I’d inteded this post to be mostly pictures of some ‘scruffy’ felt pieces I’d made recently, but as I was editing the photos, I was thinking about how they came about, because they’re not my ‘usual’ kinds of pieces, but I really enjoy making them and teaching people to make them.
Last year at the Well Being centre we had a lady join us who only spoke French and Arabic, and even one of our regulars who spoke French well had trouble finding felting terms in French to help her understand, so we just muddled through. I thought the best way to go was to have her copy what I was doing, which was making a soft, cobwebby layered felt with lots of fancy yarns and embellishments. She made an absolutely beautiful piece, but was disappointed because when we first started, we only had some firm felt to show her what we were making, and because hers was nothing like that she felt like she’d failed.
Disappointment and feeling like a failure is not something you want people to feel when you’re doing a class at a Well Being centre, so when the classes changed and we did something more structured, I planned the classes so that they were more about ‘experimenting’ and trying things out and seeing how what we do in our layout and felting processes affect the end result. There’s no right or wrong, just process and outcome really.
I learned too that if the ‘expectation vs reality’ is close in outcome, it gives a lot of encouragement. So if we get some absolute beginners joining, I like to get them to try the soft, cobwebby pieces first (which I think of as ‘scruffy’ or ‘tatty’ felt) because there are no neat edges; it’s decorative not functional – so it doesn’t have to be firm, and the embellishments don’t have to be securely attached; and because it has many fine layers of wool and yarn, it still results in a well made piece even if the layers aren’t all even or have a few gaps.
This is a piece I made with mostly yarns and cotton scrim or gauze as the embellishments: