Post 23 July, 2018

The evolution of a wet-felted picture….

People often ask
“Where do you start?”
”Do you work from a photo or a sketch?”
“How do you build up a picture?”
Hopefully this little picture-story will give an insight into what happens in my head, my sketchbook and my workshop ;-)
Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 11.27.46     Screen Shot 2018-07-23 at 11.28.00
This photo was taken on a sunny July day last year – the only trouble with photos is that they contain way, way too much information and, although the colours are true, they simply don’t give me enough variety or contrast.  So, out comes the sketchbook – mine is an A4 Seawhite book with a ruled page on the left – just perfect for making completely irrelevant notes about the day – and a lovely blank page to the right .  The wonderful thing for me is that the irrelevant notes transport me back to the sights, smells, sounds of the day.  I failed to record the purchase of 3 mackerel direct from the bottom of a newly winched-in fishing boat, but the memory is deliciously clear.
My very inexpert sketching and painting efforts record the details and colours that I want to include in my wet-felted picture.   Complicated areas of light and shade are simplified and any details  I don’t want to include are left out…
 penberth notes  Penberth sketch fish
Once back in my workshop at the Workhouse Chapel I can begin to build up the picture , first laying down a layer of white merino wool to form a base – if we look at the work as a painting, this is my paper.  I then start to build the colour, starting with the thing that’s furthest away – the sky.  I like to make sure that each part of the composition is complete before moving forward. 
  p1   p2 
Next I add the hill and then the sea, leaving the foreground until last. If we go back to the painting analogy, it’s a bit like laying down color washes., with the subtle difference being that at each stage  I’m including all the detail necessary.  Silk fibres are added, giving extra depths of colour and texture. When I start to add the rocks, I also make sure that I’ve created all the shadows and ruggedness they deserve. The little fisherman’s cottage gets built next, using my handspun silk and woollen yarns to define the architectural details.
p3   p4
.  And last of all, the slipway and the boats….   The boats are the focus of the picture, so I spend a lot of time trying to ensure I haven’t forgotten anything. Only when every detail is in place do I start the felting process.  Because of the amount of detail, I work my pieces flat, covering them with net and rubbing carefully by hand.  As the wool fibres felt together and trap the silk and yarns into the surface, everything moves, shrinks and distorts; colours soften as fibres blend together and previously well defined lines and details blur and wriggle.
p5 p6
My pictures  have no stitched details and no needle-felted details.  All the detail and all the textures have been created during the wet-felting process.  I just love the unexpected squiffiness and organic edges of the finished work.

Post 24 January, 2017

 A New Year — Blog Objectives!

How to start a blog? – it feels a strange cliff to climb, not for the faint of heart, and yet one that has been climbed by many before. Were they all as apprehensive as me? Or were they already on the top and just jumping off, all gung-ho and fearless?
Well, faint-hearted or gung-ho, I’m going to give it my best shot.
I’ve read all the blogs on how to write a blog and somehow none of them seem to apply to me – a special case, or just a hopeless case? They say “Choose your subject” ! Really? Not interested thanks…. “Choose a subject you are passionate about” Getting better, but still a bit limiting…. What if my subject was beauty and creativity? Is that a tad wishy-wash? It’s certainly what I’m passionate about – or one of them. What if I chose Alphabets – another of my abiding passions – then I could be free to cover any subject in an alphabetical fashion
I am shortly to celebrate a significant birthday and life seems to have granted me permission and opportunity to diversify/indulge/enjoy.
2017 feels full of promise, packed with excitement and change, new experiences and opportunities, so it seems only right to keep a record and share.
But first, a little background. I struggle to label myself and have no desire to be labelled by others. I am
A textile artist – I make felt and silk paper
An occasional writer/poet
A thinker of outlandish thoughts
A reluctant business-woman
Thankfully I have found a way to run a business which accommodates my other proclivities. I teach felt-making, write sporadically and think my strange thoughts in a gorgeous Victorian Chapel . Every now and then I deem it time to subject the unsuspecting public to a slightly off-kilter exhibition or event. It’s surprising how many people like to be encouraged to be off-kilter – it’s almost as if they’ve been told this is not how adults behave.