It’s not new, but that is the beauty of it. Shambolic, when you look up the meaning of the word, is chaotic, cluttered, messy, muddled, and untidy, but that is what I love about shambolic felt.
My first exposure to it was in a class taught by Marlene Greuter where we made a shambolic jacket. Our pre-workshop assignment was to put together a collection of articles of silk clothing from second hand shops. How fun was that—my kind of homework assignment!
The colors I chose were in the teal and salmon families, augmented with cream, black, and a spritz of glitz. (See photo) I finished my jacket about mid-day on the last day of class and decided to make a matching scarf from my leftover pieces of silk. From that class forward I was infatuated with the technique. I have not made another jacket, but have felted, wristlets, capes, scarves and hats using that same shambolic technique.
This felting method basically uses roving to “glue” together scraps of silk into a colorful mosaic piece of art wear. The more buttons, plackets, cuffs, ruffles, labels, pockets, or other ready-made clothing parts you can leave intact and incorporate, the funkier the look and the more shambolic the project.
To make a shambolic scarf, I start by cutting and sorting my silks. I like to add in some pieces from my fabric stash just for variety. Each pile contains the same type of cloth from the same used garment. That way I can use it like a painter’s palette, picking and choosing my colors according to what color or texture I feel needs to be added.
First I lay down a long strip of roving, approximately the width of the scarf I want to make. Next I choose pieces from my silk piles and lay them down, generally following the roving. If some of the silk extends beyond the edge of the roving, I make certain I add roving underneath it. I am careful to lay narrow drafts of roving between two pieces of silk that overlap—more “glue.” I consider which parts of the scarf will have the most impact and show the most and strategically place buttons, ruffles and the like in those locations. I avoid putting those trimmings where they will be behind my neck when I am wearing the scarf. Sometimes I even narrow the scarf at the neck to make it more comfortable and to have a more natural drape.
Once the entire piece is laid out, I cover it with a very fine layer of spider-webby roving—so light it can hardly be seen. It may be invisible but it helps fasten the whole project together. My next steps are the usual felting, fulling and finishing that I would do with any felted item. I love the look of these shambolic items and have sold quite a few of them at the various art and/or craft shows and markets where I have had booths.