The Wearable Art of Oya Macey – Middleburg Life

Oya Macey’s magical creations combine pure silk, wool, olive oil soap and water into one-of-a-kind scarves and wraps. Each piece is designed and hand-crafted by her. She works from her home-based studio south of Middleburg. Shared with her husband, Michael Macey, their home overlooks a beautiful rolling-hills panorama and their small vineyard.

The process that Macey uses is a form of felting. In its most basic form, known as wet felting, moistened wool fibers are fused together by applying friction. In felting work, there is no sewing or weaving; instead, the fibers interlock, a process going back to the 5th century B.C. Over time it has been used for making saddle-bags, carpets and tents as well as hats, shoes and cloaks. 

There are various narratives as to how felt was initially created – one in which Saints Christopher and Clement packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters as they fled persecution. The sweat and friction from their feet during the journey turned the wool into felt. It is possible that something similar led to the discovery of felt, but attributing it to Christian saints would have meant a much later date for its creation.

(Above: Art is meant to be seen. The wearable art of Oya Macey can be enjoyed by both recipients and the gift givers alike this holiday season. The artist shows off two very different pieces here. Photo by Richard Hooper.)

It is certain, however, that it was in use by Turks in central Asia from the beginning. It is a natural fit for Macey, who grew up in the city of Izmir on the western coast of Turkey. She began studying felting there during summer visits, and has now been making garments for about three years.

There are are several processes of felting beyond the basic method. Macey uses the process of nuno felting to create her designs. This technique employs basic wet felting to press moistened wool fibers (becoming felt during the process) into pure silk fabric. In the process, portions of wool fibers pass through the silk to the other side, the wool interlocking with the silk as it dries and shrinks. Floral themes are often used in Macey’s work, with some pieces incorporating felted, three-dimensional flowers, used to marvelous effect.

An exhibitor at craft shows and sales, Macey recently exhibited at Art in the Burg and the Emmanuel Episcopal Church’s Christmas Shop. She will be at the Christmas in Middleburg Craft Show at the Community Center held in conjunction with the Middleburg Christmas Parade on Dec. 7. Last year, she participated in a fundraising event in Richmond for the United Network for Organ Sharing. Macey said that it was a very emotionally moving experience to participate in this event and see women who were both organ donors and recipients modeling her work. 

Oya’s Silk & Wool garments are individually created, so it is an opportunity to have a custom piece created just for you. Macey can be contacted at ML

This article first appeared in the December 2019 issue of Middleburg Life.