I have long admired Klimt art, especially this painting. I love geometric shapes and patterns in art. I finally decided to make my own during lockdown 2020. A long, challenging project is always good for my mental health and this was perfect for that.
This was the first time I've used pencil outlines on the backing felt before placing down background fibres. In my landscape and wildlife work to date I would place layers of background down and then work in layer over the top to create the details. For this piece it was important to me to be accurate and to devote more effort to the textures and fibre choices than in finding position and shapes by eye..
First step was to use the drum carder to mix up the backing fibres. Wool and silk and nylon to give the sparkles. This is laid and lightly felted on the backing, paying attention to light and dark areas.
Three layers to make this background. First is carded wool, then a layer of sparkly acrylic fibres, then thin layer of silk hankie over the top.
I use dyed silk mawata (hankie) over the top to emphasise the dark and light areas as needed. The mawata is very thin but gives the whole area a shimmer and helps gently hold down the nylon and wool fibres for a smoother finish. I use very light gauge needles for this to keep the smooth finish. It takes longer to felt but avoids bunching of the fibres and larger holes.
Moving on to filling in the shapes with wool, silk and nylon shimmer. I had to be careful to keep the depths similar for each colour and type so it all fits together well at the end and to needle the edges well on each shape for accurate, strong lines. This was by far the longest process of the whole piece!
Filling in the bottom with mawata silk over wool. The wool behind is needed to cushion and add depth, silk on its own would not felt and is too fine and thin to give good coverage. This also gives me a break from tiny rectangles before moving on to circles!
Skin tones are tricky. Natural camel fibre is most helpful! It's also very soft and felts easily which is good for small details and skin texture.
Faces and feet! This piece is about 45cm overall so the faces are not big. Small details like this are challenging with fibre because a single fibre out of place changes it. There is usually a fair amount of leeway working with fibre in that you can remove and adjust even after you've needled something, however there is a limit and with small details it's all too easy to overwork something by needling to much or correcting in one spot. Sometimes better to let the flaws be.
Lines, triangles and spirals give the finishing touch! I used spun yarn and shiny golden silk for these. Everything is needle felted to keep it in place.
This was an inspiring piece to make and I'm now planning more pieces of my own in a Klimt style. Look out for the hares!
See a video of the making of this piece here...