The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

Altered States – Giving an Artist Talk

Artwork by Liz, Exhibition

I was one of several artists invited to give a 5-minute artist talk on Thursday 21 September about how it felt to take part in the WAFTA Altered States challenge exhibition. See below for the notes I used to jog my memory as I spoke.

Alpaca fleece stitched into net bags, pegged onto line "hammock style" for drying.

Alpaca fleece stitched into net bags, pegged onto line “hammock style” for drying.

Initial reaction

What a hodge podge of materials! How on earth do you marry up a beaded cocktail dress with smelly alpaca! And a guitar string with Watsonia leaves.

I think I’ll just put the whole lot back in the bag for now and leave it out of reach of my dog who is showing an unhealthy interest in the contents.

Initial Ideas

  • Make a triple-humped camel-like animal with a yellow beak wearing snow shoes and dressed to party.
  • A book of caricatures of the people who dreamed this challenge up. I didn’t like my attempts to create a scroll from that ridiculously stretchy cocktail dress.
  • It has a sort of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” feel to it – maybe I could sculpt or collage a scene from the novel. Mmm maybe not – this is going to be a public exhibition.
  • What is the smallest possible thing I could make? If I cut just a snippet from everything and roll it in glue I could a make a tiny fabric marble.

Adornment – that’s the direction I want to go in generally. Can I make a jewellery item from this lot?


At the very least I can make a bead from everything else and string it on that carpet yarn. Ok, let’s go with the necklace idea.

I didn’t want to destroy the “good” things like the magazine and the pattern that had never been used. So, I trimmed all the excess paper from the pattern so that it can be used to make a very flattering prom dress and bolero for someone ¼ my age. And I used the Subscriber Newsletter to make some beads rather than cut into the mag. Free to any taker….

I decided I could cut into the dress (it had been repaired several times already) and use the doily as embroidery thread (as it was unravelling all by itself).

And me being me, I carded ALL the alpaca over a period of 2 days. My dreams of whiter than white, snuggly soft felt evaporating as 90% of it ended up either on my black apron or all over the house.

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

The state of my apron after spending 2 days carding all the alpaca fleece by hand.

Washed and carded alpaca fleece.

Washed and carded alpaca fleece.

The challenge is supposed to be confidence-boosting so I went with that as my theme for the necklace.

The Benefits

I found making paper beads and embroidered beads very relaxing.

I enjoyed the designing – for balance, comfort, weight, fastening.

I enjoyed keeping it “secret” – after my initial blunder of posting about it on my blog – but I did show one or two people (hands up who didn’t show anyone!).

I learned that there is such a thing as a “closed” FB group and enjoyed the camaraderie of that – making friends with people I’d never met.

I really enjoyed the associated Textile Technique Toolbox workshops – thank you to all the tutors.

I “pushed through” the “OMG – everyone else’s is much better than mine” barrier.

It was more FUN than I expected it to be.


One thought on “Altered States – Giving an Artist Talk

  1. Well, aren’t you going to show us the result. And some more detail about the beads that were so relaxing to make? I’m hanging here!

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