A sculptress of felt: from penguins & purses to ostentatious chandeliers, meet designer and ‘Queen of Felting’ Gillian Harris, founder of the colourful Gilliangladrag brand in this month’s Prima Makes



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Before we started working with the quirky and madly colourful Gilliangladrag brand (www.gilliangladrag.co.uk), the art of ‘felting’ was a bit of a mystery to us.

To the unacquainted, feltmaking is a process of binding raw wool tops (that’s the unspun fluffy stuff plucked fresh off the backs of lovely British sheep) and binding the fibres together – either by way of ‘stabbing’ it multiple times with a barbed needle (HUGELY cathartic and very much like voodoo – but without the black magic and probably way more productive) or by rubbing and rolling it in a bamboo matt (the same used for sushi) with a sprinkle of warm soapy water.

It’s compulsive, addictive stuff. The possibilities of felt, we discovered, were endless. Hell, you could quite viably sculpt the Statue of Liberty from the stuff, if you had enough sheep, time and arm power.

Felting is still a long way off from before becoming a mainstream craft like knitting, sewing and crocheting  – but with pioneering designers at the helm of this ‘movement’ – we’re going to be seeing a lot more felted madness and colourful creations bloom before our very eyes in the not too distant future.

Gillian Harris, author, self-styled ‘Queen of Felt’ and proprietor of the Gilliangladrag brand is arguably one of the felting movement’s most prominent ‘sculptors’, carving out everything from penguins and purses to ostentatiously eccentric chandeliers – and all, essentially, from fluff. Even her Surrey based wool emporium where she holds her popular craft workshops and produces her own felt making kits is rather appropriately called ‘The Fluff-a-torium’.

Walking into this rainbow-coloured-alternative-world is akin to a chocoholic stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. It is sheer, tantalising eye-candy for the creative with bursts of pinks, mints, fuschia and canary yellow blossoming from every corner or the room. It’s a fascinating sight to behold and I challenge even the craft-shy sausage-fingered among us to not be inspired to give something ‘creative’ a go.

This month (November) Prima Makes magazine features Gillian in a Meet The Designer feature – with nuggets of information from the Queen of Felt herself on what inspires her and why she set up shop in the first place. Read it here for a quick dose of design and inspiration.

Within our humble little team, we’re always finding new ways in which to grow creatively, through reading plenty and doing lots of cultural things. Museum visits, yoga, watching film noir, zorbing, standing on our heads and being mindful and – yes – even felting – has all contributed to the PR creative process. Try it and you will see that felting is SERIOUSLY meditative stuff (and in this meditative state can some of our most colourful creative ideas derive) – just don’t zone out too much; you might find yourself stabbing your fingers with the rather evil looking barbed needle … OOOF!

 

Gillian Harris’ felted chandelier, as seen in her book ‘Carnival of Felting’ (published by Colins & Brown)

 

www.gilliangladrag.co.uk