Saturday, 11 April 2015

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 :)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Back in action

Apologies I have been away from the blogging world for a couple of months, life has been more than a little hectic since January, although things are improving I wish I could say it was all over, there is a court hearing in a couple of weeks and I am optimistic things will return to something approaching normal after that.

I have been finding the odd moment to do some felting though (I would go mad if I couldn't find some space to be creative) and last week was spent at the International Feltmakers Association Conference and AGM which was spectacular (more on that in another post).

Here are a few of the pieces I have been working on since January, this is a dress made using one of the techniques taught on Fiona Duthie's Surface Design Online course:

Following some discussion on how to use silk cocoons and other goodies from experimentation packs on the Felting and Fiber Forum, I have been having a little play with some silk cocoons. These 3 are embedded in some Bergschaf wool (a gift from the lovely Jane Mercer), it is a lovely wool to work with, it felted quickly and forms an nice tight felt.

I like the gently rounded humps that the cocoons create and have an idea to use them in a 3D wall hanging, perhaps with the kap merino I bought from Woolknoll a few weeks ago.

This is the piece I am currently working on, feeling inspired by all the hat making at the IFA conference I have an idea to make a series of hats using the symbols /national plants of different countries. This one is inspired by the English oak tree:

Covering the branches with wool is proving to be quite a challenge, this hat is either going to be a brilliant feat of felt engineering or a disaster! This is what it looks like after 2 days of work...

Thank you Marilyn for giving me a gentle nudge back into blogging :)