Filzen in Krisenzeiten/ Felting in time of crisis

DEUTSCHE VERSION – Filzen als wertvolles Gut in Krisenzeiten

Sicher haben sich viele von Euch gefragt, was los ist, ob etwas passiert sei. Seit dem letzten Post hier sind dreieinhalb Monate vergangen! Aber ich kann Euch versichern, dass dies ein gutes Zeichen und kein Grund zur Sorge ist. Während andere Kreativschaffende sich in dieser Krisenzeit eher zurückziehen, blüht meine Kreativität geradezu auf. Und zwar so sehr, dass ich keine Zeit fand, diesen Blog zu bedienen. 

Ein weiterer Grund ist, dass ich ehrlich gesagt, social media als gute und einfach zu handhabende Alternative sehe, die einen Austausch auf internationalem Niveau ermöglicht. 

In den letzten Tage machte ich mir Gedanken darüber, warum ich in den letzten Monaten so viel gefilzt habe wie nie und möchte die Gründe darlegen. Inspiriert hat mich die letzte Filzeinheit mit Maria Friese im Rahmen ihres Angebots „felt moments“. Dort geht es zum einen um die Transformation von Wolle und Filz und zum anderen um einen achtsamen, spirituellen Umgang mit uns und unserer Umwelt, den wir durch eine Transformation und Veränderung unserer Gedanken und unserer Einstellung erzielen können. Es sind also Transformationen im direkten und übertragenen Sinne, die wir vollziehen können [Es stellt sich – ganz nebenbei – die Frage, welche Transformation leichter von der Hand geht, die filzerische oder die gedankliche…]. 

Dieses Thema also, was wir durch das Filzen bewirken können und warum wir diesem Hobby nachgehen, beschäftigte mich seit einigen Tagen. 

Zum einen ist der Filzprozess etwas, das ich kontrollieren kann. Ich wähle das zu filzende Objekt aus, wähle Farben und Fasern, steuere den Entstehungsprozess, ja kann ihn sogar direkt mit meinen Händen beeinflussen. In einer Zeit, in der wir über einige Dinge keine Kontrolle zu haben scheinen und viele Dinge akzeptieren müssen, ist dies ein ganz wichtiges Element, um eine Verbindung zu spüren und meine Gestaltungsfreiheit wahrzunehmen. Ich selbst bin für das verantwortlich, was ich kreiere und kann oftmals den Zeitpunkt und die Dauer selbst bestimmen. 

Ich kann selbst entscheiden, was ich filze und wie ich es tue. Eingefleischte Filzerinnen unter Euch wissen, dass das Filzen nahezu unendliche Möglichkeiten bietet. Und es ist immer wieder – auch nach jahrelanger Erfahrung – faszinierend, wenn sich lose Wollfasern zu einem festen Gewebe und Filz mithilfe von einfachen Mitteln und ein paar Tipps und Tricks entwickeln. Das macht den Zauber dieses Materials aus. 

Mit meinen Filzobjekten gestalte ich etwas Einzigartiges und Schönes. Überwiegend Unikate entstehen bei mir, kein Objekt gleicht dem anderen. In einer Zeit, in der wir mit Einschränkungen leben müssen, in der voranschreitenden dunklen Jahreszeit, brauche ich etwas Schönes, auf das ich mich und über das ich mich freuen kann und worauf ich stolz sein kann. 

In den letzten Monaten, seit meinem letzten Präsenzworkshop im Februar 2020 habe ich mich – durch das viele Filzen – filztechnisch enorm weiterentwickelt. Das kann ich selbst am besten an meinem Instagram-Feed festmachen. Die aneinandergereihten Fotos meiner FilzSis lassen leicht erkennen, wie ich vorangekommen bin, mich verbessert habe, wie qualitativ hochwertiger meine Fikzobjekte geworden sind. Ich arbeite filigraner, kenne mich besser mit den Materialien aus und kann besser einschätzen, was ich wofür nutze. Eine Filzerin fragte mich letztens, ob ich mir die Fingerpuppe „einfach so aus den Fingern geschüttelt habe“. Und ich muss zugeben, dass es mir sehr viel leichter fällt, Figuren im Kopf vorzuplanen und zu konstruieren als noch Anfang des Jahres. Und meist werden sie auch so, wie ich sie mir vorgestellt habe. Das ist ja das Schöne am Filzen, es gibt immer ein Ergebnis. 


Welche Alternativen gibt es? Welche anderen Dinge werden empfohlen, um „runterzukommen“, die alltäglichen Balanceakte zu schaffen? Achtsamkeit und Meditation werden groß geschrieben. Doch sind es wirklich Alternativen? Hat nicht das Filzen ganz viel mit Achtsamkeit und Meditation zu tun? Es ist ein achtsamer Umgang, wenn ich mir diese Kreativzeit nehme und nehmen kann, weil ich weiß, dass sie mir gut tut. Der „Behandlung“ der Wolle ist meditativ und entspannend – zumindest zum größten Teil – und wie großartig ist es, in den sogenannten Flow zu geraten und Raum und Zeit zu vergessen, abgelenkt zu sein. 

Ein letzter Punkt, der einen wesentlichen Bestandteil meiner Filzreise ausmacht, ist das Verbinden. Und damit meine ich nicht das Verbinden der Fasern, damit sich ein Filz bildet, sondern das Verbinden mit anderen, mit Gleichgesinnten, mit Filzfreundinnen – auf regionaler, deutscher und – vor allem – internationaler Ebene.  

Das Absagen von Workshops hat im Frühjahr dazu geführt, dass sich viele Filzerinnen spontan und flexibel zeigten und Onlineangebote aus dem Boden sprossen wie Gänseblümchen auf einer Wiese. Eine große Bandbreite an Möglichkeiten eröffnete sich: diese reichte und reicht von einmaligen und kostenfreien Angeboten live im Internet bis zu längerfristigen Kursen mit jederzeit und mehrfach abrufbaren Videos und Erklärungen, von Videokonferenzen mit anderen bis zum individuellen Aufrufen der Module. 

Die Kommentarfunktionen diverser Plattformen sind Gold wert und schaffen eine Gemeinschaft Gleichgesinnter und eine Nähe trotz der Distanz von manchmal 10000 Kilometern und vielen Zeitzonen. Der direkte Austausch und das Mitfilzen bei einer Videokonferenz kann – bei guter Kameraeinstellung – dazu führen, dass ich mich fast so fühle, als würde ich – wie gewohnt – an einem Präsenzworkshop teilnehmen. Natürlich gelingt das nicht zu 100%, aber es ist eine Möglichkeit, die derzeit die bestmögliche darstellt. 

Ich weiß nicht, ob es jeder nachvollziehen kann… ich finde es einfach toll, wenn ich ein Filzobjekt im Netz von jemandem sehe und kommentieren kann, die zur gleichen Zeit dasselbe hergestellt hat, aber in Sibirien, Australien, den USA oder Argentinien wohnt. 

Zum Glück hatte ich die Möglichkeit, viele Filzkurse in den letzten Monaten zu buchen und daran teilzunehmen, und ich bin mir bewusst, dass ich mich in einer sehr privilegierten Lage befinde. Das weiß ich sehr zu schätzen. Einige Reisen, auf die ich mich gefreut hatte, waren ins Wasser gefallen, und so ergaben sich sowohl zeitliche als auch finanzielle Möglichkeiten. Gute online Filzangebote sind nicht günstig, basieren aber auf jahrelanger Erfahrung, Expertise und des Experimentierens der Anbieterinnen und sind mit einem hohen technischen Aufwand verbunden, den man häufig unbegrenzt zur Verfügung hat. Einblicke in die jeweiligen Filztechniken gepaart mit wertvollen Tipps und Tricks machen die Angebote sehr wertvoll. 


ENGLISH VERSION – Felting as a valuable tool in times of crisis

I’m sure many of you have wondered what is going on, whether something has happened. Three and a half months have passed since the last post here. But I can assure you that this is a good sign and nothing to worry about. While other creative people tend to retreat in this time of crisis, my creativity is blossoming. And so much so that I did not find the time to operate this blog. 

Another reason is that, to be honest, I see social media as a good and easy to handle alternative that allows for exchange on an international level. 

In the last few days I have been thinking about why I felted more than ever in the last months and I would like to explain the reasons. I was inspired by the last felting session with Maria Friese as part of her offer „felt moments“. There it is about the transformation of wool and felt on the one hand and on the other hand about a mindful, spiritual approach to ourselves and our environment, which we can achieve by transforming and changing our thoughts and our attitude. So it is transformations in the direct and figurative sense that we can carry out [The question arises – by the way – which transformation is easier to handle, the felt-like or the mental one…]. 

This topic, what we can achieve through felting and why we pursue this hobby, has kept me busy for several days. 

For one thing, the felting process is something I can control. I choose the object to be felted, choose colours and fibres, control the process of creation, even influence it directly with my hands. In a time when we seem to have no control over some things and have to accept many things, this is a very important element to feel a connection and to perceive my creative freedom. I myself am responsible for what I create and can often determine the time and duration myself. 

I can decide for myself what I felt and how I did it. Experienced felters among you know that felting offers almost infinite possibilities. And it is always fascinating – even after years of experience – when loose wool fibres develop into a firm fabric and felt with the help of simple means and a few tips and tricks. This is what makes this material so magical. 

With my felt objects I create something unique and beautiful. Predominantly unique pieces are created by me, no two objects are alike. In a time in which we have to live with restrictions, in the advancing dark season, I need something beautiful, something I can be happy and proud of. 

In the last few months, since my last presence workshop in February 2020, I have – through the many felting sessions – made enormous progress in the field of felting technology. This is what I can best demonstrate with my Instagram feed. The strung together photos of my FilzSis show easily how I have progressed, how I have improved, how my felted objects have become more qualitative. I work more filigree, I know more about the materials and I can better estimate what I use for what. A felter asked me the other day if I „just shook the finger puppet out of my fingers“. And I have to answer that it is much easier for me to plan and construct figures in my head than at the beginning of the year. And most of the time they turn out just as I had imagined them. That is the beauty of felting, there is always a result.

What are the alternatives? What other things are recommended to „come down“, to tackle the daily balancing act? Mindfulness and meditation are very important. But are they really alternatives? Doesn’t felting have a lot to do with mindfulness and meditation?

It is a mindful outcome if I take and can take this creative time because I know that it is good for me. 

The „treatment“ of the wool is meditative and relaxing – at least for the most part – and how great it is to get into the so-called flow and forget space and time, to be distracted. 

One last point, which is an essential part of my felting journey, is connecting. And by this I do not mean connecting the fibres so that a felt is formed, but connecting with others, with like-minded people, with felt friends – on a regional, German and – above all – international level.  

The cancellation of workshops in spring led to many felters showing themselves to be spontaneous and flexible and online offers sprouted from the ground like daisies in a meadow. A wide range of possibilities opened up: these ranged and still range from one-off and free offers live on the internet to longer-term courses with videos and explanations that can be called up several times at any time, from video conferences with others to individual calling up of modules. 

The commentary functions of various platforms are worth their weight in gold and create a community of like-minded people and proximity despite the distance of sometimes 10,000 kilometres and many time zones. The direct exchange and felting along during a video conference can – with a good camera angle – make me feel almost as if I am taking part in a face-to-face workshop as usual. Of course, this does not succeed 100%, but it is a possibility that is currently the best possible. 

I don’t know if everyone can understand it … I think it’s just great when I can see and comment on a felt object in the net of someone who has made the same thing at the same time but lives in Siberia, Australia, the USA or Argentina. 

Fortunately I have had the opportunity to book and attend many felt courses in the last few months and I am aware that I am in a very privileged position. I appreciate this very much. Some of the trips I had been looking forward to had fallen through, and so there were both time and financial possibilities. Good online felt offers are not cheap, but they are based on years of experience, expertise and experimentation by the providers and involve a great deal of technical effort, which one often has unlimited access to. Insights into the respective felting techniques combined with valuable tips and tricks make the offers very valuable.

A Finnish-German felt encounter in Helsinki – preview of the exhibition „Felt for tomorrow“

Sometimes I must be jinxed and one felt exhibition chases the next. This week I visited two exhibitions. I already wrote a blogpost about the first one in the Alte Spedition in Gladbeck. The other one can be marvelled at in Helsinki, Finland, from 03 June to 31 July 2019.

How can that be? You as smart readers probably think so. She posts the post on 2 June and the exhibition will be on view from 3 June? How is this suppossed to work? Dear felt enthusiasts, I have come to enjoy a preview of this Finnish exhibition and would like to tell you about it. It is, so to speak, a small German-Finnish felt encounter. For that I have to go far afield…

City trips or how I came to Helsinki for the felt show

City trips are fine. Seldom has it been possible for me to explore and experience so many new things in such a short time, to gather and process new impressions, to immerse myself far away from everyday life into another world. I can identify 100% with the following saying about traveling:

Traveling – it leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.“ – Ibn Battuta

So I was curious about a new country when I left for a city trip to Helsinki. I already visited Norway, Sweden, Denmark and Iceland, and particularly like Nordic countries. Now it was Finland’s turn to play.

Well, that’s not really true, of course. Don’t get me wrong! Of course, if you have traveled to Helsinki, you cannot say you have seen Finland. If I have seen Berlin, I do not know Germany. But with the visit of the capital a Finnish beginning was made. After all, there must always be something worthwhile to come back to.

But, dear felt enthusiasts, what about my waffle about traveling when it’s supposed to be about felting? After all, you ended up on my website and on this blog to find out something new about felting and not to read a travelogue on Helsinki. Don’t worry, I’ll get right to the point now.

In preparation for this trip to Helsinki, to which I dedicated a lot of time, be it sightseeing opportunities, opening hours, food offers and transport conditions, I came across the Design District Helsinki. I knew that Finnish design plays a major role, as I was able to name several Finnish design brands even before my trip. I also found out that a lot of handcrafted and handicraft goods are being marketed and found that very appealing.

So I came by chance to the website of Craft Corner Helsinki and learned that one day after my departure an exhibition of the Finnish Felt Association would start. The exhibition „Felt for Tomorrow“ was shown on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the Finnish Felt Association in the Craftcorner Taito Gallery. Previously, it was shown at the Craft Museum of Finland in Jyväskylä. A report about it can be read in the current Filzfun, a magazine for the German-speaking feltmakers‘ community.

On the website of Craft Corner the contact to Sirpa Mäntylä was printed, so I spontaneously sent an email a few days before my departure and wished her all the best for the exhibition. Promptly I received an answer AND an invitation to view the exhibition in the gallery in the Taitu shop on Eteläesplanadi boulevard two days before and get to know her in person.

WOW!

Of course, I accepted this offer and was very excited to take advantage of this unique opportunity. As a small souvenir from Germany I felted the olive lavender bag, which you already know from the previous post. Do you remember?

In the gallery Sirpa received me very warmly with a hug. How nice, I thought, felters form a unique community around the world.

She led me through the exhibition and showed me the exhibits that were already hanging on the wall. In the photo above you see the current look. Partly the fine plates with names and titles were missing and here and there the finetuning, there was a ladder in the back and some exhibits were waiting for hanging the next day. Nevertheless, Sirpa offered to take pictures and started to explain some of the exhibits. It was great that I could look at everything, even though it was not yet perfectly prepared for the vernissage.

The tour started with the non-Finnish members of the association. Among them were familiar names like Susanne Breuling or Sigrid Bannier or Caroline Merrell. Sirpa and I quickly started talking about the felt courses I attended, e.g. with Sigrid Bannier two years ago at the Filzkolleg in Düsseldorf and we talked about the importance of felting in our lives.

In Finland, years ago, as in Germany, there was even more interest in felting, she said, but in the meantime, more and more people wanted to see and touch felted stuff and take courses. It seems to me that Filtti is very active and organizes several exhibitions a year. Sirpa explained that there is an annual exhibition in Jämsä, in central Finland, which I should definitely visit when I come back to Finland. 

My favorite works at a glance

Sirpa had a small story ready for each exhibit and knew the backgrounds of the feltmakers. I was astonished by the incredible variety of techniques and objects, not to mention the variety of colours I was able to experience. Even careful touching was allowed to check the firm felt quality. Do you also experience the need in felt shows not only to see the exhibits with your eyes, but literally to touch with your hands? Can you imagine how much inspiration I got in this short time?

Here are a few photos of the exhibits that impressed me most. I have inserted and linked the titles of the works and the names of the artists, if possible.

This large wall panel by Kaija Paltto is called „The wise advice of the ancestors“. The artist processes Finnish sheep’s wool and refers to the ancient traditions and materials of the Lapp and Finns that she uses in her felted objects. She lives in Lapland, Northern Finland, and is married to a Sami.

The colorful pendant of Anne Ohra-Aho is called „Scheema“ and spreads a good mood. The contiguous areas form a certain regularity, which is interrupted by the loose connections between the elements. It is also nice to observe the shadows on the wall, as the pendant was installed as a free-hanging object.

This airy, easy-going work by Kikka Jelisejeff with the title „Herd“ has a fantastic felt-like effect and I also like it a lot. I imagine that the vaults can be sheep, some of which are black. What do you mean? Which do you associate?

Wow, what a felt power package! This is a bag that can be worn over the arm or in the hand. The red balls form the handle. It is – as the photo proves – also a wonderful design object that spreads already joy when watching. Mari Jalava appropriately calls them „joy and happiness bags & love baskets“. Anyone traveling with them will be noticed, and wants to be.

The next object that I particularly liked is connected to the title of the show. The exhibition is called „Felt for tomorrow“ and means that felt and wool still play a role today as a traditional and old material, and can also be found in modern everyday objects. Here, in the window of the gallery, you can find three curtains entitled „Flight“ designed by Sirpa Mäntylä. The birds and the transparent fabric symbolize a fine lightness; this impression is reinforced by the lateral fringes and the pattern.

The last object, a picture by Heidi Halm, is titled and radiates the word „joy“. Heidi writes in the exhibition catalogue that both crafts and gardening are good for the soul. How much she is right and also hits my nerve! Her image radiates a harmony with body and soul. The pastel color scheme blends into the overall message of the picture and makes the dancer look graceful.

A very personal German-Finnish felt encounter

Looking at the exhibits, I told Sirpa that in Germany, especially where I live, there are not so many felt shows, and if so, they are much smaller than this one. It is often left to chance to be informed about exhibitions. How I like to remember the exhibition of the Finnish Felt Association in Wuppertal, which I visited almost exactly four years ago. Already there I noticed the colors and the variety of the exhibits and the love of wool. I remember exactly my entry in the guestbook. Also in Helsinki, I wrote into the guestbook, the first entry, even before the exhibition started. A major honour! Sirpa jokingly said that my entry could be understood as a kind of inspection by the European Union. It is hard to believe that Finland only became a member of the EU in 1995.

Look, two feltmakers among themselves. One with a felted pendant, the other with her felted mobile phone case. Sirpa gave me the catalogue of the exhibition and a package of beautiful, lovingly designed postcards that were printed especially for this exhibition and show details of felt exhibits. For the exhibition in Helsinki Filtti had to make a selection and find a compromise, because the showrooms are smaller than those in central Finland.

After the tour of the exhibition, Sirpa invited me to tea and canapés at a fancy Helsinki café. Hmm, that was

I asked her what she appreciated most about Finland. Without much thought, she answered that it was the different seasons, in particular the transitions between spring and summer as well as autumn. That is so special in Finland and very different than e.g. in the north of the US, where she used to live. There are very cold winters and hot summers without the mild transitions as in Finland, which she appreciates.

In fact, I was able to confirm that during my short stay in Helsinki. The trees had a rich, bright green that no photo of this world could cope with, and it was pleasantly warm in the sun, cool in the shade, but not cold. The sun spoiled me on all three days, each with over 15 hours daily. The pastel sky late at night reminded me of that of northern Iceland last summer. As if someone had swung a brush to start a painting.

Full of new impressions and inspiration for felting and my desire to continue to document many felt exhibitions in Germany and internationally, I flew home and will think back for a long time to this special felt encounter. Kiitos, dear Sirpa! This is the Finnish word for „thank you“.