Making Vessels

29/08/2011

by Gillian Royal

Throughout my adult life, I have collected ceramics, figures, pots and plates and I have a passion for vessels which has often been influenced by travel or culture. However my love of textiles has lead me to experiment with wool.

My felt vessels are thought to look like ceramics but on closer inspection are not hard, heavy and solid. They are soft, light and almost weightless. Unlike ceramics or glass they are not breakable, they can be crushed almost flat and bounce back to their original form. The feeling I have when holding felt vessels is very important, they seem fragile but are soft, warm and yielding, properties which make felt attractive for me.

The process of making my fine felt vessels and pods must not be rushed, it starts slowly with every fibre carefully put in place. The fibres are gently massaged with warm soapy water, almost like stroking a cat. The pressure is increased slowly, until the fibres,  seemingly, starts to melt together, as this happens the fibres become entwined creating the form of the vessels or pods which are soft and pleasing to touch.

The making of the vessels is therapeutic almost cathartic, the repetitive actions of   layering and massaging the fibres is certainly calming. I have found I retreat to the comfort of felt making during times in my life of difficulty and believe it is be the key to the practice. I have a feeling that in some way the emotions seem to transfer to the vessels and then to the audience. The tactile quality of the vessels engender a response, it seems that these feelings could be a metaphor for a human condition, the need for safety and reassurance conveyed in a subconscious way.

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