Virtual Sunday Session – Fiona Duthie, Vessel within a Vessel
By Annika Berglund
Unfortunately, we can not meet in person yet due to Covid but we still want to keep up the contact with members and keep the learning opportunities coming. Feeling connected and having opportunities to develop the craft seems more important now than ever.
We thought we would look outside our group for new learning and we found an excellent tutorial by renowned teacher and artist Fiona Duthie. Fiona Duthie gives online workshops on a regular basis that have a great reputation. Unfortunately, her workshops are all fully booked for 2020. We will keep an eye open for when registration opens for 2021. Luckily for us, she also has a free online tutorial that we want to suggest to you for this month. It is a great introduction to her teaching style and you end up with a lovely little vessel and an interesting technique in felt making.
I had a go at following the tutorial and it was easy enough to understand.
First, I made a template that looks like two circles connected by a “bridge”. Then you have to think a little “inside out” and put the decoration down first on one of the circles as this one will be turned inside out eventually However, you put the decoration on last for the second circle. You rub and roll these together, throw them down a little and then you cut openings in the second circle and pull the template out through these. Finally, you push the first circle through the bridge, into the second circle. This turns the first circle inside out so the decoration becomes visible through the holes in the second circle. Magic!
I joined the Feltmakers Ireland committee back in 2018. I took over the role of Chair back at the start of this year, ah, and what a year it has been.
A Global Pandemic wasn’t on my prediction list for 2020 and it certainly was not on the FMI “aims and objectives”! Who would have thought it? How our lives could be changed, futures altered and humans “Endangered”.
The title for our 2020 exhibition had already been decided at the end of 2019. After a few brainstorming sessions and with the Climate action protests at the forefront of our mind, we all agreed it was an appropriate topic. Ambiguous enough to give scope to creativity but clear enough to hopefully link the incoming submissions.
I am terribly proud that as a group we managed to put on an exhibition at all this year. Our proposal was for a gallery space at the Knit &Stitch in the RDS, this was cancelled… we had a plan B in place, a lovely space in the visitor centre at the Phoenix Park- 3 weeks before we were due to open this space changed too!
We flexed a little and changed course, in the end the judges- Gabi Mc Grath and Jane Fox were extremely impressed with the standard and marked and ranked the pieces. This we communicated to the applicants.
As a committee however, we decided we would try to show everyone’s work. With the year that’s in it, our aim is to keep the community motivated, to promote the work of local artists and to support… and so it was- all applicants work was shown albeit in a smaller location in the Phoenix park and we hope that you have enjoyed the on-line “meet the maker” interviews and photographs too…
Here’s mine. Tamzen x
The Exhibition title- Endangered?- how does your piece respond to the title? your inspiration and methods etc
My piece is titled “Coral Bleaching” it highlights the topic of habitat loss, specifically in the Great Barrier Reef, the phenomenon of coral bleaching linked to elevated sea temperatures.
It is a textural piece using wet felt techniques including cords, attachments and shibori as well as hand embroidery and bead work.
I love colour and texture, so I’ve used bright fluo combinations. I interspersed these highly coloured sections with neutral undyed “ bleached” out wool, where hopefully the textures speak for themselves.
Last year I undertook the #100day project and many of the small pieces I created reminded me of coral or sea creatures. I spent some time collecting plastic waste and ghost fishing nets and incorporated small pieces of these into my work. I suppose that this “Coral Bleaching” piece is a continuation of that work.
Crafting through the current crisis, with the pandemic have you found time to craft, has it inspired you or have you found it more difficult- discuss
In my family this really has been a crisis year. I was acutely aware of the Global situation as it unfolded. I watched Covid 19 news closely as it emerged in China back in January. Back in 2003 I was working in Hong Kong when Sar’s emerged. I remember the nervousness of having my temperature checked at the airport en route home from a business trip.
With my own fashion design work, I travelled to Germany in February this year to consult with a large retailer ( and took a face mask with me “just in case”, but it stayed wrapped and sealed in my pocket).
By the end of that month, our relatives in Milan, Italy were in lockdown.
My Indian boss, whose family live in Madrid- had already started home-schooling.
On 12th March I picked up my 3 Children from school. My partner and I still didn’t realise then that by the end of the month both my freelance business of 15years would have ended ( I hope suspended, but I simply don’t know) I would have become full time- “home- school” teacher on PUP!
As large European retailers simply cancelled orders for knitwear, product that was already designed, manufactured, and shipped, the knock-on effect to the manufacturers and all their auxiliary partners (including me) was extreme. Capital dried up, goods stopped at ports and contracts abandoned, claims of “Force majeure” as European retailers shuttered their doors and passed the problem to the Asian manufacturers, ( and freelancers like me) who soaked up the losses.
I turned my focus to staying healthy, keeping mind and body together, working on my own creative projects and my family.
Luckily for my birthday my folks sent down a great big package of fibre, so materials weren’t a problem and crafting as always played a huge part in my life.
Art and Craft is not something I do in my spare time; it is the thing I do. The Earth without Art… Eh.
I’ve used this time to make 2 videos for DCCI and to start to video my work for future on-line felting tutorials. I am also organising a local #madeinmaynooth market for artists and crafters to simply set up a socially distanced stand and hold a “art and craft walk” on a designated day in the month.
I’m doing this as well as setting up an etsy store, supporting my kids as they transition back to school and volunteering with the FMI committee.
Felt- how you discovered it, what it means to you
It was at a Knit & Stitch show a good few years ago now that I first saw a demonstration. I studied Fashion and textiles at university and design knitwear ( very commercial, colour and trends) but felt was not something I had done before. I loved the versatility, 2d and 3d. It was almost like magic, fibre to cloth, with no needles!
Felting means I can be creative at my kitchen table. I can be present in the house, I can chat to the kids, but I can also work creatively for me.
I have an output for my creative madness that is both flexible and forgiving, qualities I respect and strive for in life.
I’d like to take this opportunity as the “Endangered” exhibition closes to thank our hosts the OPW, Phoenix Park visitor centre, The DCCI, The feltmakers Ireland voluntary committee for their hard work, our two esteemed Judges- Gabi Mc Grath and Jane Fox and all the applicants for their wonderful work.
We hope that through these tough times you have been inspired to keep crafting, keep creative and keep safe.
When faced with the question endangered, my thoughts immediately turned to the sea and the life that exists within it. It’s a place that can easily be forgotten, as life under the surface may not be immediately visible unless one seeks it out.
It was a by now famous image made by photographer Justin Hofman for National Geographic, in which a seahorse swam holding on to a discarded cotton bud, that highlighted to the world the issues of pollution in our oceans. This image has stuck in my mind ever since and it became the inspiration for this piece. I wanted to convey the beauty of the sea whilst still showing that there was an issue. I went through various ideas of trying to represent the pollution but in the end decided to keep the beauty visible and show that life in the sea is hanging precariously in the balance by using the cotton buds to hang and connect the pieces together.
I wet felted the pieces using the cracked mud technique and folded the upper sections under to represent ocean shelves. I then stitched in various forms of sea life from plants to fish to populate the piece. After consideration I left the edges of the three sections of the piece feathery so as to seem watery and with less of a defined edge.
I enjoyed the challenge in making the piece even though I’m quite new to felting and have a lot to learn. The current crisis has allowed me more time to pursue some of my passions at home so in one way it has been a blessing. It has allowed me to slow down and consider more what I would like to do with my craft in all its various forms and I’ve enjoyed being able to take the time to do so. I’ve always loved working with wool and felting is another aspect of it that I am looking forward to exploring in greater detail over the coming years. Ramona Farrelly joined feltmakers Ireland only last year. Thank you for being brave enough to enter your work in the exhibition. On the day we hung the exhibit, committee member Maria McGivern photographed some pieces outside. This piece looked beautiful, swaying in the breeze.
Feltmakers Ireland asked long time member Astrid about her inspiration for the Exhibition title ” Endangered”.
My Secret Garden- I was deeply impressed by my grandparents’ garden. The memory of colourful things and strange shapes, fascinated me!My inspiration of nature and textile are influenced from those sources. The materials are telling stories about life, people with their feelings, dreams, wishes, thoughts and sadness. I looked for a way to incorporate this memory into my felt making work.I chose wet felting technique with different materials who elaborated in this wall-piece. My intention is to invite the viewer to touch and investigate my piece of memory!
The second piece ” Light like a Feather, but can’t Fly ” , is supposed to inspire earth care and respect for the environment as well as to create awareness and encourage taking responsibility for our environment ! This particular piece commemorates the oil disaster of the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.
What has it been like crafting through the current crisis?
In this challenging time, I try to get a different aspect to managing my daily routine. Suddenly, I had more time, in one way, I was excited to have time working on pieces there laying in boxes waiting to be finished.Also to do some experimental work, exploring new ways and new materials.
How and when did you discover felt?
Through a friend I was introduced to felting in 2002. I learned how to work with different types of wool, researget new techniques and materials.I was overwhelmed, amazed and fascinated about using wool to shape my ideas. There a endless possibilities and I`m delighted to keep this exciting ancient craft alive. I aim to make unique hand-felted surfaces!