Monday, 9 April 2012

Blissed out textural felt

This weekend I enjoyed a wonderful workshop at Wendy Bailye’s beautiful new studio space in Samford. Bliss. Driving out on super-quiet holiday roads to the tranquil greenness of ‘The Home of the Powerful Owl’! Spending the weekend with my favourite felting friends, learning fabulous new techniques, and standing looking out at beautiful gardens as I rolled the felt.  
Wendy's new studio space
My view of Wendy's garden
It was serendipitous to snavel the last spot in this workshop by amazing felt-maker Vilte. When I stumbled across it and booked it, I thought ‘this will be a nice reward after the 6 months spent working on WoW’. It was even better than that. It just felt so good.

Vilte checking my work
A word on WoW – the photo shoot was 2 weekends ago, and the photos have been submitted and accepted! Co-designer Matt is now really coming into his own building ‘The Tardis’, a box which is to fit a very large amount of work in it! He is also being challenged with our tuning mechanism! As we have made a few modifications (it looks and sounds even better now!) we will be doing a re-shoot and videos before it goes. One day I will get to show you here! Back to felting. It was all about texture, and we started with Vilte showing us two of her techniques for making it. The challenging thing was to be working in reverse – but it is the only way to get this amount of texture! It was also the first time I had used other fibres apart from silk – bamboo viscose (beautifully shiny) soy fibre (matt and yellow, but an interesting difference) whilst others used tencel (so super shiny – me want!), flax (a bit brown and hairy for me) and even incorporated de-gummed silk cocoons – great texture!
Bamboo, soy and silk fibres
Silk cocoons in Jolante's work
We were also using a superfine merino (17 micron) instead of the normal 19-21 micron. This meant the felting happened very quickly. I was trialling the new fibre from Oatlands Handmade:
White Gum Wool : Ethical Superfine Merino from Tasmania’s Midlands.  Grown by sheep here in Oatlands, and I quote from the new band label : Grown to the highest standards of animal and landscape ethics: not mulesed, tails not docked, minimal chemical use, abundant, diverse forage, family groups for social structure, native pastures managed for biodiversity.  Grown on the property “Lemon Hill’ by Dragon Point Enterprises.  Scoured & combed in Australia.  Artisan-spun in Tasmania.   “Lemon Hill” is part of the NewMerino network which aims to place ethical practices and traceability into the supply chain for specialty wools.
and thoroughly enjoyed working with it. I have never used superfine merino before, and would like to play with a little more to really recognise the difference, but I do think I would have had a much tougher time with my normal lovely wool. I had ordered this, and a package of the fibres mentioned above from Ewe Give Me The Knits, and not opened them until the first day of class. What with being in the blissful setting, getting fired up with new ideas, then opening packages of fibres I had forgotten I had ordered – it was like Christmas!! Better than Christmas! Both Oatlands and EGMTK had included little present packages of trial fibres and badges – what sweet girls you are!
Cotton netting texture
Silk georgette rose with rolled hem edge, and bamboo viscose shining in the background
I came away from the workshop totally relaxed, invigorated, and of course, exhausted!! We made 3 sample pieces the first day (which progressively got smaller!) and a pattern and dress the next day.  I was pleased to only have to do a little finishing off the next day, so I could take it off to show and tell! And yes, I should have worked whith a shrinkage ratio of at least 30% instead of the average 25% I chose to use.....

I was a little jealous of the girls staying to do the next 2 day workshop, which was working with Wild Fibres – real fleecy locks and hairy looking things – but was kind of relieved to have some down time at home, and do a bit of homework for Advanced Pattern Making at TAFE tomorrow. Tragically, it would appear that I am incapable of drafting a two-piece sleeve by myself (not very advanced, eh?) but hope to find the answer tomorrow night.
Happy creating all, may your soul be fed by inspirational things this week, as mine has been!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like heaven to me... The environment, the materials, the teacher! Thanks for sharing.