Megan’s Pop-Up Felt Exhibit
The original idea for making felt vessels or nests was something that I explored with my goddaughter, Celeste Billung-Meyer, more than a decade ago. We made felt balls in the washing machine with a knot of bubble-wrap in the centre, cocooned for the wash in a pair of pantyhose, and then cut open a small circle in one side to make a nest.
But I always thought that we could have done more to develop the technique. Specifically, I wondered if it would be possible to innovative with shape and content – making open vessels and getting the machine to felt in, not just carded wool, but other fibers and possibly even small objects.
Two total failures showed me issues of structural integrity that could emerge during the washing machine process. But in each of the eight successful pieces – including one repurposed piece from the earlier Celeste-Megan collaboration – I was able to test out a possibility that I had been considering, or which emerged during the process. There are a couple of more pieces waiting to be made in the future. For instance, I just wasn’t quite there for the one using flotsom picked up while kayaking in the South China Sea off Malaysia in 2019 – sorry Julia and Michele!
I want to acknowledge Celeste as my forever-felting-friend now also facetime-felting-colleague. And to my beloved daughter Mab Coates-Davies, whose photography talents greatly exceed my own, for these great shots of the pieces.
Vessel 8 – incorporating roots, Harris tweed, hand-died lace into felting process; embellished with vintage buttons; 8 x 6 inches
Vessel 7 – repurposed early work incorporating needle-felting, Saltspring sheep locks, beads and root into felting process; 2.25 x 2.25 inches
Vessel 6 – incorporating knitting wool stitching, Saltspring sheep locks and purchased felt balls into felting process; dyed pale blue in machine by teal pantyhose (!); 8.5 x 9 inches.
Vessel 5 – incorporating metalic thread, shell, and Saltspring sheep locks into felting process; embellished with needle-felting and beads; 4 x 8 inches
Vessel 4 – incorporating knitting wool stitching, ribbon and “flower” pieces into felting process; embellished with felted “flower”, needle-felting and beads; 5 x 6.5 inches.
Vessel 3 – incorporated Dartmoor sheep locks and decorative knitting wool into felting process; embellished with buttons, twig, beads and sashiko stitching; 6 x 6.5 inches
Vessel 2 – incorporated ribbon fragments and Saltspring sheep locks into felting process; embellished with felted rock weight, needle felt and beads; 4.5 x 5 inches
Vessel 1 – felted ball cut open after machine wash; embellished with needle-felting and beads; 2.5 x 3.25 inches.
For people interested in my process: I did a lot of work at the front end of the process – carding wool, semi-felting pieces of felt and then embellishing them in various ways, building the wool structure around an inner cord of bound bubble-wrap and finally securing the piece in the crotch of a pair of pantyhose (sometimes with buttons or other shapes secured to inside of pantyhose to create indentations in the piece) and putting it through a hot wash and low spin. But the machine was the big trickster of the process, with the hot water and movement often delivering surprising results! After the wash I would sit with the piece, considering possibilities. Then I would begin to work again with it, sometimes wetting and reshaping it a bit and then embellishing with needle-felting, beads and buttons, bits of wood, whatever.