Merino wool / bamboo fibre blend, thread, water soluble fabric
For millennia, our watery planet has been spinning in space sustained by the Plantae kingdom. Insignificantly small by comparison to the size of earth, trees and plants ‘en masse’ are the main contributor to terrestrial life, being the viable and dynamic operation of the earth’s ecosystems. Producing oxygen via photosynthesis – they create the invisible life-giving element that shrouds the globe.
Closeup of free machine embroidery incorporated into the felt
Veiling with wool to represent ‘mists’
Densely stitched threadwork done on water soluble
Profile showing depth of piece
Mists of time in gallery
Another angle in gallery
Exhibited flat, but designed for hanging
Vertical / front view
Integrating Felt and Thread
The global reference of this piece determines the colour as well as it’s shape. To keep the shape as perfectly circular as possible, there needs to be support for the shape. After allowing for shrinkage, and using a resist, the large circular pre-felt is made. The thread-work, which in this case involves very dense stitching on water soluble fabric, is put in place. Very gentle massaging is necessary to get the wool fibres to adhere to the thread. Although flat, the density of the stitching means it takes a while to encourage the wool fibres to migrate through the available spaces.
Once significant shrinkage becomes apparent, the thread-work, which is quite stiff, buckles. Creating this dimensional effect as well as some careful layering of wadding, results in the partial dome shape. The circular art-board was inserted once the piece was fully felted.
Since the making of a number of wall hangings for the last exhibition, it is a nice change of pace to create something completely functional like the felt mandala rug below. In a 3 day workshop with Martien van Zuilen, we all came away with very different rugs. Mine is in daily use and a favourite with my personal trainer, the dog. Might have to make another one now.
Essential equipment to commence workshop
Prefelt cut outs
Many layers later…..
Almost finished mandalas
The mandala workshop
Martien ‘s workshop is a busy 3 days, but well worth the effort. Surprisingly, a standard trestle table is enough to create this rug, just! Merino is not suitable for rugs, so Corriedale or wool with an equal or higher micron count is the better option. Martien explains the traditional and cultural aspects of the mandala and then guides you through the design principles. She covers various aspects of the design which involve a number of elements in this technique. While the focus on creating a well balanced piece is the aim, there was plenty of other techniques to consider for inclusion. Colour blending, patterning with pre-felt and creating texture with stitch, to name but a few.