Ottoman kaftan construction – 2 Child’s Kaftans

The Clothworkers Centre in London have several Ottoman kaftans in its archive and I have visited the centre to examine some of their examples. I was interested to see how the kaftans were cut and details of the stitching.

The archive kaftan pieces are typical of work made in the Ottoman court workshops during the 16th and 17th centuries.

Fabric weave were a Lampas  (4:1 satin and 1/3 twill). Fabrics were sumptuously made with silk warps and wefts and included metallic yarn as a brocaded weft. They were woven on looms producing a width of between 66cm and 68.5cm and, because of this width restriction, only the smallest of kaftans could be cut completely within the width – larger body sizes required fabric inserts.

Star design child’s kaftan

The main colours were white/cream and red with some blues and  yellow. Green was seldom used as there were no natural green dyes and the colour had to be made by over dying yellow with blue. The metallic yarns were made by loosely wrapping yellow and white yarns with silver strips – the white yarn enhancing the silver and the yellow coming through the silver creating a gold colour.

This “star” design kaftan illustrates how a small kaftan could be cut from one width of fabric with a separate gore added on the right side to complete the shape. Pattern pieces were cut to fit the fabric with as little wastage as possible.

Linings and stitching

This image shows the back/lining details of the Star kaftan. Bias cut facings (12cm wide) of red/orange silk are stitched around the openings – sleeves, neck, front, and hems. Facings are found in blue, red, orange and rose colours and sometimes match the main colour of the kaftan. The facings are attached to the kaftan by  single seam.

Stitch detail

Simple hem stitch and running stitch to attach the garment pieces at the seams

 

 

Floral design kaftan

The lining, if any, was inserted under the facing and the free edge of the facing was turned under once and stitched into place with whip stitch.

This kaftan had a long narrow pocket on the right hand side, between 6-9.5cm wide and 25-32cm long, and were attached to an opening on the side seam. Pockets were made from the same loosely woven fabric as the linings.

Contemporary Dancer January Course update

This January 2020 I was joined by 12 talented felt makers, from different parts of the world. Over the next 5 weeks they created a beautiful dancer -and I’m so proud of them all! WELL DONE!!!!

There was lots of great conversation and support on the Discussion Forum and here are some of the images of their dancers…

As a teacher, the success of my students is the most important thing and I am delighted with the results. I hope to have more images soon as figures are finished and ready for their debut!

I also had lovely, very encouraging reviews of the course and these are just  few – thank you all xx

Molly – thank you for such a wonderful course. I have thoroughly enjoyed learning along with you and the other class participants. I greatly appreciated the research and design aspects of this course – it goes beyond the making of just one object , into how to think about gathering inspiration, researching , planning through drawing and observation and using wool fibres as a sculpture. You have provided quick responses to questions , positive feedback and encouragement as well as added additional material. I am excited to work on my second dancer.

Cheryl

 

I want to say how much I love and enjoyed this course. 

Mainly because you have encouraged us to research at the beginning of each of the chapters, I had used Pinterest before but never had realized how easy it is to do the boards as a way to brainstorm and come up with new ideas.  Because of all the exercises that you encouraged us to do before we made our dancer, I am now more aware of people’s musculature in 3D. I must say that I have learned a lot.  I am in a dance/aerobics class now and I can’t help looking at how people’s muscles move.

I have enjoyed your class because you showed us how to approach each of the new challenges in the chapters in a straight forward and easy way.

You have taught us the process. Thank you!

Kathy

 

…I had great fun doing your workshop. Since the advent of online workshops I’ve been taking them voraciously; they are such a fabulous learning platform in so many ways. They allow you to learn from amazing teachers all over the world, build a community of fellow learners across continents and time zones and provide you with ample time to play with new material in your own time, in your own workspace with your own stash at your fingertips.

I would like to thank you for sharing your technique and many years of experience with us so generously. Your technique is unique and opens so many new avenues for play and exploration. I would happily recommend your workshop to anyone.

Tanja

 

Textured skin for large sculptures

I have only made the Contemplative Figures figures with natural, undyed fibres applied straight onto the form, unlike the Dancers that have a separately made decorative skin

I am playing with ideas for a colourful, textured skin for the larger figures.

Something like this perhaps?

 

Hmmm – an add-on for the Contemplative Figure course I think!

New Figurative sculpture course! April 2020

A 5-week online course April 22nd – May 22nd 2020

– where you will learn how to make a large contemplative sculpture using a wet felt method of sculpting.

These sculptures are inspired by the work of modern sculptors, such as Barbara Hepworth and Sir Henry Moore and others. You will have the opportunity to explore the work of these sculptors and, through a series of drawing exercises, create your own shapes.

The finished figure will measure about 16″/40cm – 20″/50cm in height, dependent on the shape and position.

This is an energetic process that involves manual shaping and felting, plus a sander and steamer to finish.

COURSE TIMETABLE

April 22nd – Welcome

April 24th – Week 1 An introduction to Sculpture

May 1st –  Week 2 The Skeleton

May 8th –  Week 3 The Musculature Part 1

May 15th – Week 4 The Musculature Part 2

May 22nd – Week 5 The Skin and Finishing

ABOUT THE ONLINE CLASSROOM.

The Course is hosted by RUZUKU

Each weekly lesson is comprised of a range of activities to show you how to build your sculpture step-by-step. There are video instructions, text and images and downloadable worksheets for each activity.

Online teaching materials and resources are available to students for 6 months from the beginning of the class. The downloadable course material and PDF’s are yours forever.

Online Felt Workshops Molly Williams

There is an online course Discussion Forum where you can chat to me and fellow students, post comments and images and ask questions. I will respond to all comments and questions during the length of the course and while the online classroom is open – I am mindful that there is a lot of work to do and it may take some of you a little longer than the 5 weeks.  As you will have full access to the videos, online class materials and Discussion Forum for 6 months, there will be plenty to time to work at your own pace.

You will learn a truly new and unique process!

Join me to learn how to make your own beautiful sculpture….

 

 

Creating an online course

I’ve been designing an online course for several months and it is finally published and I have lovely, talented students from several parts of the world working through it.

It has been a BIG learning journey for me and one I have really enjoyed.

There has been much to figure out when it comes to:

  • Setting up my studio

Small desk set up for close work

  • Lighting
  • Videoing
  • Recording and editing
  • Audio presentations
  • Screen shots and video
  • AND First – finding the right Online Platform for me!

Large table set up

So….. I thought I would write a course about how I went about setting up mine and how I got round the problems I encountered along the way.

A point though – all the online course platform sites have their own excellent, and free, courses on ‘How to create your online course’. These are very good and will get you on your way. However there were lots of things I had to figure for myself…..

….for example:

When I filmed my first videos, on my iPhone, I could not see what I was filming – hence very often my hands migrated off the screen mid-demonstration! I discovered Mirroring Apps that let me view my video, on my Mac screen, while the iPhone did the actual filming – I could literally keep an eye on what I was doing! Eureka moment!

I’m hoping this course will help others, especially non-techie artists and craftsmen like me, to create their own online workshops and teach the world their amazing skills.

Would value some feedback!

I’ll post my views about the Course Platforms I have researched..

 

Why did I start? Where am I now!

I have been making these figurative wet felted sculptures for over 10 years and people often ask me when, why and how, I started to make them – not the easiest question really!

Several thoughts though –

  • I have worked figuratively since about 2005 and the first sculpture I made was for the final show of  my BA Embroidered Textiles 2008. She is now a feature in my garden and it’s amazing how long she has endured through weather all year round!
  • If I hadn’t discovered wool fibres and felting I would work in clay – I love to mould and sculpt and shape and use the energy of my hands.
  • I had an idea to see if I could mould the wool fibres as I would clay – and it worked!!

I have shown my figures at Prism and SDC exhibitions in London and Birmingham and have sold them in local galleries.

This year I made ceramic and mixed-media figures for the first time!

RBSA Prism 2019

Then, out of the blue…..

I was asked to teach at Felters Fling 2019 – I had a wonderful time and met amazing felters and friends – and I realised that what I am doing, with wet felt sculpture, is very different and of interest as a new technique.

So….I am embarking on another new venture, to teach online! It’s been a huge learning curve for me and I have had a lot of fun finding out and mastering many skills and processes:

  • Studio lighting
  • Filming
  • Talking and making at the same time!!!
  • Editing videos
  • Creating written content and illustrating handouts and worksheets
  • Finding the best course platforms and learning how it all works
  • Classroom discussion forums
  • Selling and marketing

…and I have had a great group off Felter’s Flingers to trial the course with me –  their advice and encouragement has been invaluable! Thank you, thank you xxxx

Maybe you’ll join me?

Contemporary Dancer Online Workshop

My new 5 week online workshop

Contemporary Dancer – A Unique Felt Sculpture

Friday 17th January till Friday 21st February 2020

Registration for the course is open!

 

This is an exciting online workshop where you will make a free standing figure 20″/50cm tall. You will learn a new, energetic wet felted process that has similarities to clay sculpting and can be easily adapted to make any shape or form. 

The course is suitable for intermediate felt makers and will include simple hand sewing techniques. 

The online classroom is hosted on RUZUKU – each lesson contains multiple videos, presentations and downloadable course information and worksheets to show you, step-by-step, exactly what to do in a simple, clear format.

I am so excited to have developed this course and hope you will join me in January!!

Be on the first course……

Head over to my workshop page for more information:

Experimental ceramic figures

I have been developing a way of creating sculptures with a clay and textile mix on a wire frame.

The figures (usually felted) are changing in response to the theme of ‘Fragility’ for the Prism Textiles Exhibition at Hoxton Arches gallery, London next month.

 

There is nothing the least fragile about my felt sculptures that go through a very vigorous, wet felt process. By creating a ceramic sculpture I have introduced an element of fragility to the form – or that is my intention!

 

 

The process thus far:

The figures have a twisted wire skeleton – 2mm and 2.5mm to reinforce the standing leg.

I made a paper clay slip with stoneware clay, paper and water and used this to soak ribbons of cut knitted woollen fabric to bind around the wires – then left to dry.

I repeated this process with the same material to shape the arms and the hips and legs. The torso was formed with solid clay to add a textural contrast.

Once dry I polished the torso clay to bring it up to a smooth shine – but only possible in places so not very sucessful!

Firing the figures

I have placed the figures in a foil ‘saggar’ with a range of colouring materials.

Materials:

  • Seaweed powder (spirulaena)
  • wire wool rusted
  • copper wire
  • banana skins
  • salt

I wrapped fine wire wool and banana skins around the figure securing them with copper wire. Spirulaena and salt was sprinkled on last and wrapped the whole in layers of foil.

Figure wrapped in foil

 

Then out to the yard and my steel bin!

I put a good 30cm of sawdust in the bottom of the bin and lined the sides with wood. I then placed two foil parcels of figures onto the sawdust base. Long ribbons of fabric soaked in white spirit were tucked into the this layer and then filled the rest of the bin with smallish pieces of wood. Finally I pushed more spirit-soaked fabric through the four vent holes, into the layer of sawdust, at the bottom of the bin.

I lit the kiln from the base of the bin – lighting the four fabric ribbons.

Once the fire was really going – about 8-10 minutes – I closed the vents with fire proof fabric kept in place with bricks.

Finally, once I was sure the fire was hot and fierce, I put the lid over the flames and there it stayed for 18 hours (over night).

Link to Raku firing

The materials have added plenty of colour to the figure and happily there are no cracks in the clay!

My final task is to find a suitable base in which to set the figures!

Question – do I add a wire head dress? Gold leaf to highlight? Lacquer? Hmmmm……

 

 

 

Ceramic & textile sculptures

Finally ready for the fire.

To create these figures I started with a twisted wire skeleton and covered it with ribbon cut from a medium weight wool/acrylic sweater. I then coated the wool fabric liberally with paper clay slip. Once this layer had dried I applied ribbons of wool fabrics soaked in the clay slip – wound onto the legs and arms, shaping as I went.

Paper Clay Slip – Add 5–15% paper pulp to the stoneware clay slip mixing it thoroughly with a drill mixer. I soaked shredded loo paper in water, with a capful of bleach, over night and then pour the lot through a colander, pressing out the excess water before adding to the clay slip.

Next, I used stoneware paper clay to form the torso – making a smooth surface to contrast with the wool texture on the legs and arms. Once I had the shape I wanted I left the figures to dry slowly to prevent the clay from cracking.

 

Firing plan

I have a large steel drum and also several metres of ceramic fabric to insulate from the outside. A local joinery has lots of sawdust and there is plenty of wood in the shed.

Plan to cover with figures in organic material such as banana skin and may wrap in aluminium foil before placing in the drum kiln.

Colours

  • Hardwoods- Black/dark grey
  • Drift wood – Blue/greys, aqua shades, grey/black
  • Seaweed roots – Brown, rust, beige
  • Kelp – Yellow, orange
  • Table salt – Orange, yellows
  • Sea salt – salmon pink, orange, yellow
  • Copper carbonate – green, black, maroon
  • Ferric chloride – iron reds, yellow, orange

The ceramic network

You can place colourants in the bedding, around each piece, on top of each piece, or even throw it at the pieces during the firing. Each can result in different effects in the coloration. When you bury the colourants, it will add color late in the firing. If you place in around or on the piece it will colour in the middle of the firing. When you throw it in you can get instant colouring much like a star burst pattern.

  • Copper Carbonate – greens, blues, maroons, reds
  • Copper Sulfate – greens, blues, maroons, reds
  • Cobalt Carbonate – blues
  • Ferric Chloride – reds, yellows, oranges
  • Steel wool- blues, greys, pinks
  • Banana peel- greens, grays
  • Copper wire – red, black, blue, green, whites depending on wire
  • Sawdust- black, grey, blue-grey,
  • Cow pies – blacks, yellows, greens, greys, browns
  • Bacon Grease – brown/greens
  • Sodium Chloride- Orange, yellows, salmon, peach, gold
  • Coffee Grounds – browns, greens, blues
  • Leaves – brown/greens
  • Grass – brown/greens
  • Miracle Grow fertiliser
  • Red Iron Oxide – browns, maroons, rust

Up in smoke pottery

 

Colourants I will use:

  • Copper sulphate
  • Copper wire
  • Ferris oxide – rusty tub
  • Banana skins
  • Table salt
  • Tumeric
  • Leaves from perennials -robinia, laurel
  • Hard woods

Before placing the figures in the drum I will put them in the kitchen oven and to heat to a good temperature – hoping to prevent stress fractures.

Firing day is Tuesday 26th February!

References:

Pit Firing

http://www.eduardolazo.com/pitinstruct.html

Pit Firing Using a Good Old-Fashioned Charcoal Grill

http://www.upinsmokepottery.com/pit-firing.html

video

 

 

 

Figures in ceramics – work in progress

 

The Prism 2019 theme is ‘Fragility’ and knowing just how robust the process of making the felted figures is I really can’t imagine them as fragile. However by combining clay with the fibres on wire would create a fragile form – the fibres being burnt out in the kiln….

Problems:

  • I am not a ceramicist! – I did experiment with this technique during my degree but is was rather unsuccessful.
  • Finding a kiln – could ask the lovely people at Brighton University where they have huge kilns that I used to experiment and the Phoenix centre rent kin space – not as big….. or I could pit fire the pieces myself…..

Chris Dunn – great teacher

First attempt 22.10.18

Looks good – shows potential however the clay cracked on drying and on further research realise that I should use a paper clay…

As I have already bought a large slab of stone ware clay and a pot of slip I need a recipe!

Next… paper clay making!