School workshops are fun but are often very quick affairs of just an hour or two. Imagine my delight when a local shool, Moorfield School, commissioned me to create a wallhanging with the upper sixth to be a permanent feature in the dining hall. Discussion with the art teacher led us to working in neutrals with a tree theme. I was so looking forward to the day.
We began by laying out the background fibres onto a piece of cotton muslin. I was using the muslin because I wanted the hanging to have extra strength. As the tree was to be quite pale I wanted a slightly darker background and chose fawn Masham, sandwiching some white between the layers to keep it lighter still.
Every once in a while we swopped activities so that everyone got chance to have a go at everything. The girls laid out backgrounds. made wet felted berries, flat felt with mulberry silk on and cords and needle felted some large balls to chop in half and hide under the tree roots.
On top of the Masham we put milk protein and tussah silk followed by all the cords to form the trunk and branches. The cords were made with Merino, some had inclusions of Wensleydale locks, cotton scrim and flax fibres for a little deeper colour.
Finally we added real skeleton leaves and leaves cut from the white felt made earlier, It was really starting to look good and then there was the hard work of felting the whole thing together. The girls worked very hard both rubbing and rolling the hanging. Once felted it was time to stitch on some more skeleton leaves, white felt leaves, beads, buttons and berries to create a very full and textured effect.
It always looks a bit flat when wet but once dry it comes to life. If you look at the base of the tree you can see the texture created by hiding wool balls under the roots and including more Wensleydale fleece and wool nepps.
Just some of the many berries that were made.
There was scrim, cords, fleece, flax, cotton chenille and lace in the trunk
The girls worked very hard and it was so, so worth it, the hanging looks fantastic and now that the channel is on the back for hanging I’ll be delivering this tomorrow.
A great days work, don’t you agree? It will look splendid in the hall.