JUDITH Burke merely has to look out the window of her Grampians studio to be inspired by her felt art.
"Without doubt my work would be very different if I didn't live here, " she says. "I would never have had the inspiration I've had.
- From Natural Fibres, Pomonal, fromnaturalfibres.com.au or ph: (03) 5356 6306, by appointment only.
- Judith Burke's work can be seen at the Gap Exhibition February 13-April 11, The Gap Vineyard, Halls gap.
"We are at the foot of Mt Cassell and right now I'm looking out my window to a pinky-red protea, and behind that is a lemon and lime tree, with its yellowy greens.
"When people see my felting they say, 'Oh wow'. They'll often ask how I work out my colour combinations or why I put colours together.
"I tell them I just look into my garden and see mother nature's combinations."
And what vibrant creations they are. Using local Merino wool, as well as silk and cotton, Judith creates scarves, bags, berets, jackets and assorted adornments in electric blues mixed with mauve and black, earthy greens and reds, and protea pinks with lemony limes.
But then again, Judith always did have an eye for art.
The 64-year-old grew up on a fifth-generation Camperdown dairy farm and was always drawing.
She completed a diploma in textiles at The Gordon Institute of TAFE then became an art teacher, with most of her years spent in Warrnambool teaching drawing and painting.
But it was when she and husband, Ian (a wood turner), moved to Pomonal, near Halls Gap, in 2000 that her love of felting took shape.
"A drawing you look at, but with felting there's an element of surprise, when you go through the process of making it, you are never entirely sure what it's going to look like," she says.
To turn wool into a felt scarf requires water, soap and rolling.
"I could buy a felting machine, but they cost thousands. Some people use the washing machine, but I prefer manual rolling," says Judith, who now runs her own workshops, Just Felt Like It, from her home studio.
"I do get sore arms, so I sometimes use my feet, but I've also got arthritis in my hands, so it helps keep them active."
Considering the labour involved, she admits she'll never be rich felting, with scarves priced at about $90 and vests at $240, yet can't envisage a time she'll quit.
"Felting gives me a buzz I can't get from drawing.
"I'll keep felting until my hands give out."