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Felting around

Amongst my friends it is a well known, although not much talked about secret, that I am a bookaholic. I've recovered sometimes over the years, then purchased one book and bingo, back on a binge. The good thing is that because of my profession as an artist these are a business expense. Especially, since my books are primarily of the reference type, with lots of pictures and eye-candy. To give you a sampling of the categories, there is a whole shelf of japanese crafting books, a VERY large variety of Waldorf crafting and pedagogical books, and then there is the shelf of felting books.

This large library of felting books was started when I was in art school in the 90's and since then every book published and deemed worthy by me was added. All with the intention that I wanted to study felting. There have been some workshops over the years. For Example, circa '96 with Joan Livingstone at the Harbourfront Centre Craft Studio, followed by explorations in my own studio. I was always fascinated with felting because it gave me very similar effects to paper making (my main study during the art school years), except without the 10,000 dollars of investment into a Hollander beater and a press. It's so wonderfully simple, take sheep wool, comb it, align it, add some soap and warm water and elbow grease, and WOW! there it is.

My art career however had a mind of its own and took of into the direction of mixed media fine art. Once I started working with Resin I have not been able to do any textile work in the studio to keep the space as dust free as possible. Resin acts like a magnet to any dust that floats by.

Yet felt remained on my mind so much that in 2008 I ordered a large amount of felting fibre to be shipped to Switzerland, so that I could pick it up during a visit and bring it back. The cost of the extra suitcase being cheaper than shipping it to Canada. Summers where going to be for felting and since we have a wonderful covered back porch, that was what I would do.. Spend one day a week outside felting. I now have to announce that it is officially 2011, I have yet another order of wool that I brought back from Switzerland last year, and there was only one morning during the summer spent felting with a friend. The wool is downstairs and well.. not getting turned into felt. There are about 10 kg's of wool or over 20 lbs. 

But there is light… During my visit to the old home country last year I had the wonderful pleasure of taking a workshop with Christa Heiz in her wonderful studio. I spent 3 days felting with her and another student, while Huxley attended the public Kindergarten. Working with Christa was so inspiring. I managed to make a lovely bag, a sculptural piece and a play structure for Huxley's Playmobil, as well as a flower and a ring. 

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Felted, waiting to have the handle part cut out

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Finished bag drying in shape

It was with the inspiration of these smaller items, that I threw all caution into the wind last week and while I was preparing the next collection of abstract pieces that I did some felting at the studio. I am so inspired and think that I might now be able to do more regular work. 

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The concept of felting these flowers was taken from one of my felting books in German, however, I spent quite some time planning the laying out of the fibres, i.e. colour sequences. Also the petals are cut by my own design, not based on the instructions. 

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This puppy finger puppet was wet-felted and the instructions are based on a few different books. It was going to be a mouse, then turned into a puppy. The basic shape is wet felted, the eyes, nose and mouth is needle felted on. Very delicate work, yet so satisfying.

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This boat-shaped vessel was created from a free-form resist. I feel a connection to this form, it is one of my internal symbols. I did not have a specific purpose in mind, and I think this might need to become a series of pieces.

 

Some of my future felted items will end up for sale through the Olive Sparrow. This has been intended all along, since it's business tag line is "Good handmade Goods". Any feedback on these tentative steps toward felted goodies would be much appreciated. 

PS: there has also been a lot of doll-hat knitting going on, textile studio clean-up and set-up and a new camera is now mine.. with the forecast for sunshine later this week, the opening of my Etsy store is coming into close sight.

 

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