MakeFest Again!

This past weekend was the MakeFest event I’ve been going on and on about for weeks πŸ™‚ 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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI 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!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe demo table was perfect for the fibres:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt 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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince 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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe 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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe 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:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI 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 πŸ™‚

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25 Responses to MakeFest Again!

  1. ruthlane says:

    Congratulations Zed! It sounds like a huge success. I know exactly how you feel as I did a similar thing and it was total chaos with tons of people wanting to join in. We ended up mainly taking children because there were so many.

    Your display looks yummy with all your samples. I am sure you have encouraged many to give it a go and continue on.

    Always nice to have a helper and your sister now understands better what you do πŸ™‚

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Ruth πŸ™‚
      I was honestly astonished by the level of interest and fascination. Some people stood around for whole sessions just watching. I think lots will get into it, they were also surprised at how cheap the supplies are, especially when I showed them the natural wools and told them they started around Β£1.20!

  2. Leonor says:

    I loved reading about your experience, Zed. Ask your sister if she wants to help me out when I decide to do a workshop here in London πŸ˜€

    Hopefully a lot of people got interested enough in wool and felting after your workshop to try it again. It’s like a mission, having people understand why we’re so fascinated by it, isn’t it? And, most of all, have them see how long things take to get made, so they can appreciate it when it’s for sale!

    Your stand looked really well organised and colourful, well done πŸ™‚

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Leonor πŸ™‚
      I’ll ask my sister later, I’m sure if you bribe her with coffee it’d help πŸ™‚
      I felt like a magician or something at times explaining things when I saw the looks on people’s faces ‘what is this sorcery? You wet that fluff and rub it and it makes this felt?!’
      It looked like a tornado had gone through by Sunday night!

    • Leonor says:

      Coffee can be arranged πŸ˜€ Haha, I like it when people get that look because it’s like we’re super humans who came up with this magic technique… Next time take a before and after photo so we can compare!

    • zedster66 says:

      I tried to bribe her, but I think the thought of doing that again any time is soon is the last thing she want! I’d love to video people actually!

  3. Lyn says:

    What a triumph!
    Your organisation of the tables is spot on and I’m not surprised that you were busy because it looked so inviting.
    And thank heavens for sisters eh?
    Sunday sounds like a grand, enjoyable day – I can imagine how you felt on Saturday – but until you’ve done something it’s difficult to know what to expect or how to plan for it.

    I enjoyed reading all about it and I reckon Annabelle will be felting when she’s older!

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Lyn πŸ™‚
      It just goes to show that people are interested and willing to learn about anything really. There was so much technology in there, coding, making sounds with circuits, big physics demos etc, yet massive crowds watching soapy wool being rubbed! The girl next to me, Lucy I think she was called, had big crowds and lots of interest, she was teaching how to make french knitting tools from light fittings, and then using the cord on a sculpture.
      I think Annabelle will keep felting, too, I think many will try it again!

  4. Wow, sounds like you were a big hit and I am not surprised you are exhausted. Your set up looked great. I bet they invite you back. It was wonderful that your sister could help you both days. I am sure she will be bragging about her felt maker sister to all her friends.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Ann πŸ™‚
      We got a feedback form, and I think the whole event was so successful they want a permanent ‘maker space’. Some of my sister’s friends came down actually, one said I was very professional! ha, me! I never thought I’d hear that, then again, I never thought I’d get called ‘the lady’ so many times either πŸ™‚

  5. craftywoman says:

    Your area looks great! with tables and tubs for things and wonderfully neat displays, I can feel your overwhelmed morning, but hey ho felters as resourcesful and you sorted it all out. Having your sister and a very calm student is was the way to go. Huge congratulations on running such a successful weekend of felting πŸ™‚

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Carole πŸ™‚
      No one asked me about how many mushrooms I must eat to have saved all those tubs! One of the biggest challenges was getting the trolley full of stuff over the cobbles there and back! My shoulders are starting to feel less like they’re about to snap now, so that’s good!

  6. luvswool says:

    Congrats, Zed, on a job well done! That was a major event and a grand accomplishment for you.
    If you are not used to crowds, it can be unnerving, but it sounds like you did much to promote the awareness of felting as an art/craft. And a big hurrah for your Sis as well.

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks Cathy πŸ™‚
      It’s going to make the well-being classes seem a lot calmer now after all the crowds!

  7. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Great job Zed! Your area looked terrific and so well organized. I’m so happy you and your students had such good experiences. I understand about people not getting the pulling off the roving. I had the same problem in my class last year. It takes patience I guess to learn correctly. I hope you have another opportunity. It sounds like a huge success!

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Marilyn πŸ™‚
      I loved my area, they did really well giving me a good spot. It was nice seeing so many people so enthusiastic, though I did joke that next year I’m just taking a bucket and a bar of soap, because kids even enjoyed just having soapy hands πŸ™‚

  8. It sounds like an amazing but extremely busy time. It must be so hard to judge how to do things but it sounds as though you soon got it sorted πŸ™‚ So special to be able to share your love of fibres and knowledge. x

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Sharon πŸ™‚
      It was the museum’s first MakeFest event too, so they did really well getting it all sorted, and they asked for feedback, so hopefully any first timers next year will have some more advice and info.

  9. Angie Norton says:

    I’m glad Make Fest went well for you! πŸ™‚ The tables are so inviting with all the fantastic colors and textures. Hopefully, you have recovered from all the hard work. πŸ™‚

    • zedster66 says:

      Thanks, Angie πŸ™‚
      I did like my space, good sized tables, lots of room and lots of light.
      I’ve not quite recovered yet! I still have stuff to put away, but just had a rest and watched last night’s Great British Bake Off πŸ™‚

  10. koffipot says:

    Glad it went well for you zed. Your work area looks well organised with plenty of room. I can imagine how shattered you must have been. πŸ™‚

  11. mrspinksocks says:

    Hi Andy it’s Annabelle’s mum here!

    Thank you again for the brilliant workshop, she is thrilled with her beach. You were very patient and it was obvious how much you love your craft! I feel there may be some wool making it’s way into our craft stash πŸ˜€

    (By the way she wants me to tell you she is 5!)

    Thanks again! X

    • zedster66 says:

      Hiya! πŸ™‚
      Thanks a lot, I’m so glad you both enjoyed it, I can’t believe Annabelle’s only 5! Let me know if you want any fibres to start you off (just comment on here again), I bought about a kilo for Makefest and about 2 grams got used in total! I think people just preferred the wool πŸ™‚

  12. Frances says:

    Great blog post – sounds like so much fun!

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