Making Waves

Making Waves

At the Waltham Textile group we have a biennial exhibition with a main theme, supported by any other smaller works we’ve produced during the two year lead up. Our current theme was launched in August and I was really happy to get a thumbs up when I suggested we have a nautical/coastal vibe…..if you know how much I love to create rockpool themed work you will know why I chose it! Within this theme we each get a metre width of wall space for a large hanging or several smaller ones and we’ve agreed a few specific group projects such as we all make a 3D fish, a 3D jelly fish, a decorated box and contribute to creating an Octopuses Garden.

Coming up with a title is always going to be tricky when it’s done by committee and, believe me, we debated many of them! Eventually we settled on “Making Waves” as its catchy, links to the ocean/shoreline but of course it can also be interpreted as rocking the boat or doing something subversive. Strange but no one in the group has mentioned this meaning so far, surely I can’t be the only one who’s planning on being subversive with (at least one of) the group challenges?

The general consensus is that the fish be attractive but my immediate thought was “angler fish“ due to its dramatic and sinister appearance. However a bit of Google research has opened up a whole new world of ugly fish, these are just a few that grabbed my interest. The red lipped batfish is probably the weirdest one of them all, I can’t help thinking it looks like someone’s added a face and four legs to a mushroom! That really is a face that only a mother could love! Collecting images of ugly fish is a whole new rabbit hole opening up so best to get back on track…..

It’s been a busy time recently with shows and workshops, plus playing catch up after being knocked off my feet for a couple of weeks with Covid. This has meant I haven’t made much progress but I have at least started one exhibition piece. If you visit the Felting and Fibre Community Photo page you may already have seen this as it’s made entirely from materials I had to hand and therefore fulfils the criteria set for the last challenge.

Making Waves vessel.

My aim was to create a wet felted vessel with a blue/green colour theme, an undulating surface and lots of texture. A student had recently commented on one of my necklaces saying it reminded her of rocks and coral and this passing remark inspired me to use the same technique and materials for my “Making Waves” vessel.

Detail of the felted necklace that inspired the vessel.

Using differential shrinkage is a great way to manipulate the surface of your felt. Thin areas have the potential to shrink much more than thick areas thereby creating hills and valleys in your work. These can be symmetrical, as in the yellow/grey bowl, or asymmetrical which was my aim for the necklace and this vessel.

The grey and mink fibre used is mostly World of Wool 23 micron Merino although, because I was using up left over short lengths from previous projects (remember the F&F challenge), I think there’s oddments of superfine in there too. The thicker areas are prefelt covered with hand dyed silk fabrics, printed viscose paper towels, sari yarn and wool yarns to create a variety of textures and after felting it measured 36cm x 17cm.

The eagle eyed might spot two pieces of lace which are on the layout but not the finished vessel, these didn’t look right so were pulled of. I’m now looking forward to some spare time next month to complete it with more hand embroidery, beading and shells.

8 thoughts on “Making Waves

  1. Can’t get more ‘seashore’ than this vessel Karen! It looks great already so if you added nothing else it wouldn’t matter – however you are planning more embellishment, so looking forward to seeing that.

    It’s interesting to see your layout and how different things are after felting 🙂

  2. The fish photos are fantastic. I hadn’t seen several of these type of fish before. I would love to see you make a “subversive” fish 🙂

    Your vessel is wonderful and definitely gives the feel of rock pools. And I love the extra texture and change in shape that you get with differential shrinkage.

    I was wondering about the printed viscose paper towels. I have not heard of them before. Where do you get them? Did you print them on the gelli plate? Or some other method. Looks like something I need to try!

    1. The viscose paper towels were used under a length of silk fabric, as a carrier for procion dye, when I was experimenting with contact printing leaves. A friend was showing me the process and she had bought the paper towels on eBay, chosen for their size rather than because they were viscose. After steaming the silk we untied the bundle and my friend scooped up the towels to put in the waste bin….I quickly rescued them as they had beautiful leaf prints and I figured they might work with Nuno Felting, which they did. Good idea of yours to use them with the Gelli plate!

  3. It is a beautiful vessel, and is very rock pool in feel, it reminds me of my children at the seaside. I love the fish photos too.

    1. Thanks Marie, hope it brought back fond memories….there was nothing better than poking around in rock pools on holiday when I was a kid! As for those fish, they are a bit special aren’t they?

  4. a very cool piece. I am looking forward to seeing what else you do with it and of course your “attractive” fish. It makes me wonder if not attractive has been a problem in the past.

  5. I missed this post Karen….
    Wow….’fabuloso’. Perfectly ‘sea-worldly’ with great choice of fabrics.
    Looking forward to seeing how it progresses & your other pieces too.

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