My art group met a couple of days ago and our project this time was screen printing on fabric and paper. A mix of screen printing medium and acrylic paint was used to print a ‘resist’ pattern on to the fabric or paper. The screen printing medium we used was Golden brand and you mix half medium and half paint. This can be done with white paint or any color depending on the desired effect. It might work to print on felt but I haven’t tried that. But feel free to experiment 🙂
We mainly used EZ screens that we had made quite a while ago. These screens are made with black and white images that have been printed on transparency film. Once the screens are made, you can re-use them multiple times. With this process, you have to be very careful that the acrylic paint and medium do not dry in the screen or you will ruin the screen.
Here you can see some of the results after screen printing. We only used two colors, white and a deep red. The photo on the left shows the same screen printed on two different types of paper and a piece of fabric. On the left, you can see what the printing looks on already colored fabric.
Here’s a little closer view on white fabric and on colored fabric. Once the acrylic is dry, then you can add color to the fabric or paper. You can use a fiber reactive dye for this process or you can use a thin paint such as Dye-Na-Flow. We used Dye-Na-Flow since it was fewer steps than dyeing.
Here are a few after drying and seeing them a bit closer. I printed on paper so I will be using mine in collages most likely. Hopefully, at some point, I will show you what the rest of the group creates with their printed fabric. As usual, we had a great day and had fun creating together.
It is almost a year to the day that I gave up my day job of setting up clinical trials of new drugs for hospital patients to pursue my dream of making felt full-time.
A post on FB this week, prompted me to reflect on why I made that choice. One year in to my new adventure and the start of a new year, this seems like a good place to pause and take stock.
The post on FB asked us to choose the 3 main reasons why we chose to use our creative talents to go self-employed because lets face it, most of us don’t do it for the financial rewards, if economic security is top of your agenda, going self-employed in the creative arts is likely to be low on your list of employment choices.
This is the list of values to choose from but you are welcome to add your own, they came from Shannah Kennedy’s book: Simplify, Structure, Succeed.
Which 3 did you choose?
Freedom and Health: being self-employed means I can go for a 2 hour run or a long walk in the middle of the day if I want to, being able to down tools and go outside when the sun is shining has made me far more physically active and the psychological benefits of spending more time outside, in our beautiful British countryside, means I am far less stressed. This also relates to biophilia (see below) which is also supported by working with wool.
I also love that I don’t have to get up a silly o’clock in the morning to sit in traffic jams with thousands of other equally miserable people trying to get to the office before 9 am. There’s a lot to be said for home-working!
Order/stability : I found working in the corporate world could be incredibly stressful, every 2-3 years we would have a new VP, none of them could ever accept that the systems installed by their predecessor worked just fine and so felt they needed to restructure the entire company in an effort to leave their mark, like dogs peeing on a lamppost. We were constantly working in a state of flux, trying to navigate new processes but never being allowed to do the same thing long enough to get good at it before a new VP would come along and change everything again!
I wouldn’t describe my life as particularly ordered; Einstein summed it up well, “If a messy desk reflects a messy mind, of what does and empty desk reflect?”. I am messy and proud! 🙂 But compared to the corporate world my current work-life does feel a lot more stable, my processes only change when I need them to, not because someone else is peeing on my lamppost!
Of course, one downside to being a self-employed maker is that many of us feel we have to take the work when it comes, this can lead to working 18 hour days but that is my decision to work long hours (not due to some arbitrary deadline set by a faceless manager) and if I don’t want to work that many hours, I can always refuse a commission or only accept it with an extended delivery deadline. There’s nothing to say you have to take on every piece of work that is offered to you, in fact I think there are some things you should always say no to, but that is a whole other post!
Biophilia: Not on the list I know, but I think it is very relevant for most of us. Those of you who make felt on a regular basis will understand the deep connection with nature and the past that it brings, taking natural fibres and thousands-year-old techniques to create beautiful works guided only by your imagination and what the materials want to do.
I recently discovered this connection with nature and the desire to surround ourselves with natural materials has a name; biophilia. It seems to be something of a trend in textile studies at the moment but of course felt-makers have been familiar with the concept (if not the name) for centuries 🙂
One of the respondents on the FB page also talked about how isolating it can be to be a creative working from home, she described how she has changed from an assertive, confident woman to feeling like a timid mouse. I felt so sad reading that but I can easily relate to where she is coming from. Working on your own, 7 days a week can be tough, even for introverts who are comfortable with their own company, I can only imagine it must be an impossible challenge for extroverts.
For me, while designing and making are where I find the most fulfilment in my work, I realise that attending fairs and teaching are what keeps me sane. I need that social interaction, while Pickle (my cat) is very chatty, his conversation is hardly what anyone would think of as intelligent.
If you mostly work alone, how do you find it? Do you have strategies for coping with the isolation?
I think we are social animals (even the introverts!), we need to connect with other humans and for me, I am finding I need to collaborate and share with others, Open Studio events and craft fairs are a great way to connect but are quite sporadic so I was chuffed to bits to spend a day with Janine and Nancy making winged vessels in Janine’s studio (she has a studio to die for!). I am already looking forward to our next play-date and hope this will become a regular event in our diaries. I have long admired Ruth’s creative textile gatherings and hope we can develop something similar.
I was updating my flickr page and had a look back over some old pieces when I found a photo of some textured felt I made a long time ago:
I think I made this piece in response to a World of Wool post asking for photos of pieces made from just their products. I used loads of different wools and fibres: Natural Merino tops, carded lambswool, English 56s, White Devon tops, washed Wensleydale, Washed BFL, washed Falkland, wool nepps, silk noil, silk hankie, silk carrier rods, natural bamboo tops, washed lambswool, Oatmeal BFL, grey and brown Merino, black jacob, grey Gotland, Grey Masham, Scoured grey/black lambswool. I made it using a felting technique of adding fabric and fibre scraps between layers of wool and sewing up the piece between sheer fabric and felting in a washing machine. One of the first pieces I made was this blue piece:
I used lots of fabrics and fibres on the piece including synthetic organza, silk fabric, silk noil, Bluefaced Leicester and Wensleydale locks, and dyed Icelandic wool and dyed carded lambswool. Here’s an angled close up which really shows the texture:
On this close up you can see the wool migration through some green synthetic organza:
The blue parts on this close up are dyed Icelandic wool, and the white parts are silk noil:
This is one of my favourite textured felt pieces, I had in mind a sunset over the sea:
I made a couple of bags with the technique, this is one of them:
I added a strap:
And this is another bag:
I can’t find any photos of it with a strap. I don’t do much self promotion, but what the heck, I like to eat now and again 😉 I just listed a quick guide on etsy for how to make the textured felt. It’s basically a slightly expanded version of the free tutorial on flickr, but in a handy PDF format. I thought I might make some more pieces using this technique so I’ll let you know how that goes!
I only made a small one as I didn’t have a lot of time. I made the resist about 4 inches across.
I wanted to make a 3 layer pot. The first layer is red and not wanting to just do a regular pot I added two silk cocoons.
After both sides were covered in red wool I wrapped it in plastic wrap.
After that I wrapped it in black wool more plastic wrap and then white wool. I have no pictures of those as my battery died in the phone. I rubbed it a while and then popped it in my heatless dryer to tumble and went off to work. That was a few days ago and I finally got back to it a bit this morning. I cut open the first layer.
and then the black and red
I left he plastic wrap on the inner layers and blew up a balloon in side it. I wrapped it up in plastic like a Christmas pudding. and popped it back in to the dryer for more tumbling.
Now I have you all exited, I have to say it’s not done. My studio was freezing this morning so I went back to the house to stay warm. I do not like working in the cold with cold wet wool. I will have to finish it this week and show you next week. Enjoy the anticipation. LOL It’s supposed to be the best part, isn’t it? Were you inspired to give a pot in a pot a try after last weeks post? How did it go?
Before I get started on my topic for today’s post, I wanted to show you the finish of Sanctuary. I added some weight to the left hand branches and I like it a lot better. Ann had suggested that I add something to the right foreground but I don’t think I am going to do that. For me, this piece is all about the tree being a sanctuary in a lonely place, a place for birds to perch and rest. So I am leaving it as is.
The photo on the left is when I showed it to you last week. The photo on the right is after I added a bit more yarn to the left side branches. It feels more balanced to me and I’m happy with it so it’s done. (The photo on the left is much more true to the real colors.)
Now on to making some Lutradur leaves. I have been meaning to do this for a while. Ever since Karen L. posted about making Lutradur leaves here. Hers are certainly a bit larger than mine and much more fancy but the process is definitely a simple one.
I had a piece of Lutradur that my friend Sally kindly gave me. The leaves on the left are real leaves and my inspiration source. I have trouble telling the difference between birch and aspen trees/leaves. These are one or the other 🙂 I sketched the first leaf out with all the veins. But after that, I just drew the leaf and stem shape and winged it with the veins.
Here they are after free motion machine stitching. (If you’d like to learn how to do this, I teach on online class here.)
Then I colored the leaves in with a variety of colors using Inktense pencils and watercolor crayons.
I added water with a paint brush and a few more details with more ink and watercolor. I then let these dry completely.
Then I cut/burned them out with a wood burning tool. Then I zapped them with a heat gun. They don’t need much heat and the Lutradur melts quickly so you have to be careful. Karen wanted hers to be much more lacy and deteriorated than what I wanted. I did have a plan for these when I started.
Do you remember these pieces? I had made them quite quickly for an exhibition in September. They didn’t sell and I felt like they all needed something else. So I added the Lutradur leaves.
And here they are with the added Lutradur leaves. What do you think? I definitely think the leaves added is an improvement and it brings all three pieces together more as a group. Hopefully, when I exhibit these again, they will draw more interest and perhaps a sale or two.
Do you rework pieces that aren’t selling or don’t seem to work for you? I would love to hear your solutions. Just join us on the forum so we can all discuss or critique something that isn’t working for you.
This year one of my brothers in law decreed we should not give gifts at Xmas. Oh no! But I love Xmas. It’s so fun to see if I have guessed right what everyone will like.
So this year I did 5×7 Xmas cards for our Oakville Xmas. That technically isn’t a present it’s a card. I had a plan.
OOPS I took Mom shopping 2 weeks before Xmas and had 3 bags of groceries; one just a bit heavier than the others. Ok, as soon as I lugged it into the house I knew it was too heavy. I lasted long enough to get everything into the fridge and realized I wasn’t doing anything else. I was much better after spending most of a week in bed being very uncomfortable, frustrated and all caught up on Xmas movies. So I was a week behind on Xmas and sure I had a bit longer until it arrived. (Surprise! It’s still on the 25th!) Drat!
My husband works for the post office so this year was going to be a very short visit. (The Post Office was open on monday Dec 24th.) The original plan was to drive for 5.5 hours arrive late on the 24th or early on the 25th drive back on the 26th so he could work on the 27th. He had requested to have Monday off so we could leave earlier but had to wait to see who else requested because it would go by seniority and there are a lot of more senior people working at his station. Thursday night he found out that he could have Monday off and we had a mad scramble to drop off Ottawa presents (before the freezing rain arived) and gather everything for the trip.
Friday started out with freezing rain changing to rain. I had collected my portfolio and a bag of various coloured fiber and a strip of the felted duvet that had been donated to the guild felters. I think I told you about that a while ago. I finally got to use a bit of mine and it worked very well. So if you acquire a felted wool duvet do not despair take it apart and use it for a base to felt on!
The drive down started with light rain changing to vary heavy rain eventually stopping and changing to decorative wisps of snow north of Toronto but nothing stayed on the very green ground we found in Oakville. There was an amazing decorated Xmas tree and Glenn’s Parents to greet us. so Green Xmas isn’t all bad.
No Snow in Oakville but a spectacular tree!
So Saturday morning I pulled out my bag of fiber and sent Glenn to find a cereal box in the recycling bin in the basement. I cut out part of one side and made a 5 x 7 window and sent the rest back to recycling. Then took over a corner of the dining room table. (My back still wasn’t very happy and decided that living room furniture was not to be tolerated but dining room chairs were fine – stupid back)
Hum what would my in-laws like on their card? Well we were definitely having a green Xmas and we hadn’t brought any snow with us (what little we had after the rain and freezing rain in Ottawa) ok, a snow scene it would be.
swirly application of fiber
adding a tree and a snowy slope
another tree and more swirls to the sky and a winter sun
Again wisps of colour laid down this time in swirls of patterns to the sky, very van Gogh of me! I added bare trees (there is a golf course full of bare trees just across the street) then needed something to balance their weight. The nephews had created a grisly snowman murder seen the last time they had visited but unfortunately no snow so no snowmen. Hum ok a less grisly snow man with a scarf to blow in the wind.
check with the cereal box frame for balance to the composition
Ooh a frame makes everything look better! one down 2 more to go
Yes l think that will work.
One down 2 to go!
Next Brian and Alex like birds and there are lots of birds usually here. But this visit seemed to be all about squirrel wars and retrieving the squirrel proof feeder from where the Raccoons had taken it across the back yard. I hear there is an opossum visiting but I didn’t see it.
Squirrel wars, a momentary pause
Usually there are lots of cardinals and blue jays, sparrows, chickadees, morning doves and never enough crows for me. Ok cardinals it is.
A quick trip to the internet since my camera wasn’t as helpful as it usually is and I had chosen a bird.
cardinal under way
Again background blended with wisps of colour then started adding the detail work. Checking size with the 5×7 window and a lot of poking (but not my fingers!) and I had Xmas card number 2 done.
It was Xmas eve afternoon by the time I started the last one. Bob and Judy were not expected until about 4pm Xmas day. So I had to felt my fingers off since I knew we also had turkey dinner, Xmas breakfast and a lot of presents to open!
Christmas Morning! One more to finish!
Glenn’s Christmas morning Blacksmithing hat and lots pajamas
part of Jan’s Christmas tablet weaving books!
Hummm now what might they like. I had rectified the lack of snow, did one of the birds that we enjoy here. Oh yes, the rabbits! We see them mostly in the spring and early summer but they’re very cute. Bob would like them and make him think of his parents’ home.
So bunny it was. I didn’t have the photos I had taken of this springs bunny visitor but remembered what it looked like so off to the internet for photo reference. Much poking later I had a very painterly interpretation of an Oakville bunny.
beginning of the bunny
adding more detail
Framing of Christmas card #3
You may have noticed I tried a different base to work on. It’s the foam from the dollar store that kids play mats are made of. Mine was about 7 inches square and had a puzzle piece in the center of each square. The puzzle part in the middle tends to want to pull out but I would suggest not using tape to hold it together since the stickiness would transfer to the needle and make a mess. I found holding down the center worked fine and it wasn’t as annoying as it sounds to work on. When the bigger ones reappear I will get more. I did work 3 layers thick so had no poke through even with the top surface deterioration. If you haven’t tried this as a base you may want to experiment.
Dollar store foam pieces
3 layers worked well
All recipients seemed very pleased and surprised with their “Xmas cards” I had found frames at Dollarama with a white mat so they looked a lot more polished with the frame as presentation.
Now on to class notes for the 2 workshops I’m doing in January! I can see a lot more felting ahead in 2019! I hope you get a chance to try small format felting, its relatively quick, doesn’t take much wool and its lots of fun!
We decided to make ‘coiled pots’ at the Well Being centre yesterday. At first we were going to coil pencil roving waste around a resist, but thinking about how fiddly that would be, we decided to do a coil on each side of a template. We made really rough resists:
This is the Pencil Roving waste we used:
We put some silk threads onto the resist first. This is mine:
This is Cath’s:
Then started our coils. I chose to do mine directly onto the resist:
Cath decided to make a coil first:
This is how my first side looked:
And Cath’s first side:
We added wisps of wool:
Then two layers of wool. I used some broken Merino tops:
Cath used a grey blend, unknown from Botany lap waste:
This is the coil on my 2nd side:
And with the wisps from the other side folded over:
This is mine with the wisps from the 2nd side folded over. We added 2 more layers each side
Here’s an action shot of Cath felting hers:
This is mine after I started to felt it:
This is Caths when she’d cut the opening and turned the bowl the right way out:
This is mine after I cut the opening:
Cath cut into her vessel opening:
I didn’t get chance to finish mine, but this is how I looked on the bottom just before I rinsed it to bring home: