Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Talk on design and composition of felted wraps. Part 1 - Size and Shape

This is a translated transcript of the talk the Russian felt artist Maria Gladchenko (Мария Гладченко) has given as a part of Nina Demidova’s  project “Soapy Wednsdays”


Maria was educated as an artist and makes stunning wraps in her own technique (,), but this talk was on the subject of designing wraps and about composition mainly. I do not make wraps and may never do  but  consider the  design and composition of rather large felted items as very important and interesting on their own rights.

The transcript is rather schematic and has been written in basic language just to make the text shorter (and my job easier!). If you have even a basic command of spoken Russian I’d strongly recommend listening to original talk.

When you are thinking of designing and creating a luxurious wrap there are a lot to consider! Maria was very expressive about the history of using wraps, about their beauty and comfort but I came just to the list of what matters!

  1. Size After a lot of experiments Maria came to the size she consider as optimal – approx. 70cmx190cm. Of course the dimensions may be very individual, but this width allows you not only to drape the wrap beautifully around the shoulders but also to cover the lower back to give the feel of warmth and comfort.
  2. The back side of wraps. We can’t ignore the back side of the wrap because it’s always visible at least partly never mind how we try. There is no point of making the both sides equally ornate, a neat backside is enough. Very effective way is to have the back side in colours contrast to the front. Most preferable to create the back side plain, without images to avoid overwhelming and just to show off the decorative front side. 
  3. The wraps are accessories which take a prominent part in the women’s’ wardrobe partly because their size. The large size provides the designer (or feltmaker in our case) with huge variety of colours, shapes, patterns and so on to play with.
  4. Shape and border. Traditionally the wraps are of rectangular shape and very often have such a feature as a border which frames the main design and creates a finished item. The finished ends are very important especially in the case of wrap with small busy patterns in the main area. Without a proper border it may look just as piece of fabric cut off the roll and not as a finished piece.  It could be just a fringe at the short ends. Look at the example:



  Monotonous repetition of random or regular variety of small elements without a border (or a fringe in this case) will not look as an finished item but decorative border frames it and gives it a professional look. Here the border is matching in colour with the main design and frames the wrap.
    -       The border could contrast with the main area and create an additional decorative element.
    -        It could be the main or even the only focus point of the wrap – the main area could be plain and the border creates the main decorative feature of the wrap. 

-       Another way of creating the border – when the border gradually grows (in colour or shape) out of the central area. The centre is filled with tangled stems and there is a transition to flowers on the border.  It’s excellent artistic approach.  

-       If you create a border it’s better be distinctive feature – if the wrap is rectangular, the edges should be straight, in wraps with irregular shape the irregularity should be made obvious as artistic feature and not as an accidental error or just because you can’t cope with the proper shape.

-       If the border or the edges have some pattern in shape (waves, triangles) these shapes should be bold, the same as above.

-       The end of the wrap should be felted to perfections because they catch all the attention of the viewers and you could concentrate the main décor on them and leave the central area plain or at least more restrained in colour and design. It’s better to decide where you are going to put the main focus point. 

-       The use of the border as a separate decorative feature gives enormous space for your creativity. To create a border you can use: lace, fringe, locks, tassels, small felted ball, perforation with small holes – the choice is endless.   

-       Sometimes we could ignore the border altogether – mainly in the wraps of irregular shape where any kind of border is completely out of place.  
To be continued! In Part 2 - scale, balance, symmetry - is Here


  1. Thank you for taking the time to translate Galina! I haven't made wraps, but agree that the design information and thought process is interesting and can be applied to any felt project.

  2. Thanks for translating Galina, she has some interesting ideas that I hadn't considered before, like focussing the design details on the ends of the wrap.

    1. Nice to know that you find it useful. I hope to finish the rest by the next week.

  3. Thank you Galina - very interesting reading.