Quite a first quarter challenge – Gaudi – part 1

Quite a first quarter challenge – Gaudi – part 1

Having decided to take part in the first challenge for 2021, which asked for us to take inspiration from the years 1900-1909, I immediately thought of Louis Comfort Tiffany with his beautiful glass and Antoni Gaudi the Barcelona architect. As I have been fans of their work forever, it wasn’t a problem to take the relevant books from my shelves and start researching. Thereafter I was still undecided.

I mentioned my dilemma on a Zoom meeting with felting fellows….Gaudi won.

I knew I wanted to challenge myself even further with different techniques in a 3D structure. Just how much of a challenge….I am still finding out!

Using my book and pictures from the internet I set about sketching and drawing various interesting elements from Gaudi’s vast repertoire of buildings, just to get a feel for shapes and get my brain into gear, thinking about the structure.

I haven’t done any serious sketching for years so the ‘pen and thinking’ took several weeks. Finally, decided on Güell Park 1900-1914, and set to.

I also decided on a few other things too – to go big (or bigger than recent artefacts) and to start using up ‘stuff’ in a bid to reduce my stash. This included using some pure wool quilt wadding, which I have posted on before ‘A yarn and preparation experiments’ and have now used a few times. The reverse side, where the ‘Vilene’ type fabric is still attached, had the perfect cracked tile effect for an homage to Gaudi. 

Those decisions made it was on to creating the shape and template. Having made a quick sample I knew that the shrinkage co-efficient was around 1.3….yep, you have read this right….I did make a small sample! It was then onto creating a typical Gaudi arch to the approximate size (the first arch was too thin, bearing in mind it would be opened up) – plate and bottle put to good use.

Also put to good use were vintage tools of my former trade!

Cutting out the resist and designing the remainder of the template/resist elements, another very very quick decision was made….measuring 62 x 39 cm (24 x 15 in)….this was NOT going to be a book template as I had originally sketched!

Note to self – permanent marker pen is permanent on fingers but not on a resist!

Finally it was onto fibre and materials, cutting the quilt wadding (my drift wood bricks from a bay in west Scotland are very useful) and repurposing a waistband from a deconstructed jumper.

Gaudi admired the writings of John Ruskin particularly ‘Ornament is the origin of architecture’ (Ruskin 1853) and he adhered to the thinking that an architect had to be both painter and sculptor. This is perfectly demonstrated in Güell Park where he let his imagination run fantastical in terms of shapes, structures and with everything decorated with colourful mosaics of ceramic tile fragments (ceramics being very popular internationally at that time).

Auditioning the fabrics to evoke the decorative mosaics, I found it interesting that Eusebi Güell, Gaudi’s greatest sponsor, lifelong friend and associate, was a businessman mainly in – textiles.

I started on the ‘collar’ by creating small patches of nuno pre-felt using scraps of fabric – I wasn’t worried that some didn’t overlap as it would add to the effect. Then cut these into the sketched shapes and pre-felted them to some wool wadding.

As I mentioned I was using up supplies, wool I had bought oh so many years ago….mmmm….I should have tried a sample first!  Suffice to say, I will be single handedly keeping the razor manufacturers in production!

Then it was onto the main event laying down a fine herringbone layer of wool, wadding, resist, wadding and wool, taking care to enclose the edges well, the whole was pre-felted. Following which the ‘cord was laid in place and the second layer of wadding added to each side – stitched at the edges for added insurance! The whole was worked to an early pre-felt stage.

Adding the viscose – the viscose I have is in circular bundles which needs to be cut, thereafter I need to peel a quantity off. If I don’t want a knotted mass, this last is achieved by wrapping it around my legs as a counterweight and gently pulling….thankfully you can’t see me demonstrating this technique.

Recently I came across a Russian felter, who immerses her similar viscose in fabric softener, then dries it ready for use. I am still experimenting with this trick – thus far it does seem to stop the viscose ‘snagging’ (just like silk) on my reasonably smooth hands.

I then cut it into smaller lengths (as it won’t draft off like wool fibre) and going for the ‘cloud’ effect I place it horizontally on my carders. Vertical placement, as for wool fibres, doesn’t work….it just slides off the carder, especially the softener treated viscose!

The screen is a good resting post for the viscose! The peach coloured hank has been treated with fabric softener.

Viscose applied in mixed colour ‘cloud’ layers up to the cord.

An off-centre cut made in the base it was time to remove the resist. If by this point you are scratching your head wondering why….my thinking is….holes have a habit of growing larger, so simply slicing off the top would create too big an opening in the top. If I felt the structure almost fully then cut off the top it might be better. I can easily stitch up and conceal the base slit….time will tell if my thinking was on solid foundations!

With the resist out I could concentrate on the stitched seams.

It was now time to try the ‘collar’ which fitted as planned….pheu….but it was at this point I realised I had made a fundamental rooky mistake….I had laid and worked the cord at 90 deg to the vertical! Opening out the wet structure gave me a distorted shape with 2 sides longer….oops I should have placed the cord on a curve. With my former career I have no excuses for (and nowhere to hide from) this mistake 🙁

My solution….thus far….has been (with enough felt in the base) to pull, push and stitch the cord inside to achieve the curve. The downside of this action is that I now have a fold on the inside….mmmm!

The base has been tucked inside to check the curve, the ‘collar’ will hide the ‘dropped’ viscose. No, the section diagram is not a diagram of a demented mole….although….

I have come to a temporary halt whilst I re-think my next move. I don’t feel too bad thus far….unintentionally – I’m simply emulating Gaudi who being a pragmatist did not spend his life at the drawing board preferring to be on site, thinking things over, experimenting with and rejecting ideas to get to a solution.

I’ll get there……..

18 thoughts on “Quite a first quarter challenge – Gaudi – part 1

  1. Such an interesting item, Antje. I particularly love the fabric panels. Can’t wait to see what you end up with!

  2. I really like this idea and it seems to be coming along nicely.
    I do wish I could draw. I would love to be able to sketch like that and get my ideas down on paper. I have to do all my designing in my head, (and there really isn’t enough room in there any more) and try to write it all down before I forget it.
    I’m really looking forward to the next instalment.

    1. Ann, I’m very lucky as I could draw from being a young child and I have a graphic memory/learning style, but I fully understand that it doesn’t come easily to others. In the past to help clients visualise things I’ve even been found holding brooms, newspapers or bending pieces of paper 🤪

      You writing everything down in words is just as effective as me doodling my thoughts.
      I certainly sympathise with no room left in my head.

  3. What a stunning project – love the idea and the results you are getting. Can I ask: is your wadding cotton or could one use any wadding in a similar project?

    1. I’m glad you are enjoying my exploits so far.

      The wadding – I’ve been using pure wool quilt wadding, the thinnest (therefore the cheapest). Initially I spent hours, and got very sore thumbs for my troubles, stripping off the ultra fine vilene-type layer that is used on one side, I assume to stabilise it. Then I experimented by leaving this layer on.

      I don’t think cotton would work, as it would be too thick for the wool fibres to integrate into….but you can always experiment if you have a piece to hand.

      If you refer back to my previous post I mentioned (‘A yarn and preparation experiments’) May 2020 you may find some info that is of help.

      Good luck.

  4. We’re exhausted just reading about how much work you’ve done on the challenge so far! Gaudi has certainly got you doing something new and exciting.

    Fascinating process photos and text. The collar is beautiful. Really looking forward to seeing the finished piece.

    Let’s face it – how many of us have made a piece without having to adjust things? And we all still make rookie mistakes. You’re in good company.

    1. I like the fact that I’m in good company with you both. However I can’t imagine for a moment you make rookie mistakes🤪
      It is certainly bigger than I’ve done before & testing me each step….I’ll definitely be able to update you in my next post.

  5. I love reading about your process, especially working through when something doesn’t go as expected. And your sketches are fantastic!

    It definitely evokes Gaudi and I really look forward to seeing the results.

    1. Thanks Ruth. Your comment has made me realise that I spent a major part of my life working through problems to find solutions….maybe in retirement I’m craving that aspect again!

      Hope the result will live up to everyone’s expectations.

  6. WOW! This is great. I’m just entering the world of 3-D in felting. Your process as detailed here gives me so much to work with. Thank you for posting this. I’m looking forward to seeing the next steps as you work through the process to your goal.

    1. 3D felt work is interesting & challenging. But what I find fascinating is how you can exploit the malleability of the wool fibres.
      Have fun with your endeavours – don’t keep them a secret….we’d love to see them on the Forum.
      I’ll certainly post about my learning curve in getting to my goal.

  7. Loved this post Antje. You’ve certainly given yourself a challenge with this construction but no gain without pain as they say! I’m always interested to see other folks sketch books and your sketches for this project are beautiful as well as thorough. I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

  8. Thanks Karen. I’ve often thought we might have been parted at birth as we often have similar thought processes ie Elf booties & 3D challenges!

    If you see me in agony does that mean I’ve made massive gains?

    The project is slowly progressing in fits & starts as I think things through, which is all providing fodder for Part 2.

  9. Such an interesting architect and interesting project. I am looking forward to seeing your next steps. I am not good at putting details down and I can’t tell you the number of times that the first rendition has a “well, of course, I knew that” moment.

  10. I learn from my mistakes….but sometimes I have to make the same mistake twice before the learning settles in 🤪
    Gaudi’s work has always fascinated me, and is just one of several architects over the decades to push the boundaries of structure, design & use of materials.

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