Jo Hesse studied painting and textile design in Germany at the Freie Hoch Schule Stuttgart where she first became enchanted by felt. While living in Germany she traveled extensively throughout Turkey and spent time in the workshop of UNESCO honored master feltmaker Mehmet Girgiç, learning traditional Turkish rug making and millinery techniques. She now lives in Northampton Massachusetts.
Feltmaking is one of the most ancient technologies, predating weaving and other yarn-based textiles. It is a process that occurs naturally to some extent, but in Central Asia, where sheep were first domesticated the technology was refined into an art form. Techniques for decorating the felt, using differently colored wools to create intricate patterns, were developed and passed on through generations of craftsmen. Jo uses the traditional methods which she learned in Turkey to create modern and distinctive area rugs, and explores the many dimensions of her aesthetic as an artist and designer.