Adventures in Feltmaking: “Sampler” Yardage

When I’m experimenting with new fibers, a new technique or a new design, I’ll often create a table-full of what amounts to “sampler yardage,” combining this and that all over with no particular plan in mind other than to find out how things work and why.   I’ll embed elements in different layers, place assorted fibers on top of each other and next to each other, let things flow off the edge and entwine.  It’s a form of artful playtime.  As the process evolves and I work the fibers, I can see how this experiment is going.  Almost always, I learn a lot from the things that happen that I could not have planned.  It’s well-spent studio time.  Much of this yardage goes into my stash of “pre-felt” scraps for surface design work.  Sometimes I’ll cut out parts of the sampler yardage that are interesting little compositions, and glue these felted shapes to blank card stock — one can never have enough hand-crafted cards to give as gifts and as a way to say a heart felt “Thank You.”   It might be daunting to think about doing a whole scarf in an intricate flower motif — branches of forsythia and weeping cherry tree blossoms and mimosa have been on my mind.  A lot of feltmaking instruction, a lot of what you read in books, is, understandably, focused on producing something.  But focusing on process instead of product by creating a sampler in which one aims at a sort of nature study of the subject is not so daunting.  What seemed difficult is transformed into play.  What seemed as if it might take forever and be complicated becomes a form of meditation that takes you out of time.  You find a way to work that is so wonderfully just what you want to be doing that it feels like no effort at all.  There’s so much I long to do and to express in feltmaking.  I know I’m in good company.  There are so many felters out there who are in love with this craft, and the ways of our connecting and sharing about our work are blossoming every day.


Published in: on April 13, 2011 at 1:01 am  Leave a Comment