ReConnect – The Online Exhibition of the International Feltmakers Association March 2021
This is a guest post from Ann B. Thanks for the post, Ann!
After reading Karen’s post on how she found her inspiration for her entry for the International Feltmakers Association proposed online Exhibition, I was encouraged to have a crack at it.
I had found it extremely difficult to find inspiration from the theme of their previous exhibition, which was “Kaleidoscope”. I have a very literal mind and could not think of how to portray that idea – I don’t/can’t do non-representational, but I must try to think “outside the box”.
At first I found it impossible to think what to do. First I looked up “reconnect” in a good dictionary – the Cambridge dictionary said:
1. “to join or be joined with something else again after becoming separated”
2. “to improve a relationship that has become less good or less close”
3. “to make you feel or understand something that you had stopped feeling or understanding”
4. “to create a relationship with someone again after a period of time”
as well as the obvious of reconnecting a disconnected phone call or internet link.
How on earth was I going to depict any of that? Initial thoughts ran along the lines of the connecting stitches in garment construction, and the more obvious stitches connecting inserted lace and tapes and how to use this in a felted piece. All this was going round in my head, when I happened to notice one of my husband’s photographs of the Scissor Arch holding up the tower in Wells Cathedral pop up on my laptop screen saver and this brought my attention to connections with the past and the future.
I started to mull over the idea of a piece of felt with the scissor arch as cut open channels on a piece of felt, which were then sewn together again, i.e. reconnected.
I cropped the image and printed a grey scale picture so that I could more easily gauge the colour values, and I subsequently decided to stick with the grey scale as it seemed to add to the drama of the image.
I then made a tracing of the main features, leaving out a lot of the detailed glimpses of the crucifix, the Jesse Window, the organ and the vaulted ceilings behind the arches. I used this to plan the piece: what prefelts I would need; what resists I would use; the order of placing resists and layers of prefelts. I wanted to start dark and come forward into the light, so that the arch itself would be white. I decided originally that there would be a minor variation from the greyscale palette – I would use the fact that the vaulting of the ceilings was picked out in gold paint and I added pale yellow to the list of prefelts.
This picture shows the prefelts I made, but in the end I did not use the mid grey, nor the yellow.
I made a couple of photocopies of the tracing so that I could cut out templates for the resists and the prefelts, and then I cut them out. I made a “crib sheet” setting out the order in which I needed to work – I have been known to forget what I was supposed to be doing halfway through a project, and I didn’t want to do that this time. I have not attached a copy of this as you probably wouldn’t be able to read my scrawl.
This picture shows the resists and templates after use. In fact there should be a resist in the shape of the little curly topped bit shown centre bottom. Unfortunately it’s still in the piece somewhere I couldn’t find it so left well alone. It was supposed to reveal the white base of the picture being lit from the Jesse Window shining through above the organ.
Once I had finished the initial fulling, I cut out the resists, (those that I could find) the resist for the scissors was cut at the cross so that I could pull it all the way out, as I did not want to cut the channel just above the cross. The top of the arch and the lower “legs” section I did cut all the way so that the darkest grey would show behind the white. I then inserted a piece of metallic grey fibre inside the top channel so that when the stitching reconnected the cut edges it would resemble the slashed and pinked work in Tudor costumes. I then finished the fulling, sealing the cut edges. I then set it to dry, but unfortunately I did not pay sufficient attention to where I laid it to dry as it has a distinct lean to one side at the top, and I didn’t notice this until I came to photograph the finished piece.
Although I had abandoned the idea of adding the pale yellow prefelt inside the top of the scissors arch to try to echo the gold paint on the arches there, I decided to pick out the nearer arches in gold thread and used a back stitch. I decided to stick with gold as the only colour in the picture and reconnected the cut channels with two goldwork yarns using sorbello stitch, which is an embroidery stitch used for insertion work. Using some silk yarn which I had hand dyed variegated grey many moons ago, I emphasized the edges of the scissor legs and the circles connecting them to the walls of the cathedral.
Having abandoned the yellow prefelt, I wondered what I should do with the blank space that left me with. I’m not sure why I decided to add the masked face instead. It just seemed the thing to do as we have to wear the things so often at the moment.
By this time, I was heartily sick of the piece anyway, so I took the required photographs, filled in the application form and sent it all off; and lo and behold I eventually received an email confirming that it had been accepted for the Exhibition.
This is the finished piece and the close-up of the Sorbello stitched lower arch.
This is the link to the Exhibition on the IFA’s website . If you click on an image it takes you first to the part of the submission form with a description of inspiration etc, and then to more photos of the work. If you click on those images you can see the complete photograph – in some cases they had to be cropped to thumbnails for the general exhibition page.
10 thoughts on “ReConnect – The Online Exhibition of the International Feltmakers Association March 2021”
I’m so pleased if reading my post give you that little nudge to think outside the box Ann. It can be hard sometimes when our initial response to a given theme is very literal. Your use of the Wells Cathedral image was inspired and great to see it accepted for the exhibition. The mask makes sense as it could also be seen to represent deadly diseases dating back to when the Cathedral was constructed….another connection!
Thanks Karen. It’s amazing how many other links can be read into it once you start thinking about it
It’s beautiful Ann. The colours are just right and that sorbello stitch looks good in gold.
You persevered even though you found it difficult to start with – if you hadn’t you wouldn’t have produced this wonderful piece!
what a nice comment, thank you so much
Fabulous piece Ann. I love how you challenged yourself to think outside the box in your creative process. The end result was certainly worth all the hard work. Congratulations on having your beautiful creation included in the IFA exhibition!
Thank you Helen
Congratulations Ann on having your piece accepted into the exhibition. I do like hearing about how people think through their ideas and processes. The Sorbello stitch really adds to the piece. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks Ruth. I’m beginning to realise that writing it down (rather than sketching, which I can’t do) really helps to get your ideas together and makes you think further than you might otherwise do so. (I have a tendency to drop off to sleep at the crucial moment – at this rate it’s going to be months before I manage to get started on the “volcano” vessel that I want to make having seen the Iceland volcano pictures on the news.)
Karen, I have just (finally) had a search through the online exhibition and seen that both your pieces have been accepted. Great. I love the rock pool.
Wow, what a lot of work you did and it is all worth it. Your sorbello stitch looks really complicated. I like to see how pieces connect to themes. Like you I tend to think literally and need a nudge to be more philosophical(?) abstract(?) I am not sure what the right word is.
Great piece! Congratulations! If you hadn’t told us about your apprehension, I wouldn’t have guessed you were unsure. Well done!