The process of musing on life’s pressures, which have the potential to overwhelm, led to the design for these felts, and to consider their aptness for the Contemporary Crafts Network, ‘Erosion’ exhibition. (I chose to produce these two pieces for the Contemporary Crafts Network exhibition held at The Collection, Lincoln in 2011.) Alternative methods of felting technique were explored, resulting in very different structures – a canvas mounted felt and a 3D structural form. They both fit within my ‘Traits Series’.
Process and Evaluation
The first is entitled ‘Erosion of Sensory Function’, 2011, 96(w) x 35(h) cm. The letters were made from a variety of fibres which were then wet felted into hand-made prefelt in a soft, white merino. Additional text forms a border and was incorporated using a modern 12 needle felting machine and twisted slub yarn. Problems of pain, fatigue and numbness inflict severe difficulty on people who have sensory erosion. I wanted to encourage and help people to relate to, and understand, what life is like for those living with neurological disorder. Damage to the central nervous system often includes symptoms that remain unseen – pain, fatigue and numbness. In this felt the words are laminated between fine layers of merino and each letter is defined with a range of materials. The fibres selected are a personal representation of the sensory problem covered by the word itself.
P – Mulberry silk viscose twist yarn , A – Cotton and merino twist, I – Metallic and merino twist yarn, N – Mohair and wool loop. F – Merino tops, A – Mohair and wool loop, T – Alpaca yarn, I – Polyester and metal thread, G – Mohair and wool loop, U – Alpaca yarn, E – Polyester and metal thread plus mohair and wool loop, N – Alpaca yarn, U – Banana fibre – lustrous, fine slub yarn, M – Lincolnshire longhair slub yarn and viscose tops – a unique form of wood cellulose acetate, B – Nylon and wool slub yarn, N – Metallic thread and Tencel, E – Merino boucle yarn, S – Wool knaps and slub with mulberry silk, S – Banana fibre
My second piece, ‘Erratic’, 2011, 38 x 45cm, has a willow base which shapes the structure and is layered with plant dyed wool. I elected to collaborate with Alison Walling, a noted willow artist, who constructed the shape to my specification. The irregular shapes created by the willow compelled me to produce a hard, rather than a soft springy, finish.
Labour intensive, it was made by using the dry felting method, entirely by using a single barbed needle. The layers, colours and design are intended to convey that it is not only inanimate structures such as rock which erode, but also the human spirit and mood. I encourage visitors to hold and touch this piece and to enjoy its tactile qualities.