A ‘Rosalind Stoddart’ piece combines luxury with truly sustainable practices. Every scarf, cushion or wall hanging is a personal journey of discovery, exploring what I can achieve using natural resources and traditional techniques.
To make my beautiful art, I always start with the fleece from my gentle, inquisitive alpacas who live in the field behind my studio.
Once a year in early summer, their fleece is sheared by specialists. When sheared, the fleece is delivered to the East Anglian Alpaca Mill, an eco-friendly midi-mill who only work with alpaca fleece. They wash and card (comb) the fleeces for me to use with felting techniques or they spin it into yarn for weaving and sewing. The processed fleeces are then returned, still white, for me to begin experimenting with colour.
Aside from the fleece, I sometimes use an open weave fabric, such as silk chiffon or silk gauze, which are particularly important when I’m nuno-felting. These delicate, non-stretch fabrics provide an exquisite base for items like scarves and throws.
COLOURS AND DYES
My love of colour has always been central to my work.
Manmade dyes can give urban, bold areas of colour, but I am now so enticed into the alchemy and often softer shades of creating dyes from the plants I cultivate and find naturally growing in my garden, that this is all I am going to use in the future. Onions, nettles, woad, acorns, Japanese Indigo, Coreopsis, ivy and comfrey create the natural, earthy colour palettes you see in my latest pieces, with increasing colour experimentation coming in the future.
It is a far longer dyeing process, using natural dyes. First I plant the seeds, grow the plants, harvest the flower, seeds or leaves as and when they are developed and then sometimes dry them, long before I can start dyeing the alpaca fleece. The plant that I am having to be most patient with, is Madder. I planted the seeds early 2022 and I will be able to harvest the precious roots at the end of 2024, and then dry them for two years before I can use them. I hope I will then get the wonderful reds and pinks I can only dream of at present.
I am a trained painter, but the alpacas and my ‘field to studio’ approach have given me a new direction to explore different skills. Nevertheless, my work continues to be centred on colour, line, form and abstract designs, with each individual piece created from intensely meaningful conceptual ideas that come from within me.
Weaving: Weaving is a method of textile production where two distinct sets of yarns or threads are interlaced at right angles to form a fabric or cloth. I often use weaving like a canvas, as a painter would. I work on both a rigid heddle loom and frames of various sizes to create tapestry pieces.
Felting: Felting is the process where I can make my alpaca fibres bond together by the fibres being laid out in different direction one lay on top of another, gently adding warm soapy water and working into it through pressing and rolling. This can form a fine or thick material according to quantity of fibre and care of processing.
Nuno-felting: Nuno-felting is not widely known, yet it is a skill that can result in a very fine, flowing material where my alpaca fleece is hand-bonded into silk or another ‘open’ weave material using nothing more than soapy water and hard work! Its airy versatility is intoxicating.
Hand-sewn: Whether it’s intricate decoration detail or part of the structure of the piece, I hand sew everything by hand using alpaca yarn.