A firm favourite of the Phoenix Studio, we are so delighted that Mikaela only teaches a course once a year, and that is with us! We have never had a course sell out so quickly as hers did last year and we fully expect the same this year.
Her woolly animals are an absolute joy to behold – so full of character, wonder and mischief. They have so much presence and distinction, Mikaela’s work is a shining example of how traditional craft practise can be elevated to fine art!
On this workshop you will spend five summer days at the beautiful Phoenix Studio making a woolen mammal sculpture of your choice, using a wire armature and a selection of natural and dyed wool, using various needle felting techniques.
The wire armature is wrapped in a cream ‘core wool’ before applying the coloured wool for details and fur textures. The sculpture can be free-standing or secured onto a base, please feel free to bring with you a piece of driftwood or natural wood base that you would like to use. It’s also possible to use upholstery foam as a base which will be supplied allowing for more adventurous poses.
Mikaela will be with you every step of the way to guide you from building the wire armatures, blending colours, achieving different fur textures, and adding details such as eyes, nails, and whiskers. An openness to experimenting with needle felting techniques is essential for this course. She will show you techniques gathered on her needle felting journey but as Mikaela has learned by experimenting and trial and error, she feels there is no right or wrong way in creating your wool sculpture.
We’ll focus on more basic techniques for beginners and more advanced techniques for more experienced needle felters.
Meet and greet of students. Introduction with a demonstration of making armatures by observing the animals’ skeletal anatomy and body form, using wire and core wool, manipulating the pose to bringing life and personality.
Starts with a demonstration of how to blend wool fibres to achieve the colours needed for your top coats. Mikaela will also show you techniques for short and long fur.
Concentrating firstly on the head, she will demonstrate how to add eye details with wool, form ear shapes, and create noses.
Demonstration of paws, including nails and how to attach them, working our way up to the torso adding colour along the way.
Students to continue adding ‘fur’ to the torso of the sculpture, adding tails and whiskers.
Even if the students are not able to complete their pieces due to scale, they will all have the knowledge needed to finish their work at home.
This fun course includes:
- Informal, relaxed & attentive guidance for every student, provided by Mikaela Bartlett (James Ort will be helping everyone to get started on the first day too if his help is required)
- A series of demonstrations showing…
- How to create and construct your wire armature
- How to ‘pad out’ your sculpture capturing muscle tone and form
- How to cover your form with several needle felting techniques, how to create fur textures, and tips on how to bring character to the form.
Anyone regardless of experience, we’ll focus on more basic techniques for beginners and more advanced techniques for more experienced felters.
We generally limit the age to 14 years old+ though exceptions can be made where appropriate. Please contact James Orts and ask.
What is included in the price?
- Five full days tuition (10am-4.30pm)
- Basic materials, Mikaela will select a wool selection suited to your chosen mammal but please feel free to bring any of your own wool fibres you may have.
- Tea, coffee, biscuits and cakes
- Use of a beautiful, purpose built art studio with all the equipment & materials you will need
- Beautiful countryside setting
This course is for you if:
- You want to explore your creativity but lack the confidence to do so on your own
- You don’t want to be limited by ‘traditional art forms’ and instead wish to become a creative magpie!
- You want to get away from it all and immerse yourself in a fun, beautiful, creative environment
- You sometimes feel a bit intimidated by sculpture. This is a fun way of realising you can play with the attitude and pose of your animal up to the last minute
Pre course prep
- You will be asked to provide Mikaela with details on which animal you would like to sculpt no later than 2 weeks before the course. Bring good reference photos from several angles and of the skeletal form.
- You will be sent an automated email on booking which prompts you towards documents that help you prepare for your time here. If this does not happen then please email James before the course.
If you are travelling from further afield and would like to stay in the area for your visit then have a look at our recommend B&Bs and hotels. Click here for the list.
Beyond The Course
Having completed a Phoenix Studio course many of our students choose to explore the medium further. They may come on another weekend course, start coming on our Phoenix Art Club Zoom Sessions or carry on independently at home. We are more than happy to help and advise you in taking those first creative steps!
ABOUT THE TUTOR
Mikaela has been sculpting with wool for the last seven years. Having discovered needle felting and having a background in ceramic sculpture, she realised that she could use the same technique as her clay sculptures, wrapping wool round wire armatures, compressing and sculpting the wool with a single barbed needle. Mikaela loves the possibilities of blending wool for instant colour and the ability to add fine details just by using wool fibres and a felting needle.
Inspired mostly by British wildlife, she loves to sculpt the animal form, attempting to capture the movement and personalities of these beautiful creatures.
I love coming to teach at the Phoenix Studio – its such a wondeful venue. I really enjoying sharing my techniques with others in such a beautiful space, I find it is so inspiring for my own practise.
Mikaela Bartlett – Course Tutor