Beginners Workshop SEPT. 2016

REVIEW BEGINNERS SEPT. WORKSHOP taught by Sue Esclick and Alison Gomes.  We had a record crowd for the beginner’s workshop in September! Twelve  participants and two tutors really stretched the capacity of the studio but made for a friendly, sociable atmosphere as people made new friends while learning the basics of feltmaking.

Sue led people through the process of making a sample square, talking about the difference between pre-felt and quality felt.  Alison showed participants how to layout really finely and  got everyone to make a sample square of nuno felt.

People left keen to go home and practice and to sign up for more advanced workshops.  We hope to see the new felters showing their work at future Toss and Tells , and signing up for next year’s workshops.

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Review – Nancy’s Shifting Shapes workshop

REVIEW of Nancy Ballesteros’s SHIFTING SHAPES Workshop by Sue Eslick – Twelve keen participants gathered for a three day workshop on felting with silk hankies to create fabulous new fabrics.  People attended from all over WA, and one person came from Queensland!  It was good to meet with some new Feltwest members who had joined up specifically in order to attend and we hope to see more of them in the future.

This 3 day workshop  was full on and not for the fainthearted!   Nancy expertly guided participants through the detailed and complex process of making beautiful felted silk garments and wraps.


Nancy brought along a wide variety of sample garments for people to try-on and find the shape and colour palette that best suited them.  Everyone appreciated the availability of extra wool, fabric and other materials from Treetops, which allowed people to change their plans on the day.

Patterns were traced and adjusted to the individual. day-3-fiona-layout


Everyone had a different approach to design. Whilst many people had a firm idea that they worked too, others laid out silk hankies in a random riot of colour. Nancy advised on how colours interact in the felting process and coached participants through the decisions on design, colour and layout of the silk hankies and wool.  A few people decided to practice using silk hankies by making a wrap or length of fabric rather than a


Nancy explained that in order to make a finished garment that fitted, everyone needed to use the recommended wool in the stated quantities.  Too much wool and it might end up too big, too little wool and it might be too small. Everyone heeded Nancy’s advice and weighed their wool, making sure to use the same amount on the front and back.  There were also loads of helpful tips and advice on nuno felting and handling large projects with relative ease.


People were very pleased to hear that they could take their pieces home to felt in the dryer instead of rolling them.  On Sunday morning it was magic to see how the pieces had transformed after their time in the dryer the previous evening. day-2-vivday-3-viv-jea






Participants were shown how to fit the garment to their body shape, and how to full the felt to make quality fabric that fitted in all the right










On Sunday afternoon, Nancy spent some time teaching different options for closures, fasteners and hemming the garments to create a neat and professional finish. day-3-stitching-lesson





At the end of the three days, everyone went away very happy with a spectacular piece of felted fabric, and if they hadn’t already finished, they left with the skills and knowledge to finish the rest of the garment at home.  Nancy was very generous with her sharing and help making it a fun and productive workshop.  She also offered to provide further help to people if they drop in at Treetops.  Thank you Nancy for a wonderful workshop.    day-3-kathy day-3-jill


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.

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.”