Saturday 2 October 2010

How is it made?

When I'm not gallivanting about the farm in lovely hand created wearable art with my photographer Smita in tow... (to see more of her work)
...I do get down to some serious hard work! Many people who see and delight in my creations undoubtably ask "how is it made?" So I would like to give you a brief journey through some of the stages, to give a better idea on just how much work goes into making each piece.

 Firstly, each piece starts out about twice the size of the final product. This means for a large item like a dress or jacket, working on a large table is already tricky. Lots of folding, humming and huffing.

Lots of water and savon de marseille goes into each piece to get those wool fibers to stick down and eventually penetrate through the fabric layer....

Eventually, if working on the table becomes too difficult, I resort to the floor. Many joyous hours and perhaps even days of back strain, sore knees and clenched muscles follows...

  ...interspersed with coffee...

...then back to it again. One has to suffer for their art. And believe me, I do!

If I'm lucky I then find some enthusiastic free child labour to exploit... or otherwise go it alone for another hour of rolling.

Then some  massaging to help the wool fibres  really penetrate the fabric and shrink down to a more solid felted consistency.

A bit of rougher treatment eventually such as thudding and throwing... and more massage practise. Add a pink bath and things really start moving...

That's starting to look more like the real thing. Size has shrunk at least 35%, now its time for some surface work.

After researching for over a year to find the solution to my question of "how do you avoid pilling?" (when wool surfaces form little wool balls), asking every felter I came across in my surounding France but also abroad...  Pat Sparks (a well known American felter) gave me the best advice which was to really work the felt surface to form a kind of  tougher skin. So that's what I do, and I'm pleased and confident with the result. Pilling will eventually happen to any woolen garment (and these balls of fluff can be easily snipped off with scissors or a razor blade), but it shouldnt happen after just a few wears and the piece shouldn't feel fluffy and soft to begin with. Felt has a solid feeling that when dry stretched, will really not change in size, nor distort. I did a lot of trial and error with these ideas and that is why I am now confident to say that I create high quality felt.

Rewards after a physical day at home, at work.

Nothing like homegrown heritage seed tomato sauce... but that's another story!

(and if you're curious to see the finished product of above, you'll have to come along to the Salon des Artisans d'Art at Toulouse!)


  1. Hi Gina.
    I just stumbled across your etsy store and was enraptured! Your work is stunning and not unlike some of my own. I'm a textile artist living in the bush in WA and i work with similar techniques and processes involving natural dyes, fibres and eco prints (not so much with felt)
    I think its always inspiring to find like minds.
    I will be revisiting your site in future to see what you're up to!
    Au Revoir

  2. hi Gina, thanks for the email, great to hear from you, and hear about your (hard) work. also, a great photo of a gallivanting gina!

    cheerio and all the best from Barbie's Pete.