Some of my favourite subjects for these blog posts are artists and craft workers. This time it’s a Staffordshire based artist who works with 100% natural lamb’s wool and silk fibres.
Barbara Meek completed a degree course in textile design in the late 1990’s as a mature student. Not so much a change of tack, it was more the continuation of a life that had already involved textiles from a young age. After graduating she ran her own textile design business. Besides running the business, she was a part-time teacher for 17 years in several environments.
Barbara came to realise that her real passion lay in being creative. She loved to make unique pieces of art out of natural fibres. Her love of sharing knowledge in the form of felt making classes took precedence five years ago. She gave up her interior design business and left her teaching job at Stafford College. It was then that she concentrated on her Feltworld business.
Felt making is possible because of the tiny hooks along every strand of wool. The felting process interlocks the fibres a bit like Velcro but on a much smaller scale. There are various ways to cause this interlocking. Barbara teaches both dry felting and wet felting techniques.
In dry felting, the student uses a special barbed needle to make 3D objects such as a range of small felt animals.
The wet felting technique uses only soap and water to make flat pieces. Students may keep these as attractive felt pictures. Or they can make them into beautiful scarves, handbags, bowls, and footstools.
Barbara runs the Feltworld courses from her studio in Penkridge. The classes are quite safe, but may be addictive! Attend one of the felting courses, and you will come away with a beautiful, unique creation. Her teaching approach is that everyone can be creative. This proves true time after time for beginners and more ambitious students.
If you like hard work, you could follow in Barbara’s footsteps and take a course in Turkish felt rug making. She did this with a master felt-maker in Turkey and came home with a beautiful felt rug. You can read all about it on the Feltworld website here: www.feltworld.co.uk/rug-making-turkey.
Nuno felting is a particularly attractive use of wet felting. The name comes from the Japanese word “Nuno” which means cloth. An Australian invented the process in the early 1990s.
Nuno felting is a blend of wool felted into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze. This gives a lightweight cloth which resembles seersucker. This is due to the shrinkage of the wool fibres during the process.
Attend one of the Nuno felt making courses, and you’ll come away with a beautiful and unique scarf.
Barbara provides all the things you’ll need. This includes wool, silk strands to enhance the felt, and silk for Nuno felting. She even supplies the wooden base for the upholstered footstool class.
Refreshments are also provided, as is a light lunch on the full day courses. For details of all Barbara’s courses visit the Feltworld website at www.feltworld.co.uk.
Barbara demonstrates the wet felting technique: