Nuno felting process

Kathy Allen

Shroud. Artist: Kathy Allen. Title: Immersion Into Inner Peace. Dimensions: 2100 x 3200 mm

Artist: Kathy Allen

Type: Shroud

Title: Immersion Into Inner Peace

Dimensions: 3200 x 2100 mm

Materials: merino & corriedale wool rovings; ahimsa, corn and seaweed silk

Why did you choose to work on a shroud rather than a coffin?

I liked the idea of making something that I could wrap myself up in and be safe and at peace.

What materials have you used for your artwork?

The backing material is called tissue silk. It is very fine with an open weave allowing the fibres to felt through to the back and become secure. The main colours are either Corriedale or merino wool rovings. This is wool from sheep that has been dyed and combed and then made into a roving. The shroud also has Ahimsa silk, Peace silk or it is also known as Vegan silk. I have also used silk made from Corn and Seaweed. All silk was purchased from a Western Australian Silk Wholesaler and the fibres were purchased from 2 small businesses in South Australia.

What is the story behind your artwork. What does it represent about you and your life story?

When I was given the choice about making either a shroud or coffin I was thinking that it would be easier to store a shroud than trying to find a place for a coffin that the grandkids wouldn’t make a cubby in. Once I was set on the idea of the shroud I thought how it would be great to make something that could be used when I go to a retreat each year. I liked the idea of having something that can offer me comfort, warmth, a feeling of peace as well as being charged with the energy of those around me, then using the shroud when it is time. Being wrapped in something that has had a lot of meaning during my living days and then having that same energy and warmth gives me some comfort of the unknown.

When researching what materials to use, the one thing to adhere to was that it had to be easy to break down and no impact on the environment. All the materials used can be broken down over time. I liked the idea of using silk with the wool. What I was not happy with was using silk that was made the normal inhumane way. This lead me to learn about Ahimsa silk or vegan silk. The process takes longer to harvest the silk but it means that no silk worms are harmed in the making of it. The silk backing is not vegan but the cost of vegan silk material is extremely expensive. My small gesture of using the vegan silk as well as the other types of silk mentioned above has been used both entwined in the design work as well as laying down on top of the wool and being felted.

The method used is called nuno felting. This is when the wool fibres are agitated and come through the silk or open weave material, anchoring themselves and forming a strong bond. It is a long process with a lot of steps and work to ensure that you have a strong hold on the silk material.

What are 3 things you have learned from being part of the eco coffin project?

  • I have learnt that we never know what others are going through and that at times of need a group of people who did not know each other before can form a close bond to comfort each other when its needed.
  • The impact that we have on the environment can carry through long after we have gone and that it is in our hands to made a change.
  • We have more control then we think on the kind of death and burial we want.

What is one thing you will do (or have done already) differently as a result from being part of the project?

By attending the Eco coffin course it has strengthened my wish to work in palliative care and have options available for those who don’t want to go through the so called traditional or as society sees it as the normal way of burying our loved ones.

Any other thoughts or comments you would like to add?

Some links for more information on nuno felting and materials I used


The Eco Coffin Project is such a fantastic program. The knowledge of the speakers, the depth of wisdom and caring nature of our facilitator Abby really made it easier to talk about a subject that majority shun away from.

Whilst Weekly meetings for the Eco Coffin Project were stalled through the spread of COVID-19, it still was able to be completed through the sheer determination and strength of Abby. Nothing was too much trouble for Abby. The organising of guest speakers, making sure that everyone was okay, checking in with us all and organising the zoom meeting.

Having a safe place to talk and know that others were feeling the same was so beneficial especially when we heard about the sudden death of Murray. If I had the chance I would jump at the chance to do it again.

Miss you Rob xxx

Well, I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
Yes, I had a dream
I stood beneath an orange sky
With my brother standing by
With my brother standing by
I said Brother, you know you know
It’s a long road we’ve been walking on
Brother, you know it is, you know it is
Such a long road we’ve been walking on
(Orange Sky by Alexi Murdoch )

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