Day one of our complex felted bag workshop

We were an excited bunch of felters on Saturday morning as we examined and exclaimed over a selection of Lyda’s gorgeous and sculptural felt bags. 

Beautiful surface detail

Lyda is well known for the strong sculptural shapes and attention to surface detail in these pieces as is well evidenced in this close up shot from one of her large double pocket bags.  The flaps in this particular photo are actually not visable when you are using the bag (being hidden when the upper flap is dropped) so this just gives an indication of how she likes to decorate every surface and create a beautiful object, the hidden is every bit as important as the obvious.  If you are interested in seeing larger pictures of some of Lyda’s bags pay a visit to gallery 5 on her excellent website. 

Elaine adding glass nuggets as she lays out the various layers of her complex felt bag

Elaine and Carmen decided on different large bags with several pockets while Cristina and I both decided to create smaller bags (me because of my back) starting from the same shaped resist.  To begin with we all started by making samples, Lyda explained that it is far better to have a disaster or an unexpected outcome at this stage than when the larger bag is well underway!  I sketched my proposed bag in my notebook as I worked and as the morning progressed decided to add a small loop on the bottom of the back side to enable me convert my driftwood handle for use as a backpack if I so wished.  I decided early on to have a different surface design on the back and the front of my bag so that I could wear it either way around, both of these designs would be laid out on a base colour of deep green and this would wrap around the edges of both flaps to form a border for the reverse of the ‘unseen’ flaps.  This face of the bag I wanted to experiment with a totally ‘subdued bling’ element using a rich blend of orange, wine, yellow and raspberry merino overlaid with loads of artificial gold fabric and gorgeous gold silk yarn.  I know that it sounds a bit mad but the colours blended well together and the overall effect is not quite so glittery and obvious as might be expected from the description! 

Carmen working the various pockets


Carmen also used some artificial fabric in her design, pieces of silver mesh which combined beautifully with the charcoal and white merino to almost sparkle in her finished bag.  Here is a picture of her working the various pockets at the outside of her bag.

Check back tomorrow to follow our progress!


More felt accessories – how to make a stunning felt brooch or pendant

Carmen and I spent a happy and productive afternoon continuing our experimentation with merino and artificial fabric.  Both of us have stiff backs after all our exertions during the complex bag workshop (just wait until you see the pictures when I post about that!) so we decided to stick with small projects today and have some fun together. 

Midnight I brooch prior to beading


If you are interested in creating an experimental brooch or pendant like the one pictured on the left here is the process.

  1. Lay out a rough square of merino approx 6″ X 6″
  2. Wet it lightly, soap and flatten to remove the air
  3. Lay a small wad of dry wool in the centre and then place your stone, glass nugget or other found object on top
  4. Cover the insertion with dry wool
  5. Needle lightly through the dry wool into the wet to secure (don’t worry if you don’t have a needle, just leave this stage out)
  6. Lay another layer of wool over the whole front
  7. Cover this with strips or a larger square of artificial fabric, be inventive and try out anything!
  8. Wet out, soap and felt by rubbing directly on top of the front and back of the bundle, you don’t need to roll your work
  9. When fully felted cut a small cross over the insertion and using your finger nails push out the cut edge to expose your glass, stone or found object
  10. Rinse, shape and bead or embellish as required

HAVE FUN!  More pictures of work I created during and after Lyda’s visit are now uploaded to Flickr.