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.
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.
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.
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.
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.