It charts my feltmaking journey, which started in 2005 when I bought a fleece straight off the sheep during a visit to a sheep farm with my daughter. After trying spinning & knitting and not being particularly adept at either, I turned to feltmaking. Library book in hand, my first try was a tea cosy of moderate success. I was intrigued by the process, but soon after became a mother for the second time and had little time to get the grips with the technique.
As my youngest grew, so did my desire to go back to felt and, via experiments with toys, hand puppets and other items I finally arrived at the headdresses. Even at the start of my felt journey I knew one day I would be making larger pieces, so it came almost as a relief to finally get stuck in.
The article describes how I moved from my first attempt at a mask in early 2011 (image 1), to a full headdress in the form of Raven I (image 2), which was made of local Alpaca, Shetland and Hebridean fleece. This had its first public outing at the ball at the IFA conference in Bath this year, but I quickly discovered the short comings of the design (mainly that I couldn’t see or breathe very well), so when I came home I cut it up and incorporated parts of it into Raven II (image3).
Since then I have been making a range of headdresses, animal and otherwise. I really love the textural and painterly effects that can be achieved by blending different wools, and each piece provides me with a new opportunity to stand back and see what happens.
Through experimentation, I have learned about working with complex resist shapes. I treat each piece as an opportunity to try out new techniques and to build on what I learned from making the previous ones. All the headdresses start life around a flat resist, before being felted to a pre-felt stage (this is the point when the fibres are just beginning to bind together). At this stage I remove the resist and start sculpting it into a three dimensional shape. I shape the mask around my own head, which also helps me to decide where to position the eye openings. I have recently acquired a second hand spin dryer, which has revolutionised the trying-on stage!