Memories of felting in Portugal, part two!

At the beginning of our first session felting I asked all the participants what was the most important technique for them to learn over the course of our week together. Working with the Bordeleira wool was going to be a new experience for all of us although I had had the opportunity myself to felt 3 small samples and one little vessel prior to arriving at Dominio Vale do Mondego. From the teaching point of view I wanted every participant to be able to leave having absorbed new skills or ways of working and most importantly having had plenty of fun!

Samples and materials laid out at the start of the workshop, picture mosaic thanks to Terriea

For the first two days we felted using washed and carded wool, flat felt pieces first then three dimensional vessels and bags of many different shapes and styles. The wool roving that we used was either a natural white or chocolate brown, it felted beautifully and it’s amazing to me it is not more widely known or appriecated elsewhere. I found that it felted every bit as quickly as mernio with an approximate rate of 25% shrinkage on pieces that I would normally achieve a rate of 33%. We incorporated a selection of other fibres with the Bordeleiera wool for added surface decoration or texture. I’d brought a lot of undyed fibres with me for everyone to share including linen, silk, milk protein, soy, banana silk, wool neps etc. and I’d also got some of my favourite mohair off cuts from Cushendale Woollen Mill, mohair waste (from the brushing process after weaving), angelina, firestar and various natural and artificial yarns to dip into as well as a few different colours of merino roving in case anyone wanted to use these too. These were displayed inside with the samples and examples of other work I’d made at the beginning of the week, from Terrie’s picture mosaic it looks as if everything was very organised, obviously knowing me you’ll appreciate that it never looked as neat and tidy again!

Sandy working on her large felt vessel

Unfortunately I don’t have any pictures of our flat felt from day one or two, I think that I was concentrating so much on answering questions and making sure that the new felters had a successful first piece I forgot to take any pictures. Here’s a picture of Sandy though from day two starting to shape her piece, she’s working here on a stunning large vessel felted from the chocolate wool with a design in natural white with gold linen strands. As the week progressed we found that the Bordeleira wool was perfectly soft enough for wearables and nuno felting yet strong and easy to work with for bags and vessels.

On Wednesday morning we all visited a wonderful museum dedicated to wool and started working with the raw fleece in the afternoon. I’ll post about that next time and for now leave you with a great picture of Heather modelling one of her bags as a hat, watch out Dawn, you’ve got some competition!!!

Heather modelling her very flexible bag! Doesn’t she look great???

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5 thoughts on “Memories of felting in Portugal, part two!

  1. Oh, I’m boo-hoo’ing in my coffee….So wishing that I could have attended. It sounds like a perfect week!!!!!

    Is the Bordeleira wool available for purchase online? I’d love to give it a try.

    Yes, I love the hat that Heather made (you’re not going to convince me Heather that it’s anything other than a hat either;-))) Nicola, I’ve made Heather a very lucrative job offer (payment in the form of all the Plainwell Ice Cream that she can eat), but thus far she has not bitten! I think she’s holding out for an even better offer from the likes of Philip Treacy!!!!

    Keep those posts coming;-) I’m so enjoying my vicarious travel experience to Portugal!

    Big hugs,
    Dawn

  2. Oh, Nicola–Your photos are making me feel all ‘verklempt’, thinking about our wonderful time together in Portugal!! 🙂 Alas, I am no better a hat maker than I was at the beginning of our week, but I am a better feltmaker, thanks to you!! Missing you! XXO-

  3. Certainly a fabulous hat as well a chic bag of Heather – Queen of Bags. Thought that Sandy’s large vessel is proudly placed in her house. Nicola, all are amazing. Following you the great memories.

    • All the bags, vessels, rugs, seat pads and a lot of the nuno felt were felted using the Bordeleira wool Chrissie. A few of the participants had also brought some of their own hand dyed silk and merino with them so they also felted some larger wraps using the tumbel dryer method near the end of our week together but I haven’t shown any pictures of these pieces yet.

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