This past weekend was the MakeFest event I’ve been going on and on about for weeks :) I really had no idea what to expect or even what my space would be like until I got there to set up on the Friday. I knew I’d have 3 tables, but for some reason I imagined them much smaller, so I was panicking that I wouldn’t have enough room to even spread the wool out and would have to leave it in a large tub. You might remember my ‘granny trolley‘ from when I did a little craft fair a few years ago, well this is my main mode of ‘transport’ for pretty much everything, and the bag slides off so you can just use the frame (I even used it to get my new bike home, in its box). So, I spent Friday day sorting out all the wools and fibres to put in a large box, got the towels, absorbent cloths, bubble-wrap, mats, templates, tubs, soap, sponges, hand carders and demo felt packed into a smaller tub and a couple of bags, then loaded my trolley and shoulders and set off. I was really pleased when I got there and saw where I’d be, just to the right inside the main door of the Textiles Gallery, and how much space I’d have, and there was a demonstration table in the corner I was able to use for my fibres. So, here’s what my workshop area looked like after getting everything out on the Friday:
I had a pile of netting and templates at the back wall, and a tub of cloths and towels to the side of the wool table. I left the wool and fibres in their bags overnight, I was a bit worried about them blowing away if the air con came on! On Saturday morning I took all the wool out of the packets. You can see my sign at the back telling people to touch the felt, and I asked World of Wool for some cards to hand out to anyone who was interested (everyone!).
The demo table was perfect for the fibres:
It probably stayed neat and tidy for about an hour! I didn’t manage to get any photos on the first day, it was really hectic. To be honest, I felt like going home after a few hours. I’d initially thought that doing 3 x 1.5 hour workshops with 6 people each day would probably work best, but having been a frequent visitor to MOSI over the last 20 years, I know people have more of a tendency to mill about and want to try things as they get to them, so I was also open to being more flexible and doing one on one sessions – or two at a time – however it seemed to work best. No one even came into the Textiles Gallery for about half an hour after opening, then it seemed like everyone descended upon us at once (my sister helped me out). Some people wanting to make felt, some wanting to know about felt, and the wool and the fibres, some people wanting to know when to come back (how can you guess when no-one’s tried it yet?!) It was a nightmare! I honestly had no idea it would be so popular. Most people were really nice, especially the ones who had a go, but there were a few who thought they were entitled to be fitted in at their convenience no matter what. Luckily they never did come back, I don’t know how I’d have kept my cool and been polite. We had a nice student (Hi Lucette!) just before we stopped for dinner (lunch) who was really nice and friendly, and polite and calm, which really helped at that point. After dinner we were a bit more structured and tried to limit how many people had a go at once and had a better idea of how long it would take. My sister cancelled her plans for Sunday and said she’d come and help out again, which made me so relieved, I don’t think I could have managed at all on my own!
Sunday was miles better! We decided to have set times, limit students to 2 or 3 at a time for 45 minutes and have a 10 minute break in between. We were booked up for all 6 sessions by about 11.30am! And people were much nicer about missing out. I didn’t expect the huge crowds we got gathering around to watch though! The first couple of people were ‘makers’ from one of the other stands, codebug I think (and apologies to everyone because I’m terrible at remembering names and didn’t bring the time sheet home), they were really eager and keen and really nice and friendly. I even got some photos! Here they are doing their layout:
Since we didn’t have easy access to water, I thought it’d work better to have one table as a laying out table and one for felting. It actually worked really well that way. Wetting down their pieces:
We had lots of nice kids who had a go at felting, some made designs, some just picked their favourite colours, Annabelle (I hope I remembered that correctly) made a beach picture. She picked some kapok fibre to make the foam on the waves, some plastic fibre to make fluffy clouds and trilobal nylon to make a sparkly sun:
She was only about 6 or 7, this was her piece after rinsing and squeezing before we neatened it out a bit, but it turned out really well:
I really underestimated how easily people would find pulling off wool tops, it seemed like the hardest thing ever to many, like it took a really special skill! And a lot of people were so eager to get stuck in, technical accuracy wasn’t really anything they cared about, but I did learn that no matter how badly you lay out wool tops, how thick the clumps are, you still end up with a pretty nice piece of felt in the end! Thanks to everyone who joined in, asked questions, came and watched and said really nice things. And a massive thank you to my sister who’d never felted before but gave advice and answered questions about fibres she’d never even seen until a few hours earlier, and also to the many volunteers who had to lug a massive metal bucket of water up and down two storeys for us! I’ll be sleeping for the next week now :)