Friday, July 2, 2010

Free Form Bowl

For days now I have been lost in the creative moment ....the "Zone".  It is usually the empty fridge that forces me to emerge, but this time I have been awakened by my dear friends Alice and Jo.  Cold weather during the current School holidays is keeping their grandchildren inside more than usual and they want something to keep them amused.

So here is one of my favourites...The Free Form Bowl from a Square of felt...

It can be made from all sorts of left over pieces or carefully fashioned ...which ever one prefers.

The first free form bowl I made (above) was fashioned from a square of felt  using hand washed and carded cross bred fleece.

Some had been dyed a wonderful gold colour with onion skins over a pit fire a few years before, some was "over" spun in chunks to form a 3D texture when felted ..the rest was left natural.  An interesting contrast in texture was created with some gold cord.  I preferred the coarser wool as it allowed me to create a nice sturdy bowl.

I don't remember the exact dimensions for this square...a little over 30cms (1 Foot square)..I think. 

To Begin: Find a bowl or vessel that you would like to use as your mould.  Cut  pieces of news paper and experiment with folding it around the vessel.  Then adjust the shape and size to suit. It doesn't have to be perfectly square..interesting vessels can be made from skewed shapes.

To make the felt  you will need to lay out a square 40% large than your paper pattern.  Lay the first layer wool in one direction, then the next layer at right angles to the first.  Continue to alternate the directions of the layers until you have enough to create a solid bowl.  The finer the wool the more layers needed.  I am assuming that the Granies and others who may like to try this already know the basics of fulling the felt using hot soapy water.

To be truly free form one can make the square first then find a mould to stretch it over later.  I used a pudding bowl...and tied an old stocking around the rim to hold the stretch.  I also worked the base of the bowl with my fingers.  If you don't like the shape ..simply take if off and find another mould to try.

After putting my felt square on the mould.... the wet corners were curled around  pencils and pens. They were then held in place with pegs while they dried. 

Variations would be to cut the corners and add extensions...or cut and curl 3 or 4 leaves into each corner.

You can twist it, curl it, tweak it, pull it, cut it , carve it and stretch it ...all limited only by ones imagination.

To finish: The bowl was stiffened with a mixture of 50/50 gel medium and water.  I only painted the inside of the bowl as I wanted the fluffy felt texture to remain on the outside.  Several coats of medium were used ...drying between each coat until I was happy with the degree of stiffness.

Free form Felting is a wonderful way to experiment with different effects and bring out the creative instinct in all of us.  Enjoy!

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