On 23rd April, as part of the international project Creative Waves – Baltic Sisterhood for Change, Intercult Sweden held a workshop with Intercult artistic director Wieslawa Tokarska. Participants joined the event at Intercult’s office at Södermalm in Stockholm to learn more about how to make jewelry made of felt, wool and amber (stone).
Wieslawa Tokarska is a trained seamstress and for 20 years she has had her own sewing studio for women’s clothing in Poland. There she designed and sewed party dresses, wedding dresses and clothes for dance competitions. She has been knitting and crocheting since primary school. Over the years, she combined sewing with traditional craft techniques and new designs, in the beginning as a hobby and eventually as a versatile, artistic profession. Wieslawa is today retired and a well-known expert in various traditional craft techniques. She teaches women in Poland and in Sweden craft techniques, e.g. how to work with felt, silk, lace, embroidery, stones and pearls, teach how to make scarves in felt and silk from delicate Australian merino wool, blouses, jackets and bags. She also creates different types of jewelry.
- Wieslawa Tokarska opened the workshop by telling the participants about the materials; wool, felt and amber that she uses to create her jewelry.
- The next step in the process was to choose which leaf shape the jewelry should mimic. Wieslawa showed two different patterns / stencils of leaves that you place on the blanket and then cut out to proceed from.
- When all the participants had chosen the shape they wanted, cut it out of the blanket, it was free to choose which colors their jewelry would have. The fine wool came in several different shades and you could use just a few or as many colors as you wanted.
- After the participants carefully laid thin layers on layers of wool, on both the front and back side, they all placed their stone in the middle of the front of the jewelry and also covered that part with a layer of wool. When these steps were completed, Wieslawa showed the participants her technic that binds together the materials – where plastic base, soap and water are needed. In order for the wool to stabilize and for the stone to stick, an abundant amount of water is sprayed directly on the material and also one to two pumps of liquid soap. Then we folded the plastic base, so that the plastic covers the entire back and front of the jewelry, and then added even more water and soap directly to the plastic.
- Now the needlework begins! To tie together the materials – that create the beautiful surface of the jewelry – you need to intensively polish / massage with your hand on the plastic that lies over the jewelry. Maintain a hard and even pressure with one hand on the stone, so that it does not move, and with the other hand polish / rub the materials together until the stone is completely firm.
- When the stone is completely solid – you cut the details of the flattened wool according to the shape of the leaf stencil. Then you have to wait until the wool is completely dry to do the finishing steps of the jewelry.
- The last step in transforming the felt, wool and stone into a beautiful, traditional Polish piece of jewelry is to carefully cut off a small piece of the wool layer that lies over the stone and fold the edges of the jewelry to mimic a leaf. When the stone is visible and the edges have volume, you can choose whether you want to make a necklace, of twisted wool, to hang the jewelry in or maybe sew a brooch pin on the back.