Dungog artist creating hand made fashion at her own pace

HANDMADE: Gerdi Schumacher at Dungog by Design with some of her felted creations.

HANDMADE: Gerdi Schumacher at Dungog by Design with some of her felted creations.

In this fast paced world, Dungog’s Gerdi Schumacher is creating high fashion felted garments, accessories and artworks the natural way -  and at her own pace.

From the selection of the super fine wool fleece to the formulation of the natural fabric dyes to the felting process itself, Gerdi does everything by hand.

Felting is an ancient process of separating, tangling, and relocking animal fibres which is older than spinning and weaving.

She grows plants specifically for use in her dyeing and specializes in madder dyes with their unmistakable colours.

According to Gerdi from the moment she starts to work the felt, the fun begins.

“Each piece is individual and unique," she said.

“The creations emerge as successive layers of fleece and silk are combined to produce a pleasing design.

“Rolling and massaging the felt is a relaxing and almost meditative feeling.

“When you are felting time goes quickly but the pleasure of working the felt lasts.

Gerdi started experimenting with felting when she came to Dungog in 2006.

“I had some background in sewing and textiles but I soon became hooked on felting," she said.

“Felting is tactile and hands on and combines many different types of textile and fabric techniques.

“But because of the very nature of the process you never know what will emerge.

“It is the glorious uncertainty of felting that keeps you constantly trying something new and different to achieve that special look and feel of one of garment or accessory”, she said.

Widely recognized as one of the leading felters in the region Gerdi credits the local environment and landscape as her inspiration.

“The earthy colours and bold shapes of the region in the dry and vivid valley greens of the wet times never fail to spur my imagination, she said.

Last year Gerdi's felted day dress earned her a win in the "sustainable wearable art category" at the Fleece to fashion awards in Armidale.

Gerdi is a longtime member of the Dungog By Design (DBD) group, which has its gallery and shop in Dowling Street.

In its third  year the group provides a creative outlet for many of the area’s best artists and artisans in a wide range of styles and techniques.

The strength of DBD is its members and the group is actively seeking new volunteer members.

Contact them via email - dungogartisans@gmail.com or visit the gallery in 224 Dowling Street, Dungog.