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About Mary

Fibre art is in my blood. My grandmother was a knitter and dressmaker, my mother a spinner and a weaver and so are my sister and brother. We all love colour and we all love texture.


I started weaving in 1979 followed by the weaving course at Nelson Polytechnic 1980/81 and have been weaving ever since. Felting was part of this training and that's where it all started. I feel fortunate to be part of this renaissance of felting that started in the early 80's.


I joined 'Focsle Weaving' co-operative in 1981 and joined the 'Seven Weavers' a year later. In 1987 I became a founding member of Fibre Spectrum, a hugely successful artists co-operate that is still thriving today. It is still the only place I sell my fibre art. I used to sell in Queenstown, Auckland and Christchurch but stopped because I couldn't make enough stock!


In 1998 I trained in massage which I do in between producing my felt work and my teaching.

Open for Classes
Thursdays & Saturdays
Phone (03) 546 6204 to book

Email me

Links to other websites:
Fibre Spectrum Co-operative
Creative Tourism

Joanne Weaving Studio

Felt is made from wool.  Add moisture and heat to wool, as well as pressure, and the fibres tighten, contracting into a dense mat.


As cream turns into butter, dough into bread and---- wool into felt : these things just happen with the help of our hands!


History & Description of felt: 

Felt is a non-woven cloth that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibres. While some types of felt are very soft, some are tough enough to form construction materials. Felt can be of any colour, and made into any shape or size. Felt is also a  practical material for our every day objects, i.e. inside pianos and cars, even cassette tapes, felt for carpets, felt-tipped pens tennis balls and many industrial products.



Felt: a second skin. From ancient times onwards, the amazing woolly fleece from sheep has been used to make felt which in addition of hides was essential for shelter.

Many people around the world still use felt in their daily lives from Scandinavia to South America and Central Asia as wonderful insulation from the harsh elements (useful near human
's skin for its insulation and water repelling properties.)


Felt is the oldest form of fabric known to humankind. It predates weaving and knitting, although there is archaeological evidence from the British Museum that the first known thread was made by winding vegetable fibres on the thigh. In Turkey, the remains of felt have been found dating back at least to 6,500 BC. Highly sophisticated felted artifacts were found preserved in permafrost in a tomb in Siberia and dated to 600 AD.

Many cultures have legends as to the origins of feltmaking. The story of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher relates that while fleeing from persecution, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks.


Nuno  - is the Japanese word for material. This moves us into a more contemporary use of  felt, seen especially in the fashion world. (A new take on an ancient material).

The 'Felters' have now adopted this name for any felt that has a background of fine material through which the fibres of fleece have entwined themselves through & onto which the felt has attached. This felting technique is especially drape able.


Mary says:

"I live in a garden of fleece, with vibrant colours emanating from every corner and space. It's colour that inspires me. Taking coloured fleece, melding and teasing until the tints and shades move, creating texture and colour that I then make into works of art that can be used, worn and appreciated". 


"I love watching the raw materials transform into functional art and I love working with natural materials. Dyeing, blending, felting, weaving, spinning, sewing and then producing works of art".


"I never run out of ideas ' it just feels like a bottomless pit of design that I haven't even glimpsed the bottom of yet. I am influenced by New Zealand bush, beaches, mountains and sky. I live with mounds of coloured wool that continually inspires and motivates me.

My creative designs become boots, belts, specialist items, bags, scarves, wall hangings, mobiles, jackets and waistcoats".


"I sell my work from Fibre Spectrum on Trafalgar Street in Nelson and am also kept busy making commission works". 

   Nuno, 3D, Flat Felt.

This is a chance to be creative -  to do something different.


My workshops are an experience. Just enough theory for it all to make sense and the rest of the time is spent making a felt project of your choice. Everyone gets to take something home a sample and a usable/wearable object. This can be a hat, scarf, bag, purse, mat, wall hanging or cushion.


People come for a variety of reasons and are designed for tourists as well as locals. I design the workshops to cater for experienced felters and beginners. I enjoy the variety of people who arrive at my studio and especially welcome the people who come again to experience further tuition, some come along on a regular basis. I offer tuition in 3D Felting, Flat Felting & Nuno Felting.

Workshops are One Day - between 10am and 4pm (approx. finish) and cost $130 including sample materials and tuition. Project materials are of various costs, usually $15 - $40.  Because the groups are so small I can tailor-make the day to suit everyone's individual needs, having between 1 - 5 participants.


I teach because I love it. There is nothing more satisfying than teaching something that has given me so much pleasure for the past 28 years. I started teaching in 1987.


I provide a choice of material kits  for the variety of techniques available. You can purchase pre-blended fibre, or blend your own colour way, (blending  fibre also prepares it for felting.) To do this you get tuition on using a Drum Carder, a Felting Needle, & layout fibre in Batt Form as well as using the Tile Method.

We will experiment with different fleece types -  English Leicester for the coarser breed, Romney, midway & Merino at the fine end.

The diversity of  the types of felt, is as far ranging, as from Yurts to silky fine scarves.

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