The camel has a single hump;
The dromedary, two;
Or else the other way around.
I'm never sure. Are you?
This was the puzzle hotly debated by participants at the IFA Region 9 Ripple Vessels workshop with Mandy Nash. The day had begun early as Melanie, Mandy and Caroline cleared space in the studio in preparation for a small group of feltmakers and their large bags of equipment. Cups of tea were handed out as Mandy talked us through the development of her beautiful sculptural pieces on which carefully placed slashing reveals flashes of bright colour. Work on covering templates and layering in bands of colour with resists demanded a high level of concentration leaving Melanie free to concentrate on perfecting brews of weak tea, medium-strength tea, strong tea and builders’ tea, tea with ordinary milk, tea with goat’s milk, tea with soya milk and fruit tea to fuel the feltmakers.
The subsequent felting of Norwegian and Finn fibres required exertion which could only be relieved by lively chatter and more tea. Caroline, recently returned from Abu Dhabi, told us about Arabian camels decked in bling, Jane and Mandy recounted tales of the camel festival in Pushkar, Cilla, over from New Zealand for the workshop, told us about felting down under. The windows steamed up leaving the studio resembling a Turkish sauna and Melanie alternately operated the kettle to provide more tea and the microwave to heat felt pizzas.
As the vessels were beginning to take shape and to the evident relief of the feltmakers, Mandy announced it was time to locate the hidden band of colour and begin slashing. Care, precision, a ruler and more tea were needed to transform the flat surface to a 3D ripple of fins. Nina finished first and rewarded herself with a purchase from the gallery next door. Others opted to take theirs home to slash in quiet contemplation when mind and body had recovered from the felting.
With one last cup of tea and the camel puzzle still unsolved members wended their way back through the lanes, tired but happy and with a new technique under their feltmaking belts.