Felt Mistress toy making workshop at PMU

Following the paper toy workshop we ran at Pick Me Up 2012, CR is delighted to announce that this year we are teaming up with Felt Mistress to run a felt toy making workshop on Monday April 22 at the Somerset House-based graphic art fair…

Felt Mistress’ Rishikesh George character is based on George Harrison of The Beatles

Following the paper toy workshop we ran at Pick Me Up 2012, CR is delighted to announce that this year we are teaming up with Felt Mistress to run a felt toy making workshop on Monday April 22 at the Somerset House-based graphic art fair…

WIth a background in fashion design, millinery and couture dress-making, Felt Mistress, aka Louise Evans, is a UK-based stitcher with a growing reputation for lovingly bringing a host of illustrated characters to life as three dimensional hand cut and stitched plush creations. Besides creating original Felt Mistress characters working with her partner and long-time collaborator Jonathan Edwards, Evans has worked with numerous artists including Jon Burgerman, Pete Fowler, Jon Boam and Ben Newman, to name but a few.

Evans is currently in Berlin at Pictoplasma where she’s been making a host of felt characters ‘live’ so people can see how she works. Each of the characters in this new series of felt creations, we’re told, is a guru or life coach and has a specific personality. For example, Gooplin (pictured above) “provides a nutty, mellow flavour to every room he’s in”, Evans tells us. “Comparable to a fine wine or a mature cheddar, Gooplin prides himself on providing a feeling of well-being and contentment,” she continues. “When he isn’t life coaching he likes to age well in an Oak cask while listening to Steely Dan.”

Meet another of her brand-new creations, Groam:

“Groam believes the only way to true happiness is through sheer misery,” says Evans. “He enjoys sitting alone in cold rooms, overcast days and missing the last bus home. When not spreading misery Groam also enjoys playing Ping Pong.”

To find out a little more about her work and about what she’s planning for the Pick Me Up workshop we caught up with Evans earlier this week:

Creative Review: Where are you based?
Felt Mistress: I am based in a place called Gresford which is on the North Wales border close to Chester, about 50 minutes drive from Manchester.

CR: Do you work alone on the actual manufacture of your felt creations – or do you have assistants / interns?
FM: I am a complete control freak and find it really difficult to delegate – so I work alone.

CR: Ah, so you make alone, but you collaborate regularly with your partner, illustrator Jonathan Edwards – can you tell us about how you work together and also how you approach giving a two dimensional character three dimensional form?
FM: Sometimes Jonathan will have sketched a character in his sketchbook and I think that I just have to make it in fabric. Other times we start with a specific fabric or a surface texture in mind and decide how it could be incorporated into a character design.

Above: The Furry Mayhem, a collaboration with Jonathan Edwards

As a couture dress maker I designed and made bespoke dresses for many years and had to fit all different sized women, learning how to manipulate the darts and seams to fit over all the different shapes of the women I was fitting. So when I look at a two-dimensional image I use pretty much the same techniques to work out how to turn the flat fabric into a three-dimensional form. Oh, and everything is done by eye and by hand. I don’t use any computers in my work – except for Tweeting!

Above: Meet the Hipsters, a collaboration with Jon Burgerman

CR: Collaboration is a huge part of your practice – who are you working with at the moment?
FM: At the moment I am working with Jonathan on some pieces for a new project, and I’m also ready to start some more pieces with illustrator Ben Newman.

Above: Ben Newman‘s Taimatsu character, brought artfully into the third dimension

CR: Can you tell us about the scale of the plush characters you make?
FM: Most of my pieces measure between 75cm – 120cm and pretty much everyone is surprised when they see them for real – they expect them to be much smaller! I prefer to work larger as I like to incorporate real glasses on some characters also some of the clothing details would be so difficult to reproduce on a smaller scale. I try to make any clothing in the same way I would make full size clothes, all jackets are fully lined, for example. I think having the characters such a large scale makes photographing them more fun as I can pose them on chairs. They also have more presence.

This is Dillon, a 62cm tall Felt Mistress creation, designed by Jon Knox of Hello, Brute

CR: Some of your work is hugely complicated involving many layers of material as well as multiple stitching techniques – can you tell us a little about how the workshop at Pick Me Up will work – and what can people expect to get out of it?
FM: At the Pick Me Up workshop we will be working on a fairly simple outline shape but there will be plenty of opportunity to add details and personalise each piece. Of course everyone works at different speeds but through some handy printed information sheets I’ve put together, even those who do not finish the pieces they start on the day will thus have the information and knowledge to go home and continue the project. And if attendees get one thing out of the workshop, I hope it’s the inspiration to simply take the time to make more.

Toy Making with Felt Mistress in association with Creative Review will run from 11am to 5pm on Monday April 22 at Pick Me Up in Somerset House. For full details of what’s happening at this year’s Pick Me Up, visit www.somersethouse.org.uk.

See more of Felt Mistress’ work at here and also on her blog. Fans of her work should also check out the 400 page monograph of her work published by Blank Slate Books here.


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