Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Inspired by underwater worlds

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living structure.  Its ancient magnificence makes our 21st century existence seem a mere 'drop in the ocean'.  Yet our oceans are under threat from the excesses of the 21st century: pollution, over-fishing and climate change.  The fear that 21st century Australia might be a century of devastation to the reef and our oceans is what inspired this scarf. 

This was my entry for the Great Canberra Scarf competition 2011 at the Royal Canberra Show and the prose I wrote to go with it.  My scarf won third prize.  The theme was 'Images of 21st Century Australia'.

I have found myself returning to this ocean design, which I first tried out very early on in my felting journey. My inspiration came from a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in 2010, where I learnt to scuba dive.  Scuba takes you into an underwater world, where you are swimming with the fishes, not simply admiring them from afar.  This was also my first attempt at nuno felting.  I was guided in making my first nuno scarf by Wendy Bailye, at a more advanced workshop at the quilt and craft fair where I learnt to make my first flower. I chose a beautiful hand-dyed blue silk as the basis for my scarf design, that would form the 'water'.  My idea was simple; there would be fish, seaweed and bubbles!  The way in which the silk bunches and ripples when the wool shrinks in the nuno felting process echoes the waves in the ocean.
The fish are the key element of the scarf, and are very simple to create in felt.  The key thing to remember is that they shrink a lot, and that you should make them nice fat fish so they won't end up like eels!  Here is a quick photo I took this evening to demonstrate how I would lay out a fish...
A few months ago I revisited this theme and tried something new: a dress!  I bought a very cheap blue cotton dress at the National Folk Festival a year ago, and then I felted a design onto it.  I worked with cold water initially to stop any shrinkage before the fibres had bound together, as this was much harder work to felt than silk (a tip I picked up somewhere that is useful for all nuno felting).  This was the result: made entirely by wet felting, no sewing, modelled by moi at the Canberra Region Feltmakers annual exhibition and fashion show held at CSIRO Discovery .  Don't miss their 2012 exhibition 'Metamorphosis': 24th-27th May.  


  1. Great to see felt artist and blogger Pam de Groot also is inspired by ocean life! Check out her amazing deep sea creature lamps

  2. These look great. I have finally fixed my commenting problem. I can comment away!!

  3. Thanks for liking my blog Pam, just noticed your comment (I seem to have a problem that I don't get notified about comments!!). I saw you will be in QLD in August (which is where I am now), Im hoping to register for your weekend workshop if its not booked out already :o)

  4. You noughty girl,should tell me that you are profesional felta,joke aside -it is great,you have to bring it to Rolling Possums so we can all see.

  5. Hi Visnja! Many thanks :) I wish I was a pro - much to learn yet! great to see you have a blog too, I just started following it so I hope there are some updates soon ;)