Introducing Petunia and Friends

I first saw the masks of Gladys Paulus 4 or 5 years ago and was instantly mesmerised, to me, the photo below is iconic of her work, stunning felt, photographed in curious and inspiring ways.

When I started to see photos of her students’ work appearing online I KNEW this was a workshop I HAD TO take. Gladys has a young family so understandably limits her teaching schedule to only a handful of events each year, she also teaches internationally, this means there are typically only 1 or 2 dates each year when she is teaching in the UK. Not surprisingly, her workshops sell out pretty quickly, having been pipped to the post on 2 previous occasions I wasted no time when she announced there would be a fantasy mask workshop at the beginning of April. Cheerfully glossing over the health warnings and assertions that it would be very hard work that came with the sign-up form, I suspect I was the first person to book a place! 🙂

In preparation for the workshop, Gladys asked us to collect photos / create drawings from different angles of what we would like to make. I knew I wanted to make something based on a leafy sea-dragon, a very flamboyant relative of the seahorse, and found lots of photos from the front, a few from the side but none from behind. I attempted to sketch what I thought it might look like but found that almost impossible.

In a moment of epiphany I remembered I had a bag of clay left over from my diploma in art and design course. Would it have dried out and be unworkable?

It was perfect! Still soft and malleable, it was a delight to work with and it was strangely cathartic to see my leafy sea-dragon evolve as I worked the clay.

Until finally, a flowery-sea-dragon was born…

And of course, the all important view from behind 🙂

I went back to sketching based on on the model, as you can see I was already brainstorming possible names; one of my instagram followers suggested with a nose so large, she should be a perfumer.

It turned out I wasn’t the only one who made a clay model before the workshop, Suzie did too, only she went a few steps further, glazing and firing her work:

Carolyn also made a super-cute needle-felted model of her gargoyle.

Gladys commented that we were the first group to make models in preparation for the class making it all the more interesting that the 3 of us had done so independently of each other. Great minds eh? 🙂

With nervous anticipation (I had waited over 3 years to take this workshop) I filled the car with as much wool and felting paraphernalia as I could cram in, carefully perching my fragile clay model on the pile in the front seat, and made the 2.5 hour drive to Felt in the Factory on the Welsh border.

There were 7 students on the course, all lovely, very experienced felt-makers. Two had flown over from Canada (they did not know each other before the workshop), now that is dedication! The first day started with introductions and how to design and plan your mask template before creating the template.

Templates made, we started laying out the wool by the end of day 1 and this continued for the next two days interspersed with making prefelts and some rubbing. I am so glad most of us were staying at Felt in the Factory or nearby as we worked until 10pm most evenings and coming in an hour or 2 before class officially started again to work on our creations. Did I mention that the sign up form included a health warning regarding the level of fitness required? I thought it was exaggerated but we really did end up spending 12+ hours each day on our feet, only stopping to eat and sleep. The ever-helpful Nina provided a constant supply of tea, coffee and cake while we worked, ensuring the meal breaks were kept to a minimum.

I think most of us went through quite an emotional journey with our masks, starting with excitement and a little trepidation at the scale of the task to despair that it would always be a twisted misshapen mess to finally the joy and fulfilment as it finally started to resemble the sketches and photos it was created from. For some of us even even the animal that we thought we were working on morphed into something else, when I bumped into Nickie at the Contemporary Textiles Fair she said she would make a dragon, by the end of the week it was a griffin, I will let you decide which it is….

At the end of our 5 days together everyone left with sore hands, a mask they could be proud of and a big smile on their face. I think all of us have continued working on our masterpieces since we departed.

I think I am the only one to name my new pet, perhaps you can help suggest some names? Introducing…..

Carolyn’s gargoyle
I’m sure gargoyles should be frightening but I think he is gorgeously huggable 🙂
Nickie’s dragoniffin
Suzie’s Ram’s Head – Work in Progress
Finished!
Suzie Gutteridge

www.suziegutteridge.com
Petunia – my Flowery Sea-Dragon

If you are interested in taking this workshop I recommend signing up to Gladys’ newsletter on her webpage so you are notified as soon as the next class dates are released.

Happy felting!

Felting for Embroidery – Part 2

Several people have requested an update following this post that I wrote following a felt-making session I led for the Farnborough Embroiderer’s Guild. We met the following month with the intention of adding some stitching to the pieces we had made and these are the results. They are all work in progress so please don’t judge them too harshly (not that you would, I know 🙂 ).

What do you think? Do you have a favourite?

London Hat Week

It has been and exciting couple of months in the London craft world, first we had Collect at the end of February, then the Contemporary Textiles Fair in March and most recently London Hat week. It has been a real treat on so many different levels! I would have dearly loved to try some of these hats on, if the organisers allowed that I am sure the atmosphere in the exhibition would be buzzing with giggles and laughter 🙂

There were literally hundreds of hats on display under the “World Garden” theme so I have selected just a handful of my favourites to share with you here, starting with those made from felted wool, I hope you enjoy them as much as I did…

Las Vegas Creamsicle by FeltHappiness
Beech Glade by The Crafty Beggars
Wendell’s Tussock by The Crafty Beggars
I love their clever use of wool locks to create a very wearable tuft of grass!
The Animation from Within by Anna Utko
This was a very deserving winner of HatTalk prize
The label said it was inspired by feeling emotions and finding your inner balance
Urban Garden by Antonela K Millinery
It is hard to see with the dark background but the felt of this top hat is lacy and see-through, a curious idea but as someone who wears hats to conceal my “bad-hair-days” it might be missing the point! 🙂
Tango by Jilby
I have often seen needle-felted fruit and vegetables on Pinterest and wondered what people do with them, now I know! 🙂
Winter by Sherry Richardson
I was immediately drawn to the ethereal nature of this hat made from sinamay and crin.
Crista Galli by Nikole Tursi
This hat is modelled on the Ceibo, the national flower of Argentina and is quite breathtaking to look at
Crista Galli from a different angle
Irony – Ration of Thorns by ITAM Designs
I’m still not sure if I am drawn to or repulsed by this hat, the black spidery tendrils leave me a little bit frightened but morbidly fascinated at the same time
Nature’s Way by Hat Trick
Autumn Days by Fascinators of Flair
Made in Holland by Marianne Jongkind Hoeden
This hat made me do a double-take, initially it looks like a large hat to fit a large head but then you realise it must have a double shell to accommodate a normal size head. The visual trickery appeals to my sense of humour.
The Rose Trellis by Wendy Scully Millinery
Life Scenery by Suteni
Butchart Gardens by Sova Design Millinery
I love the Ann Boleyn style hat form body of this headpiece.
Fiona by Vivian Blooms
The shadows cast by this hat are magical aren’t they?
Peacock by Verna Wass Millinery
I so want to see airline cabin crew wearing these!
Peacock from a different angle
Shura by Viviane Go
This hat fascinated me, wondering first if it was a creature? I settled on it being an armadillo only to then read the label and discover it was a Pangolin. Then came the question of how one would wear it, I concluded the tail would have to sit across your mouth and the point would sit over your nose, like a very ornate balaclava.
Even though it isn’t made from wool I think this was my favourite hat in the exhibition.

Which was your favourite and why?

Collect 2019

Collect is an annual show of international contemporary craft, organised by by the Crafts Council. I have wanted to attend this event for the last few years but it is only open to the general public for 3 days so has proved very difficult to schedule, this year however, was different and I finally got to go in person and I am so glad I did! It is a great opportunity to talk to other artists about their craft and processes, especially on the top floor which is dedicated to emerging artists rather than the galleries who occupy the ground and first floors.

It is a pretty incredible show, spread over 3 floors of the Saatchi galleries. You will need at least 3 hours to do it justice, more if you plan to attend any of the talks.

These are just a tiny selection of the pieces that were highlights for me….

Marian Brjlenga’s delicate, spidery textile hanging
Detail of above photo
Jerome Blanc’s exquisitely carved wooden bowls
Detail of above photo
Detail of “Time Space” by Shihoko Fukumoto, indigo dyed weaving
Inger Fohanne Rasmussen
Detail of above photo
Lizzie Farey, willow
Lizzie Farey, willow
Susie Freeman – “Pill Bag”
Mathieu Ducournau – threads on canvas
Mathieu Ducournau – threads on canvas
Detail of photo above
Claire Malet – “Winter Sketch”
Vanessa Hogge – “Daphne” and “Chrysanthemum” vases
Zemer Peled – “In Bloom”
Ricardo Tena Chavez – “Unexpected Creatures”
Su-Yeon Kim – “Forrest of Stools”, drawn with melted glass
Charlotte Mary Pack – “100 Elephants”
These were made in one day and represent the number of elephants illegally killed each day.
Martha Rieger – each cocoon had a little surprise hidden inside
Detail of photo above

The exhibition closes on the 3rd of March so you will need to be quick if you want to see it in person but it is definitely worth the effort.

Felting for Embroidery

I have been attending my local Embroiderer’s Guild (Farnborough) for a year or so now, we meet monthly and our group is slightly unusual in that we focus on teaching each other practical skills rather than inviting speakers. Last month we made coiled bowls and before that temari balls.

Being a feltmaker it was no surprise when I was asked if I would teach the group to make a piece of felt that we could then embroider at the following meeting. It was quite a tall order, 13 ladies, 11 of whom had never handled wool tops before, let alone made felt and we only had 2.5 hours to complete our projects in…

Most embraced a landscape for their first piece of felt, rather fitting with the Q1 challenge although, of course they did not know about it 🙂

Deborah
Lindsay
Alison
Sally
Teri

Others took a more abstract approach….

Anne
Karen
Sue

Marion

I can’t wait to see how they look after the addition of some embroidery next month, I have great plans for machine embroidery on mine, it is going to be a lot of fun!

If you are local and interested in the Farnborough (UK) Embroiderer’s Guild we would love to hear from you, please email Sue and Anne at farnborougheg@gmail.com for more information

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