Apologies for the long silence – I had a sudden rush of website work before I headed off to Acheres, just outside Paris, for a five-day felting workshop with Maria Friese and Ariane Mariane. Both these felters are German, living in France, and the students were mostly French, but also included one Swiss, one Belgian, one American (who had lived in Acheres for 20 years) and two Brits – Abigail Thomas of Felt meets Cloth and me.
The five days was split up into two sessions of two days and three days, and students could mix and match, working with one tutor for all the days or spending two days with one and three days with the other. I elected to stay with Maria for all five days, as her work has a really organic feel that appealed to me. As we got talking we discovered other mutual interests in origami and pitcher plants, so I think I made the right choice!
We spent the first two days making a sampler to practise techniques – attaching spikes, and using resists and prefelts to create surface designs.
Maria suggested making a rectangular sample, but I opted for a circle, which was a bit challenging when it came to squeezing in as many elements as possible!
As usual, it was fascinating to see the different interpretations of the same techniques.
The other group working with Ariane Mariane made sample pieces of jewellery in the first two days, and then we all got together to admire each other’s work and compare results.
For the next three days we worked on a project incorporating those techniques. Those of us with Maria made a vessel; those who worked with Ariane could choose to make a hat or a bag. Maria and Ariane had brought in lots of samples to inspire us!
Again, we started by making samples to calculate shrinkage, before moving on to the main piece. I got a bit obsessed by the flaps, so decided to try making a Chinese-style vessel adorned with these.
I also had a little time at the end to make another sample using one of the other resist techniques.
Ours was a relatively sedate class – next door, we could hear the sound of bags and hats being thrown on the floor to help the shrinking process!
Finally, on the Friday evening, we held a small exhibition for friends, family and other visitors to come and see the fruits of our labours.
All in all, it was a fabulous five days of learning a lot from thoughtful tutors and making new friends. Highly recommended.
ESP amused himself by going into Paris every day and visiting as many museums as possible(19 plus Versailles in total!). He did so much walking that I think he must have strained a ligament in his ankle – he’s currently walking with a limp. :-(
We then headed down to the Dordogne to visit Joan, one of my sister Women of the Cloth, and her husband Anthony, who have a house there. We talked about the possibility of us running some workshops there next year – very exciting!
As the weather finally cleared up, we went back north for a couple of days in the Loire valley. We stayed in the extraordinary Chateau de Chemery, with a loom and spinning wheels in our room, and visited the stunning gardens of Villandry and Chaumont.
Sadly, we were one day late getting home due to a faulty brake caliper, a long wait for the AA and a stupendous thunderstorm. But that doesn’t spoil a trip full of inspiration and excitement – can’t wait to get felting again!