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Published: 22 April 2017

By Andy Ross

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The amazing world of felt

Shetland continually surprises one. Last week a visit from a felt-maker led to an amazing conversation this week. 

Fiona Duthie hails from Canada where she set up a not-for-profit dedicated to the craft of felting, and our friend, Shona from the Shetland Gallery, told us that Fiona would be visiting last week. And what a wonderful visit it was. Full of laughter and inspiration, ideas and companionship. So, on a trip to Lerwick, I popped into The Booth where Fiona is staying and working for a chat. 

The Booth is a studio space in Scalloway, owned by Shetland Arts and administered by WASPS. It is a small building but fine as a live-work unit, and there is an additional space downstairs for a workshop. The view across the harbour is calming and peaceful, even though Scalloway has a busy waterway, and I can imagine that anyone staying there would find it inspiring. 

We started out looking at some of Fiona's work and to say that I was amazed is an understatement. Her garments, seamlessly felted as one piece, are beautiful and much more sophisticated than I had thought felt could be. Fiona uses the landscape for ideas, placing different materials together to create abtract patterns which flow across and around the pieces, before drawing and painting on the surface of the textile.

And downstairs in the small workshop there was more magic. Felted panels in varying stages of completion, and on the wall hanging pieces of colour and light, pattern and texture. (Pictures would not do it justice so I did not even ask to take any!) So it was even more exciting to go back upstairs and have a chat about Fiona possibly coming back to Shetland next year to do some workshops...

Thank you Fiona (and her friend Cinnamon and relation Carol) for visiting us, and of course, Shona for telling us all about this wonderful feltmaker from the other side of the world.