The Process of Making Felt Cones (Ft. Joseph Beuys)

February 13, 2018

When humans crawl, we do so on our hands and knees, rather then our hands and feet like the majority of 4 legged animals. This is because we have involved to have much longer legs than our arms and there for when crawling we rest on our knees in order to keep our backs straight. The idea behind these prosthesis is to be able to walk more like a four legged creature by extending the arms downwards. This will create a more natural looking four legged silhouette as most non human mammals walk on all fours with a relatively flat back.


So I began making my coned limb prosthesis. I originally approached the staff in the 3D workshop but found it do be less encouraging, I found it hard to communicate my ideas to another person in regards to making a physical thing. I've found that I don't like talking about things before I've made them to others, the second it leaves my mouth it already feels like its less likely I'm going to do it and it all ends up being a big deal and I start not wanting to do it for fear it might fail. I think work is better when I try to shorten the 'planning' period of the production. This is in part why I found that explaining myself to the staff in 3D problematic as they encourage planning and measuring which kind of takes all the enough of the work and I'm not really sure what I'm making until I've made it. Instead I quickly went down to trago and grabbed some wooden dowling and simply taped a rough frame of the prosthetic (seen below). Around this I made a slim cone shape with brown card and a glue gun creating a rough skeleton for the prosthetic. 

 I wanted to cover the cones in a material akin to something animal like. The last cone I made was from animal skin but it was rather stiff and difficult to work with. This time I handmade my own felt. I am dawn to felt because of it's smooth, warm but also coarse qualities. I recall aspects of Joseph Beuys' work, he often used materials such as fat and felt that were meant to conjure up a sensation of insulation and warmth. Both materials also refer to the body, as felt is made by compressing fibres or hair.


Here is were the long and methodical process of wet felting comes in. First all the fibres of the wool must be carded, this process involves taking 2 brush-like objects called carders and brushing out all the fibres so they are uniform. Then I layer the fibres out in the large cone shape I wanted. Then we start the wet felting, the fibres are covered in water and soap and then agitated. Through a long process of rolling and rubbing the fibres over time they start to form felt (the bubble wrap is used to keep the felt in place and further add friction). After this the felt is rinsed, left to dry and then sewn on to the cone skeleton made earlier. 









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