I was brought up in the vibrant city of Cardiff and never really envisaged myself living any where else other than a cool city full of art, music and culture, but after having children I felt that the countryside seemed like a great place to bring up my little people, so as a result I live in an area where my neighbours and children’s friends own farms, horses, sheep and alpacas.
I cannot express to you how excited I was when I went to pick up my son from a play date to be met by 4 freshly cut and inquisitive alpacas. My sons friends mother was telling me how annoyed she was that the fur she had bagged up from the alpacas, the kids had decided to pull it all out to play with it. How idillic to be playing in a barn with hay and fluff, when I was young I used to play with the traffic.
I went home that night and started researching on alpaca fur to see what I could do with it, so I could take some of her hands. I came across felting, the most old fashioned textile still being used today. The principle of felting is that you shock the hair with hot water and tiny barbs in the hair fibre open up, when you begin putting a friction motion to the hair the barbs connect and begin to lock together.
I arrived in uni with one big foam swimming floaty, 3 meters of bubble wrap, washing up liquid, a sushi matt, a bag of untreated alpaca fur and rubber gloves. When it came to getting the fur out it dawned on me that it might have all kinds of disgusting things in it, like fleas, mud, mites arghhhh. Thankfully the only thing it had in it was hay, which came out really easy when I began the felting motion.
Having never really done any felting before, to the outside viewer I must have looked like a pro. I began to lay out the fur in a pattern and also a desired shape, wet the fur with hot water, sprayed with washing up liquid, closed the bubble wrap up, rolled it onto the water float and began rolling it. I rolled it around 100 times and then left to dry.
After the piece had dried it had locked together but it will need another felting process.
When I had finished the final piece it reminded me of an Ayala Serfaty piece.