“Wool is a wonder, it can be wet and shrunk and used as a drawing material and moulded and sculpted, it is complex in its varieties and did you know, it has a memory!?” – Ruth
Ruth Packham – Needle Felter
Ruth runs two courses with Make it in Wales: Felted Quirky Bird – Designing and making your own Quirky Bird, and Drawing with Wool – A masterclass in drawing and felting with wool fibre. We have become fascinated by the versatility of wool, the art of needle-felting and Ruth’s inspired technique of using the unlikely medium of wool to draw with.
Why draw with wool?
In most cases, you may find an artist’s process starts with a sketch… But what about those of us who aren’t confident sketchers? There is often some fear of picking up a pencil to start a project and how many of us have said “I can’t draw”? The beauty of drawing with wool is that it adds a new dimension to the drawing process; the idea that taking away the pencil, in turn, takes away the fear. The fear of doing it wrong or not being able to draw it well enough. Ruth believes that anyone can draw, and that perhaps a pen or a pencil isn’t for everybody. She also believes that nobody needs traditional drawing skills to be a good artist.
Just like pencil on paper, Ruth makes marks with her wool. Except the traditional technique of drawing is much more fluid and free when using wool. Experimenting with fibres of different colours and thicknesses, creating layers and depth, using your hands in a way that comes naturally. Ruth’s “Birdlines” series are two-dimensional wool drawings: simple bird shapes that seem to take on a charcoal effect when looked at from a distance. This series of “drawings” capture movement and character; with the needle felting creating marks that are unique to this particular drawing technique.
Upcoming courses with Ruth
Drawing with wool
Our three-day masterclass in drawing with wool. Choose to come for all three days or just the one. Here’s an outline of what the course involves:
• Day 1: A day to explore the wet felting technique. Working with wool fibre we will aim to spend the morning laying out and playing with colour and pattern to create a small wet felted doodle. The afternoon will be spent working with an image as reference on a larger wet felt drawing. For those attending for just one day this will be completed by the end of the day.
• Day 2: A day to respond to a subject to produce a needle felted image. Either working with a photograph or a drawing we will needle felt an illustrative piece. This can be representative or abstract but will require some planning, colour selection and composition. A plain felted background will be provided or you can make your own.
• Day 3: Landscape. A day responding to the landscape we are in or images from a favourite place. Using photo editing software we will edit the chosen images, taking away much of the visual information leaving us with enough for you to make a needle felted drawing. Onto a pre-prepared canvas you will transfer your image in pencil and then using a needle felting needle and wool fibre you will draw your landscape. The result will be black and white and have the look of a charcoal drawing.
Book your place here.
Felted quirky bird
Ruth makes about 10-20 birds in a year and each one is unique. Like yours will, they evolve in the making process and are not fully fledged until having been spun in a washing machine. Ahhh…
Each bird goes through a number of processes and so you will learn about needle felting and dry felting techniques during the day. There will be a sumptuous array of dyed Cambrian Wool to choose from to decorate your bird. A day of playing and laughing as you build your bird’s unique character.
Book your place here.
See all Make it in Wales Workshops here.
Learn more about Ruth’s beautiful felted work by watching the video below…