September Toss and Tell by Marion Finneran

SEPT. TOSS N TELL/AGM 2016 by Marion Finneran – After the AGM, we gathered round to watch the video which Soosie has made of the exhibition. Thanks Soosie, it looks wonderful.  Congratulations to Katrina for winning the raffle prize. She has never won one before so she was thrilled!

Toss and Tell this month showed some beautiful felting made by our members

Christine showed us her beautiful wrap of wool and silk that she made using shades of reds and cerise that combined interesting patterns and textures.

Sue Eslick  told us about her vessels using a variety of  fibres from Merino to Bergschaf. She also explained her method of first making  a bag which was dyed afterwards.

Kerry attended a fun and functional vessel workshop with Pauline Franklyn where she made  a “vessel” that she converted into a handbag.

When she attended Martien van Zuilen’s mandala workshop she made a beautiful floormat/wallrug in shades of green. She described the many layers, much rolling and stitching, cords, tones and texture, making it a very unique item.

Soosie showed her scarf that she made for the exhibition “Myths and Legends” on the theme of the Mexican festival: Day of the Dead. She also displayed a very innovative fishy fantasy hat made years ago that transforms into a mask by folding down the front.




Helen, a new member, attended the beginners workshop today run by Alison Gomes and Sue Eslick. She showed us the samples she had enjoyed making.



Liz also attended Martien van Zuilen’s mandala workshop where she made her floormat/wallrug with a shield design in her mandala, evocative of the shields used by many African tribes.

Vera showed us her delightful fairy houses that can be used as night lights

Alison displayed her scarves with their beautiful colour combinations, stitching and original designs.

Katrina is presently working on a fetish piece and enquired whether anyone had animal/horse hair or human hair to contribute to her project.

Review of Heartfelt Mandala workshop

The Heart Felt Mandala – with Martien van Zuilen, July 2016

Feltwest members were fortunate to learn the involved process of creating a felt mandala rug or wall hanging from Martien van Zuilen, a national and international felt making tutor, but also a member of Feltwest. There was an evening introductory presentation, followed by three full days of felting.
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‘Mandala’ is a word from the Sanskrit language meaning circle, with a symbolism reflected in many different cultures of the world.

Martien explained how mandala designs could be inspired by completely unrelated things… a wine label, postcard or even an ornate plaster ceiling!

She talked about her experiences in Mongolia and the importance of the community working together on felt making for their yurts, as for every aspect of their lives, in order to survive the harsh conditions. Functional possessions are made beautiful with decoration as there is not the luxury to own additional items that are purely decorative, as there is in our settled culture. The decorations often include imperfect, repaired or misaligned features, which add to the beauty.Mandala 8Mandala 2

Martien brought along a variety of well-catalogued samples (both raw fibre, and its corresponding felted sample). This gave us an insight into the different animal fibres available to felt with, including Polwarth, Corriedale, Cashmere, Camel and Merino, to name some. It was very useful to see how different fibres yielded different textures of felt.

The desirability of creating a calm, uncluttered work space for making the mandala was emphasised. Organise a colour pallet of only the wool tops, pre-felts, threads etc to be used for the project and remove other competing materials that will deflect the eye and the creative mind.

As prefelts played a big role in the creation of these mandalas, Martien spoke of the advantage we have as felters, in being able to create our own ‘fabric’ – prefelt – something not common among textile arts. It would therefore be a good idea to customise our handmade prefelts, both in colour and by adding decorative bits of our choice.

It was empowering to learn how to correct ‘mistakes’ or to change parts of the design that we didn’t like anymore, even after they had been partly felted in. Martien spoke of felt-making as a forgiving process, if built up gradually, and not rushed through.

There are many approaches to decorating the mandala. Wool top colours can be mixed to create particular effects in the pre-felts. Fluffy yarns can be stitched on, extra wool or felted cord can be added to raise the surface. Stitching with threads applied in the pre-felt stage should be far apart to allow for shrinkage.     There were plenty of very useful tips that Martien shared throughLizOddout the workshop, on everyRenDeverything from laying oJuliaAndrijasevichut wool tops, to geSaraQuailtting an even edge around the mandala, at the end.

Participants applied themselves to the process of laying out wool, stitching, rolling and completing the all-important finishing and edging. The result was 9 individually stunning mandalas.

All in all, it was a fantastic learning experience for our mandala-makers. Not to mention a very satisfying workshop, as everyone went home with a beautiful, unique mandala they were happy with.

Review of 3D workshop – using complex resists taught by Soosie Jobson written by Chris Gray


REVIEW of Soosie Jobson’s 3D WORKSHOP by Chris Gray.

What a fantastic workshop it was.  Soosie started the workshop with the showing of her wonderful and interesting 3D objects….Cactus, Fish, other creatures…


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThese made us eager to know all about how to construct our projects that we had mentally prepared. We were so keen to get started.

Soosie showed us the different techniques and templates to be used, giving different shapes and sizes. Sounded daunting, but after a few questions here and there, it came we got it!

Soosie explained clearly and effectively the method we need to use for our projects. I straight away had light bulb moments.

As usual Soosie was very generous with sharing her knowledge and time with all of us, she made herself available at all times, through the weekend of the Retreat.

Many projects were worked on by those who attended the workshop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have to say, the sky is the limit in what can be created.

I was very impressed how effective and easy it is to use the techniques to make 3D objects. I am sure that everyone feels the same way.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASoosie has given me the taste to be creative again. I started my projects for the Exhibition and I do not want to stop, thanks to Soosie.

Thank you Soosie for a great insight in the 3D workshop.


Review of Heather Davis’s dyepot workshop by Judi Barkla

REVIEW Heather Davis’s DYEPOT WORKSHOP by Judi Barkla: The day started with an enthusiastic group of women arriving, loaded up with a variety of different fabrics, keen to learn all they could and enjoy a day of communal learning.

The pots were set up and coming to the boil when another group turned up to claim the back verandah area for a children’s event and we were required to move all gas bottles, burners and pots into the internal courtyard area. Ever the optimist, Heather did so with her usual good grace and the day moved along.

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With excellent preparation, samples and comprehensive notes for everyone, Heather shared a variety of design, resist and dying possibilities for all to try, including overdying after retying some pieces. A mixture of strong colours brightened the blustery drizzly day and resulted in a range of different fabrics being transformed into colourful pieces …

Heather’s extensive knowledge and experience enabled her to clearly explain each method, show samples of her work for each technique presented and answer questions as quickly as they were fired at her.

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Heather’s dying skills are matched by her baking skills and we were treated to delicious morning tea treats

Participants left at the end of the day with bundles of damp treasures, some yet to be untied, with comments like …


“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to explore dying using a wide range of techniques to transform various items after being given expert advice and help from Heather.”

“Great day thanks Heather, I was excited to see colours emerge and learn how the different techniques allowed dye to be taken up or not.”

“Thank you Heather you demonstrated the endless design possibilities. It was fun to experiment with the help and expertise of yourself and the other participants.”

“It was a very good introduction to dyepots, I have learned a lot and will go away a lot wiser than when I started. Thanks Heather.”

An enjoyable day thank you Heather.


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Review of Baganza workshop with Sue Eslick by Sara

An array of Sue’s distinctive sculptural bags greeted participants as they began a 1 ½ day workshop to produce their own masterpieces.  The focus of this workshop was on shape and form – learning the technique of creating strong structural and functional felt –rather than surface design.

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In deciding which style to make, there were various options to consider – one or 2 handles, with or without gussets, optional flaps, variations in shape as well as thinking about wool layout and colour effect. It was mentioned later that some designs ‘evolved as the bags spoke to us’.

Once design decisions had been made, resists were cut from firm flexible material. Sue then tested everyone’s mathematical skills with the precise calculation of wool needed for each side and layer.

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Handles were partially made, and laying out then began in earnest. Overall the layout was relatively thick consisting of lots of thin layers to create a better quality felt. For those making gussets in their bag, there was a slightly different method to allow for the different thickness required.

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So began a lot of massaging, rolling and stretching, and more of the same until the bag was sufficiently felted for the resist to be removed.  Fulling then commenced in earnest with internal massaging to start creating the 3 dimensional shape of the bag.

Using a variety of tools and methods, ‘tough love’ was applied to the bag to shape and firm up the felt all over. Stones were involved….. Participant’s’ preferred felting tools were also discussed with some really unique, creative and cost-effective ideas being shared.

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There was surprisingly little tossing and much more emphasis on massaging and rubbing to achieve good shape and robust sculptural felt.  All the effort was worth it though and the results from Sue’s expert guidance and the 12 diligent ladies speak for themselves.


Meditation Beads review

The September Meditation Beads workshop with Nancy Ballesteros was both incredibly inspiring and relaxing in equal measures.  Day 1 introduced participants to new ways of thinking and working with nuno felt, pushing the boundaries of traditional nuno and making a rich highly textured cloth from fabrics that we never dreamed of felting before.  Day 2 had us cutting, stitching, embellishing and creating a broad range of beautiful textile beads.  Nancy brought along an expansive collection of examples of beads and materials to get the creative juices flowing, and also showed us different options for cords to string the beads along.  It was a fabulous, very enjoyable workshop, thank you Nancy.  Here are some quotes from participants:

‘this has truly been two days of non-stop knowledge and production.  The atmosphere has been very welcoming, fun and relaxing’. 

‘I learnt so much, Nancy is a fabulous teacher and takes time to talk and advise each participant’.

‘Nancy’s workshop is the best way to get inspired’

‘The tutor has amazing skills and talent which are so well transferred to class members – from an awe-inspired class attendee.’

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All Wrapped Up – Encased Objects workshop review

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All wrapped up – Encased objects workshop with Judi Barkla

We sat around in a congenial half-circle, ate biscuits, drank tea, exchanged stories … oh yeah, and we also had the most amazingly creative and productive day encasing objects in felt.

Encasing object in felt is clearly addictive – many of the workshop participants had some experience with this concept – everything from the more predictable rocks, to delicate blown eggs! And yet, we came along for more…

And more we got. Judi brought along an impressive array of samples, from milk bottles, wee pebbles to small boulders, all encased in felt. Some were embellished with intricate stitching, others with nuno-ed fabrics, tussah silk fibres and others yet with layers of delicate beading. The treasure beneath the wool was sometimes revealed through slits and holes in their felt casings.

We were inspired… and pushed the boundaries of what could be encased. We worked on encasing small pieces of pottery (felt casing slit to reveal inner glazes), flat glass beads, mirror disks, ornate buttons and rocks, of course. We experimented with cutting through the wool, lacing/weaving the wool and using resists.

Loose, fluffy balls of wool were gently sprayed with water, massaged and coaxed into tightly wrapped objets d’art, over the course of the day.

We all thought it was one of the most relaxing, contemplative and enjoyable workshops we had ever done. It was a pleasure to be able to sit together in companionable endeavour, as we worked on our small items.

We finished the day, our heads reeling with ideas as to what else we could encase … so don’t stand still for too long or we’ll get you!

Workshop review Fun and Functional Bags


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It was a cold, wet weekend, perfect for spending indoors with good company, coffee, cake and felting. The workshop focused on forming a strong 3 dimensional bag by laying different thicknesses of wool over a round or oval resist. We laid the outside surface of the bag down first, in what Sarah has christened the –‘inside out bag technique’. We estimated the surface area of our resist and weighed the wool to make sure we used the same amount on each side and to get the right thickness of felt. We kept warm by rolling, tossing, stretching, massaging, and pummeling our felt to get a strong bag that holds it’s shape well. On the second day we finished felting, blocked the bag by stretching and stuffing it, putting in folds and creases to form a strong shape, and learning how to finish off the handles and clasp. Vianne came along to help Sue with the workshop and to help participants who were less experienced or needed help to keep up. Here are some of the comments from participants:

“Wonderful workshop, heaps of ideas, learnt much .Thank you for the workshop and explaining all of the steps very clearly.”
“Sue was absolutely fantastic and very helpful. Vianne was a wonderful assistant too. I learned a lot of new things about working with a resist, felting techniques, shaping the bag etc. We are all very happy with the workshop and with our creations.”
“Thank you for the very clear instruction on a wide variety of bag styles, the notes and templates.”
Thank you Sue for your generosity with time, materials and cake! Fantastic workshop with lots of detail in the teaching of complex techniques.”
“I have learned so much in this workshop.” “Fantastic workshop, learned so many new techniques to add to my box of tricks.”
“Fabulous workshop, well paced, great teacher, great cake. Lots of work to make a bag, I learned sooooo much….”
“Learned some great little tips and tricks as well as a unique bag making method. A generous and patient tutor.”

Marjolein Dallinga workshop review

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A very lucky group of women spent 3 days playing with felt under the gentle guidance of Marjolein Dallinga from Canada.

We experimented with different ways of laying out wool – fine, thick, diagonal, concentric, radial, herringbone. We thought of using colour as changing moods or emotions. We played with different shapes and multiple resists using both internal and external images as guides. We massaged, rolled, kneaded, tossed, stretched and loved our felt into weird and wonderful sculptures. Here are some of the things that participants said about the workshop:

‘Very inspiring, I loved the exercises that influenced our creativity and freedom to try’.

‘Brilliant three days. – well paced and lots of nudging to get out of my comfort zone. Delighted to end with two completed projects, and lots of intentions to do more!’.

‘I learned so much about felting, kneading and sculpturing with wool. Inspiring workshop. I thoroughly enjoyed it’.

‘Marjolein was an amazing person and tutor – her gentle teaching technique was just what I needed as a beginner without the confidence that comes with experience. It was truly a journey and I learnt as much about myself as I did about felting.’

‘Three days of blissful felting with a wonderfully calm yet exciting tutor. We completed two amazing works of art and took away many lessons to incorporate into our future creations. Thank you.’

‘This workshop was without doubt the most wonderful experience! I have so enjoyed all the new ideas that I hope will give me the inspiration to further my felting creations!’

‘The 3 days workshop from Marjolein was a beautiful journey with felt, emotions, colour and shapes. Different lay out from the wool; thick , thin, using fabric resulting in objects one of a kind. Everything we learned will changed my work for the future, with a lot of new creativity!

‘Marjolein brought a relaxing, calming ‘get lost in it’ workshop to us. Where did the 3 days go? The felted works brought surprise with colour, complexity and intricacy. Marjolein’s calm influence brought focus and creativity to the 3 days and I can’t wait for her to come back again… please?! Above all she gave us inspiration to continue our individual journeys into felting and creating.   THANK YOU Marjolein.