Art Beat: A feeling for felt

An avid thrift shopper and antique enthusiast with a love of color and folk art, Kim Long had long worked in art centers and museums in exhibit design and education. But she reached a point when she decided to set out on her own to create felt art and illustrations based on her love for folk art. Her creations can be found in many gift shops, including collaborations with Kalamazoo Candle Company, Elemental Press, and the Benzie Design Maker Team. She explains about how her business came to be called Fran & Judy.

A conversation with Kim Long

“Fran is my maternal grandmother and Judy is my mom,” Long says. “I kind of have this mantra of ‘matriarch-inspired.’ They are my two inspirations for my artmaking practice. I just wanted to dedicate my artmaking practice to them. They were both creatives on their own.”

Felt artist and illustrator Kim Long

Long created Fran & Judy in 2021, working with felt, embroidery, and surface design inspired by decorative arts with what Long describes as a “Scandinavian feel.”

“They are arts and crafts style florals that are highly decorated with various embroidery designs,” she says.

Long’s first forays into felt designs came when she wanted to make gifts for her family for the Christmas holiday. She made ornaments that were easy to mail, and by the time she had finished them, Long realized how much she had enjoyed the project. It was the beginning of Fran & Judy.

“Each year now, I create a new design for the ornament I do,” she says. “This year it’s two little cottage houses. I also just released a new series. I wanted to challenge myself by putting my work in frames.”

Long received a master’s degree in historic preservation from Eastern Michigan University in 2013 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history and visual culture from Michigan State University in 2010. She has spent over a decade working in exhibit design and education for museums and art centers. , including the Detroit Institute of Arts, Krasl Art Center in Saint Joseph, and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts. She is also on the board of directors for the Lansing Art Gallery and Education Center.

Long will sell her work at the Kalamazoo Nature Center’s Buy Local Art and Gift Fair on Saturday, December 3, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Listen to WMUK’s Art Beat every Friday at 7:50 am and 4:20 pm

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