By Malini Aikat
Making felt ain’t a bad way to spend a weekend. We got our hands clean (you need tons of soap to felt) at the The Wari Watai Art Weekend as rug and textile designer, Sagarika Sundaram and felt manufacturer Bharat Thaker took us through a felt making workshop. (Discover more about Sagarika at http://www.sagarikasundaram
“The textures and colour of wool are your brushes you are going to paint with.” We were told. And that was enough to unleash the painters in us. What we produced may not make it to the MOMA but we're still proud felters :)
The actual process – carding, soaping and pressing the fibres – was pretty hard work and for some of us fitness freaks – quite a work out.
Before the work shop we thought we liked felt. After – we love it. Soft enough for a blanket, moldable enough to be a hat - recall the fedoras worn by many a noir anti hero - or tough enough to be used for construction - the classic Kazakh yurt or tent being a good example, the uses of felt are many - rugs, clothing, padding, soundproofing, in industrial machinery, as household items like winter slippers.
Felt can be warm and friendly, bright and beautiful, stylish and strong, functional and durable. It is, in short, a textile for all seasons.
Looking for some felting fun I came across Kay Petal's awesome website: Felt Alive Sculptural Needle Felting. She makes the cutest and funniest felt dolls of celebrities. There's President-Elect, Donald Trump, Conan O'Brian, Bob Dylan among others. Check out her gallery here: http://www.feltalive.com
From laugh out loud, we enter a dreamlike world of ethereal beauty - The Soft World. Lose yourself in the wispy delicacy and cloud soft creations like – wool stools! These are lovely little seats made entirely of felt, sometimes perched on roughly hewn wooden legs. Drape yourself in a felt dream because they make coats too and rugs and stoles. Take a look at http://thesoftworld.com/
In the meantime here's what our Lab Nilaya designers had to say about their felting experience.
Heartfelt thoughts on felting:
Mansi: I had no idea as to how basic the process of creating felt could be, and it was pretty surprising to see a solid surface emerging out of just a few raw materials and the power of human hands. While the whole workshop was really interesting, my favourite part was trying out dry felting and being able to sculpt with fibre. I guess I was kind of narrow minded when it came to fabric and textile and what you could do with them, and this was quite an eye opener.
Deval: “It was great working with my hands. I was pleasantly surprised by all the things that can be done with this textile”.
Anamika: “I liked that the technique behind it was essentially so simple. At first I was a little intimidated because I thought it would be a complicated process but it wasn’t and that got me going. I enjoyed the “painterly” aspect of it a lot and my felt output - a small rug? I’m not sure what it is - a piece - has a lot of colours in it.”
Vini: “I was very excited by the idea of making a product out of felt and I was looking forward to making a show. But that didn’t happen … I’ma little disappointed by that! :) But it was a super fun experience and surprisingly required quite a bit of strength - all the pressing and combing.”
Samyukta: It was really great getting away from the computer and this really broke the monotony. My favourite part, though, had to be the biriyani !