Samantha Pope has spent the last six years developing the art of machine embellishing in Australia. A machine embellisher is similar to a sewing machine but there is no bobbin case and the foot of the machine is fitted with a cluster of felting needles rather than a sewing needle. The barbed felting needles punch their way through the fabric entangling the fibres to create a new textile form.
As an accomplished machine embroiderer, Samantha had been teaching sewing and overlocking for many years when the owner of Melanns Fabric’s and Sewing Centre in Adelaide asked her to `have a go’ with this new type of machine they had just started selling. Fortuituously, that same year Samantha had just bought her first Felbi prefelt from Fibre Fusion and had been wondering what to do with it. Samantha had wet felted once or twice but as creative machining was her passion, she began to experiment with Felbi Prefelts on the new machine embellisher. It was to be a long term association.
Living on a farm near Murray Bridge in South Australia , Samantha is a dedicated volunteer firefighter with the CFS, the local fire fighting service. Samantha drew on these experiences to design her first bushfire inspired wrap, pictured here. It was created by folding a log Felbi into a triangle and placing pieces of red Lame´ in between the layers then needle felting around the edges of the inserts, overlaying black wool fibres around the edges to secure the lame´. Other fabrics were also appliquéd onto the wrap along with yarn and wool fibres.
Samantha places her Felbi on the embellisher and just “experiments and plays and see what happens”. A very common practice amongst textile artists. She incorporates lots of different fibres, both natural and synthetic into her works.Samantha has graduated from a 6 needle to a 12 needle machine embellisher which now allows her to complete large projects like vests and coats.
Samantha usually works on two layers of Felb prefelt, often embellishing Divine Wooltops and other mediums on top. The Felbi prefelt is embellished over about 3 times up, down and around. Samantha finds the shrinkage rate on the Felbi prefelt is about 10-15 percent. She doesn't do any wet felting but finishes her work by immersing the final article in a bucket of boiling water with a dash of wool wash. This is then doused in a bucket of cold water to shock the fibres and then the hot/cold process repeated again.
Six years later and Sam is still designing, creating and machining embellishing Felbi Prefelts and Divine Wooltops to create wraps, vests and coats. She now runs her own machine embellishing workshops using Felbi prefelts, creates her own line of garments and scarves, exhibits regularly and to date has written over 45 aricles for different magazines on machine embellishing and machine embroidery. Her website has a comprehensive list of her articles, current workshops and garments at www.samanthapopecreations.com . She also has an etsy shop “textureluscious” at www.etsy.com .
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