Saturday, 14 July 2012

Sheep and Serendipity

Q. What do the following have in common?

A. Felted wool!

Hat makers use shellac to stiffen felt, and I have
used that technique to create these.
I’m a big fan of felt and use it as a surface to bead on in much of my jewellery. It is one of our oldest fabrics as it was used in Neolithic times. Today, it can be found in some diverse places. Made into hats, used in pianos, built into the Yurts used as shelters by nomads in Asia, felted wool is wonderfully versatile.
I like to stiffen it with fabric medium, which makes it tough and durable for stitching onto. Recently I’ve been exploring it’s possibilities by moulding it into beads and three dimensional shapes. I find that when it’s wet it feels almost like clay and can be pressed round an object or cabochon.

Trees, berries and leaf shapes have filled my sketchbooks this week, and I am hoping to mould natural fleece fibres into shapes which will enclose cabochons to make a series of tree spirit pieces.

Felt beads - ready to be embellished

My new embellished felt bead

At present though, I am working on 2 pieces at once. Kimono has now had the main pieces joined up, with little scroll shaped elements in between. I’m also creating a chunky bead necklace, made from embellished felt beads.

Kimono - slowly but surely taking shape

In fact a rich seam of felt seems to be running through my life at the moment. My husband was listing some things on Ebay and he came through to the beading area holding up a car pennant flag with Oklahoma on it that he had picked up on his travels.
‘What material is this?’ he asked.
Would you believe it it was made of….felt! I stopped myself from waxing lyrical about it’s many wondrous properties, lest I get that look that husbands sometimes give their wives that mean ‘I’ve married a mad woman!’
But it doesn’t end there, this morning he handed me a little vintage book saying ‘Is this your sort of thing?’ I flicked it open and lo and behold, a page devoted to…. FELT!

If this awful weather continues I shall make myself a yurt.

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