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.
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.