One of the most common questions I get from people who are seeing my work for the first time is “how did you make this?” Thankfully, when I am talking to someone live and in person, I can pick up the piece, flip it over, and show the inquirer the “guts” of the piece and explain the process. So for all of you who I cannot meet in person and put a piece directly into your hands, consider this blog post my way of virtually showing you the guts of the wall hangings.
This is the back of one of the freeform pieces
My process for a piece starts with choosing the colors I want to use from a storage unit that has precut strips of felt sorted by color. If there is a color I want to use that I haven’t cut down yet, I will get out my rotary cutter and cut down the felt into strips that range from about .5” wide to 1” wide and the length is about 1’ - 3’. After I’ve collected all of the colors I want, I put them all into a “current project” bin that lives under my studio table.
Next, I start the center coil. This part is hard to explain unless you are sitting with me watching me work, but I’ll do my best to paint a picture of what this looks like. I usually work with 2-3 strips of felt at once and to start a coil, I will tuck the first inch down into itself to start the coiling. Then I will stitch that part together following the spiral pattern that has begun. From there I will continue to add strips of felt and layer them onto the center coil and build that piece out.
Once the center coil is fleshed out, I will stitch up accent coils. Whether or not I stitch all of the accent coils at once, or make them as I go depends on a few factors. If I have already sketched out the entire piece and I know exactly what I want it to look like, I will premake all of the accent coils and add them on in that fashion. Or, if I am making a custom piece for a collector I will make them all at once and mock up several variations to send to the collector for approval. However, if I am working through a new idea or just experimenting, I will make accent coils as I go and try out a few things in that process. I’m trying to lean away from this way of working as I am prone to getting stuck halfway through unhappy with how it is going and unsure of what to change.
Lastly, I clean up any loose threads, lint roll AND vacuum the piece (living with a long haired cat means I take extra care to clean up the piece when it is finished). Then I crochet a 2” long foundation chain which becomes the hanging loop stitched onto the back of the piece. This fits neatly into a standard drywall hook. The final step is stitching on a little piece of twill that has “amy reader” printed on it and that serves as my signature on the back of the piece. And that is it! That is the process from start to finish!