Where it all came from...or at least some of it
The artist's journey is not always a straight line! Like the song, all my life's a circle! Seasons spin around again...and now is the return to textiles, begun as a child learning needlework in Scotland, having a resurgence while I made my clothes, embroidered hankies as gifts, made clothes for my children, learnt to spin and dye wool. Always in the background.
In between, pottery appeared, and for the greater part of the last 30 years I have explored clay, earned my living through making, selling and teaching and participating in community projects. It is still a part of my life.
Steel work sneaked in for a while, initially as a means of renovating my studio, but the creative side of it was more appealing...still a useful medium, good for making hat stands and flowers in this time of drought (they don't wilt and die!),but it's heavy stuff, and a bit dirty.....
So why felt??? I remember a time when I was shown how to layer wool, sew it into some calico and put it in the washing machine..to make felt. Well, what I produced was not very exciting...in fact really boring and sufficiently ghastly to be forgotten about. Then I attended a Professional Development day at the Ministry of Fun where we were shown how to make felt beads, bracelets and pictures...very useful for art classes with the children I was teaching, and useful for community art too...we live in a wool growing area, so using wool is quite relevant. But it took another couple of years till it really became addictive...the Feltmakers Convergence in Canberra was the turning point, I was shown a foolproof way of seamless felting, saw a group of around 200 women transform from everyday 'normality' on day one to a wonderfully expressive swarm of butterflies, proudly wearing beautifully crafted individual works of art and enthusiastically sharing their knowledge...it was something I felt I could participate in and grow from.
Hats have really captured my attention. I love their wearabilty, they are soft, comfortable and colourful...and expressive as well. Conservative or flamboyant, I am really surprised at the number of people who respond to seeing my hats, usually with a smile. So if all I do is make people smile, I really can't complain! Scarves and wraps too, there's always a new look to try for...and the ukulele needed something to carry it in...and the chair needed a cover, and what about a rug for the lounge room...so many possibilities!
But felt is much more...it has to be one of the most versatile fabrics, And the process itself is really a form of magic...take a bundle of fluffy wool, place it in layers in the shape you would like, dribble a bit of hot soapy water over it and massage...gently at first. Abracadabra! You have fabric...I guess it does take an amount of perseverance and practice to get just what you want, and there are always new ways of getting the result you want, but the basic process is within anyone's grasp...if they want to go there. So I hope this exploration continues for a long time. Friendships and networks are forged along the way, ideas swapped, beautiful things created. Welcome to my world!!