Towards the end of April, I took a class with Linda Irving, a wonderful felt artist who moved to the Mull of Galloway recently. The class was all about creating pictures using wool fibres as paint and of course, as a spinner, I now have a fair bit of pure wool fibre in my stash.
So I left Adrian serving breakfast to our B&B guests and headed off to spend the day with some lovely ladies in Linda’s purpose built workshop in her garden.
Linda was an excellent teacher, showing us how to prepare the base and lay down the fibres. I chose a photo that I’d taken at Castle Kennedy Gardens in late summer when the hydrangeas were in full bloom. Only one flowerhead was in sharp focus, but there were others very blurred in the background giving a lovely, almost watercolour effect.
Here are the fibres before felting – all that fluffy bulk is about to flatten down and get felted together.
Here it is straight after being doused with soapy water.
The soap suds help the fibres to felt together.
Lots of vigorous agitating later you get a piece of fabric that is quite a bit smaller and a whole lot firmer as all the fibres have meshed and locked together to form felt.
There’s a bit more to it than that of course, and Linda is a very generous teacher, taking us through each step at our own pace and sharing her tips along the way. The piece is not actually finished as I want to do some sewing over the top to define some of the details. However, to do that you need a slightly more sophisticated sewing machine than the one I have. You can’t drop the feed dogs on mine to do free motion stitching, but I’m hoping that I can get hold of a little gadget which covers up the feed dogs (that’s the jagged bit under the needle that moves the fabric through in normal sewing) and will allow me to have a go without shredding the back of the felt.
As an artist, it is fascinating to encounter a whole new way to mix colours – layering sheer fibres over each other to create optical colour mixing (rather than chemical). There are also interesting results when you include fibres such as silk which don’t felt, so they tend to crinkle and leave interesting squiggles as the wool around them shrinks and tightens. I can see me developing a whole new addiction here and putting my fibre stash to new uses.
But I do still love spinning the stuff as you can see by my recent spinning output!
I have lots of undyed fibre so I feel a dying session coming on, I’m thinking of something inspired by the sea – aquas, teals and that vivid orangy yellow of the lichen on the rocks. Watch this space…