Last month I was fortunate to be invited to lead a craft at Soulodge Fire Circle Retreat; my very first solo retreat; first time away from my little family; first time giving permission to myself to reset, renew, and reconnect. The retreat gathers women interested in earth medicine, so I conceived a simple wet felted medicine pouch, adorned with a slender, wire-wrapped piece of kyanite and hung from adjustable deerskin lacing. Instead of using a more conventional plastic resist to create the pouch, I chose palm-sized river rocks. I wanted the felting process to be as pure and natural as possible – as if we had gathered all the materials on the land. Each woman wrapped her chosen rock in natural alpaca roving and then knelt over a large metal tub filled with hot soapy water to wet, soap, and rub the wool until it was felted tightly around the rock. Cutting a small hole at one end, the rock was then pushed out – sometimes with great effort and humorous analogies to giving birth. The open pouch was then wet, soaped, and rubbed again to complete the felting process. After rinsing, squeeze drying, and hand shaping the pouch, the stone adornment and lacing was added. A slender kyanite stone was wire-wrapped onto the center of the deerskin lacing, which was threaded through two sets of holes punched through both sides of the pouch. The lacing was then secured with two slip knots for adjustability. For anyone who was not able to make a medicine pouch at Soulodge Fire Circle, I’ve made a few felted ones and posted them for sale on Etsy.
After making several of these felted mats with integral bowls (I can’t come up with a name that isn’t just a description), I was inspired to make a similar design as a wall hanging. Although I meant for the bowl to be more of a pocket, it is tilted upwards just enough to be able to hold moss and an air plant. The piece is secured to the wall using simple thumbtacks that are covered with leftover felt. I will keep making these and playing with the bowl shape and angle. I envision a whole grid of them on a wall in varying natural alpaca colors.
Back to the name dilemma. What would you call this piece? Maybe just a real name, like Susan? Or a made up name like cars models – The AVRA. Anyway, I will consider any and all suggestions. In the meantime, this item is for sale on Etsy
Wet felting is a very organic process for me. I figure things out as I go. Therefore…I am constantly making mistakes that I have to incorporate. (I rarely just throw something away.) Since I am often changing mediums and therefore almost always experimenting, I make a lot of mistakes. But for me, these are opportunities rather than failures.
For this particular felted wool vessel, I wet felted natural alpaca roving around a ball. Because I wanted the walls of the vessel to be rather thick, I wrapped about six layers of roving around a three inch diameter ball. If you have ever done any felting, then you know the unwieldy mound of fluff that six layers becomes. Conventional felting wisdom recommends using pre-felted pieces, or needle felting before wet felting in order to prevent the layers from slipping around. But I just go ahead and wet felt the whole thing. And the layers slip. And bunch. And do all sorts of uncontrolled things. Wrinkles form. The overall shape is imperfect. And for a moment I am disappointed; maybe I even put the misshapen vessel aside for awhile. But I don’t forget it. I look at it every now and then while continuing with other projects.
And then one day an idea comes to me. I decide to highlight the wrinkles by stitching a pattern in wool yarn. Thus the wrinkles are meant to be. They give purpose to the stitching which in turn enhances an otherwise plain vessel.
And that is a perfect example of my creative process; organic, experimental, inclusive, additive.
This item is for sale on Etsy