Beneath The Folds – Using Wool To Embellish Textile Art

Using Wool to Embellish Textile Art

Using Wool To Embellish Textile Art

In it’s natural form fleece is coarse and dense with an oily texture. The flower heads in ‘Abstract Flower Design C’ were created using fleece collected from the Yorkshire Moors. I removed debris and washed it in a mild detergent, pulling and teasing to create a workable structure.

Natural fleece, collected from The Yorkshire Moors, creates abstract flower heads.
Abstract Flower Design C

Using Wool To Create Textile Art

I love to recycle materials in my work. The textile body of ‘Cancer 2: Mastectomy’ was created from the lining of an old sofa with the degraded structure capturing beautifully an expression of strength and fragility.

Strength and fragility in 'Cancer 2: Mastectomy'
Strength and fragility in ‘Cancer 2: Mastectomy’

Using Wool To Embellish Textile Art

Cloth, blankets and jumpers provide a dense structure effective in surface contouring. The process of layering can create real depth within a flat design. ‘Fur Pocket’ offers a contrast between the thick bouncy structure of a natural fleece and the density of manufactured products.

Using layering to create surface contouring in 3D Textiles
Layering creates surface contouring in Textile art

In contrast to a dense structure open weave knits are effective as overlays to add depth and contouring. The caramel mohair in ‘Old Ted’ captures the essence of time, pulled and knotted to express the wear and tear of a beloved childhood teddy bear.

Open weave wool textures are effective in layering
Pulling and knotting an open weave is effective in expressing the ageing process 


The thickness and texture of commercial wool varies greatly. Mohair is a favourite because it is light and versatile. I loved making wool pompoms as a child and use them in my work to create mobile fringes. The application of layering creates volume and natural movement. A great way to build seasonal colour. ‘Springtime’ has an immense fringe.

Using wool pompoms to embellish 3D Textile Art with a mobile fringe
Natural movement within the contouring of a wool fringe

Plaits, knots and tassels are used to create volume and depth within the beard of ‘Jesus 1’

Plaiting, knotting and threading beads onto wool to create depth
Plaiting, knotting and threading beads creates real depth within the beard of ‘Jesus 1’


French knitting with a bobbin is another favourite from childhood. I used this method in ‘Autumnal 1’ to embellish edges, raising the surface depth, adding a variety of texture.

Using french knitting to create surface depth
Note the variety within the textures of wool

French knots provide effective detail in ‘Summertime’

Large french knots provide intricate detail
Large french knots provide intricate detail

In contrast a thin ply creates less density and is more pliable. Effective in embellishing surfaces with mark making, adding colour and narrative.

Embellishing surfaces with french knots and mark making techniques
A thin ply is more versatile in mark making

Loops give effective detail to abstract flowers in ‘Angel Wings’

Wool loops provide fragile depth to abstract flowers in 'Angel Wings'
Fragile depth with loops

Hand Embroidery

Original poetry provides an emotional layering to textiles , capturing the essence of a subject, and is hand embroidered in both wool and silk threads. Note the contrast between the two in ‘The Poor Laws: These are the Things’. The thicker the wool the larger the lettering needs to be, producing a bold statement.

Using wool and silk threads to embroider poetry in textiles
Capturing the essence of emotion in wool and silk threads

I hope you have enjoyed Using Wool To Embellish Textile Art.  Visit my website for more examples by CHRISTINE CUNNINGHAM.

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