Felt craft products are seen all over Kathmandu – in every shop in Thamel there are brightly coloured felt products as mobiles, kids toys and decorations. This isn’t a craft that is indigenous to Nepal or a product that local Nepalese use, but over the years, it seems to have been started by handicraft units within charities around the valley. Never the less, they make beautiful products and it is a major handicraft export in Nepal.
Our leather workshop NLT (Nepal Leprosy Trust) had asked me if I was interested in creating some felt products to help give work to several women they had trained up in felt work, as they needed work throughout the year. Though I love the brightly coloured (rangichangi in nepali!) look seen in the gift shops, I wanted to create something more subtle and classic in colours that would work for AURA QUE. We developed the ISTA felt bag with felt panels that are stitched into the bag shape, with zip closure and lining, which has been a really popular design. There is also our BUNNU felt basket, made in panels that are cut into 1-inch strips, woven into the basket shape and stitched in place, it’s a long process!
The LILA felt purses are made from one piece with the recycled plastic ‘resist’ inside to give the opening and mould the felt wool fibres around. The lining and zip are hand-stitched into each piece.
This summer I went on a felting craft workshop with some friends, (see on our AURA QUE BRIGHTS Instagram feed - @auraque_brights!) which offered fresh insight and got me excited to take my new inspiration and skills and develop new products within this material group, when I am next in Nepal in April.