To create these figures I started with a twisted wire skeleton and covered it with ribbon cut from a medium weight wool/acrylic sweater. I then coated the wool fabric liberally with paper clay slip. Once this layer had dried I applied ribbons of wool fabrics soaked in the clay slip – wound onto the legs and arms, shaping as I went.
Paper Clay Slip – Add 5–15% paper pulp to the stoneware clay slip mixing it thoroughly with a drill mixer. I soaked shredded loo paper in water, with a capful of bleach, over night and then pour the lot through a colander, pressing out the excess water before adding to the clay slip.
Next, I used stoneware paper clay to form the torso – making a smooth surface to contrast with the wool texture on the legs and arms. Once I had the shape I wanted I left the figures to dry slowly to prevent the clay from cracking.
I have a large steel drum and also several metres of ceramic fabric to insulate from the outside. A local joinery has lots of sawdust and there is plenty of wood in the shed.
Plan to cover with figures in organic material such as banana skin and may wrap in aluminium foil before placing in the drum kiln.
You can place colourants in the bedding, around each piece, on top of each piece, or even throw it at the pieces during the firing. Each can result in different effects in the coloration. When you bury the colourants, it will add color late in the firing. If you place in around or on the piece it will colour in the middle of the firing. When you throw it in you can get instant colouring much like a star burst pattern.
The Prism 2019 theme is ‘Fragility’ and knowing just how robust the process of making the felted figures is I really can’t imagine them as fragile. However by combining clay with the fibres on wire would create a fragile form – the fibres being burnt out in the kiln….
I am not a ceramicist! – I did experiment with this technique during my degree but is was rather unsuccessful.
Finding a kiln – could ask the lovely people at Brighton University where they have huge kilns that I used to experiment and the Phoenix centre rent kin space – not as big….. or I could pit fire the pieces myself…..
I make my own soap and have done for over 10 years and I always use it to make felt.
There is nothing quite so good as handmade soap and it can be made in bar or liquid form. There are many great websites and YouTube videos now that recount the history of soap and how to make the stuff – not the melt and pour variety but the cold process method – it’s Chemistry in the Kitchen’!
If you would like to view the my soap course please click on this image:
For the ingredients I can’t find in the supermarket I go to The Soap Kitchen (UK) and there are also plenty of good suppliers on Ebay.