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Review of Structural & Sculptural by Virginia Campbell

Soosie is renowned for her marvellous 3 D felted creations and her  workshops teaching how to mould and shape felt into complex 3 D forms are  eagerly awaited and well attended, so her new felting book with its clear practical instructions on how to create complex shapes in felt will be a most welcome addition to any keen felter’s library and a much consulted resource for those wishing to expand their felting skills and creative repertoire into this area.

The author’s  wide felting expertise and her  experience in teaching felting techniques to adults is apparent in the content and structure of this book. It is designed to be a practical guide to felters of varying skill levels  – from those who have only recently commenced felting to  seasoned felters looking for  new challenges. She commences with a succinct overview of basic principles and techniques  including the importance of layers ,layering and use of different wool weights for embellishment, shrinkage and consequent shaping, the need to avoid  overwatering,  how to calculate shrinkage rates, discussion of various methods of  prefelting, fulling and shaping, and understanding  resist theory.

Building on this introduction, Soosie provides detailed  instructions for making 11projects – in the first 6 projects  resists are used to make hollow felted forms, the next  projects involve creating shapes with solid felted forms and the last projects  entail a combination of both  techniques. The first project is the making of an evening bag using a simple resist. A diagram with measurements is provided to assist the reader to create a resist after making a small sample piece  from which a shrinkage rate can be calculated. How to lay wool on both sides of the resist, wet it down and shape it onto the resist is illustrated step by step in clear detailed coloured  photographs. Ways of avoiding bulky corners, thick ridges, and stretched loose wool around the resist, are specified.  How to remove the resist at the prefelt stage and suggestions for embellishment and attaching the purse clasp are also illustrated in photographs.

Following the first project,  the projects become  more ambitious, the resists considerably more involved, or new techniques are introduced. Project 2 involves creating a right angle resist to make a pin cushion. Practical advice abounds so that the reader is warned to avoid pointy or sharp edges on the resist which will create holes in the felt,  photographs show how to tape the triangular pieces of the resist together and then  how to lay the wool over the resist. Use of different  coloured wool assists in making the pictorial instruction clear. When to remove the resist, where to make the cut, how to remove the resist and when to stuff the piece are explained in detail.

Project 3 involves making a cactus plant using a multiple angle resist. It’s the same techniques as the right angle resist in project 2 but with more flaps. Again, the making of the resist and laying of the wool over the resist is well illustrated by diagrams and photographs.

Further into the book instructions are also given for how to make solid rolls which can be used to make handles, ties, curls, Millefiori beads etc. and  how to make hollow felt tubes using flat resists or solid tubular resists. To achieve the latter  Soosie recommends using  foam rods sold as gap fillers in the building section of hardware stores

Later projects involve combining hollow and solid felt forms and stitching,  for example  Project 9 contains instructions for making a life – like Echeveria succulent by making a hollow prefelted tube for the stem, stitching prefelted leaf  shapes to it, fulling the entire piece then replacing the foam tube resist with a small wooden dowel to give the plant greater structure. Project 10 involves a similar technique in the making of a beautiful  peony  rose.  Project 11 is the making of a lidded box using a resist, a template and prefelt stitching.

For experienced felters and beginners alike, Soosie’s step by step instructions and illustrations for each project will provide a valuable reference manual for  3 D felting.

The book concludes with  coloured photograph Illustrations of  several  additional examples of  exotic  3 D felted shapes with simple diagrams of the resists used to create them . These are included as suggestions of further felted shapes which  the reader might like to make and which build on the skills taught earlier in the book.

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