It seems this pandemic is just rolling on, with no real end in sight. It can be hard to stay positive at the moment, especially with the days getting darker and less scope for being outdoors. There are many ways to try to cope and to keep looking for the positive, and I wanted to share something that has been very helpful for me in all this. I live alone with my 12-year-old daughter and felt I needed something to help me stay connected and hopeful in the face of a long time with limited direct social interactions.
Feltmakers Ireland and sister organisations across the world have had to cancel workshops and meet-ups across the world due to the pandemic, the knitting and stitching show in Dublin being an example in point. All these cancellations have been hard on artists and teachers as a significant revenue stream has been cut off for them. A small spark of light in these troubled times is that the number of craft courses offered online has increased a lot, allowing access to knowledge and inspiration from a wide range of artists across the world.
I am a great fan of courses and workshops and love soaking up knowledge and inspiration from whatever artist or teacher available. I was in the fortunate position to have the time and the means to sign up to a number of online courses since the early summer, and I am certain that it has contributed in large part to keeping me relative sane through this very trying year. I know I would not have been able to attend such a range of courses if I had had to travel to each of them to participate. I also made a lot of new acquaintances and contacts by interacting digitally with the other students which has helped me stay positive and feel connected.
I have been asked to introduce you to some of these courses and give some ideas of courses coming up and where to find additional information if you are interested in taking a look for yourselves. These courses do cost money, but I personally have found them well worth the investment. With Christmas coming up you might be able to hint that they would be welcome in your Christmas stocking. If you still find that you cannot justify this expense, I hope to send out some more links to free online tutorials in the near future.
If you are interested in any courses similar to the ones I mention below, the best way to get enrolled is to go to the web page of the artist whose course you find interesting and sign up for their newsletter, or to follow them. They will then tell you when they have courses coming up and how to enrol. Fiona Duthie, (https://www.fionaduthie.com/workshops/online-felting-workshops/) for example is very popular. Her courses book up very fast and I already have a reminder in my calendar for the 4th of January when she will open registration for her 2021 courses. I just managed to get a spot on one of her courses in 2020 and hope to do more in 2021.
The first course I did took place during the summer, a course focussed on 3D felting, by the Australian artist Pam de Groot. (http://pamdegroot.com/online-courses.html )
This course helped improve the quality of my finished felt no end, and showed me many examples of how to take a 2D piece of felt and work it till it became a very different 3D object, based on shrinkage and different qualities obtained from different levels of thickness of the laid down wool. It also put me in contact with people from many different locations in the world who all shared an interest in felt and we created a small community that felt very encouraging and friendly.
Surface Form and Space Mid 2020 Pam de Groot
Here are some of the samples I made during this course
After this course there was no stopping me.
I signed up for a course with an American artist called Patti Barker: Demystifying felt resists. (https://www.pattibarker.com/workshops)
This was a shorter course, and Patti sent us all the materials needed for the course. All other courses send you a list of materials that you had to get yourselves. Patti shared some skills on how to get tighter, smoother felt by finishing by rolling the felt in on itself, without the bubble wrap. I made two little vessels, one as usual and one rolling it in on itself, and I must admit the second vessel looked better (the one on the left)
These are the samples I made in this course:
Another course I participated in was a two day live zoom course with UK artist Mandy Nash, making two different kinds of fish using a wool called bergschaus:
After that I joined a course led by Ruth Lane, called Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination. It added in mixed media techniques into felting which I found very interesting. I am still working on finishing samples from this course, but here is one that I am working on. I plan to add some beads and stitching. (https://permutationsinfiber.wordpress.com/about/ )
I have two other courses going on at the moment.
I managed to get a spot on one of Fiona Duthie’s 2020 courses: Felting over the Edge.
As the title implies it looks at how to do more with the edges of felt pieces. I still have 3 weeks to go to create a finished piece, but these are some of the samples I have made so far:
Recently I also started another course by Pam de Groot:
Texture and Dimension October 2020
The first part of the course teaches how to make a splash bowl. Easier said than done. These are my two first attempts:
In the 4 upcoming weeks we will be learning how to make spiral shell shapes.
I also have two more courses coming up end of this year, starting the new year, by two exciting artists:
Official Beyond Felting: Wool + Paper + Silk
And a figurative 3D course by Molly Williams called Contemporary Dancer
These courses do require a reasonable internet connection. Also, you will have to invest in materials for nearly all of them. Some of them are very specific in type of wool needed. Not all students in all the classes I have participated in have had the specified wool. Sometimes that worked fine, sometimes it made it harder to get the expected results. As I wanted to take so many different courses I had some problems with needing lots of different wools in a selection of colours. It would both be very costly and take up too much room in my house. This became obvious after the first course and I decided to only get white wool of the specified type and figure out how to dye it myself. Some trial and error ensued, but I think I am getting the hang of it. That may be the subject of more blog entries in the new year.
Feel free to contact Feltmakers Ireland – Annika Berglund-if you have any questions about this blog entry or if there are subjects you would like us to look at or information you want to share.
Stay making! Stay in Touch and thanks for reading