I came across Swiss felter Violette Amendola’s work in the book FeltPassion. I just sat staring at her Metamorphosis piece (the one on the left) for about 10 minutes, trying to work out how it was done.
So when I saw that she was running a Vrou Wolle workshop in Belgium I enrolled immediately!
Turned out I was not alone – there were 13 other enthusiastic felters in the studio when I turned up the first day. Violette had brought her friend Dorothea with her as an assistant, who was just as charming and helpful, so nobody lacked attention.
The studio is a lovely space, with lots of wonderful felt pieces on display along with bags of every type of fleece you can think of, silk, fabric and other materials.
Delicious lunches, largely vegetarian, were cooked by Hilde, and there were plenty of drinks, biscuits and fruit to keep us going when energies flagged.
Violette explained that all the pieces we were going to make were inspired by pauwlonia seed pods she found in Paris. Because creating complete pieces is very time consuming and requires a lot of patience, the workshop was more about learning the technique rather than having a finished work to take home.
We started with a husk. Violette had made samples in different types of wool, but we used Valais Blacknose wool.
After we mastered the basic technique Violette showed us to use it in a slightly different way, to make “icicles”, necklaces and garlands.
Then we moved on to the technique she used to make the Metamorphosis piece. We started with the less complex version used to make these gorgeous bracelets and the elaborate neckpiece that Violette is wearing.
Finally we learnt how the Metamorphosis piece itself was constructed, though given the time constraints there was no way we were going to make one of these in the remaining day!
But here’s a pic of the small practice sample that I made.
I loved this workshop. Yes, the techniques are time consuming, but so is a lot of what I do. The facilities were great, and the challenges of running a workshop in Dutch, French, German and English presented surprisingly few problems!
And although many of the participants seemed impressed that I had travelled all the way from London, the connections by train were very easy.
I also had the opportunity to use a new wool for me – Valais Blacknose. Look out for a future post about this!