Monday, June 3, 2013

Rafflesia blooming

I've been working on this felted backpack for an exhibition next week - the challenge being to work to a theme of "Rainforest".  To avoid that section of the hall looking just too green I looked to the flowers of the rainforest for inspiration and came up with the rafflesia flower, native to Indonesia.  

photo courtesy of
It's that flower that gives off a scent of rotting flesh (I believe) so my son was impressed, of course.  Up close it has great texture with raised areas of coral colour on the red petals, and in the centre the spikes can be a vivid orange. I didn't want to make a bag that looked like the flower, simply mimic the colour and texture in felt as the fabric.
The felt for the bag started as a large area of natural corriedale tops, laid and felted to a prefelt stage incorporating small round pieces of a cream cotton scrim. Dozens of ceramic beans were tied in 'shibori style' where the scrim was nunofelted and the piece felted and fulled to completion.  Once the beans were squeezed back out, the lumps remained felted in.

At this stage the shibori-ed piece was about a quarter of the original felt size.

It was then dyed using acid wool dyes to a deep red.  As these things happen invariably I wasn't happy with the cotton scrim on the lumps as it looked 'too cream' now against the red.  So back into a dye bucket this time of Procion dye it went to redden the cotton scrim.
The bag was lined with a vivid orange cotton lining and drawstrings made through large eyelets top and bottom.  A twist clasp also provides closure at the top.
Felted leaves were made also bearing an eyelet so that they could be threaded through the drawstring, but alternatively removed completely if you felt like being less colourful!
I added some curled felt vines to stop someone in the family calling it a strawberry - there now I've said it you probably can't see it as anything else !

You'll see more of the rainforest inspired craft at NSCG exhibition next week 13-15 June - hope to see you there.


ferinn said...

Stunning,as usual.Good luck!

Catherine said...

What a fabulous bag! I love the eyelets so you can add or remove the leaves - a great idea.

Max the Lobster said...


epocktextiles said...

This is great Helen, looking forward to seeing it in the flesh next week. I was away last weekend with girlfriends - one of whom was sporting a Fibrenell original vest very proudly! It looked wonderful.

Fibrenell said...

Thanks for telling me that, Jane. Always good to know customers are happy!

JaneO said...

Great bag Helen