Nautilus cross section

You may remember my previous experiments with nautilus, trying to create a cross section showing the chambered innards in felt. I thought I had cracked the basic technique, so went off to focus on whole shells rather than cross sections.

However, I was determined to include a cross section in the end-of-year exhibition at Morley Gallery,  so a few weeks ago I returned to the challenge – and got very frustrated. No matter how much I varied the lengths of the resists or the distance between them, I always ended up with something that looked more like a rosebud, with the outer chambers refusing to open out. I’d reached a dead end.

Then after some “I’m ready to give up” conversations with my tutor Mary and with Chrissie, I decided to try another approach. This involved stitching a long strip of prefelt around the resists in the shape I wanted, and then felting into shape.

It took me a while to figure out the best way of doing this, using calico and a tape measure. But finally I thought I had it and summoned up the courage to cut into my precious prefelt.

I was quite pleased with the stitched version before felting – but boy was it difficult to felt. Because I was paranoid about the felt shrinking too much, leading to the problems I’d had before, I packed the spaces with bubble wrap to keep them opened out, which made felting even trickier.

Although some felting did occur, the piece was still pretty fragile. So I sewed the plastic resists back in, took another deep breath – and put it in the washing machine.

Thankfully, the gamble paid off. The final piece didn’t shrink as much as I expected, but it is a bit sturdier and didn’t fall apart.

Now all I have to do is find some way to keep its shape when hanging it. 🙂