The traditional yurt is a trellis-frame tent covered with thick, humble felts made from raw sheep’s wool. The largest, most elaborately decorated tent is the place of celebration, songs and epic poems. Arnold’s design is a fantasia on the yurt form, which is still the preferred environment for events of spiritual significance, even as nomadic peoples become more urbanized.
Arnold will create a total environment from her luxurious handmade felts, which combine Merino wool with silk and metallic fibers and sheer fabrics. Her technique allows for the creation of richly textured areas in combination with gossamer sheer ones. The wall panels will use that sheerness to maintain the light-filled feeling of the Conservatory, while the leaded glass pattern of the ceiling inspired a mosaic of sheer and opaque areas. The window seat will be covered with a thick, dense, hand-beveled felt, to enable visitors to experience felt’s tactility and contemplate both its history and versatility.
The fabric panels composing the walls and ceiling are so large that they have to be felted outdoors at Arnold’s studio in Centralia, Washington. Nomads felt in the spring and fall, but Arnold’s team has been working through the winter to complete the installation. Unseasonably cold temperatures coupled with record snowfall have made it challenging work indeed. But the Palace Yurt, both traditionally and in this contemporary interpretation, is the place to gather for celebration when the felting is done.
This sounds amazing, doesn't it? The sketches and samples from Arnold's sketchbook, at the yurt link above, are -- my favorite word -- fascinating, and very beautiful. Here's one: