Some say that felt making was first inspired by the tufts of matted wool on sheep’s backs, others describe ancestors stuffing wool into their shoes for comfort only to feel the wool turning to felt round their feet. Whatever the origin, felt making has made a comeback in recent years with new techniques and designs becoming more widespread across the UK, USA and Scandinavia. One particular maker, Gladys Paulus (an artist that avid Selvedge readers might remember from a previous feature), has used this tradition to create contemporary and playful animal masks. To do this she hones in on what she calls wool’s ability to “remember”.
For makers who aren’t familiar with the felt making process, it is a non-woven fabric that comes to life when sheep’s wool or animal fur is subject to heat, moisture and pressure. A soap-filled environment helps the fibres to open up and slide over one another to become entangled, and irreversibly bound. As the wool shrinks and dries, its shape is stored forever in the fibres, and the wool transforms itself into a kind of fossilised fabric.
Paulus’s practice focuses on this exact moment of transformation; “the exchange” as she refers to it herself. Renowned for her dramatic animal costumes, she works mainly for film and stage and was recently nominated for the Arts & Crafts Design Award, 2016. With a loaded work schedule and now in such high demand, Selvedge is very lucky to have Paulus leading a workshop this summer in the beautiful Chateau Dumas in the south of France.
In the heart of the French countryside, Chateau Dumas rests on a 22-acre private estate with a large pool and glorious panoramic views. Designed exclusively for creative retreats, its 18th century interior has been restored, updated and furnished with a blend of antique and contemporary furniture and accessories.
Join Gladys this summer to learn the techniques for creating the three-dimensional forms for which she has become known. Depending on your experience (total beginners are welcome) you will either make an artwork based on textures and patterns from the natural world, or tackle something more ambitious such as a series of free-standing sculptural forms based on seed pods, buds and plants.
12-19 August, Chateau Dumas
For more information please visit http://www.selvedge.org/events/gladys-paulus/