Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Felting Bug!

Last weekend, on a gorgeous sunny afternoon, I got out my bike and happily pedalled my way down to Halfpenny Home for Rachel's felting workshop, eagerly anticipating what the afternoon would bring. As soon as I walked upstairs to the newly created workshop space I was greeted by a riot of colour - baskets full of wool rovings in every colour imaginable!

Clearly I am not alone in wanting to learn the process of wet-felting as the workshop was full. First things first, we all were provided with mugs of tea whilst we got acquainted and Rachel chatted about her passion for felting. It wasn't long before we were all fired up and raring to go. Rachel even treated us to a little recorder music before we made a start!
The project for today, was to make a tea-pot stand. So first job was to decide on a design and colours for our masterpiece. Having done so, with Rachel's help and guidance, we started with the job of making pre-felt.
After laying out our wool rovings, it takes nothing more complicated than water and washing up liquid, some tea-towels and bubble wrap - plus a good dollop of elbow grease to create pre-felts, hence we are all standing on the job! We were concentrating hard.

And here are the results, drying outside in the courtyard - the colours looked amazing all laid out in the sun! These will be used for the design once dry.

Nic had an old campaign bed that she set up especially for the job! Perfect!

A little wooden chair in a lovely shady spot beckoned, but we had more felting to do!

Now onto our backgrounds for our felt mat, which involved layering the wool roving in opposite directions. It looks really delicate and feathery at this stage and it's hard to imagine it will become such a hard wearing material. More tea on the go......

As I sat on the floor making a template for my design and cutting up my pre-felts I felt transported back to childhood. Felting is a very expressive craft and it is very exciting as the materials morph from one texture into another and you're not quite sure (well, at least I wasn't quite sure) how it would all turn out. Bit like a science experiment though hopefully not as potentially explosive!

I'd decided on a branch and pear design and to incorporate a little bit of ribbon for the branch into the design.....just in case you are struggling!!

Lisa's finished piece, depicting irises, was a triumph. And below, is my finished pear branch! I'm not sure that many of them will end up as tea-pot stands though. I think everyone was so chuffed with their pieces that they want to frame them and display them as art - which they truly are!

The time went really quickly and before we knew it, it was time to leave. However, Rachel was so keen to impart her knowledge she still found time to tell us how to use up all our little bits of left over pre-felt from our designs, to make felt balls. I couldn't resist having a go when I got home.....

I am contemplating making a cherry brooch with some of them, but couldn't help thinking these look like the old fashioned rosy apple sweets! A truly inspirational afternoon and, as Rachel said, "you've got the felting bug"



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