“When I arrived at the workshop I got down to making a hat fast and furiously, handfuls of alpaca hair and sheep’s wool, grasses, leaves; arranging, wetting, soaping, rubbing, rolling, wringing out, stretching, hanging out to dry -how can I make a work wild and vigorous enough for you to catch that feeling?” – Barbara Keal

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Barbara, Portrait by Alun Callender

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Ewe, Ram and Goat at MADE, London

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Remnants of a Dream (detail)

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Starre Vartan is founder and editor-in-chief of and the author of the Eco-Chick Guide to Life. She's also a freelance science and environment writer who has published in National Geographic, CNN, Scientific American, Mental Floss, Pacific Standard, the NRDC, and many more. She lives on an island in Puget Sound with her partner and black cat. She was a geologist in her first career, and still picks up rocks wherever she goes.