Winter landscapes

I’ve had a fast and furious hour this morning where I’ve taught felt picture making at Moorfield School in Ilkley, our theme was winter landscapes.

Didn’t they do well? (How very Brucie of me!) So much fun but an hour goes by in a flash. As I entered the school I spotted the felt tree of life, which I created last year with the upper sixth, framed and hung in pride of place in the dining hall over the fireplace.

I only had a moment for the photo and sadly couldn’t find an angle where a light wasn’t reflected in the glass. Made me feel quite proud to see it displayed so prominently.


School workshop

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.

Winter trees

Recently I visited a local primary school to teach a group of nine year olds how to make felt. The teacher had chosen the theme of winter trees and the kids set to with a will.


Not all of the pieces were captured in this shot but enough for you to see a good selection.


Only one person chose to do a complete silhouette and I really like the starkness of black on white.


There’s something of an apple tree in this but actually it’s a berried holly tree. What impressed me was the use ofย  different colours to add shading and life.


The pine tree was my favourite of the day, it has real presence, who wouldn’t want to shelter there?

School poppy making

This local primary school has invited me in several times over the years and it’s always been a pleasure to work with them. Last time we worked on landscapes, landscapes full of sheep. Look what greeted me on my return.


They were so delighted with them that they’ve kept the felt in school. This time we were working on poppies for Rememberance Day and I think they may well want to keep this felt too.


It wasn’t only the children that enjoyed the sessions, I did too and I think the results are brilliant.


Teaching the teachers

On Wednesday afternoon I found myself at Holy Trinity Primary School in Ossett teaching the teachers how to make felt. One teacher had made a piece some 4 years previous but other than that they were all novices.



As usual, it’s amazing the variety of work that people come up with from the one set of resources.



The school is aiming to have every one of their 400+ pupils make a piece of felt by half term and the theme will be poppies for Remembrance Day.



I did try to take a photo of all the finished poppies, there were quite a few, but sadly that photo was too blurred to use. To my great delight, I do believe at least 1 and possibly 2 teachers will be pursuing the fascinating craft of felt making in their own time ๐Ÿ™‚

Cats, cats and more cats!

Well Jaguars are cats and there are thirty two of them in these three hangings. Using applique techniques I worked with Year 4 at Water Street School to create jungle themed pictures of Jaguars – inspired by Henri Rousseau.

They look quite good all together don’t they? Many of the children (aged 8-9) had not sewn before and were unfamiliar with threading needles and tying knots – good job I had plenty of help with that.

If you havenโ€™t seen the work of the other years then you can take a look now. reception, year one, year two, year three and year five


Last week it was the turn of Year 5 to make a textile hanging based on their theme of astronomy. However, as there are 33 children in the class that presents some logistical problems, so I thought it best to produce a tryptych. We spent the first session designing and making individual planets, stars and even a black hole. Each child also made a small felt rope.

In the second session we split into three teams and within each of these we then had three more teams. This allowed me to keep changing who was working on the large hanging and each child had a go at every stage of the process. We laid out white fibres followed by mid blue, navy and black to form our night sky background, after which we added some throwsters silk waste fibres for a little sparkle.

Whilst some were working on the background, the other children were cutting out their planets ready to be added and they also cut some triangles for extra decoration down the side of the hangings. With a little time to spare they made small 3D planets which I later stitched on. We added the ropes to the tops of the felt as this will be the mechanism by which the felt is hung. All I need to do is cut a length of dowelling and tie the ropes on.

Once eveything was laid on we all gathered round for the big rub to set the patterns in place. To finish the felt we used the teams again and rolled both with our arms and with our feet (not at the same time you understand, the children aren’t that bendy!). These are traditional methods of feltmaking and I’m proud of how the hangings have turned out. Sorry I can’t show you a full shot of all three but it’s raining (again) outside and even on a step ladder I can’t fit them all into shot.

If you haven’t seen the work of the other years then you can take a look now. reception, year one, year two, year three

Crazy patchwork

More work from Water Street School. Year three were working on a theme of light and dark and I took along some examples of crazy patchwork which was very popular during victorian times. The idea is that you can take patches of varying sizes and shapes and overlap them. Each patch may also be decorated with motifs, embroidery or buttons and each seam is also decorated with embroidery or lace etc. The more you put on the better it looks.

I began by asking each child to draw a triangle and then to work within the confines of that shape. As the theme was light and dark, I had some children working in light colours on a white background and the remainder working in dark and bright colours on a dark background.

I wasn’t sure what exactly I would do with the triangles when completed but thought working on this shape would allow me quite a few options when I came to make the hanging.

I decided the school probably had enough rectangular hangings by now and that three smaller ones would mean they’d have more places where they could be displayed. I understand these will be in the cloakroom area where the children will see them each day.

Bearing in mind that some of these children will only ever have used a needle and thread in school before and are aged 7/8 I think they did incredibly well. A few completed their triangles and even managed to move onto decorating with threads, ribbons and ric rac trim.

If you haven’t seen the work of the other years then you can take a look now. reception, year one, year two

Rag rugged pictures

You’ve already seen what reception and year one children achieved in their textile sessions, today it’s the turn of year two. Just before they went on a visit to the Bradford Industrial Museum, where they’d see quite a number of rag rugs, they had a go at the technique for themselves.

The first afternoon we spent time practising the technique but it was abvious that in the time we had, it wouldn’t be possible to finish the hangings that way. The solution? We collaged the rest of the fabric on and it gives a lovely contrast in texture and depth.

The children worked really hard on the hangings. All the buildings and weather symbols were taken directly from class work based on their theme of homes and weather. What a cracking job they’ve done.

Woven towers

This is another one of the pieces I’ve been working on with Water Street school in Skipton. The theme is castles and due to restrictions on where this piece will hang it’s turned out more to be towers. The pieces were woven on cards and cords made to represent mortar between the blocks. I especially like the leaves and flowers they drew to climb up the walls.

Each child chose to work in either hot or cold colours. I just need to add a few twigs to represent arrow slits and the job will be done. This hanging was created by children in year one – just 5 and 6 years old.