Sharing the Process : Felted Bowls by Hold Handmade

Guest Contributor Post by Heather Smith Jones of Blue Sparrow Press.

Welcome to a new column at Poppytalk called Sharing the Process. In these articles you will hear straight from artists how they make their art. Artists are approached by me with tailor-made interviews prompting articulations about their specific processes. Sharing the Process intends to be informative about different art forms, show appreciation to artists, and celebrate the handmade. Enjoy!

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handmade felted wool bowls by hold handmade

Hi, my name is Maria Roth, and I am a designer and maker based in Vancouver, Canada. My current work focuses on making beautiful, modern, sustainable bowls in felted wool. I'm honoured to be able to share some of the processes and design behind the work with Poppytalk readers.


 

driftwood and unfelted bowl bases

waiting for the water taxi

My handmade practice is nomadic as I move throughout the year between a creative, urban centre and a semi-remote island in Howe Sound. I have to carry everything or pull it in a cart, as there is no car access to the island, nor are there any stores. My work in wool travels with me from beach, to rainforest, and back to the city of Vancouver and its seawall, public markets and playgrounds.

crochet hook, driftwood and yarn ends

from floppy bowl to beautiful felted container

All of the bowls take several days to complete from beginning to end. While it is simple for anyone to make a felted bowl, it is challenging to make one well. First each bowl is crocheted from yarn, a technique that cannot be replicated by machine. The floppy bowl is then submerged in soapy hot water and agitated, causing the wool fibres to shrink and form a felted fabric. I do this stage by using a washing machine (shown in the photo above) and the final felting by hand. I then carefully block each bowl and allow it to fully dry before trimming.

The transformation from yarn to felted container is one which will always amaze me. I can produce only a small number of the bowls at a time, so the number of bowls available from my studio each year is limited.

bowls before and after felting

big bowl, circle bowl in dark grey, 12" diameter

I was thrilled to be able to launch a collection of big felted wool bowls this fall. The bowls are large and dramatic, and were inspired by the monumental scale of the coastal pacific rainforests in which much of my work is done. An important part of the big bowl design process has been QA -- I was unable to track down anyone else making production bowls of this size, so studying the durability of the big bowls in actual use has been an important part of the design process. I'm glad to be able to report that all of the bowls performed beautifully over a year's use in both select retail and domestic settings.

big bowl, circle bowl in dark grey, 10" diameter

My interest in the handmade began many years ago as an observer rather than as a maker. I studied and worked at the UBC Museum of Anthropology, where I happily spent many rainy afternoons immersed in its ethnographic collections. I have been fortunate to have worked with many individuals -- visual artists, curators, anthropologists, designers -- over the years who have grounded my current work in wool not only in terms of theory and context, but also in the idea of the importance of the well-made thing.

I am grateful to have been invited to share some my own stories on a blog I have followed and been inspired by for many years. Thank you Jan and Heather for this opportunity. And I look forward to reading and learning more from Heather's wonderful new column Sharing the Process!

You can see more of Maria's work on her website at www.holdhandmade.com and visit her table at Poppytalk Handmade.

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About the author:
Heather Smith Jones M.F.A., is a multi-media artist, arts instructor, and author. She lives with her husband and three cats in Lawrence, Kansas and loves working in the studio he built. Find out more about what Heather does here:

Website : http://www.heathersmithjones.com
Blue Sparrow Press : http://www.bluesparrowpress.com
Poppytalk Handmade : http://www.poppytalkhandmade.com/table84

Jan Halvarson

19 comments:

Shutterbug said...

Maria-your work is gorgeous!

lyndsay said...

So cool! Thanks for sharing the process.. your work is lovely!

Jodi said...

Another lovely post! I made your Chocolate Chunk cookie recipe over the weekend - did the recipe you posted omit baking powder or baking soda? Please advise. Mine were missing something.

Liz said...

OOh! This is a great idea I can't wait to read more of these! And, thank you Heather for sharing x

Ni said...

i really liked this.

betsy bensen said...

I'm an admirer of Maria's beautiful bowls and really appreciated the glimpse into her process!

pey said...

Bravo, Maria.

TheColorGirl said...

I have two of Maria's bowls and love them! The colours and textures are wonderful! Real conversation pieces.

Amy said...

these bowls are gorgeous! thanks for sharing a bit of your story here maria :)

wendylew said...

I'm happy to be both the owner and gift-giver of these gorgeous bowls. I hear of the processes that Maria diligently puts her bowls through, but its nice to see it so beautifully presented. Your work continues to amaze me....you are so talented!

Tanya @ Dans le Townhouse said...

I love felted bowls and these are especially gorgeous! What talent.

aroluna said...

I love Maria's bowls. Getting to know a little about the process and the wonderful surroundings that nurture them, I like them even more!

Mandy said...

This was a joy to read. I especially enjoyed Maria's quote about the true value of handmade or artisan craftsmanship: "While it is simple for anyone to make a felted bowl, it is challenging to make one well."
I'm looking forward to reading more in this series. Cheers!

niu said...

Wow!!! lovely work and lovely report of it!!!

niu said...

Wow!!Lovely work and lovely report of it!!

paula said...

loved reading more about you maria :) congrats on the article!

Unknown said...

I'm in love with Hold bowls for a long time now. I often peek to see what's new at Hold's shop and I'm always amazed by the great colour combinations Maria makes.
Loved this wonderful article & really enjoyed knowing more about the process. Thank you for sharing! :)
Daria

Wendy Wondrous said...

So I come to this' site because I'm on Pinterest and I'm really interested in felting and I am led to this site by some beautiful felted bowls that I see. I start reading a little bit about the person that writes this blog I think wow what a life she gets to do what she wants, lives on a beautiful island and then goes into ...Vancouver? oh wow she lives really close to me Im in vancouver that's amazing ....who.... what ....Maria Roth ! oh my God. Maria it's Wendy we really need to connect! look me up on Facebook and friend me. Holy shit what a small world. miss you so much! I have thought of you so often of late. hope you and Bud and the kids are doing great. I've posted as anonymous as I have to be careful as I can be too easily searched with my first and last name :)

Jude said...

These are so beautiful. Do you use any kind of stiffener in them, or are they soft? Thank you for sharing your terrific talent.

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