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Jigsaw Weave & Felt with Martien van Zuilen

Workshop – Nov 2017

Presented by Martien van Zuilen, a FeltWest member and international tutor, participants spent a very pleasurable 2 days learning her unique Jigsaw Weave & Felt technique. With its strong visual impact, the opportunities to include this woven effect in handmade felt are endless – homewares, accessories and wearables or as accent pieces for larger projects. Inspired by slumped glass techniques and the calming process of re-piecing jigsaws, her technique involves using fine merino pre-felts, which can be commercial pre-felt but which Martien often makes by hand using her hand-dyed wool. After selecting a colour palette to produce the desired effect, pre-felt is cut and re-pieced.

The first day was spent making a sample and coming to grips with the technique. Colour selection, the thickness of the pre-felts and the degree they have been pre-felted, play a key role in this technique. Martien had brought an amazing array of prefelt and many samples to get the creative juices flowing. She guided us through the planning and specific process of cutting to ensure a well-defined result. The actual method of interweaving and re-piecing the cut pre-felts had some unexpected elements, but it soon became apparent this was essential to the process. Paying attention to detail in the early stages is very important, but with immense benefit to the final result!

The 2nd day was spent working on individual larger pieces which included bags, cushion covers and table runners. Embellishments and fabric can be incorporated and minds were over-flowing with many ideas on how to create texture, optical illusions and functionality. Specific ways of dealing with resists for hats and bags were covered as well as emphasising her specific felting and fulling methods she uses for the Jigsaw technique. Her gentle approach to felt making is evident in the smooth, high quality felt pieces that were created.   

Those who attended really enjoyed trying out a new technique. The technical process gave everyone an opportunity to achieve precise results as well as refining felt to a new level. A very knowledgeable and sharing tutor who had some memorable ways of remembering her tips and tricks!

Martien van Zuilen (PhD) is a felt artist and dyeing artisan living in Perth, Australia. She exhibits her high-quality and distinctive felt art nationally and internationally and through her dyeing business Colourant Dyeworks she supplies the finest hand-dyed Merino wools, silk fibres, yarns and fabrics to felt makers and textile practitioners worldwide. Since the late 1980s she has delivered felt-making workshops at all levels of experience throughout Australia, as well as in Europe and throughout the USA. Martien is the founder of the Victorian Feltmakers and for 18 years coordinated the Australian National Yurt Project. She is the Convenor of Fibres West Inc. and the editor of FELT, Australia’s national felting magazine with international reach. Her artwork is published in numerous international publications, including Showcase 500 Art Necklaces (book), Textile Fibre Forum, Felt Matters, ViltKontakt, Fiber Art Now, Yurts Tipis and Benders (book), FELT, verFilzt Und zugeNäht, the 2015 book Pots and Pods for Feltmakers, Adventures in the Third Dimension, and the 2016 book Worldwide Colours of Felt. www.martienvanzuilen.com

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