Monday 2 October 2023

TAFTA Fibre Forum 2023 - Felt Hats with Dawn Edwards

Just a week ago, Jenelle and I had an early start flying down to Melbourne to head out to Geelong Grammar School for TAFTA's annual Fibre Forum. It was really warm when we arrived on campus, and boy were we excited when we got to our rooms and the bed was made - with a chocolate on top!

The bag with all the workshop supplies for two.

Our old friend Della was in the next room, and she was kind enough to loan us her car to go to nearby Corio Village to get some supplies (coffee and beer!)
The next morning was a glorious sunrise, which filled my corner room in Manifold house. Off we went for a walk out to Limeburner's Bay and beyond.
My room was on this corner

Eleven classes were held, so it was a healthy number of women who headed off to their classes after a glorious breakfast of bacon and eggs. Our tutor was the lovely Dawn Edwards, who had come all the way from Michigan to teach us how to make wonderful felt hats. We got straight into it after she showed us all her wonderful samples and supplied us with patterns to trace.

The stripes are plastic resists over embellishment
The next day was another stunner, as we explored towards the refinery - much less atmospheric!

My first hat, cut open along the resists and expertly moulded and shaped by Dawn herself.

Dawn and her magic hands
These cute muppets wandered in some time in the afternoon to give the morning notices!
After class were tutor talks, which were all most interesting. And right next to the bar.
At the market night I got this gawdjuss trio of cat earrings by Fiona Hammond aka Chiatanyadesigns.
The next morning brought another glorious walk, but sadness also at seeing this stingray left alive on the jetty, and other dead ones in the water below. Why? Why catch and leave them?

Class brought a chance to work on a vessel instead of a hat, and I laid out my wool and embellishments in my best attempt to mimic Dawn's sample. I definietly have a light hand with laying out, as mine turned out to be very thin!

Dawn's sample

My vessel
Amazingly, we stayed back during the half day to work - it is a rare occaision that we do so! That night was party night, with a 'Land Down Under' theme - we just went with the 'shit on your head' version.


We were witness to some serious moves on the dance floor, with some positively miraculous movements from women who had previously been witnessed moving slowly and support - just add wine and music!
Breakfast shenanigans - stocking up on bananas for the day!
The next day Jenelle got the magic touch on her hat, and I made some prefelt ready for my next one.

We also checked out the exhibition of Bronny and Larissa's work.

Pulled pork tortillas and salad for lunch? Why yes I will, thank you!
Also feeding our eyes during the week was the work of Artist in Residence Pam de Groot.

Unbelievably, we were now up to the last day, and another magic morning walk.

My time was well occupied with the layout of pre-felt cut into zig zag strips and plastic resist strips over the hat base made the day before, before spending quite some time gently, gently rubbing it through soaped-up bubblewrap.

Eventually it was done, and I ran around in delight showing everyone and squeaking with joy. It also meant an early afternoon, so after our quite minimal pack up, we got to lounge around in the sun on the lawn.

Our final night was quite jolly, and all classes sat together for dinner - I was lucky enough to sit next to Dawn. Afterwards, we all looked at the exhibition of of each class's work - ours was enormous, with 69 hats and vessels made!

Such a great group of ladies to work with this week
Lucky Jo got to share a felting table with us! I'm not sure she knew what she'd got into!
One morning walk left after these shenanigans, and it was yet another beauty.

After our final good byes, we survived a long day of travel, partly due to the ol' Virgin Lounge, one of my happy places.
Two tired Bunnehs eventually landed at Brisbane Airport.
The next day I was very pleased to walk into my reasonably tidy studio, and dye the white cloche hat I had made during the week which had picked up a variety of stains. This would be why I don't ever work in white.

I had made felt hats before, but I certainly learned a lot during this class. It's such an enjoyable process - sometimes I wish it was all I did!