Next week I’m taking part in my first RHS show in London. A lot of my customers are keen gardeners, so I thought this would be a good event to try.
As well as my ecoprinted and indigo upcycled scarves and garments, I’m going to try selling some felt pots. I really like making felt pots, and when I first had a market stall I tried selling them. Although people liked them, the most common question I was asked was “But what would I do with it?”.
Then recently I ran a felt pot making workshop at Brixton Windmill harvest festival. After the workshop, I sent one of the sample pots I made to my friend and festival organiser Magdalen. She promptly posted a photo on Instagram of two pots I had made for her, containing some succulents.
This prompted a lightbulb moment – show, don’t tell! So I’m hoping that by showing people how they can be used, this will inspire them to think more creatively.
I will also have a couple of the abstract seedpods to see if they attract any interest.
My piece combines ombre-dyed cotton scrim and felt, because my place – where I feel most at home – is by the indigo vat.
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!
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.
In the meantime, partly inspired by the Josef Frank exhibition, I’ve become a bit obsessed with making felt flowers. As you may know if you’ve followed me for a while, my colour palette is normally quite subdued (and usually involves a lot of blue 🙂 ) but the flowers have really allowed me to take advantage of all the brightly coloured fleece in my stash!
I’m hoping to have a good selection of these corsages to brighten my stand at the Contemporary Textiles Fair in Teddington later this month.
I’ve also been continuing my work with dress net, exploring other forms. Coincidentally, one of these also happens to be a flower.
The next step is to make enough of these to create a ball! Two down, 10 to go. 🙂
One of the main advantages for me is that public and product liability is included in the membership fee, which is handy. 🙂
Another is the chance to meet other local felters (the IFA is organised by region) and to attend workshops with well-known tutors without having to travel to the Netherlands or Belgium (though I will probably still pop over there occasionally).
And so I found myself last weekend in a lovely room in north London with Dagmar Binder and 10 other enthusiastic feltmakers. I’ve long admired Dagmar’s work, especially her surface structure and subtle painterly colour blends. Dagmar had brought along plenty of samples to inspire us.
We started the first day by making a sample, experimenting with different fibre layouts and combinations with needle felt to produce different results. This was very illuminating and will be a useful reminder for future experiments.
The workshop was for two days but the sample took quite a long time – I took mine home to finish in the evening on the first day. So our time for making a bigger project was a bit limited.
But as you know I am never short of ambition 🙂 so decided to try a multi-pocketed circular layout inspired by a dahlia. Here are a couple of shots of the work in progress.
I did scale my ambition back during the day – the original plan was to have some central spikes – as I needed to get it to the stage where it was felted sufficiently to be able to take it home to finish without it falling apart.
This is the final piece after finishing at home.
I’m pleased with the result but as ever see room for improvement. If I did it again, in less of a hurry, I would lay out the petals more evenly. And I’m not happy with the central section, which is too large.
Also because I tried to avoid having too many layers of fibre in the centre I truncated the resists for the lower pockets. However, I think that extending all the resists to the centre would make the centre less flat and would give the piece more volume overall.
It reminded me of an earlier dahlia-inspired experiment (on a much smaller scale), based on the same principles but slightly different technique – here are the two samples together.
This was a very useful workshop. I learned a lot about stabilising felt, combining needlefelt and fibre, and different layouts of fibre to produce different effects.
Dagmar is a patient tutor who encourages students work out answers for themselves by close observation of what happens throughout the felting process.
Thanks to Cathy and Sue and other members of the IFA for organising the workshop.