Ruth has been living in Ceredigion for over 20 years, moving shortly after completing her Fine Art degree.
Ruth’s artistic practice has moved from Video installation to vegetable dying fabric for applique through to screen printing on fabric and is now firmly rooted in felt making.
She is an artist who makes things.
As screen printer Ruth developed her own style, using her love of flowers, the patterns of nature and bold colours,
Ruth cut intricate paper stencils to create her large wall pieces.
Ruth exhibits her print work with Aberystwyth Printmakers.
Ruth made her first piece of felt seven years ago and was instantly enthralled by the way in which a pile of fluff could be transformed into a strong piece of fabric.
Ruth makes wet felted pictures, drawing with wool fibre and transferring her style to working in this way.
Ruth discovered the potential for making 3 dimensional objects with wool fibre and made hats and vases. She prefers though to make more sculptural shapes, pushing the boundaries of what can be done with wool fibre, so far she has just scratched the surface of what can be achieved.
Needle felting came a couple of years later.
About the same time Ruth’s inspirational focus switched from plants to animals but mostly to birds, taking after her nature loving parents and Grandfather.
Ruth makes quirky soft sculptures using her own photographs, or those that have caught her eye through research, as reference.
Since becoming a felt maker Ruth has taken the opportunity to learn from other felt makers and in 2014 she travelled to the Netherlands to work with Canadian felt artist Andrea Graham.
From this experience Ruth was able to change the way she creates some of her Birds enabling her to make larger and more sculptural pieces. This combination of needle felt and wet felt is how her most recent work is produced.
Ruth travels widely from her home in Borth to show her work.
In 2014 she took part in the Muscat Festival in Oman, worked in Italy and showed at a craft fair in Brandbu, Norway. She regularly takes part in Wool shows and craft fairs throughout the UK.
Ruth teaches extensively both screen printing and all aspects of felt making.
Her felt making journey continues with moving her work into more gallery based projects, felt making giant shells in Italy and more learning planned for later in 2015.
Making for the Challenge
I had needle felted two houses before I proposed needle felting a Welsh village for this project, a small blue cottage and a black house from the Hebridean island of Lewis, so I knew it was possible.
Once my design idea had been accepted I took myself out and about with my camera, as I am lucky enough to live in Ceredigion and home of the Cambrian mountains.
Next I acquired my lovely bundle of super soft creamy Cambrian Mountain wool fibre.
Now for me as a felt maker being able to use wool that is sourced locally is very exciting. My previous experiences of this being buying directly from farmers or being given bags by friends who keep small flocks and this then needs sorting, washing and carding and is not always ideal even after doing all of this!
So back to the lovely, clean, soft Cambrian mountain wool.
My next challenge was dying some of the wool fibre as I couldn’t produce and entirely white village….this is Wales not Spain!
Unbelievably this took me a while as I needed a suitable saucepan to do this in and I only had a very small one and that was full of wax. I asked a friend and she eventually gave me what was practically a cauldron, no good for small bits of wool. I was teaching in Cardiff and spent my lunch break looking in charity shops to no avail, same in Aberystwyth.
In the end I was given a very bashed up looking aluminium pan it wouldn’t sit flat and had two holes in, which I only discovered once it was full of dye and wool… hastily applied bluetac seemed to stem the flow though so dying got done!
To the needle felting…I started with a chapel as this was going to be the largest building and I hoped would give me a chance to get the scale right.
My white chapel is totally based on the chapel at Mwnt, I love it’s simplicity.
From there I made a house, then the village hall/school house together with ty bach, I blended some of the colours to get all the different greys for the stone work.
And then the row of cottages, adding little details, flowers and curtains and hidden cat in the window, knowing when to stop was going to be my issue, each piece taking a few hours to produce.
I wanted a bridge and an arched barn and a farm house and some farm buildings with chickens and geese and a tractor all needle felted to the sides. Then the village needed a shop and a pub and some more houses!
Everytime I left the house I spotted more and more that I could put in my village but after the adandoned caravan and fir trees I downed tools and decided enough was enough!
My neighboor popped in to my studio and came up with the great idea of using a piece of slate to display the village, a roof tile proved the perfect size.
I hope I have managed to faithfully recreate a teeny and not twee Welsh village using this lovely and highly recommended for needle felting, Cambrian Mountain wool.
My planning policy does allow for more building so I am happy to take commissions.