It was a sultry evening in mid July, when fourteen ladies gathered in Crafty Birds to learn about the art of dry felting. Our tutor for the evening was the lovely Maxine, who guided us felting virgins expertly through our first attempts at creating a landscape picture with sheep.
Personally, I knew almost nothing about felting; I knew that there were two types, wet and dry and that all the felted objects I had seen, and sold in the shop, were beautifully coloured and felt incredibly lovely to hold. But how one got from a piece of unbleached wool, some needles and something that looked like a large scrubbing brush (the items each student was presented with when they sat down), to our target piece of art was a complete mystery.
Turns out that the scrubbing brush was the base on which the piece of unbleached wool was battered with needles until it was affixed to a piece of canvas. This initial stage was surprisingly satisfying and, judging by the amount of enthusiasm shown by my fellow students, I wasn’t the only one who thought this!
The next stage was to build up a landscape with pieces of coloured wool, layered carefully and artfully over the neutral. Most of the people in our group, (those with a good idea for colour) soon had a credible looking sky and were able to move onto the hilly bit of the landscape. After a quick look around, I realised that my (I thought) pretty colour scheme, rather than resembling a summer afternoon or spectacular sunset, either of which I would have been happy with, was rather more towards the fantasy end of the pastoral spectrum . Luckily, felting is very forgiving and with a bit of unpicking and some advice from Maxine, it was salvaged enough for me to attempt some rather Martian looking hills.
Once the background was (more or less) in place, we had a break, with cake (of course) and compared our efforts so far. “It always amazes me,” said Maxine, “that you give people the same material and the same instructions and you end up with such variety.”
The next stage was to build up the shade and tonal quality of the hills, choose different types of flora and make a decision about how many sheep we were going to add. I went with two sheep, because at the layering of threads to create flowers stage, I had added quite a large tree, which took up a large chunk of the foreground, but there were quite a few people who went for three. For these tertiary stages, we used fluffy pieces of wool for depth, battered satisfyingly down and then refined with a single needle around the edges .
Suddenly it all seemed to come together like a magic trick and Maxine collected the pieces as they were finished and framed each one, so that it could put on a wall forever.
All the ladies who came, from 9 year old Sophie to the 79 year old great grandmother took home a framed picture. Mine will be going up in my newly decorated sewing room. (more about that in another post!).
We have had some lovely feedback on the evening with many of the attendees keen to do another session and the lovely Maxine whetting appetites with promises of a seascape and seagulls next time!
With that in mind, we are planning to host two more felting evenings in the early autumn. Details of dates and times for these and our complete autumn programme of courses and event will be posted on Facebook and on the shop door in the next week. Don’t forget to sign up early to avoid disappointment.
Thanks for reading and…keep crafting!
The Crafty Birds xxx