Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Feltmaking courses at Hesta Scene...

I recently went on a couple of feltmaking courses with a lovely friend from work called Sue and we had a great time! The courses were held in the studio at Hesta Scene, a craft shop/gallery in Caldbeck, which is roughly north of the middle of Cumbria. 'Hesta' is a Cumbrian dialect word meaning 'have you', so 'Hesta Scene?' is a variation of 'have you seen?'.

The studio is a lovely space (I always love being in a studio surrounded by wool!) and the other ladies on the course were so friendly. My friend Sue (on the right) had that happy smile on her face for the whole two days!
Felting workshop

The first course was beginners feltmaking... making a felted picture and a scarf in a day. I'm not really a beginner feltmaker but I'd seen photos of this kind of thing on the website...
Poppy felted wall hanging
and knew I'd be able to learn a lot from a tutor who's able to make such lovely felted pictures!

I took along a postcard for inspiration that I bought at an exhibition of Maggi Hambling's amazing wave paintings at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge last year. I was blown away by the paintings (many of which are HUGE and full of incredible colour and texture) and wished that I could have spent some time spinning or felting in the gallery, taking inspiration from the pictures. As it was, I just bought all the books and postcards that were for sale at the exhibition and felt slightly sad that none of them came close to reproducing the experience of seeing the paintings in real life :(

Anyway, enough moaning, this is the postcard that I took to the felt course...
Wave postcard
Its an oil painting called 'Rising wave'.

I laid out my fibres, mostly dyed Merino wool but with the odd bit of silk and a few Bluefaced Leicester fleece curls...
Wave picture before wetting
I loved how it looked at this point... it seemed a shame to get it wet!

But I carefully sprinkled it with hot soapy water and rubbed it through a net curtain so that the design didn't shift about. And then rolled and rolled and rolled it some more in the bamboo blind until I had this...
Wave picture after wetting and rolling
Its still quite wet in the picture above and I haven't got a decent dry photo of it yet. I'd like to get it framed so I'll get a picture of it then.

What I have got is a picture of it winning second prize at Lowick Show last Saturday in the 'item in any other craft not already specified' class!
Class number 79

Second place felt picture
I was really impressed that it got placed because I thought the judges might not know what it was, let alone think it was any good! :D

Anyway, back to the feltmaking... when we'd finished for the morning, me and Sue went to the Watermill Cafe just up the road for a delicious lunch and then came back to work on some felted lattice scarves.

Here's mine all laid out ready to cover with a net and sprinkle with hot soapy water...
Laying out a lattice scarf

And here's Sue doing the fun bit that comes after the rolling...
Sue throwing her felted scarf
The flinging! Very therapeutic! :D

Here's my finished scarf...
Lattice scarf
(Scarves are so hard to photograph well on a flat surface!)

All four of us on the course had such a great day that we wanted to do some more feltmaking as soon as possible, so we pestered Julie, our tutor, into putting on an extra nuno felting course especially for us! She was very obliging and organised one to take place just a few weeks later :)

In the morning we did some nuno samples on cotton muslin and silk chiffon so that we got an idea of how the wool bonded to the fabric and what the effect looked like.

Here's my cotton muslin sample...
Making a muslin nuno sample
I experimented with circles and lines made with some of my handspun yarn and areas of fleecy curls.

My silk chiffon sample was similar. Here are both finished samples (the silk one on top)...
Nuno samples
The crinkled textures in nuno felting are lovely. The wool fibres work their way through the weave of the fabric and then the fabric crinkles up as the wool shrinks during the felting process.

After another delicious lunch with Sue at the Watermill Cafe, it was time to make scarves. I must have been concentrating too much to take photos at this point because I only have one of my finished scarf, being modelled by one of the dress forms in the studio...
My nuno scarf on the dress form

I took another photo of it when I got home but it doesn't look as exciting flat...
Nuno scarf
Maybe scarf-making is a good excuse to invest in a dress form?! :)


  1. Another brilliant post! Great photos. You have been busy.

    I loved the wave painting you copied, but I loved your felted version even more, the colours and textures were just right, and the BFL curls were an inspiration for the crests of the waves. And well done for winning the 2nd prize at Lowick, it was well deserved.

    Your felted lattice scarf has given me some ideas for Christmas presents this year, that turned out really well didn't it?

    I've never tried nuno felting before, but after seeing yours think it's definitely on my "to do" list!

    Well done!!

  2. Thanks for your lovely comment! :D

    Definitely have a go at the lattice scarves, they're really fun and would make great presents! We laid the wool out on a long piece of bubble-wrap, then put a net curtain over them to wet the wool with hot soapy water... then we rubbed them all over (paying extra attention to the joins) with the net still on. Once they seemed to be felting, we rolled them up in the bubble-wrap and rolled them for about 100 times, unrolled and rolled up from the other end for another 100 rolls. Then we tested to make sure they were felting and scrunched them up to massage them on the table (a bit like kneading dough), carefully untangling every so often so it didn't felt to itself. Then finally we threw them onto the table to 'full' the felt by shocking the fibres!

    You can vary how light and 'lacy' they are by the thickness of the wool you lay out. I think I'll do my next one with slightly thicker strips for a more substantial scarf.

    Nuno felting is a really interesting technique. Most feltmaking books seem to have a nuno section in them these days and I've seen some lovely projects made from nuno. I fancy making an item of nuno clothing one day but I think I'll need to practice a bit more first!


  3. love that wave!!!
    and the muslin and chiffon samples, thanks for sharing the process, beautiful.

  4. ...HELLO!!!! I started felting for the very first time ever on Sunday afternoon (just gone) and I am HOOKED!! Love this blog, love the ideas it's giving me. You're all so talented and gifted and WONDERFUL... what amazing works of art, so tactile and inspiring. Ruth.

  5. Thanks for the lovely comments! Feltmaking is such good fun and I'm glad you're finding my blog a useful source of inspiration. I'm hoping to get back into feltmaking soon after a bit of a break from crafty things and I'll be sure to share pictures of what I'm making! :)

  6. Wow you sure took to it amazingly! You more than deserved it! I think the detailing of the waves is absolutely stunning!

    Love & Lollies... Jessa

    Caked Vintage Blog