Felting in France

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's sample
Maria’s sample

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!

No - it's not a blue pizza, it's my sample!
No – it’s not a blue pizza, it’s my sample!

As usual, it was fascinating to see the different interpretations of the same techniques.

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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.

Image copyright Ariane Mariane
Image copyright Ariane Mariane
Image copyright Ariane Mariane
Image copyright Ariane Mariane

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!

Vessel by Maria
Vessel by Maria
Vessel by Maria
Vessel by Maria
Vessel by Maria
Vessel by Maria
Hat by Ariane, modelled by Monique (image copyright Ariane Mariane)
Hat by Ariane, modelled by Monique (image copyright Ariane Mariane)

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.

Sample to calculate shrinkage
Sample to calculate shrinkage
Work in progress
Work in progress
Finished vessel (with Maria in the background)
Finished vessel (with Maria in the background)

I also had a little time at the end to make another sample using one of the other resist techniques.

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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.

Student work
Student work
Student work
Student work
Student work
Student work
Student work
Student work
Maria's work - what we are aiming for!
Maria’s work – what we are aiming for!

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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.

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A felt planter at Chaumont!
A felt planter at Chaumont!

chaumont4

chaumont5

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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!

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19 thoughts on “Felting in France”

  1. Wonderful–what an inspiring trip you had, and your felt vessel is gorgeous! I also appreciated the photos of your sightseeing: do I see some future felting projects based upon them?

  2. Kim, I really liked the colourscheme in your final spiral sampler – gorgeous. I will make a note of the chateau where you had a spinning wheel in your room. Sounds lovely. What a great trip, and what a variety of felt got made by both groups. I do hope you find the time to get some more experimenting done x

    1. Carol – I think you’d like the chateau. It’s being restored brick by brick, and when the bedrooms are unoccupied they’re open to the visiting public, so it’s a bit like staying in a National Trust property!

  3. Hello! Do you have any information about this workshop or any other felting workshops in/around Paris? I am currently studying in Paris and would love to get back into felting! This workshop looks great!
    Thank you!

  4. Fabulous work! I envy you having the chance to do a workshop with Maria, I love her vessels. Interesting to read that you stayed at Chateau des Chemery, I stayed there about 10 years ago and it was a wonderful experience.

    1. Thanks Karen – Maria is a great teacher. And interesting to hear you stayed at Chateau des Chemery too – I wonder what state of restoration it was in then!

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