It was a one day workshop at Atelier Het Wolbeest in Swalmen. She has a wonderful studio there:
This is only half of it. The other half is filled with wool in all colours and tea pots and cake.
Behind the green door there are chickens.
The front looks good too!
It’s the icecream parlour!
Having a taste included in the workshop and it was gorgeous!
For the workshop I brought two pieces of fleece with me that have saddened me for years now:
Both are Wensleydales, one grey one white. They have nice locks but the backs were densely matted… I didn’t know what to do with them. For the white one I paid a ridiculous amount of money to a smooth talking salesman (Sikko). The grey one I got as a payment once. Both made me cringe every time I looked at them.
I really wanted the felt experts I was with this day to look at them and give me some advice. I expected their advice to be: throw them away. Leave the past behind you. Never talk to Sikko again.
Look at those backs, I couldn’t do anything with them. Couldn’t separate locks to felt them into something or spin them into something. Couldn’t felt them because the backs were already so matted and I learned you should tease open the back.
But Het Wolbeest squealed with delight because these fleeces are in fact fabulous to use. “Just pour some Bergschaf on the back and you’ve practically got a bag already!”
Alright! Let’s try this.
I positioned part of my fleece on the flap of the bag. The rest of the bag will get a nice structure from Gottland-Wensleydale mix Alexandra provided:
(You’re not expected to bring your own fleece for this workshop, Atelier Het Wolbeest has all the materials you need at no extra cost. I just wanted to use this one straight away, to convince myself that it indeed can be done with these fleeces and that I am in fact the person who can do it.)
My Rikke hat had a brief visit with its origins:
Felting went well. I learned the basics and some advanced techniques.
Got to watch experts at work:
I’m going to have to check for thin patches soon too.
Part of the deal was a visit to the local leather shop Dun Hook and have leather bands cut to size and attached:
I love good tools, especially when made of wood and metal:
The bag is still damp. We chucked it into the centrifuge and ran to the leather shop. This means that the Wensleydale locks are a bit tangled. It’s hard not to tug at them! But you’ve got to leave them alone. Wait till they’re dry.
At my home the bag got a chance to dry out completely. The locks untangled by themselves and looked nice. Really soft.
and treated the edges with a wonderful leather cream: Urad.
I trimmed the flap a bit. Because my fleece was so thick it had a different shrinkrate to the rest of the bag and it looked a bit lopsided.
And I took off the sheep’s head. I specifically had wanted to make it on the bag and I’d made everyone stay 45 minutes late making it. But back in the city, looking at it, I felled it was too cutesy.
Also, its ears fell off after one day. Because I was so done with dry felting at that point.
All in all I now have this wonderful bag and am using it everywhere. There’s this wonderful day to look back on, we had such fun! And I feel confident I can do some more felting like this and bring out some of the good in those white and grey Wensleydale locks: