Lumps and bumps

Thanks to all of you who commented on my last post, suggesting I should cut away more felt from the flint. So I did – and you were right, the balance of felt to stone is much better. 🙂

Wrapping rocks can get quite addictive if you let it – I also enclosed a bit of coral.

coral and felt

This week we’ve been working on lumps and bumps with Pam de Groot, essentially based on the principle that the thicker the felt, the less it shrinks.

Here’s a piece I made inspired by the Phyllidia exquisita sea slug, or nudibranch.

felt inspired by Phyllidia exquisita nudibranch

And here’s something that resembles a funny-coloured garlic clove when it’s closed, but opens up to reveal its balls in the centre. 😉

Undulations and enclosures

I really enjoyed the last online workshop with Pam de Groot, so I’m now doing another one on Surface form and space.

The first couple of weeks focused on undulations.

felt undulations felt undulations

By varying the thickness and spacing you can create different effects, so it’s always exciting and fascinating to see what other people have produced in the online discussions. One enthusiastic felter has produced a whole undersea tableau with her creations!

Here I combined some undulations with spikes, just for fun.

Now we’ve moved on to felting foreign objects, starting with stones. As you might imagine, this combination of hard and soft was right up my street. And ESP will be delighted that I’m actually doing something with all the stones I collect on our holidays (and which normally end up in his suitcase to carry home!).

I started with a small granite pebble.

Then I had a go at making a felt necklace. To be honest it’s a bit of a squeeze getting it over my head – I should have made the cord a bit longer!

Finally, I found a flint in the garden that had three holes in it – two of the holes connected to form a mini tunnel. So I tried felting this and then cutting to reveal the holes. Here are a couple of different angles, showing the flint before and after felting.

If I did it again I would probably have fewer layers of felt to try to maintain more of the shape of the stone.

I’m also not sure whether the felt covers too much of the stone texture and whether I should cut away a bit more of the felt. What do you think?

SLWA My Place exhibition

I’m very excited to be taking part in the My Place exhibition organised by the South London Women Artists. The work of 30 artists will be on show, each exploring their sense of place and belonging.

My piece combines ombre-dyed cotton scrim and felt, because my place – where I feel most at home – is by the indigo vat.

ombre dyed felt

The colour indigo is traditionally thought to stimulate right brain or creative activity, but for me it is more of a meditative experience, disrupting the coppery sheen of the surface as I dip the fabric, and watching the magical alchemy as it turns from green to blue before my eyes. The white clouds in the sky above are mirrored by the clumps of foam, or indigo “flower”, floating on the surface of the vat.

My Place runs from 7 to 12 July at Brixton East 1871, 100 Barrington Road, London SW9 7JF, 11am-6pm daily.

The private view is on Friday 7 July, 6-9pm – everyone welcome!

Holiday sandwich

I’ve just returned from a week’s holiday in northern Spain, starting at the pilgrim city of Santiago de Compostela and then driving along the coast and inland to Asturias. It was a great combination of fantastic seafood, wild landscape plus a smattering of culture.

Skip the gallery below if you hate looking at other people’s holiday snaps! 🙂

Before I went away I had a great weekend in Stroud, with a stall at the first Collectives Fair at the SIT Select Festival. It was the chance to stay with some old friends whom I hadn’t seen for about 20 years, and meet some lovely new makers and customers.

It was also a fantastic surprise when Janet, a felter from Washington State I met at the International Shibori Syposium in Oaxaca last November, showed up. Janet was visiting the UK with her great aunt and found out I was going to be at Stroud so came along to say hello. It was lovely to see you Janet – and I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip!

As well as selling at the Collectives Fair I managed to squeeze in a bark cloth workshop with Bobby Britnell – I’ll write a separate post about this later.

Then yesterday after I got back from holiday I ran a workshop on making felt flowers as part of the Chelsea Fringe at Nine Elms on the South Bank. This area is undergoing huge redevelopment – the US Embassy will be moving here in September – but the venue was pleasant and spacious and the participants were keen and did amazingly well given that none of them had ever felted before!

Some of the happy felters with their flowers

 

Playing with plaster

As well as sculpting with stone, ESP has experimented with plaster moulding. But rather than carving his own moulds, he has unconventionally used things like discarded packaging.

This piece, which looks like a fragment of a Greek column, was made using some air-filled plastic packaging that protected bottles.

Over Easter we experimented with filling balloons with plaster. Because the plaster takes around 20 minutes to dry and we got bored of moving them around before that, the plaster settled and was thicker in some areas than others. So when we cut off the balloon the tension caused the very thin areas to break. They look uncannily like real eggs!

Then I thought I would try combining plaster and felt. I’ve worked before with the idea of the contrasting hard and soft textures by combining felt and stone here and here.

I started by dipping some felt offcuts into plaster – some just one layer, others more than once.

You can see above that the hairy texture of the wool is quite evident beneath the plaster in places.

I then made and dipped two spherical felt vessels. This one was merino.

This one was made with coarser cheviot wool.

I dipped each vessel four times but there is still a clear difference in texture. This may be more noticeable with fewer dips but then the plaster may be too delicate to withstand much pressure.

More experiments needed! 🙂