A Felting Adventure
This is a guest post by Lindsay Wilkinson. You can find her here: Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork (Facebook and Instagram). I am also excited to say that Lindsay will be joining us as a regular contributor and I am looking forward to seeing more of her work.
Last week I set off on a felting adventure I’d been looking forward to for a long time. I was travelling from the UK to the Netherlands to do a 2-day wet felted seed pods workshop with Gladys Paulus, an internationally acclaimed felt artist whose work I’ve long admired.
I’m one of those people who cannot go on a walk without coming back with pockets stuffed full of found natural objects like shells, pebbles and seed pods and they have often inspired my felt work so here was the opportunity to learn from an expert.
The first challenge began before I even left home: how to fit everything on that long list of course materials into a suitcase that I could take on a plane? The answer? – ditch most of the clothes.
The venue (Atelier Fiberfusing) was a large warehouse-type building in a beautiful setting which had acres of working space – it was a real luxury for me to work on an enormous bench as my studio work area is pretty small.
After brief introductions (my nine fellow participants were all experienced felters from 5 European countries, the USA and Australia) we quickly set about making our first experimental piece using pre-felt we’d pre-made then stitching and felting to create very textured pieces.
Mine looked decidedly like a brain and I love it!
Our second experimental piece investigated differential shrinkage – using the fact that thick felt shrinks less than thin felt – to create shaped structures. I’ve exploited these properties before, for example in making 3D shells, but was still amazed at how much shaping we achieved in our pieces.
Finally we set about our main piece. I decided to work from this small eucalyptus seed pod I’d picked up somewhere on my travels.
We worked on these for the rest of day one and the whole of day two. There was plenty of expert one-to-one advice and support throughout the process and we also got to share in others’ learning as we were encouraged to gather around each other’s benches at key moments.
Here’s my eucalyptus-inspired seed pod. It’s not perfect but I am really pleased with it and learned so much through the process of design, making and experimentation. I particularly like the very textured surface (created by adding silky mohair locks and a small amount of kid mohair) and was thrilled to learn how to create the shaping of the body and how to attach a stem.
We finished by putting all our work together and everyone seemed impressed with how much work and variety we’d produced in 2 days. (Most of these are in the top picture)
Take-home lessons? Lots! I was particularly struck by how different our pieces were even when starting with the same template. There are so many ways you can work with and manipulate the felt and I realize a resist is more of a starting point than a defining feature. I also really enjoyed learning from others, particularly Gladys but also the other participants. Apart from a one-day beginners felting workshop about 8 years ago, I’m a self-taught felt maker but will certainly look out for other group learning opportunities.
I’m now buzzing with new ideas and can’t wait to start using some of the new skills and techniques.
Here’s a bonus photo of the scenery near Atelier Fiberfusing on Sunday morning.
15 thoughts on “A Felting Adventure”
Absolutely love that last photo of the view – it would look stunning ‘blown-up’ for wall art.
How wonderful to have such a large work space for each participant. How did you cope with different languages?
Your seed pod is magnificent!
It is good to get together with others on a workshop – very inspiring.
Thank you, Lyn, great comments! The workshop was advertised as being taught in English so everyone could speak English, though in one-to-one conversations it became clear that Gladys also spoke Dutch and German (very impressive). The photo was taken on my phone so I’m not sure how much blowing up it would take but it was a truly stunning morning with frost on the grass and mist moving across the water.
Welcome Lindsay!!! Oh that looks like it was an amazing workshop! sculptural wet felting is lots of fun. i am admiring your differential shrinkage piece. the phone photo is fantastic it looks unreal and ethereal. maybe it will inspire a felted picture version? i am looking foreword to see what you will show us next!
Thank you for the welcome, Jan. Glad to be on board. I love reading other people’s posts and comments so I’m pleased to be able to join in. Hmm, maybe I will think about a misty felting project one day….
Looks like a great workshop Lindsay. I will be interested to see how you use what you learned in future felting experiments 🙂
Thanks, Ruth, I’m looking forward to that too! At the moment l’m having to focus on Christmas / holiday things but come January I should have more time for investigations and experiments. Can’t wait
What an awesome experience. I’ve admired Gladys, too! It’s wonderful you were able to attend her class. I love all your creations. And the last pic is a work of art itself. Thanks for sharing!
Yes, it was great. Thanks for your very positive feedback.
What a fabulous workshop I bet you wished it was a week instead of 2 days. I am looking forward to seeing what you with your new skills. She is coming to Canada but its almost as far away as her class in Scotland.
Absolutely wish it had been a week. If I can get to one of Gladys’s mask workshops next year I certainly will. I came to a meeting in Canada once (Montreal) and was amazed that people had travelled further within Canada than I had coming from the UK so I realise it’s a very big country, even if I can’t quite get my head round it! I have some quiet time early next year so I’m really looking forward to practicing and developing the seed pod ideas. Thanks for your comments.
Lindsay, your ‘it’s not perfect’ eucalyptus seed…it’s fabulous!
As you will have read recently I too love seeds (like so many folk on FFS) and like you, can never walk anywhere without collecting pocketfuls of natural objet d’art, so I am extremely jealous that you managed a course with Gladys she is a master of 3D.
I’m looking forward to seeing your forthcoming productions – both your posts & what you have felted.
I also echo others – your phone photo is stunning.
Thank you Antje. I really admired your seed pods, especially the honesty, and will continue to think about and develop ideas and experiments around natural found objects. The nearly endless possibilities are what makes felting so exciting. I look forward to seeing what you do next too and to sharing our adventures.
What a fabulous experience – thank you for sharing it. Your eucalyptus pod – wow!
Thanks, Linda! Yes, it was a great experience. Loved every minute.
A great write up Lindsey…. brings it all back! It was certainly a great experience!