Primordial felting

Last week was a good week for felting. Two days after my fleecy adventure, I went to spend a day felting with Ruth Packham – a wonderful felt artist who lives locally. I had done a two-day course with Ruth last summer and I wanted to spend some time with her practising some of the techniques I learned then. Over the years I’ve been on various felt-making courses, but I decided that the time had come for some one-to-one tuition.

As it turned out, I chose the perfect day. I started raining overnight and didn’t stop all day. Sitting under the Velux windows in Ruth’s studio, listening to the rain hammer down, I was very happy that I was spending the day indoors, playing with wool. Ruth’s studio is full of amazing creations and loads of inspiration:

After some debate about what I would make, I decided to have a go at a sculptural piece, mainly based on wet felting, but starting with some needle-felted balls that would be felted onto stalks and then the stalks would be felted onto an undulating base. This was the piece made by Ruth from which I drew my inspiration:


one of Ruth’s creations


First, I chose my colours… which Ruth described as ‘sludge’! Because I’m interested in natural forms, I wanted some colours that might be found in natural habitats, so I went for a couple of greens and a reddish-black. I got so carried away with the first part of the process – needle-felting little balls, making cords, attaching the cords to the balls and making the ‘resist’ that would define the basic shape of the base, that I forgot to take any photographs, but I did capture most of the rest of my work:

And after some more work to get the little antennae to stand up straight/ point in the direction I wanted them to and the base to sit nicely and the edges to smooth out, I ended up with this:

I’m thinking of it as life emerging from the primordial soup… I may add some more evolved critters to it.

Whilst I was working on my creation (I was with Ruth from 10am to 7pm, although we did have coffee and stop for lunch), she made these cute little ‘creatures’:

I have made so many useful things recently, that it was rather lovely to spend a day making ‘art’. Ruth is a brilliant teacher and I highly recommend her courses… she will teach you how to make rather more traditional things if you like (!) and she sells needle-felting kits too in her etsy shop. She also sells her creations



Ruth’s creatures

I have made so many useful things recently, that it was rather lovely to spend a day making ‘art’. Ruth is a brilliant teacher and I highly recommend her courses… she will teach you how to make rather more traditional things if you like (!) and she sells needle-felting kits too in her etsy shop, along with some of her lovely creations.

Have you been doing anything arty this week? Share your more frivolous or quirky creations!


Floral felting

This weekend the weather here was dreadful – high winds and driving rain, a typical British summer. But was I downhearted? No I was not, because I spent two days felting. I went to Aberystwyth Arts Centre to attend  course by the fabulous Ruth Packham, learning to combine wet and dry felting. It was a lovely informal course, with everyone choosing a plant or flower to make and Ruth helping us to work out how to achieve our goal. All the wool we used was British and some came from the Cambrian Mountains, making it very local.

Arranged, to coincide with an art exhibition entitled Flora, the course focused on making plants and flowers in felt. In fact, we didn’t exactly stick to the remit, so as well plants, between us we also made a caterpillar, a dragonfly and some coral. I really didn’t want to make a flower, so I chose to focus on something smaller, taking my inspiration from the capsules produced by mosses:

and look at all this that the other participants did…

We also each took home a porcelain flower from the Flora exhibition. For one of the exhibits, visitors are asked to record their first flower memory on a small card, and then to exchange the memory for a ceramic flower. The idea is that this particular exhibit changes over time from a collection of flowers to to a collection of memories… isn’t that lovely? The artist responsible is Clare Twomey:


Never felt better

I decided this weekend to take some time off from paid work and do some activities that I would enjoy just for myself. I did get slightly distracted yesterday and spent rather a long time on the phone arranging a trip away (which will be great when it happens, but required quite a bit of organisation) and writing a piece of text for the Permaculture Association, but today has more or less been just about me… a lie in with an audiobook, a walk on the beach with the dogs and my sweetie in the sunshine (yes, sunshine in west Wales in November), tea and cake when we got home and then an afternoon of felting.

My first ever attempt at wet felting

Making felt is an activity that I had been interested in doing for ages, but it wasn’t until two years ago that an opportunity finally presented itself to go and learn how. I know that I could have bought a book and just got on with it, but wet felting is such a tactile activity that I really wanted to learn from a real person. And the autumn before last the wonderful Lorraine Pocklington of Greenweeds ran a beginners felt-making workshop at Denmark Farm. And from that moment on I was hooked. I started off, at the workshop, making a case for a passport… a simple thing, but it introduced me to the idea of being able to create three-dimensional objects without the need for seams. I knew that this was possible in knitting, through the use of double-pointed needles, but the fact that felt can be thick enough to hold its own shape and can be sculpted opens up a whole range of possibilities.

Slippers from the recent course – mine are the front middle, awaiting decoration

Last year I went on another course to learn to make felt hats and last month, another for felt slippers, both again at Denmark Farm, which is less than 15 miles away from home. The slippers are not yet finished as I want to decorate them with some needle felting and I haven’t got round to it … I just need more hours in the day, or fewer projects on the go! Next spring it looks like there will be a course on nuno felting (that’s where you felt onto fine fabric)… I can’t wait.

The camera case under construction

However, this afternoon’s project was to make a case for my new digital camera. Because felt can be thick, it can be used to make covers for electronic equipment to provide protection. A couple of months ago I made a case for Mr Snail-of-happiness’ new tablet computer. This did not come out quite as I had intended because I was using a new fibre that shrank more than I expected, but it is still serviceable. Today, however, I used I wool that I have worked with before and the properties of which I know reasonably well. I wanted to experiment with a sort of flame effect with the colours, and I’m quite please with the result. It’s drying now and I will finish it off with a couple of buttons to close it and possibly a wrist strap.

After cutting – felting needed around the edges

Felting is a particularly enjoyable activity for me… it’s very tactile, involving repetitive physical activity that isn’t too strenuous. Your mind can wander whist you are being creative and for me it beats meditating. In fact, this afternoon, I listened to part of an audio book whilst I felted… my mind has been busy enough recently as it is! My next project will be a peg bag…

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