Ever thought of leaving the grey skies of England behind and swapping them for the sun-drenched hills of Andalucía? Ever thought of having a change from the familiar pet cat or budgie and opening your heart instead to a herd of alpacas?
That’s exactly what Diana Worthy has done. When she moved to Spain, Diana already had an interest in textiles. She began weaving, but soon lost interest in the straight lines of warp and weft. Then, in about 2008, while searching for a more lively form of textile, she began experimenting with felting the wool from her new pets - a herd of alpacas.
Although she learned a lot about felting from books, she gained much of her knowledge from her own experimentation. Despite having been told that it’s impossible to felt alpaca, she soon fell in love with the fluid, unpredictable nature of her new medium. She became what she calls a “painter in fibres”, doing things to wool that “you would never do to your favourite jumper”.
By layering, soaping and rubbing, she learned to create a strong welded fabric that could be cut and moulded into wall hangings, pictures, and 3D forms. She finds herself constantly surprised by how each layer of colour merges with the one beneath and above, creating blends and effects that “always end up better than expected”. She told me that the more you put in, the more you get back in terms of movement and creativity. Each piece gives ideas for further projects. “There is no limit to what you can make with felt.” Also, there are no rules – “if it works, it works”.
Diana’s next projects will involve working more in three dimensions, producing pieces like the one to the right and above.
She recently sold a landscape called ‘The Caves at Nerja 2’ during the Heat and Chaos exhibition at the Beetroot Tree Gallery in Draycott, Derbyshire. www.thebeetroottree.com