Sunday, 11 November 2012

Tree of Life bag #1

This design had been whirling around in my brain for ages!  

My Tree of Life bag was inspired by things I came into regular contact with in our local museums when I worked there; the bed hangings at the Oak House ( a Tudor House) along with other Tudor & Jacobean crewelwork embroideries seen in other museums.. unfortunately I don't have photos of any of these!  And the William Morris wallpaper at Haden Hill House, William Morris created tapestries inspired by the older Tree of Life and Mille Fleur tapestries.. quite a few of his wallpapers remind me of them too.  Anyway.. that was my inspiration.

SO..  I wanted to make a nice roomy, sturdy day bag.  One that can happily carry everything you need for a day at work, or your knitting / crafty projects for a week away.  

I cut a pretty huge template.. it was getting on for 4 foot long and nearly 1 1/2 foot wide..  I sprinkled lots of green and purple tussah silk on top of the resist, added pocket resists, and laid out 6 layers black on the inside and mallard green outside.  I used a slightly coarser merino fibre than usual to make a heavier felt.

On top of the last layer I drew the design.  Both sides are different.
Design drawn on in merino and tussah silk fibres

One of the features in the Tree of Life embroideries that I absolutely LOVED is that the leaves, flowers and fruits were filled with intricate patterns. 

I used differently coloured and patterned silk sari's to create a similar effect 
 I cut the motifs from vintage silk saris, laid them in place and outlined them with merino.  

All laid out and ready to felt
Finally scattering more purple tussah silk onto the mallard green areas.

I was certainly ready to get felting by the time the design was finished!  It took forever for such a simple looking design.. 

Unrelated anecdote..
..A few years ago I had the task of setting up a William Morris printing workshop for children and families at Haden Hill House, a Victorian House with lots of William Morris wallpaper.. I immersed myself so much into his designs that I came out the other end quite convinced that we absolutely HAD to have some William Morris wallpaper in our living room - thank goodness I got over this before putting any up... I don't think it would have suited our old 3 bed semi :) lol


ThatFuzzyFeeling said...

That is amazing! I LOVE how you've used the saris to add colour and pattern - very inspiring.
Liz x

Els said...

Lovely to see "the making of" of this tree of life bag !
YES it takes such a long time to lay out such a design as this
although it might look simple to people who have never felted before .... ;-) ... ánd keeping it in place !!!!!!

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks girls :)

You're right Els.. it can be deceptive. I have a tendency to catch myself out laying 'simple' designs, by laying them in a not-so-simple way :)


Heather Woollove said...

Deborah--It's going to be fantastic...I can't wait to see the finished bag!!
I love William Morris wallpaper, though. For a powder room (or smaller room) it would be spectacular! (I'm sure it's expensive, too!)

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks Heather :)
I love WM wallpaper too.. I often go wander around Haden Hill and admire the paper there. I didn't go as far as looking into prices.. but it probably costs an arm and a leg!

Lyn said...

A piece that size gets very heavy when it's wet but hey, it saves you an arm workout at the gym!

I can't wait to see it finished - it looks fantastic in its 'ready to felt' state.

FeltersJourney said...

You're not wrong Lyn! Bet us felters make good arm wrestlers :)