Nuno felting at West Dean

I do realise that by writing a post about another workshop so soon after returning from mud resist printing in Jaipur I am giving the impression of having nothing better to do than flit around the world attending whichever workshops I fancy, without having to worry about mundane matters such as earning a living. I wish! 🙂

In fact I booked this workshop on nuno felting for couture with Liz Clay at West Dean quite a while ago, after I was given some gift vouchers by some very generous friends, Anne and Lucy, for a significant birthday. The mud resist workshop, by contrast, was tacked on at the last minute to a holiday in India that had already been planned. The timing was unfortunate, but hey – you have to grab these opportunities when they arise!

The gorgeous gardens of West Dean
The gorgeous gardens of West Dean

So the last five days I have spent with Carol, my fellow felter from Women of the Cloth, in the bucolic surroundings of West Dean College in West Sussex. Of the 50 or so people attending workshops in this period, only two or three of us had never been before – and I can see why people return over and over again. The facilities are great, the food is plentiful, the bedrooms are comfortable, and the tutors know their stuff.

Liz Clay is a well-known felter who has produced fabric for Givenchy, Balenciaga and Stella McCartney, among others. Her book on nuno felt was one of the first I devoured when I first started felting at Morley College, so it was great to attend a workshop with her in person.

There were seven of us on the  course, with varying levels of felting experience. We started by making felt or prefelt samples and cutting shapes using templates provided by Liz. We then stitched these together and felted further (if using prefelt). Depending on the thickness of the felt and the shape of the templates, the result could be a vessel or bag, or an elegant floaty scarf.

crescent template 1 crescent template 2circle template

We also looked at other ways to add texture and movement, both through pleating prefelts and folding and crumpling fabric before nuno felting.

pleat 1 pleat 2 sample fabricsLiz also made a series of samples of different fabrics sandwiched together with fibre, which encouraged several students to make larger pieces to turn into garments.

Carol working on a large piece of nuno felted sari silk
Carol working on a large piece of nuno felted sari silk

After making a pleated sample I was noticed that when it was rolled up it resembled an oyster mushroom – perfect for an exhibition I am working on (details in a later post).

So I worked up a section of a sample neckpiece, which I then adapted before making the finished piece. The part that goes around the neck is inspired by bracket fungus, while the “clasp” is a toadstool. 🙂

sample neckpiece
Prefelted and stitched sample neckpiece
final neckpiece
Finished neckpiece

I now have something to wear for the private view, even though I haven’t made the work for the exhibition itself yet. Nothing like putting the cart before the horse! 😉

Our most mature student, Dorothy, also chose to make a pleated scarf, doggedly felting and stitching four metres of fabric! At one stage everyone joined in to help her get it finished.

dorothy wipdorothy finished scarf

Just time for a final group photo wearing some of our creations before heading home! One student, Jeanette, had to leave early, so is missing from the photo.

Back row, L to R: Amanda, Elizabeth, Liz, Dorothy, Carol. Front row, L to R: Kim, Kim
Back row, L to R: Amanda, Elizabeth, Liz, Dorothy, Carol. Front row, L to R: Kim, Kim

And now it really is back to the real world, nose to the grindstone! 😦

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Flextiles uses shibori, ecoprinting and felting to create original, one-off upcycled pieces. Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduces its environmental impact by 20-30%.

8 thoughts on “Nuno felting at West Dean”

  1. What a great looking workshop Kim. I’ve heard so much about West Dean and never been there either. On the list for next year as this year is proving to be a bit busy. Your Indian trip looked marvellous.

  2. I think it would be wonderful to have two inspiring workshops in quick succession. Makes putting your nose back to the grindstone a bit easier 🙂

    Your scarf is wonderful and I love the inspiration for it.

  3. Hello Kim, just come across this lovely blog, I notice when you are all helping me I am standing back watching ! I am taking a Daughter-in-law to the July with Liz Course, super if any of the women of Felt could be there too. I loved being with you allThankyou.

    1. Dorothy – so glad you found my blog and that you like the piece I wrote about West Dean!

      Unfortunately I don’t think I’m going to be able to make the summer school with Liz, but I hope you and daughter-in-law enjoy it – I’m sure you will. Maybe we’ll see you at another course in West Dean some other time.

      Keep in touch, and keep felting – look forward to hearing about your progress! 🙂

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