Gladys Paulus in studio © Arran Brough 2021
Masterclass in Feltmaking – Samples: An Inquiry into the Creative Potential of Felt
With Gladys Paulus
4 day course 10am - 4pm
Award-winning textile artist Gladys Paulus will be leading this four-day Masterclass in Feltmaking; an intensive inquiry into the creative potential of felt. Perfect for those who wish to push their existing felting skills or explore ways in which felt could become part of their broader artistic vocabulary, participants will enjoy a creative and technical yet playful exploration of this versatile medium, guided throughout by Gladys’ masterful eye and expert tuition.
Our focus will be on the creation of a series of small samples (approximately 15 x 15cm), though there may also be some possibility for moving into 3-dimensional work (time permitting). The power of the humble sample is often underestimated and in this workshop, students will come to appreciate the role sampling has to play in their artistic felt work. Not only can samples help avoid costly and painful mistakes, but they can also help to get through creative blocks, and can even become artworks in their own right. The aim of these four days is not to produce an ‘end product’, but rather to give you the time and space to deepen, develop and free up your creative practice.
Whilst firmly rooted in sound technical understanding and practical knowledge, this process-driven master class allows for plenty of freedom for individual expression. As such, the course content is flexible and will be tailored to the individual as much as possible. Teaching is done through group work, individual reflection, 1-2-1 consultations, practical demonstrations and presenting to your peer group.
Whether you are a felt maker preparing for a specific project or body of work, or you would simply like to explore textures, colours, or techniques through guided experimental play, this workshop aims to help students get started on what may well become a lifelong addiction!
By the end of the workshop, you will have
- Made a series of small 2-D samples, measuring approximately 15 x 15cm. (Time permitted, it may be possible to explore small 3-D sculptural shapes, if this is part of your creative line of inquiry).
- Gained a greater knowledge of texture, colour and techniques of felt making
- Explored how felt-making skills can be applied to your own projects
- Identified the difference between poorly and well-made felt
- Approached different felt making techniques with confidence
- Demonstrated the ability to evaluate, integrate, and apply newly acquired techniques and mediums to your own textile arts practice
- Learnt how to use sampling as a method to break through artistic ‘blocks’
- Demonstrated the ability to reflect on your personal artistic journey through talking & presenting your work to a peer group
Please note: Un-dyed wool in natural colours will be provided, but you are encouraged to bring along a selection of materials/fibres/textile remnants/off-cuts/seconds resulting from your own textile arts practice in order to incorporate into the felt, or simply to draw on as an inspirational source and to link the samples produced in this workshop to your own personal aesthetic and style.
Gladys Paulus uses the ancient technique of felt making to create work which hints at a loss of a sense of sacredness in this world. Her practice of Insight meditation and study of Buddhist concepts and ways of seeing, feed, and inform her art practice.
Born and raised in the Netherlands in 1973, Paulus comes from a family of artists and crafts folk. She studied drawing and painting at Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in Utrecht before moving to the UK in 1995, where she started exploring traditional crafts and via an interest in natural materials and plant fibres, eventually found her way to wool. Handmade felt remains her current medium of choice, although she increasingly incorporates a range of other materials into her work.
Paulus is a visiting tutor at many specialist textile venues. Though based in the UK, her masterclasses are in demand worldwide. She is an exhibiting member of the 62 Group of textile artists and is on the Crafts Councils Selected Index of Makers.
Samples created by Gladys which will be shared during Masterclass in Feltmaking -'Samples: An Inquiry into the Creative Potential of Felt' 24th - 27th July, 2022 at Clayhill Arts in Somerset
All our course days run from 10am till 4pm
On this first morning we will be going through the learning objectives and your individual hopes and aims for the next 4 days and Gladys will introduce you to some of the basic felt making processes through various samples and demonstrations. After lunch we will start to explore some wool breeds characteristics, colour blending, and shrinkage through guided exercises. After a group supper there will be untutored studio time for those who wish to continue their sample exercises, or you can use the time for self reflection, relaxation, or enjoy the extensive grounds here at Clayhill.
We will start the second day with an optional group walk of the grounds, then head into the studio for some experimental guided work with texture & surfaces through pre-felts, stitch and incorporating other natural fibres. After lunch you will develop some resist samples and have the opportunity for 1-2-1 consultations with Gladys to explore possible lines of inquiry for your work. Late afternoon and evening will be untutored and you will have optional studio time, or you can use the time for self reflection, relaxation, or sketch out ideas for the following two days.
We will start the third day with an opportunity to enjoy the grounds. This will include possible gathering of materials, which you can bring back to the studio to work on your individual pieces. Group demonstrations and 1-2-1 consultations with Gladys will be available throughout the day. Late afternoon will be focused on group reflection and discussion on work processes, followed by untutored studio time through until supper. You can then access the studio further should you wish to.
The final day will start with an opportunity to enjoy the grounds or have untutored studio time. In the morning session you will continue to work on your individual samples/project, along with 1-2-1 consultations with Gladys. After lunch you will be finishing your individual projects and have some time to reflect individually on what the next steps are for you and the work. We also encourage individual presentations (5 minutes) at this point, to help you articulate your work and share what you have discovered over the last 4 days. This will culminate in a final group discussion & reflection before the final group supper.
We have a fantastic accommodation offer onsite, and would recommend staying here for the fully immersive Clayhill experience. All our accommodation is reserved for the students for the duration of the course and you will have a bedroom of your own. Our rooms have been converted from a series of old cattle sheds and from an old milking parlour and retain characterful features such as exposed wooden roof timbers and stone walls. Each bedroom has its own tea and coffee making facilities and outdoor seating area.
We also have an onsite laundry should you need to use these facilities during your stay with us. WIFI is available throughout the complex, heating and hot water is supplied by biomass technology, electricity by solar technology and all of the water around the site is fed by a natural spring.
Accommodation is offered at £80/night. If you would like to make your stay here more comfortable, you can also buy single additional nights before or after the course. (Please note any additional nights will not be catered, we are happy to recommend some local places to eat).
All courses at Clayhill Arts are fully catered, and our locally-sourced food is included in the price of your course ticket. If you do choose to stay with us a bespoke evening meal as well as breakfast and lunch will also be provided. To read more about our food offering, follow this link. About our catering
Practicing early-to mid-career textile/fibre artists interested in expanding their fiber-based horizons, or those who would like to explore ways in which felt could become part of their artistic vocabulary and creative practice. Also suitable for intermediate felt makers wishing to deepen their understanding of the medium and to further their understanding of sampling in their work.
Sketchbooks and note pads will be provided, but do bring your own current workbooks for reference along with pencils/pens. A camera and small selection of sewing needles with a range of eye sizes would be helpful to have with you. There will be some provided, but if you have your own that you like to work with - bring them! A selection of raw materials/fibres/textile remnants/off-cuts/seconds from your existing textile/fibre arts practice which could be incorporated into the felt, or simply drawn on as an inspirational source would be useful E.g: Thread/(homespun)yarn, woven/knitted fabrics, embroidery threads, fine metal wire, etc. etc. (this is NOT an exhaustive list - bring what feels appropriate to you and your current working practice!) The following materials are optional, but recommended: A small selection of flat-ish objects with interesting shapes or surfaces, such as old coins, washers/metal discs (can be rusty), pebbles, buttons, shells, broken pottery for incorporation into the felt (edges have to be smooth) A small selection of natural fibres such as raw sheep’s wool, horse tail/mane hair, silk, flax, ramie, pet hair, or even human hair. Chunky yarns/string such as jute, cotton are also recommended. Undyed/natural coloured wool and all basic felt making equipment will be provided, but if you have any favourite felt making tools and/or wool of a particular colour that you would like to work with, please bring this along.
Whatever you feel comfortable in. Felt making is a hands-on, physical process. As hands will get wet repeatedly, and for prolonged periods, this workshop may not be suitable for those with skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis, or an allergy to wool/lanolin. We will be providing hand cream, but if you have your own that you like to use, please bring this along.
Yes! We provide refreshments throughout the day and a home-cooked lunch which is freshly prepared in our Granary kitchen. Lunch is served around our communal dining table, offering you a great chance to get to know everyone on the course and share in the making processes you have been developing throughout the day. Please advise us of any dietary requirements before arrival.
Yes! All of our bedrooms here at Clayhill are en-suite so you will have your own private space to retreat to and relax in after spending your day in the meditative space of the Studio. We provide you with your own towels and bathroom products for use throughout your stay and you can enjoy the extensive grounds well into the evening. If you do choose to stay with us a bespoke evening meal as well as breakfast and lunch will also be provided
We have also set up a payment plan so that you can spread the cost of the sessions over the next 4 months. You will find the option for doing this as you enter the checkout page.
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Working with Deborah and Michael was such a pleasure. They understood the project from the beginning, what the needs of the makers and our audiences would be, and acted as thoughtful ambassadors for the project when we were not able to be there. Every aspect of the exhibition and events was facilitated in such a calm and confident manner, which made my job of coordinating a group of artists so much easier! The whole event became a pivotal moment for the project, bringing people together in a way I could never have anticipated, and which has altered my thinking about the future of the project. Thank you for making us feel so welcome.
The weekend I spent at Clayhill Arts was a very welcome change of scenery to my otherwise urban setting. I felt calmed yet invigorated by the surroundings, and the accommodation was beautifully tasteful and very homely. The main space is wonderfully considered and very versatile - an ideal space for creativity and dynamic discussion. I left on the Sunday feeling energised and inspired by the experience of staying at Clayhill.
As a singer it has been one of the best spaces to sing in with generous reverberation and acoustics. It is a space which complemented the type of instruments I was working with and the songs.
I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed being at your venue. It is a lovely and inspiring artistic space. The food was fantastic, homely yet unusual. I really enjoyed the day.
As an artist retreat, the venue at Clayhill Arts provided a warm and welcoming environment, allowing a safe and constructive space where individuals creative needs can be met.
We were lucky enough to be able to take over the whole venue for a weekend, using the Granary as our base for experimentation, discussion and shared learning. The informality of the accommodation, and the relaxed surroundings, put everyone at ease and offered a space where cooperation and encouragement evolved naturally.
Everything was wonderful! This is a beautiful place. Thank you, we really enjoyed our stay.
Clayhill feels remote which is great but it also is close to Cannington which has everything, so supplies can be bought without travelling a great distance...I also really enjoyed that it is still a working farm, because it feels productive and there is such a lot of life around us which is very inspiring
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