Pods workshop with Andrea Graham

I’m just back from another fabulous three-day workshop at Atelier Fiberfusing near Amsterdam in the Netherlands. The atelier is run by Dorie van Dijk and her family, and I attended a workshop by Lisa Klakulak there last year. It’s a fantastic space, with a huge table for each student and plenty of room to move about. Food is plentiful and delicious, sometimes unusual – I’ve never had sauerkraut lasagne before! 🙂 – and though the atmosphere is warm, friendly and laid back, underneath everything is extremely well organised. I can’t recommend it highly enough.

My chosen workshop this year was with Andrea Graham, who makes beautiful sculptural felt. I’ve admired her work for a long time and at one stage wondered about doing a workshop by webcam. But then I saw she was coming to Atelier Fiberfusing, and that was all the excuse I needed!

I’d booked for the three-day workshop on making pods, but before I arrived, there had been two previous workshops on making jewellery and textured surfaces. The results looked really interesting.

pod jewellery pod texture

Andrea had brought along some examples of pods to inspire us.

pod andrea2 pod andrea3

We started by making the core and legs for our pods, then added features such as spikes and resists using needle felting. After covering with the base colour and adding more features we finally wet felted the whole piece.

With 14 students in the class, all experienced felters, the results were incredibly varied, as the photos below show! The first one is mine.

Andrea is a very good tutor. Because of her experience, she can point out where the trouble spots are likely to be in advance, hopefully preventing too much disappointment after a lot of hard work!

I learnt a lot on this workshop:

  • Having done very little needle felting, I now have more respect for what can be achieved with this technique. Not just through what we did in class, but because Ruth Packham, who was staying at the same hotel as me, is an avid needle felter and gave me some inspiration. I still prefer the texture of wet felting though. 🙂
  • I’ve never made spikes before – I equated them with making bag handles, which is a long and tedious process if you just use bubble wrap. But using a bamboo mat is infinitely quicker, as long as the mat is sturdy enough.
  • I’ve never felted with batts, but they are much quicker to lay out. The short fibre merino I got from New England Felting Supply was much admired for the gorgeous mix of colours, and it felted like a dream! However, being used to laying out felt as “shingles” using tops, I had some difficulty in judging how thick the final felt would be when using batts, so some of the prefelt I made was quite thin. Hopefully this will improve with experience.

And of course I made some lovely new friends! 🙂

group shot pods

Looking forward to next year already…