Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Week of Inspiration, Frustration and Letting Things Go

I don't have any formal training when it comes to felting. It's been good ol' hard work, experimentation, lots of books and the internet. There are times when I lament not having a past with wool....not having years and years of technique down. But when I think about how I actually feel when i'm felting, that it's never boring and there's always sometime new around the corner I've yet to find, I realize that I don't need this background. BUT i've always wanted a teacher. Someone to inspire me, give me honest feedback and to expand my horizons. And that's where Claudy showed up! I took a felting workshop in Italy with Dutch artist Claudy Jongstra back in June and it was just heavenly.

The olive oil farm where I stayed.

From the location (I stayed on an olive oil farm in the hills of Umbria), the class itself (Claudy was so awesome!) to the FOOD.....it was such an experience. And speaking of food. Ohhhhh, the food! Rita, who owns the place where I stayed and grows/makes her own olive oil, cooked for us every night and man were we spoiled! Handmade ravioli, rabbit one night, quiches and homemade desserts. I could go on, but I can see that you're drooling.

The workshop was held amongst the trees of a peaceful retreat in the Umbrian hills. We were given a huge amount of beautiful wool to work with - from hand dyed wensleydale to a whole fleece from one of Claudy's sheep in the Netherlands called Drenth Heath. I had never worked with a raw fleece before and this alone set the whole tone of the class - to work with the wool, allowing for experimentation and to not pay so much attention to technique. This was definitely a challenge for me! I do like to experiment but I'm one that can stick too much to the rules at times, reading and re-reading all about felting techniques. It was funny because Claudy came by me more than once to say "Let it go now" and "You're done! Stop felting!" Thankfully she was such a kind person so her admonishments came with a grin and a laugh. It was inspiring and frustrating all at the same time. By the end of the week I focused a little more on the wool spinning and weaving (which we learned in the class) and less on the felting and didn't let myself feel too guilty about it. 

Overall, the class was more than just a class for me. There were several "firsts". My first time traveling by myself and the first time taking an intensive workshop on felting. It's been well over a month since I've been back and my brain is starting to process everything that I took in. I'm ready to dive in!

In case you don't follow me on Facebook (which you can! Go there now and "like me"!), click here to see more photos of the class.

8 comments:

sarah (eyeshoot) said...

That sounds like a wonderful trip! I spent three weeks in Umbria a few years ago and totally loved it.

coopgirlkiz said...

I love to learn... sounds like a wonderful trip/class/food/experience!

Papaver Vert said...

Sarah - 3 weeks in Umbria sounds like the perfect amount of time! I'd never been to Umbria before and would love to go back and explore some more.

Papaver Vert said...

Oh Heidi, it SO was. I really want to do another class soon. More local but if I have to travel again I won't mind!

Sonya Philip said...

What a fantastic experience. Finding a teacher, someone warm, generous and inspiring is valuable beyond measure. I'd love to felt with you sometime.

Patty said...

I would too Sonya! I'm still craving more felting know-how....I bet you've got some stuff to show me.

Marion Pannekoek said...

hello... I just got to know you and your beautiful work through Etsy and I am browsing your blog for the first time.

How wonderful you followed a workshop from Claudia Jongstra ... she is a pretty famous lady here in The Netherlands ...

Patty said...

Thanks for your comment Marion :) I just looked at your site and your jewelry is really really beautiful.( And I love that little wooden box)

I feel fortunate to have studied with Claudy....even just for a week! It's rare to find someone like her, a gifted artist who's willing to teach and really care about her students. One week wasn't enough to take it all in.