Monstrous Felting Retreat

A few weeks ago I experienced the delight that is the Auckland Fun Felter’s Retreat, 2 full days of felting bliss! 🙂

We were 13 like-minded ladies at a retreat centre, tucked away in a quiet and leafy corner of west Auckland, we had the entire centre all to ourselves and were blessed with some lovely weather.

Jenny, our organiser extraordinaire, asked if anyone would be willing to teach / lead a short workshop on Saturday morning. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to teach face to face since 2019 so jumped at the chance and then immediately panicked that I had nothing to teach this incredibly creative and experienced group (most of the members have been felting at least as long as I have!).

After several weeks mulling it over and talking to other AFF members I settled on “animal textures in felt”, I thought this would lend itself to a series of pre-prepared samples that we could discuss the potential pitfalls and then each member could incorporate one or two into their own project. This group is so experienced I couldn’t imagine any of them wanting to waste their precious felting time watching me laying out fibre over a resist.

We all arrived on Friday afternoon, settled into our rooms and started playing with our fibres in the main hall. After talking to a few members I realised not everyone would be happy for me to share some samples and tips on how to achieve different effects, they wanted a project to follow…. my heart sank, I hadn’t planned for this, how was I going to come up with a project that included, fur, scales, eyes and locks before tomorrow morning?!!

So it was that Fugly was born….

A little pod critter, with eyes, scales on his back, a lambs tail and an unfortunate ear-hair problem – for the record I would never normally recommend trying to cram so many different techniques onto one item but now he is finished I do find Fugly quite endearing 🙂

To my surprise most of the group also made pods that incorporated most or all of the techniques and we ended up with a ?gaggle, ?fright, ?laughter <insert collective noun of your choice here> of funny little monsters:

A couple of members applied to techniques to small bags with great effect…

This weekend was such a success we agreed to do it all again in just 6 months time! 🙂

You can never have too much felt art

Since we moved to our new home in May we have been steadily adorning the walls with the pieces of art that moved with us, as we were deciding what to hang where, Mr TB pointed out that more than half of the art work on our walls is made from wool. I couldn’t disagree but still felt compelled to make a new piece to hang in the hallway, opposite the front door. Something colourful and cheery to greet any visitors. Much to my surprise, instead of complaining that we have too much wool on the walls, Mr TB helped me hang it.

I really wanted to play with a piece of silk purchased at Fibretron (a fibre festival in Hamilton, NZ), it has this wonderful wavy texture and can be peeled into fine sheets a little like silk hankies. I used some to decorate a large sheet of felt, layering and blending different colours as I went.

Once felted, I cut up the sheet into large petal shapes and continued felting them while shaping and blocking them, before laying them out to find an appealing arrangement.

At this stage I felt like the centre really needed something, a complimentary colour perhaps? So I had a play with some different colours…

But they didn’t quite feel right.

I have recently been playing with making different sculptural flower shapes and had one sitting on my bench. This looked much better, this is the piece after I had started gluing and sewing the petals together:

I tried making another central flower in the same blues as the large petals but it didn’t look half as good, it’s funny how some, unplanned, random elements just work together isn’t it? More on the blue flower at the end of this post…

Here is the final piece assembled and hanging on the wall:

It had been hanging on the wall less than a week before one the fluffy terrorists discovered that, if he jumped really high (4 feet off the ground), he could rip the petals off and add to his collection of toys. So far the hanging has lost 2 petals….

Floki with his “prizes” – if you look closely you can also see muddy paw prints on the wall

There were quite a few pieces of felt left over after making this hanging so I re-purposed them to enlarge the small blue flower:

Now I feel inspired to make a whole bunch of these to create an artificial flower bouquet….

Summer has finally arrived here in Auckland, I hope the weather is being kind wherever you are.

International Feltmakers Association Conference 2015

The week before last saw 5 days of joyful feltmaking, surrounded by beautiful, generous, like-minded people and being taught by internationally acclaimed tutors. For me, it was heaven and I really did not want it to end.

The line up of tutors was pretty impressive but for me, the biggest draw was the chance to make hats with Judit Pocs. She is an incredibly talented and imaginative felt artist, I am particularly fond of her “phantasy” hats and creatures but she also makes incredible jewellery and bags.

We only had 2 days but Judit packed a lot in, within the first hour she had shown us 5 completely different hat templates and examples of finished hats that each template could make by employing different fabrics, prefelt vs tops, different surface designs and decorative elements.The options were seemingly endless. Almost everyone in the class had picked a different style which can’t have made Judit’s job easy!

Judit went on to explain how to resize each template to our own head sizes an off we went, me with my head spinning and feeling slightly overwhelmed by all the options to choose from.

I finally settled on using a flower for my inspiration and this is the result. I am really pleased with it, not least because I look silly in most hats, and while this hat is a bit OTT it actually suits my face, so much so that I think I will keep it, now I just need to find some exuberant venues to wear it at! 🙂

This hat took the best part of 2 days to make but in the last couple of hours I managed to make a small pouch too:

The third day was spent making collars with Joke van Zinderen (Joke is pronounced Yo-Ka). She is so funny and cheerful I can’t imagine Joke ever having a bad day, she really is the eternal optimist and her enthusiasm and joy is utterly infectious. Spending the day in her class, learning new ways of using Kap merino and attaching felt ropes was an absolute pleasure.

It’s not quite finished, some of the felt around the neckline still needs fulling and shaping but this is what my collar currently looks like:

My last workshop was with Evelyn Refsahl, making more hats but this time with Norwegian wool. I confess Norwegian would not be my first choice for hats, I find it a little bit scratchy and it has a tendency to shrug off the water when trying to wet out the wool but laying out with batts was relatively quick and easy.

On the last evening, there was a gala dinner followed by a fashion show where all the students paraded up and down in our wonderful new creations, it was fantastic to see what everyone else had been making and have them all proudly show them off. Lots of photos were taken of the parade but I’m afraid I don’t have any to share.

To my utter shock, I won a prize at the parade. I can’t decide if I was most shocked because I wasn’t even aware there was a competition or because the prize was for “best dressed”. For those of you that know me in the real world, this will probably be a surprise for you too. I’m not very girly, I don’t wear make-up and I feel most at home in a pair of jeans and trainers, so being awarded this accolade nearly knocked me off my, slightly inebriated, perch. Here is my prize, a lovely bundle of hand-dyed woolyness just waiting to be felted.

I’m thinking another hat might be in order….

To all the lovely ladies who attended and organised the IFA conference, thank you, each and everyone of you made it a truly wonderful experience and I can’t wait to see you all again at other felting events in the near future. Your kind hearts and generous spirits make the felting a world a beautiful place to be 🙂

Hat for Brains

I did a demonstration at a felt exhibition before Christmas, using some red wool from one of those “lucky dip” bags. I have no idea what the wool is but it created a really unexpected result.

Several people commented on how much it looked like a brain…. well I had to do it didn’t I? My sense of humour wouldn’t let me walk away….. I had to make a hat to look like a brain out of what was left of the red wool. 🙂

Laying out the mysterious red wool:

I used some of my rainbow-dyed merino for the inner layer:

Laying out the merino:

It’s nearly finished but I need your advice please, do you prefer option 1, 2, 3 or 4?

Option 1: brim folded up

Option 2: brim folded up and then the uneven edge folded back in on itself
Option 3: to cut the uneven edge to straighten it up

Option 4: to fold the brim under so you only get “brain” and no brim

What do you think?

New Year New Goals

I can’t believe we are already 3 days into 2015…. so I am already late setting my new goals; not the most auspicious start! 🙂

My first 2 goals are essentially carried over from last year but they really worked for me so I will carry on with those with just some small edits.

  1. Post to my blog at least once per week and to Facebook twice per week
  2. Maintain at least 90 listings on Etsy
  3. Attend at least 2 workshops with other feltmakers to further develop my felting repertoire
  4. Start teaching felt making
Number 2 is an interesting one for me, as we approached Thanksgiving last year I set myself a target of having 90 items listed in my Etsy shop and I noticed a significant increase in sales soon after (not difficult to achieve, you might think, given that I had only sold 8 pieces in the 13 months prior). Initially I put the sales spurt down to a Christmas rush but I have had 5 more sales since Christmas (I’m still bouncing round the house with joy that other people like my work! 🙂 ) so it can’t just be people buying Crimbo presents.

Number 3 is a bit of a cheat since I have already signed up for a hat making class with Judit Pocs (I am so excited I can barely sit still) and I already have an idea of what I would like to do for the second one (more on that once it has been confirmed). But I do think it is important to keep learning from each other and expanding our horizons.

Number 4 is still just a handful of seeds in my mind, a few people have suggested I write a tutorial and I have ideas for at least 3 but the new EU VAT rules that came into force on January 1st put a spanner in those plans for a while but after much reading and networking I think there may be a work-around if I email the tutorials (it still isn’t clear if ALL the EU countries will agree this is acceptable). I also like the idea of doing some face-to-face teaching although it scares the hell out of me! There is a studio near me that runs a variety of workshops but as far as I can see felting is not on their menu, so I have plans to go and have a chat with the owner…. watch this space 🙂

I hope you have been taking a few days from your day job and have found time to be creative over the last week or so?  I have been having a whale of a time, here are a few images of the things I have been working on:

A pair of fingerless gloves to match my felt jacket:


Another pair of fingerless gloves with silk hankies for decoration:
A couple of nuno felt scarves:



A black-widow spider inspired cape – in this photo it looks more like a dangerous creature from the deep 🙂
Rolling the tassels for the fringes took forever, I am so glad it is now finished and busy drying!


A new nuno felt top for me 🙂

layout of the silk over a resist

layout of wool over the silk

I plan to wear this next week – will try to get a photo of it on, seeing it laid flat on a table under artificial lights really doesn’t do it any justice…

What have you been up to over Christmas? Have you made any resolutions or set goals for 2015? I hope your start to 2015 had been great and reflects how the rest of 2015 will pan out.

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

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