How do we take an abstract idea and turn it into a concrete project?
Abstract thinking or ideas are relative.
Concrete thinking or ideas are specific.
Our minds often flood with interesting ideas, topics or facts but struggle with how to make something from them. Each of us will approach this process differently but here are a few ideas and an activity to try – to kick start you off.
The more you know about a topic the more likely you are to recognise, pinpoint or simply stumble across that “thing” you were searching for.
Describe it in words
Write a paragraph or 2 about what you have discovered. This is a tried and true technique for all things – the act of organising the words helps to organise your thoughts. Try to keep the paragraphs concise, use adjectives, be very specific.
Use Metaphors & Analogies
This is particularly useful. If you can liken the topic to something familiar, everyday or even a stereotype you will get a clear vision of what it is that fascinates you. Stereotypes are steroetypes for a reason – they typify a broad or general topic. This is not to say your work should be a stereotype but the process is helpful in understanding your topic.
Let’s take the tree ring topic as an example.
Research it – rings are a year’s growth, they are different sizes, they record changes in the climate and environment, the science is are called dendrochronology
Describe it – Tree rings are an example in nature of marks over time as they vary according to the environment the tree experiences which influences each year’s growth. Tree rings are an invisible badge or honour that is only discovered upon death
Analogy – Tree rings are like the layers of paint on an old house. They tell the history of the house’s interior. And are often only discovered when renovated or demolished.
Ideas this one progression sparked in my brain:
- A 3D house – opening doors
- Tree house
- Multi coloured tree rings with household items embeded in them
Draw four boxes on a piece of paper and in each box draw one of the following:
Love Anger Justice Trust
These are well known abstract concepts but we still have specific images of each in our heads. What did you come up with?
Or maybe you have a concrete design that you want to be more abstract?! The same process still works.
This is what the group came up with:
Why do we have a theme?
A theme brings cohesion to a group – it is the heart of the exhibition. If there is no theme it would be a disjointed collection of items that the observer probably wouldn’t connect to. The theme is usually a broad message about some aspect of life that we wish to share with the audience.
So isn’t that just a topic? No. Topic is a vehicle for illustrating theme. So each of your individual works maybe on a different topic that still relates to the theme.
For example in our theme of Marks over Time. This is a broad theme that can be interpreted in many ways – which we will talk about in a minute, but, if I create a piece of work let’s say a wall hanging that is about the concentric growth rings that mark the life of a tree. I am illustrating the overall theme of marks over time through my topic of tree rings. My artist statement would reflect my interest in the topic and how it relates to theme. I might say something like “Humans are not the only beings that make marks over time, trees express time through their concentric growth rings.”
The main thing to remember about topic is that it pertains to the piece’s “what.” It’s driven by facts and specifics, whereas theme deals with the big picture and overall meaning that reveal why the piece matters.
We will have a session on Artists Statements later.
Some things to think about to get your inspiration for our theme flowing.
What is a mark? How does time affect it?
Two Broad Definitions for Mark
- Blemish or stain
- Symbol, line or figure that records or indicates something
After a brainstorming session at Toss n Tell these some of the topics the group came up with:
October Toss n Tell – Abstract to Concrete
Marks Over Time – Exhibition by Feltwest
We are extremely pleased to have obtained the Gallery Central TAFE for our first exhibition since 2016 the very successful MACRO|micro. Entry is open to all members as we are hoping to involve as many as possible – no matter what level of experience, or past participation in exhibiting your work you are encouraged to participate. One of the wonderful things about a group exhibition is bringing everyone along on the journey.
To facilitate this – we plan to have a series of talks and activities designed to guide our membership from inception to exhibition, in September next year. These talks will be at each Toss n Tell covering topics such as our theme – Marks Over Time, artist statements and bios. As part of this process we are also very pleased to announce our new Work in Progress (WIP) club – hands on felting days to foster mentoring and sharing of skills and techniques. This will also provide the perfect opportunity to discuss exhibition ideas or simply work on pieces. We plan to hold regular WIP days on the first Tuesday of every month with additional days added when the opportunity arises.
A focal point of the exhibition will be the collaborative work in the Timeless installation. Timeless is an exhibition within an exhibition with a contribution from every exhibition participant. It will be an installation of hanging scarves all made in greyscale, black to white, and of a similar size 1500mm x 200mm. They can made with any felting technique and embellished using any textile technique but the only colours are black through to white and any grey in between. The scarves will be hung so that viewers can walk through them like a forest.
All information about the Exhibition including the talks and sessions will be under the Members section of our website. Choose Marks Over Time from the menu that’s where you will find things like the Sessions, Registration Process & Entry Fee, the media and promotion kit for downloading, key dates and checklists. More information will be added as the dates are confirmed with Gallery Central but the general overall process is:
- Attend the Sessions at Toss n Tell
- Start your pieces
- Attend WIP days
- Register and pay online, upload artist statements & bios, and adhere to the key dates.
And of course our eNews will have everything you need at the appropriate time.
September Toss n Tell – Exhibition Theme – Marks Over Time and Timeless
Thank you for joining one of the Market Teams. Here are the duties and responsibilities for each Team.
Be at Heathcote at 6:30am to setup the stall. There is a designated 15 minute window for us to unload everything from the vehicle, then move the vehicle to the stallholder car park. More details to come.
Team Members: Liz Owens, Soosie Jobson, Sue Eslick, Claire Russell.
- Erect the Gazebo with walls if required and anchor feet.
- Add Feltwest Banner
- Setup table with table cloth
- Setup the scarf and wrap racks
- Setup hat stand
- Unpack and place items for display
- Setp up Square system
- Setup wrapping station
- Hand over
The Sales Team is the first contact point between us and the general public – so it is a very important job! It would be nice if you could wear something felted – a felt name badge would be a great place to start. Wearing some felt gives you a talking point and a way to break the ice with prospective clients. As this is our first market at Heathcote we will need to inform the general public as to who we are, how to follow or join us, and in particular, when we will be back. But people don’t want to be talked at – it is easier to inform a prospective buyer (or member) rather than sell to them. Short simple facts are the key. For example:
- Who or what is Feltwest? – a membership group of feltmakers
- What do we do? – meetings, workshops and events promoting felt.
- What is felt – a handmade process using unspun wool – wet and needle – show them a piece of each – you don’t need too much detail, lovely to wear, tactile, versatile.
- Where to find us – online – feltwest.org.au hand them a business card, location Alexander Park Craft House
- How to follow us – facebook.com/feltwest on the business card
- Where to buy – At the Christmas Market but look out on facebook and the web site for other events.
A sale is the final opportunity to reinforce our message with promotional material. Whilst packaging the item ensure there is a business card and flyer in the bag. Enjoy the day talking to people about the craft we all love – enthusiasm and joy are contagious.
Be at the stall at your designated time and stay for your shift. There is a public carpark below Heathcote on the eastern side. The cost is $2. Allow 5-10 minutes to walk from the carpark. Make sure you bring drinking water and be prepared for changing weather.
Team Members: Fleur Riley, Sue Espie, Cynda Empsall, Marion Finneran, Diny Monaghan, Jo Ganon
- Shifts are 2hrs 15mins to hand over to the next shift.
- Talk to people about felting and how wonderful it is!
- Help people to purchase items – answer any questions, help them try things on, talk about the handmade process, generally be friendly but not pushy
- Wear a name badge –a felt one!
- Package item and take customer to cashier
- Replenish stock on displays as direct by Sales Team leader
Stall Location R4 Yellow
Be at the stall at 3:30pm to pack down the stall
Team Members: All contributors
- Take down and pack your items
- Items need to be ticked off to printed inventory form and placed in members container
- Take down all display items & gazebo
Cashier: Claire Russell 0421 577 026
Sales Team Leader: Liz Owens 0402 357 632
Market Co-ordinator: Soosie Jobson 0433 216 154
|6:30am||9:30||Setup||Liz Owens |
|0402 357 632 |
0433 216 154
0421 577 026
0401 037 973
|9:15am||11:30am||Sales||Fleur Riley |
|0438 000 061 |
0437 410 618
|11:15am||1:30pm||Sales||Cynda Empsall |
|0401 628 934 |
0419 278 352
0422 375 292
|1:15pm||3:30pm||Sales||Sue Espie |
|0402 400 463 0498 031 063|
|3:30pm||5:30pm||Packup||All contributors. Pack and collect your work or arrange with someone else.|
With such a turbulent year it was lovely to see so many of our long term members at the Christmas Party. Wonderful company, delicious food, and amazing felting.
Katrina Virgona is running a felting workshop (FELTED BANGLES, RINGS & THINGS) on Saturday Sept 5th from 10am-1pm at the Mundaring Arts Centre. If doing the workshop, you can also view a range of artworks relating to wool in the SHEEP SHOW exhibition in MAC’s main gallery space. Other workshops are happening in association with the Sheep Show including a yarn spinning workshop run by Anne Williams. The Sheep Show opens July 24th. For more info on the felt workshop, please see: https://mundaringartscentre.myshopify.com/products/felted-bangles-rings-and-things-with-katrina-virgona
We had a wonderful 2019 FeltWEST wrap up at TNT on Saturday 16 November with an abundance of beautiful, felty Christmas ornaments brought in and sold to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis; a delicious shared lunch and lots of lovely items brought in for Toss N Tell. Thank you very much to Jean for presiding over the day in Soosie’s absence.
Both Peta Korb and Jean McKenzie were presented with flowers to thank them for their outstanding contribution to the success of FeltWEST’s stall at the Royal Show in 2019.
Martien announced the sad passing of Peggy Buckingham, long-time FeltWEST member and tireless advocate for the educational aspect of the arts and crafts in Western Australia and nationally.
Best wishes to all for a very happy Christmas and a great start to the new year. We look forward to seeing you all in February.
by Renita Mroz
We kicked of our first TNT of the year with a wonderful Mini Demonstration from Sue Eslick on Making and Attaching Tubes. Thank you, Sue, – as always, you were fabulously instructive and entertaining! The March mini demo, by Soosie Jobson, will be on Differential Shrinkage Rates.
Soosie announced that the Extension Program would be back in 2020, run by Sue Eslick and Jean McKenzie. These are three-hour long, samples-based workshops aimed at learning or honing a particular skill. Six or so of these workshops will be run during the year, some on Saturdays after TNT, others on regular Tuesday felting days. The first extension workshop will look at Three-Dimensional Felt with participants working on making a small vessel. It will be run on Saturday 21 March following TNT – bookings are open on the website.
Our first Monthly Workshop for 2020 was Peta Korb’s Needle Felted Woylie workshop which was booked and very well received with a whole herd of adorable woylies heading off to new homes at the end of the day.
Our March offering, Sue Eslick’s Fantasy Hat or Tea Cosy workshop, is fast approaching. The workshop is almost fully booked with only two places remaining – sign-up on the website now for a great weekend and a stylish hat or sensational tea cosy!
Also open for bookings is Anita Larkin’s Design Ideas for Felt workshop in April. Martien described Anita as someone to get out of bed for! Coming from a background in sculpture, Anita is inventive and offers unique techniques to shift, shuffle and shake your ideas, new perspectives and a wonderful and expansive approach to design. This is a workshop not to be missed!
Soosie sought expressions of interest in a 2020 FeltWEST Retreat in May/June, the planning for which is underway.
Soosie also encouraged all members to engage with FeltWEST’s Facebook page. Please like it, share it, and contribute to it.
Peta spoke about the Toodyay Fibre Festival on Sunday 7 June. If you would like any of your felted garments included in the fashion parade, you will need to fill out an Expression of Interest form on the website. http://www.toodyay.wa.gov.au/Community-Visitors/Events/Upcoming-Events/Toodyay-Fibre-Festival
Martien drew our attention to Felt Matters magazine, produced in the UK by the International Feltmakers’ Association. This is a wonderfully inspirational magazine with an international focus. Two FeltWEST members, Martien van Zuilen and Katrina Virgona, are featured in the current issue. You’ll find copies of Felt Matters magazine in the FeltWEST library.
Virginia let us know that FeltWEST member, Marie Marshal, is down-sizing and has, very generously, donated her felting books and a beautiful wooden hat block to our library. She also offered fabric and a gorgeous felted christening gown to anyone who would love and use them well.
Katrina spoke about the Lust for Lustre exhibition at Ellenbrook Art Gallery which looks at our fascination with pearls. Katrina’s work was included in this exhibition.
On Saturday 1 February, 12 Feltwest members were treated to an excellent one day workshop,
presented by Peta Korb. At the end of the day all participants commented on how much they had
enjoyed the workshop and how well organised it had been. The consensus was that it was a great
start to the 2020 Feltwest year.
Peta explained that the Woylie is a small Australian marsupial, which would serve as a suitable
project for demonstrating the techniques of needle felting onto a wire armature. The intention was
to try to finish the project during the workshop, but sufficient materials and tuition were given to
allow participants to finish their projects at home, if need be.
Peta supplied a kit to each participant, containing all the materials needed for the workshop, which
made it easier and faster to start the workshop. Participants were given a list of a small number of
tools they would need to bring with them to assist in the process.
Peta displayed samples of her work to illustrate the different stages of work involved in needle
felting to an armature. During the workshop, participants learned a range of techniques, including
wrapping, shaping, felting and sculpting wool around a wire armature. They also learned colour
blending with wool, creating a realistic animal pelt in felt finer finishing details.
Thank you Peta for an enjoyable, informative and inspiring workshop!