A wonderful chance meeting with a visitor to Morvah Schoolhouse recently inspired a new venture in 3D :-)
Mary makes felted pots and vessels and also keeps alpacas and she very kindly gave me a large bag of last year’s shearing from her 12-year-old, Josephine. The fleece is beautifully soft, a wonderful quality with subtle stripes and colour variation and a slight crimp too - such a joy to handle.
It's fantastic to know the provenance of the wools and fleeces, especially to this extent! and in feeling sure that the animals are treated with kindness and respect. This is fundamental to the work I do - further details here.
To make the pot, you can use a cheapy resist (£1 silicone baking sheet) and table mats. I cut a large circle in the resist and pre-felted three layers of wool around it, then, with a good amount of felting, the resist starts to buckle as the fibres shrink and you can cut a smallish hole in the felt and pull it out. (In the final layer I added a few strands of French D’Arles Merino for a little more colour contrast - darker brown - and then decided to sew a few ridges into the surface for interest whilst wet.) Finally, shape the pot and fill with bubble-wrap then leave it to dry in the sun (and the airing cupboard).
Felted pots/vessels and pods have such an organic nature, they feel truly beautiful to hold and you can create any shape, size and design, and each type of wool will create a different texture. The alpaca wool is very fine and soft so adding a little more of another wool such as Merino or maybe Texel (quite bulky and resilient) might be a good idea next time to increase sturdiness and I don’t think I felted mine for long enough this time... I might still sew a few more ridges too... they resemble texture on bark a little...
I can imagine future designs with simple embellishing, birds, ferns, flowers, plants, insects …maybe felt plates, platters, dishes, pots, sculptural pieces….endless!
The wonder of felt is that you are creating the form whilst also making the fabric and it's great to watch what happens and unfolds along the way :-)
There are many online tutorials for making felted vessels and I think I might follow one next time to get some more handy tips and hints. I'd also like to start working out how to film my work to make time-lapse videos (my son can help me with this!) and when I create another pot/pod I'll write more detailed notes... this first time was a real (pretty messy!) experiment :-)
Thank you Mary and Josephine for the inspiration, the tips and technique using resists - and your beautiful fleece xx