In August of this year Felt makers Ireland had the pleasure of hosting award winning Australian felt maker Wendy Bailye for a 3 day workshop, entitled “Fiffty shades of Grey”. This was a sampling workshop, the prime objective of which was to play with fibre and fabrics in a layering style to discover new ways of making felted textile.
We looked at surface textures and discovered the differences in speciality fibres such as hemp, silks, neps and proteins. We used silk chiffons and lightweight cottons in layering techniques, always in an experimental fashion, learning through our own exploration.
Wendy showed us a large section of samples from her vast portfolio. Many of her samples looked at surface design and stitch. Many of the class then went on to experiment with free- motion stitch on their own samples.
It was a very enjoyable and relaxed workshop in, held in Portmarnock. Three days of experimentation that resulted in each student producing a small library of samples.
I reached out to Wendy, now that she is back in her native Australia to ask her about her own work. I hope you enjoy her responses:
Tell us a little about you as a person?
I have always been a maker. My mum was a very creative soul and I have many happy memories doing classes and working creatively from a very young age. It was a very “1970’s upbringing” with experiments in, copper enamelling, Ikebana, macramé, drawing to name a few.
I trained as a Secondary Home Economics Teacher, doing a lot of textile work, and then I went on to train in Special Education with Art as a major. I have also worked as a restauranteur, a caterer and gallery owner as well as opening an organics store. A very varied career! I have been a full time, professional felt maker for 12 years.
How and when did you start Felting… what is your experience, tell us a little about your journey with felt?
I started felting 25 years ago. A friend and I made hats for our children and then felted together for a while. I became addicted to the medium immediately.
Tell us about your process from conception to creation and what is your motivation?
My main interest is in surface design and technique innovation, I like to play with a “big canvas” so I make a lot of large wraps.My artwork originates from the heart and my hands often do their work without thought.
A miraculous dance of sorts, moving in unison and independently of the conscious mind. The shaping and fulling of wool is so dependent on this connection of heart and hands. There is something very special about wool, it has such unique properties.
What currently inspires you?
I am inspired from within, my inner landscape in combination with the never- ending inspiration of colours, textures and patterns in the outer world.
I am planning a trip back to the UK in 2020 this travelling and connecting with people and places deeply informs my work. Especially the connections made with other artists working thoughtfully in their chosen careers.
I am fortunate to be able to assist others to develop their creativity- a vocation like no other and very necessary in today’s complex world.
Thank you so much to Wendy, both for the wonderful workshop earlier in the year and for taking the time to share these unique insights with us, perhaps we will meet again on your next international tour.