By Renee Larr
As the child of an art teacher, Jennifer Berger was always creating some type of artwork. That love of art as a hobby has carried over into adulthood. Berger creates 3-D felt ornaments in the shapes of animals and monsters. Her foray into art began with making baskets with her mother.
“She got me into doing the baskets. She kept saying she wanted me to make a basket, so I finally bought a kit, and we made one basket between us,” Berger said.
Her mother lost interest in basket making, but Berger went on to find other crafting hobbies. A friend showed her how to felt, and she began felting stockings and ornaments.
Berger moved from Pennsylvania to Indiana in 1995 to be closer to her family. Her sister-in-law, Candace Berger, worked in interior design and needed someone to assist her in architectural drawings.
“She taught me how to use AutoCAD. We were going to try and do the work 500 miles apart, so I moved here because I had a full-time job that was fun, and I got to see my niece and nephew everyday,” Berger said.
Prior to 2009 her artwork was just a fun hobby that provided a nice, supplemental income. Berger’s CAD work began to slow down, so she began to ramp up production and experiment with her art.
“Over the years I developed things through experimenting—felted 3-D ornaments. Then I figured out how to stuff them. Once I figured how to stuff them I found my niche. My first 3-D ornament was a pig,” said Berger.
She developed cats and pigs and then moved on to all animals. She was trying to figure out how to create a horse’s neck when she came up with her next idea. Monsters.
“They’re kind of goofy looking things. I didn’t think I could sell them,” Berger said. “They were all one of a kind because they were experiments.”
Her brother, Jeff Berger, offered a piece of advice on her felt monsters.
“When I did the monsters my brother said, ‘You should market these as cubicle critters,’ People hang all kinds of things in their cubicle,” Berger said.
While most everything she creates is an ornament and includes a hook to hang the item, not all of her artwork is Christmas orientated. She always wanted to make a Cheshire Cat, and out of that desire Cheesy Cats and Growly Dogs were invented. The cats have a wide grin, and the dogs have a dangling tooth.
The next reinvention of her art is mobiles.
“I wanted the frame work to be really simple that you could hang up when you have a baby, but then as you get older you can take them off and hang the ornaments,” she said.
She figured out how to create the frame of the mobile using, of all things, the ever popular, Tinker Toys.
Berger sells her art through her Facebook page or through art shows in Indianapolis and throughout the state. Artifacts Gallery in Broad Ripple has showcased her art at Christmas for the past three years.
For more, visit Berger’s Facebook page—Woven Dimensions or wovendimensions.blogspot.com.
About Jennifer Berger
Favorite restaurant: El Rodeo
Favorite thing about living in Zionsville: Small town feel, “but close to the advantages of the city!”
Dream vacation: Hawaii
Interesting fact about me no one would know: “My parents actually named me Jennifer Lu, but the nurse who filled out my birth certificate misread my mother’s cursive handwriting of Lu as Lee, so Lee was officially registered with the state.”
Favorite TV show: “Law & Order: CI”