Fine Art Felt Workshop

Multicoloured felt

On Saturday I attended a workshop at Worden Park Arts & Crafts Centre, Leyland, Lancashire. The workshop, Fine Art Felt, was taught by Shenna Swan who is the tutor at the WEA course I go to on Friday mornings at Farnworth UCAN.

I booked my place on the course when Anne [with an ‘e’] and I went to Shenna’s open day. I enjoy feltmaking and was inspired by a piece that Shenna had produced and was on display. I was apprehensive about going to the workshop alone, particularly as Ang Zya Tee has been showing its ugly head recently. However, the only time I felt anxious before the workshop was when I was re-entering Shenna’s studio after placing a parking permit on the dashboard. Just goes to show how illogical anxiety is! Anyway, it wasn’t a problem so on with the workshop.

There were six of us at the workshop, two of whom had never made felt before. Shenna began by demonstrating the felt making process then explained that we would each be making two pieces of felt during the morning session and using those pieces to produce another piece during the afternoon. In fact, we worked so quickly that we were able to make three pieces of felt: two of which were embellished during the process by adding our choices of threads, yarns, fabrics  and other colours of wool tops.

Creating embellished felt pieces
[Photo courtesy of Shenna Swan MA]

Our felt making equipment and fibres had been set out prior to the workshop. By arriving early I was able to choose a set of colours that did not include green – thank goodness! The colours I had were lilac, brown and burnt orange: an unexpected colour combination.

One of my composite pieces of felt

I thoroughly enjoyed making the embellished pieces of felt. There was a good selection of bits and pieces to use in our felt. It was fascinating to see what each participant chose. Shenna had said we would be pooling the felt pieces for the afternoon session so I knew it was likely I was going to pushed outside my comfort zone because of the amount of green that was being used! I have to say that one of the greens was a shade that I find very dismal and depressing. When I see the colour I can immediately feel the effect it is having on me. I know that sounds strange, particularly to people who love green, but it is true.

After making our three felt pieces we stopped for the delicious lunch that Shenna had organised. It is a real treat having lunch included in the price. Along with the savouries, Shenna’s daughter, Isobel, had arranged for there to be a birthday cake for one of the others on the workshop and we all sang ‘Happy Birthday’ to her.

My first composite felt

Around lunchtime Shenna produced some resources for us to use as inspiration for our composite work. Several of the others chose images of nature or landscapes and one chose a picture of a Tiffany lamp. I selected a set of three Mondrian images [well, I think all three were by Mondrian but I can’t be sure as I forgot to check on the reverse]. The piece of felt by Shenna that had inspired me at the open day comprised mainly squares and rectangles on a background and I wanted to do something along those lines.

Detail of embellished composite felt

I began by selecting the plain piece of felt I had made during the morning. I used the side that was mainly lilac as the background for my piece then began cutting out squares, rectangles and triangles from one of my embellished pieces. I laid two or three cut-out shapes onto the background then decided to use a decorative yarn to delineate areas of the piece. When making felt one can’t be sure how a piece will turn out as elements are prone to being moved by the actual felt making process. I wanted to see what would happen to my yarn lines during the process. I was surprised to find that they remained pretty much intact.

My second composite piece of felt

For my second composite piece I used blue, lilac and teal wool tops for the background. I added pieces from some of the other felts made during the day plus some further embellishments then felted it all in one go. I worked all-in-one as we were fast approaching 3.00 pm – the advertised end-time for the workshop. However, Shenna invited us to make another piece is we wished.

My third composite felt

I tried something a little different for my third composite piece. The felts remaining in the middle of the table had dwindled considerably but there were some sizeable pieces. I decided to use several good-sized pieces to create a larger piece. The main colour of each of the three pieces I chose were lilac, teal and brown. I cut strips which were about two or three inches wide and laid them on the netting so that each piece overlapped the next. I then placed smaller strips across the joins at right angles. I must say that it looked unpromising before I tried felting it! However, the end result was quite pleasing. [Unfortunately the photographs really don’t do it justice.] My only disappointment was that this felt looked similar to the first composite piece I had made earlier.

My three composite pieces.
Clockwise from top left: first piece,
second piece and third piece.

All in all I enjoyed the workshop. It was interesting to make felt using a painting or artist as a form of inspiration, instead of simply working from what’s in my head. Also, I find it interesting and enjoyable working with a new group of people and picking up ideas from their work.

Detail from second composite felt
Detail from first composite piece
Details showing Angelina fibres in
third composite felt


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