Around five years ago I first came across the work of felter Charlotte Sehmisch, who makes amazing “cellular” felt structures. But it wasn’t until last month that I managed to attend a workshop with Charlotte herself in Belgium, organised by Vrouw Wolle.
I wasn’t sure about the wool I had taken with me, as the materials list, which I received very late, specified “500g of merino or mountain sheep (both fleece)”. “Fleece” in this context means batting, but I didn’t have 500g of merino batting to hand, so I took some rather coarse mystery batts that I’d picked up at a stash sale. I did find time to do a quick sample square and found that it felted quite quickly, but that was all I knew about it!
Charlotte had brought both 2D and 3D samples with her – we started on the 3D pieces. You can probably guess that the layout involves multiple resists. Because I was using coarser wool, I made my resists larger than everyone else’s, so my piece was by far the largest in the room.
After laying out and felting comes the tricky cutting part – where, how far and in what direction! There were some rather nerve wracking moments, as I’d miscalculated the width of some of the “ribs”. But after firming up, shaping, and hardening with gelatine, I was quite pleased with the final result.
This was another excellent workshop organised by Vrouw Wolle, although the weather was unseasonally hot and humid so not ideal for felting. And although I’ve previously experimented a bit by myself with cellular felting (you can read about it here and here), I learnt a lot from Charlotte.
The workshop was part of a veritable felt jamboree over the whole weekend, with several other renowned tutors including Judit Pócs, Andrea Noeske Parada and Leiko Uchiyama running other workshops. There was also an inspiring exhibition of work by students from the Felt Academy, along with an excellent textile market.
Last week I finally had a go at making a sample starfish using the technique I learnt with Charlotte. At least, it was going to be a starfish, but I decided to make it with just three legs to test out the principle, in case it didn’t work. And then during the fulling it seemed to be more interested in developing into some kind of alien creature!
As you can see, there is lots of potential for experimenting with this technique! 🙂