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MakeFest Again!

MakeFest Again!

This past weekend was the MakeFest event I’ve been going on and on about for weeks 🙂 I really had no idea what to expect or even what my space would be like until I got there to set up on the Friday. I knew I’d have 3 tables, but for some reason I imagined them much smaller, so I was panicking that I wouldn’t have enough room to even spread the wool out and would have to leave it in a large tub. You might remember my ‘granny trolley‘ from when I did a little craft fair a few years ago, well this is my main mode of ‘transport’ for pretty much everything, and the bag slides off so you can just use the frame (I even used it to get my new bike home, in its box). So, I spent Friday day sorting out all the wools and fibres to put in a large box, got the towels, absorbent cloths, bubble-wrap, mats, templates, tubs, soap, sponges, hand carders and demo felt packed into a smaller tub and a couple of bags, then loaded my trolley and shoulders and set off. I was really pleased when I got there and saw where I’d be, just to the right inside the main door of the Textiles Gallery, and how much space I’d have, and there was a demonstration table in the corner I was able to use for my fibres. So, here’s what my workshop area looked like after getting everything out on the Friday:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI had a pile of netting and templates at the back wall, and a tub of cloths and towels to the side of the wool table. I left the wool and fibres in their bags overnight, I was a bit worried about them blowing away if the air con came on! On Saturday morning I took all the wool out of the packets. You can see my sign at the back telling people to touch the felt, and I asked World of Wool for some cards to hand out to anyone who was interested (everyone!).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe demo table was perfect for the fibres:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt probably stayed neat and tidy for about an hour! I didn’t manage to get any photos on the first day, it was really hectic. To be honest, I felt like going home after a few hours. I’d initially thought that doing 3 x 1.5 hour workshops with 6 people each day would probably work best, but having been a frequent visitor to MOSI over the last 20 years, I know people have more of a tendency to mill about and want to try things as they get to them, so I was also open to being more flexible and doing one on one sessions – or two at a time – however it seemed to work best. No one even came into the Textiles Gallery for about half an hour after opening, then it seemed like everyone descended upon us at once (my sister helped me out). Some people wanting to make felt, some wanting to know about felt, and the wool and the fibres, some people wanting to know when to come back (how can you guess when no-one’s tried it yet?!) It was a nightmare! I honestly had no idea it would be so popular. Most people were really nice, especially the ones who had a go, but there were a few who thought they were entitled to be fitted in at their convenience no matter what. Luckily they never did come back, I don’t know how I’d have kept my cool and been polite. We had a nice student (Hi Lucette!) just before we stopped for dinner (lunch) who was really nice and friendly, and polite and calm, which really helped at that point. After dinner we were a bit more structured and tried to limit how many people had a go at once and had a better idea of how long it would take. My sister cancelled her plans for Sunday and said she’d come and help out again, which made me so relieved, I don’t think I could have managed at all on my own!

Sunday was miles better! We decided to have set times, limit students to 2 or 3 at a time for 45 minutes and have a 10 minute break in between. We were booked up for all 6 sessions by about 11.30am! And people were much nicer about missing out. I didn’t expect the huge crowds we got gathering around to watch though! The first couple of people were ‘makers’ from one of the other stands, codebug I think (and apologies to everyone because I’m terrible at remembering names and didn’t bring the time sheet home), they were really eager and keen and really nice and friendly. I even got some photos! Here they are doing their layout:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASince we didn’t have easy access to water, I thought it’d work better to have one table as a laying out table and one for felting. It actually worked really well that way. Wetting down their pieces:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe had lots of nice kids who had a go at felting, some made designs, some just picked their favourite colours, Annabelle (I hope I remembered that correctly) made a beach picture. She picked some kapok fibre to make the foam on the waves, some plastic fibre to make fluffy clouds and trilobal nylon to make a sparkly sun:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe was only about 6 or 7, this was her piece after rinsing and squeezing before we neatened it out a bit, but it turned out really well:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI really underestimated how easily people would find pulling off wool tops, it seemed like the hardest thing ever to many, like it took a really special skill! And a lot of people were so eager to get stuck in, technical accuracy wasn’t really anything they cared about, but I did learn that no matter how badly you lay out wool tops, how thick the clumps are, you still end up with a pretty nice piece of felt in the end! Thanks to everyone who joined in, asked questions, came and watched and said really nice things. And a massive thank you to my sister who’d never felted before but gave advice and answered questions about fibres she’d never even seen until a few hours earlier, and also to the many volunteers who had to lug a massive metal bucket of water up and down two storeys for us! I’ll be sleeping for the next week now 🙂



I might have mentioned a while ago that I’d be doing wet felting workshops at an event called MakeFest at the Museum of Science and Industry in August (8th and 9th, if anyone’s interested!). I must admit I didn’t realise it was a 2 day thing when I applied, or I probably wouldn’t have. I started getting ready for it back in May after getting accepted so I didn’t get overwhelmed with stuff to do. I bought the wool and fibres, made some batts, dyed some wool locks and fibres etc. The last few weeks I’ve been making small samples to take, just to give people a few ideas, so they can make something nice for themselves and also a few examples which show the kinds of things you can do/make with wool/felt.

They have a textiles gallery at MOSI which I’ve always loved, they have working machines processing cotton from raw fluff into cotton sliver and then into fabric, and also displays of different fibres showing the raw material they came from, like coal, oil, flax or cotton and the fabric they are usually processed into. And since I kind of like the odd fibre or 20, I thought it’d be a perfect chance to show wet felting and get people to try those fibres out with it. I made a small sample piece showing how lots of different undyed fibres look after felting. They’re mostly in alphabetical order, from the top: Bamboo top; Bamboo staple and Soy staple; Banana; Cotton; Flax; Hemp; Ingeo; Milk; Nylon staple and Plastic staple; Ramie; Soy top; and on the bottom Viscose staple and Kapok:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is one of my favourite pieces I made lately. It uses crimped Plastic fibre, made from recycled bottles. I used it blended with Merino, under dyed cotton scrim and also as a surface embellishment to create a kind of landscape:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd a look along the surface:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ve dyed some of the fibres I’m taking as well as having samples of them all undyed. One which dyes really nicely is  Nylon. I usually go for more muted or ‘natural’ looking shades, but Nylon seems to suit more vivid colours. This is a sample made with dyed Crimped Nylon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOne other thing I really love is wool locks. I’ve had a few hundred grams of Gotland I’ve been really careful with over the years, but recently Zara was really generous when we did a swap and sent me loads (well over a kilo!) of the most gorgeous Gotland in many shades and varieties, so I dyed a lot of my ‘old’ ones to take to MakeFest. I used them on a couple of pieces. This is the first one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, because I thought kids would really like it, I made a silly hat and used the locks on that:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI tried to do a video to show how quickly and easily you could make a piece of felt, but at just under 14 minutes it was too big to upload, so I edited it down to the highlights:

I don’t know what other displays, demos or workshops will be there, but it’s a huge place, so I’m sure there’ll be something for everyone.