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!!
My degree show figure 2009
Weathering for 8 years in the garden 2017
The very first dance figures 2011
The first contemplative figures 2012
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:
Talking and making at the same time!!!
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
It has taken me about 6 months to develop a full size felt figure and there have been plenty of problems to overcome along the way when upsizing from a 40cm tall figure to one that is 4 times bigger!
From these small figures…
…to this one – 164cm high
The problems I encountered were due to the scale of the figure and they began with the wire.
I tried heavy fencing wire however this just wasn’t strong enough to hold the figure up right one leg so I had a length of steel tubing bent to follow the line of the spine down to the toe of the standing leg and built the rest of the body around this structure.
The musculature was added beginning with a layer of knitted woollen strips to cover the wire to form a base for the wool fibres. I used Blue Faced Leicester wool, wet felted in layers, to build the shape of the body and a steamer and sander to aid with the felting and fulling.
The final layer or ‘skin’ was felted separately and then stitched onto the the figure.
As you can see from the variety of figures in this post I have made several more! I am now going to experiment with adding the colour and texture straight onto the figures to cut out the rather lengthy processes of making the felt skin, stitching it in place and fulling with steam and sander. So watch this space!