Now it has to be said that I am not at all artistic – in fact, mention anything art’n’crafty and I will run for the hills. So it was with some trepidation that I arranged to attend a Felt Making Workshop run by Aggie Arts – a company that arranges Art & Craft Workshops and Holidays in Cornwall. I received all the ‘amusing’ comments from friends and acquaintancies stoically (“Is it a course on how to use Fuzzy Felts?” and “Brilliant, when you’ve completed the workshop my flat roof needs doing”) and was looking forward to seeing some wonderful scenery as the workshop was being held in a particularly beautiful part of Cornwall between Truro and Newquay. It is possible to either just attend a workshop or to incorporate it with a stay at The Driftwood Spars Pub which is where this particular workshop was actually run. As I was dragging my husband along and he wanted to spend time sightseeing around the local area it seemed ideal for us to stay there and the fact that the pub has its own brewery and brews some award winning beers had no influence on him whatsoever.
I arrived for the first day of the workshop (not a hard commute – just a few stairs) and after exchanging names the 7 ‘students’ plus the teacher, local craftswoman Jo Polack, plunged straight in. The joy of this workshop was that it was relaxed and yet so much was achieved, the course starting with a brief introduction to the process and mechanics of felting but this lasting less than half an hour after which we were actually ‘hands-on’. It was possible to chat while working so any questions could be answered easily plus, because of the layout of one large working area we could all hear any advice being given. It wasn’t long before we had actually created a sample of felt from the various multi-coloured pieces of wool, which seemed pretty good going after less than a couple of hours. We had a break for coffee and biscuits and took a walk down to the beach in order to find some inspiration for the first ‘real’ piece we were doing and this certainly worked well for several of the attendees as evidenced by their subsequent achievements.
Having chosen the colours we were going to work with for our picture/wall hanging we stopped for a light lunch and then proceeded to make our next item. Some of the pictures made were truly amazing, especially considering none of the group had done felting before – this was where those really creative people came into their own. At the end of the first day we had all made something we could truly class as ‘art’ and although mine left a lot to be desired (that’s the lack of artistic talent showing!!) there were several pieces produced which I would have been happy to buy if I had seen them framed and hung in an art shop. That really is quite astonishing when you consider we had only had a few hours of instruction and practice.
After a meal in one of the 3 bars in the pub (and a pint or two of beer) we slept well and the next morning I started on the last session of the felt making. This was where we were to make a ‘3D’ item which could be a spectacle case, purse, small bag or even a cloche hat or beret. I decided to make a small bag and was quite pleased with my efforts but one of the attendees made a cloche hat which was truly gorgeous and which, again, I would have purchased if I had seen it in a shop. I can honestly say that the quality of the items achieved was outstanding when you consider the total time we had spent felting, and yet it was also enjoyable, relaxed and friendly – no pressure. The workshop finished at 1.30 which meant we were able to get on the road by 2 and get home early evening and with the distance I had to travel this was a real plus.
At the end of the day, the course did not make me any more artistic than before nor able to create wonderful pieces straight away so it will take me a while to achieve anything I could give as a gift or sell but the point is that I have learnt the skill and will definitely use it. I have already ordered some wool and will probably try another wall hanging now I have seen how good they can be and will enjoy it too which is quite something for someone who ‘doesn’t do art’. I will also do another course later in the year now I know how much fun it can be. Maybe not watercolour but I quite fancy the silver ring making or even the Cyanotype Photography (now that I know what it is!) These courses are a great concept and the one I attended worked well for me attending on my own but I think they would also work wonderfully as a hen party weekend or just a group of friends wanting a short break together.