Lyn and Annie’s first quarter challenge entries

Lyn and Annie’s first quarter challenge entries

Lyn – Neubronner’s Pigeon in the style of Delauney

I’ve taken inspiration from both Neubronner (an inventor) and Delauney (an artist) to make a picture for the first quarter challenge 2021.

Dr Julius Neubronner developed a miniature pigeon camera to photograph the earth from above and the patent for his invention was granted in 1908.

How cute does Neubronner’s pigeon look?  All dressed up and ready to go to work.

I wanted to make a picture of the pigeon but not an exact copy.

So I looked for inspiration in the works of artists during the first decade of the 20th century and I found this painting by Robert Delauney, “Portrait de Metzinger “, painted in 1906.

Robert Delauney used bold blocks of colour in oil paint to create this portrait …… hmmm …… how about making the pigeon from blocks of colourful pre-felt?  They would look like brush strokes of oil paint on canvas.

My pre-felt stock is low,  I had some colours I wanted but not all, so the first job was to make some more.  I like to make it in batches to save time and effort and I like the mix of colours where they overlap.  This is the dry layout.

Then I made the ‘canvas’ for my picture from 4 layers of white merino,  pre-felted to the same stage as my pre-felt.

I cut coloured pre-felt into small rectangles, then using a photograph as a guide, I started to ‘draw’ the pigeon.

The only things not made from rectangles were the beak, eye and feet.

I didn’t copy the camera.  It looked too complicated for me to try!  So I made up a simple one that I hoped would be recognisable as a camera.

I added yellow variegated pre-felt rectangles, to imitate broad brush strokes, for the background.

But I didn’t like it.  The background overpowered the subject.  So I removed the yellow to leave just the pigeon.  I then added a little purple pre-felt to the front of the camera because it looked too plain.

I wet felted the pigeon then when it was dry I added the background by needle-felting rectangles of ‘Noro Rainbow Roll’ pencil roving around the pigeon.  The ‘Noro’ pencil roving is so fine (see photo below) that it’s almost see-through and it made a soft, complementary background.

The purple pre-felt bled a little bit during felting giving a pale pink tinge to the white background but I can live with that!

A couple of white stitches to put a glint in his eye and he’s done – the finished picture is 30 x 23cm (12″ x 9″).

 

Annie – Imaginative Flowers inspired by Odilon Redon

I felt inspired by many of the things that happened between 1900-1910, and was having trouble choosing what to do. Then I came across Odilon Redon’s floral still life work and it caught my eye, here is an example: ‘Bouquet of Flowers’ circa 1905.

And I also found a quote from him that appealed to me:

“I have often, as an exercise and as a sustenance, painted an object down to the smallest accidents of its visual appearance; but the day left me sad and with an unsatiated thirst. The next day I let the other source run, that of imagination, through the recollection of the forms and I was then reassured and appeased.”

I had planned to do something a little less in my comfort zone and a bit more adventurous like mum did, but then I thought oh well I like making flowers from my imagination so I’ll just go for it!  It is still a work in progress but here’s what I’ve done so far….

I laid out a big square of white fibres with the intention of making several small sample pieces to start with but got carried away and just went straight for one big piece in the end.  I placed the vase right in the middle at the bottom which I wouldn’t ordinarily do as it seemed that’s how he did most of his.

 

I got a little way into laying out and although it was OK I decided it wasn’t working for me so I pulled up all the colour except for the yellow background and started again.

 

I made the flowers into a big bunch and then left some space at the bottom.  I had thought I’d leave space all round to include some “fronds” but hadn’t made my “canvas” big enough and ended up overdoing it so not enough room!

 

 

 

I haven’t finished it yet, but this is where I am so far.  I’m going to attach the vase after felting because it is very fine fabric which stretches and frays and I think too much yellow will come through because it is rather open weave too.  So I’ve ironed it on to some glue stabiliser for now and laid it on the picture temporarily. 

The fabric is a nod to Redon’s butterfly paintings and use of butterflies in his floral works.

I will undoubtedly faff about a bit more with the flowers, and possibly put some shadowy darker yellows in the background, before felting it.  It’s 52cm x 58cm (21″ x 23″).

Also, lesson learned, I didn’t check the dates properly on all of the reference pictures and only 1 of the 3 in my photo falls before 1910, but they are close enough 🙂

I’ll show the finished picture on the forum in the Challenges section.

 

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Day 2

After leaving the hedgehog overnight to dry on the air filter, he had successfully completed his mission to dry.  

I could now begin to add a bit more width to his cheeks. Next, add his coat. I chose an Icelandic fleece using the outer guard hair part of the dual coat as the bristles and bits of the inner coat to help space and increase adhesion of the guard hairs.

27 time to consider the face and coat

I separated the tog (outer coat of guard hairs), which is less inclined to felt when wet, from the undercoat which is soft and crimpy. To separate the two types of coats, hold the tips and base firmly and gently pull away from each other. Sometimes it takes a bit of a rhythmic tugging to free the tog. Once separated, I could use the tog to start building the outer prickles for the hedgehog.

I used a 38 star needle for most of the felting (except the ears which I also use the fake clover tool with T40’s loaded). I lay the guard hairs down, attaching across the locks then laid in a bit of the under coat to increase adherence. I worked the needles at low angles to almost parallel to the fibers catching a few fibers in the barbs at a time and pushing them into the layer of felt over the soap bar.

I added a bit of the under coat to give extra adhesion.

I then folded up the tips which had been pointing away from the fibers I was adding to.  Again securing them into the under layer of felt above the soap.

Occasionally I would add a bit of the under coat to the folded tip side too.

The order of addition was backwards to the layering I usually do when I want a coat to lie naturally. Since I wanted this to stand up, I needed to increase the density of the coat so it would not lie down. This time I starting from around the face (in white) then switching to the darker part of the coat, worked back towards the butt. I left the butt ends a bit shorter than the tips as I laid them in.

Once I got his coat on, I brushed and lifted the ends with the mini carder (dog brush). This fluffed him up nicely.

He is a cute little hedgehog! Here is a shot of the underside so you can see the bar of soap which is the base.

45 the soap base

Laying in the coat which is quite tightly packed took most of the day. I finished him after dinner and did the fluffing. So this would not be a economically viable option for mass production. There are a couple other options that may work faster such as using a section of the washed fleece and attaching it to the underfelt more as a blanket rather than a few locks at a time. I suspect it would not give the density that adding locks as I did allowed.

Finishing touches

Poor little guy, doesn’t suspect his life will be full of wetness then getting dry just in time for the next wetness to set in. I bet he would drip dry quicker if he could hang up.  I should add a “rope” for this soap.  I looked first at a piece of Kumohimo but the cotton fiber seemed wrong.

46 kumohimo option

So, I took the brush waste from the mini carder and added some of the washed locks and drafted it out. By adding a good deal of over twist with one of my spindles, I quickly had a two-ply yarn that could be mistaken for a rope.

I added the rope with a bit of needle felting along the edges of the underside of the soap-hedgehog using a bit of the under coat and pulled apart bits of the extra yarn to help secure it.

50 adding the rope to the soap

Ah, that’s better a way to dry faster and a loop handle so you don’t have to pick him up by his nose!

51 “please don’t pick me up by my nose!”

Last thing left to do. It is Valentine ’s Day after all, so He needs a Heart! I hunted around, found my bag of various red coriadales, choosing Nutmeg, and hand blending it with some of the reddish brown undercoat from the Icelandic fleece. (Colour should never be flat! Unless you are doing something graphic)

A few quick stabs and I had the shape. Now to add it to the right spot. Hmm, there is not much wool on the underbelly of this hedgehog! So, I was very careful in the angle of felting. The needle does sink into the soap fine but leaves a stinky soap smell on the needle and a bit on the wool as it emerges. (Just a warning – make sure you keep the angle of entrance and exit the same or the soap will want to break your needle)

55 “the Hedgehog is in the bag!!”

Now I just have to wait to find out if Glenn likes his new shower time friend.

56 “Glenn, can you meet me in the bathroom to unwrap your valentine’s day present please?”

      57- 62  the unwrapping, he found the Heart!

Yes Success!! I will try to get a shot after his first shower experience and see how he holds up!

63 First Shower! one bedraggled hedgehog

Epilogue

There seems to be a strange moose in my bed but he does have a bag of chocolate Easter eggs so I guess he can stay! (This is Canada, you do find moose in odd places here, often in swimming pools)

E-1 What is that in my bed?

 It is normal to see the triceratops, Cthulhu (who is somewhere else today) and the Balrog in bed. The moose was a surprise so was the chocolate, he can stay.

the last word from Hedgehog:

“Oh the Humanity!!! i give you my soap so you are clean!! Now i drip!!! Oh the wetness!! Oh the horror!!!”

Dyeing some locks

Dyeing some locks

It seems a few of us have had the dying bug. I couldn’t find my green curls and I needed some for another little picture I wanted to do, so I decided to do 3 colours of green to give me some variety. I did them in large freezer bags so I would only need one pot. I know I could have done them in the microwave in the bags but I am not really fussy about microwave dying.

The curls I have already separated are small Blue Faced Leister curls, my favourites. I divided the curls into three bags and added some vinegar water and three different greens to them. I used Dharma acid dye 461 Avocado, Prochem 716 Moss, and Prochem 735 Shamrock.

I forgot to take a picture of the curls but you can see these bags haven’t been cooked because they look like white locks in a green liquid. The colours don’t look very different at this point. Makes you wonder if you have gone to a lot of fuss to make three bags of the same colour. Time will tell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I didn’t want them to be sitting on the bottom of the pot because they might melt. To prevent that catastrophe I put some ramekins in the bottom of the pot to keep them up. Empty tuna cans would have worked too.

I cooked them at a low simmer for 30 min then checked them.

Two of them definitely needed more cooking so I popped them all back in for 15 min( I think, or maybe it was 30 min) and checked again.

The third one was clear. I decided to let them cool in the bags and only one had any colour left in it by then but it wasn’t much.

I rinsed them, spun them out in the salad spinner and put them out onto a wire rack to dry. and this is the final result; three different greens.

So had to get a good picture of the true colour. The top right and bottom left are the same curls but look so different as the sun came out from behind a cloud and the room brightened. Their true colour is between the two. I like the way the locks are not solid colours. It gives them more life and depth of colour.

Using bags in a pot of water is a great way to dye lots of different colours at once. It’s especially useful when you don’t want huge amounts of any one thing. Who hasn’t been tempted by those little bags of colour at a sale or in a store? They are usually expensive. This way you can make your own. It’s a great way to try making your own colours by mixing your dyes and you don’t have to commit to having a huge amount until you know you like the outcome. Use a permanent marker to write down your proportions of dye right on the bag so you can replicate the colour later.

Snow Dyeing

Snow Dyeing

So this happened at my house recently. When it snows, what do you do? Snow dye, of course!

Luckily, I had just gotten a bunch of silk scarves that needed dyeing. I put them in a large plastic tub with grates underneath to keep them above the muck that occurs with this process. The scarves were soaked in soda ash solution before I put them in the tub. I tried several methods of scrunching up the scarves so the dye would be unevenly applied, sort of a cheater’s shibori. This process is very serendipitous and if you want the colors to stay separate, use separate tubs.

Then I scooped up a bunch of snow and put that on top of the scarves.

Next I added fiber reactive dye powder (and a bit of acid dye). Sorry for the bad photo. I tried to keep the colors over where the two scarves were. Of course, it migrates where you aren’t expecting it. From left to right:

cerulean blue, turquoise, sapphire

lemon, black

antique gold, pewter

daffodil, purple haze (acid dye)

scarlet, cabernet, oxblood, fire engine (last three acid dye)

I always get excited to see what I have the next day. The snow melted overnight and I had already removed the scarves on the far right before I remembered to take a photo. You can see the dye in the bottom of the tub is very dark and that is why I use the screens. This process does waste dye powder and I think I over did it this time and used too much. But I don’t like a bunch of white in my scarves and I like deep, rich colors. That’s my excuse 😉

Then the rinsing and washing out of scarves happened. Followed by a lot of ironing. These never look very good until they are completely ironed. Then you can see the color changes, some of which are subtle.

There are two of each main color and I am showing these as they were in the tubs from left to right. I’m calling these two iris.

These are called Monet’s Garden.

These are a bit more golden then they show in the photos and I have named them Dawn Mist.

These two are from a combination of purple acid dye and yellow fiber reactive dye. I wasn’t sure if the acid dye would be strong enough but I really like these two, named Northern Lights.

The last two were mainly acid dye with one fiber reactive. I was a bit disappointed with these two but hubby says that he thinks some people will prefer solid colors. We shall see. I named these two garnet. I will be taking these to Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center to sell in their gift shop.

Which colors do you prefer? Have you tried snow or ice dyeing? Always fun to see the results!

 

 

From start to finished yarn – that icky fleece

From start to finished yarn – that icky fleece

Generally, when I wash a fleece I skirt it heavily. (The one exception is for suint cleaning, everything must go into that bath.) I am of the opinion in my senior years, that I have less time than money, and sheep will grow more wool next year; on the other hand, I may not be here. This year I was fortunate enough to buy from a friend who is brilliant at spotting excellent fleece and equally brilliant at cleaning them. I trust her implicitly and with reason.

Once the heavy lifting of selecting, skirting, and washing is done the wool is ready for processing. It can be spun from locks, dyed, carded either on the drum or hand carders, combed, or left to be stroked endlessly if it’s a particularly nice specimen.

This year I was going gang busters with dyeing. I had so much lovely wool to play with, so many different types, it was glorious, but every once in a while I’ll spend too much time with a fleece. I was processing lots of lovely locks and grabbed a bag just brimming full of the little lovelies. So much of the wool was amazing, just shimmering with light and reflecting the colours like petals on flowers.

In the bottom of the larger bag was a small sealed bag that I did not check for quality. This was dyed alone and produced a lovely orange/red. The locks are soft and lusterous, compact and have a great texture. The experiment for this dye bath was to treat the final rinse with a hair conditioner.  I could feel that the wool had been stripped and would produce static during processing.  I laid the wool in the sink, rubbed hair conditioner on my hands and patted it all over the wool, pushed this down in the water and watched in shock and awe as sand, debris, vegetable matter fell out of the fleece.  However, it’s full of second cuts, and cotted spots and these also started to separate from the longer locks. I suspect this was a gifted bag. My pride is saying I can salvage this…but what a sorry site, so many second cuts, so much wastage.

The locks looked fine, but these held some disappointing surprises

In a saner moment I would have set it aside, or thrown it out, but ego took over and I needed to prove to myself that I could make something out of this mess. So I started teasing out the waste material, carded the results and did a test spin.

The waste is significant, approximately 20% of the original product, including VM and sand. The fiber is half as long as the other locks from the original dye baths.

This is the wastage from the second cuts, severely cotted wool and VM

When carded, the staple length of the fiber was too short and too lofty to shape into rolags without fighting the fiber, so I left them as small batts and stacked them for woollen spinning. They are holding together extremely well and spin like a dream using long draw.

The test spin is a perfectly gorgeous, fluffy, strong woolen yarn. I couldn’t be more pleased with the final result, I would use this as a weft, or for knitting something that needs a lot of warmth. I’m not sure it could withstand abrasion. I have no idea what the breed is, so wouldn’t know if felting is an option. The staple on these batts is only 1.5 – 2 inches. The crimp is very large, hence the loft. It does shed so that might be a problem down the road.

Lofty woolen, warm results from experiment, small sample.

So, I learned a few things from this. Hair conditioner is great stuff for spinners. There is now a bottle in my tool kit, cheap stuff, but it works. And maybe I should slow down on judging a fleece as not worth the effort. This one really was worth the little bit of extra work. It’s a pleasure to card, so easy to spin and the final result is wonderful. I would have missed that. My friend knew what she was doing keeping this little bit of wool aside for special care.

Utterly useless – a watering can that can’t hold water!

Utterly useless – a watering can that can’t hold water!

Inspiration: US Sculptor Rogan Gregory’s piece

Okay! I will admit it! I have a big thing about shapes.  Sometimes it keeps me up at night.  Over the Christmas between planning what to do with all the leftover turkey the dog hadn’t managed to steal (I had no idea he could jump THAT high) my mind got to thinking about book resists and how introducing a hole in the resist would totally transform the shape of the piece.  Then in the New Year I came across this felting challenge on social media (thank you Mia Hartgroves) which involved producing a wet felted interpretation of this watering can, created by the US Sculptor Rogan Gregory.  In my mind it ticked all the boxes.  I love the shaping around the handle and I reckoned the overall shape could be achieved with an asymmetrical book resist.  Plus I got to put a hole in the resist!

First was the sketching.  Not my strongest point but this year it’s on my to do list to practice more.  Normally I just do my calculations in my head and visualise (no wonder I’m awake half the night).  From a practical viewpoint I knew that I needed to get out the pad so I started small and grew the piece over a number of iterations.  Soon I had my pattern as the drawing had grown sufficiently to fit on an A3 page. I reckoned when designing the resist that it was important that a line could be drawn through the pattern so that each page would have sufficient area to accommodate the laying down of the fibre.  This was going to be especially important at the spout end of the design.  Also, the placement of the hole for the handle was important as I wanted to capture some of the curvature on the sculpture.  Once adjustments were made to accommodate these factors, I finalised the pattern and cut out the resist.  The resist has three pages; two to accommodate the bulk at the bottom and one at the top.  Therefore I cut the pattern twice, sewed along the centre of the resist and then stuck the two layers (where the handle was) together.  At that point I was ready to felt.  I chose Corriedale (grey) and I planned to embellish the piece with grey viscose.  Viscose has a beautiful sheen so I reckoned I could capture some of the shine of the original piece with this fibre.

Three page resist

I started with the bottom page of the resist as this was the one part of the project which could remain undisturbed once it was laid down.  First layer was laid north/south and second east/west as I wanted the top direction of the fibre to flow with the direction of the piece.  Viscose was then added and it was wetted down. Once a skin had formed on the fibre I covered it with some light plastic (decorator’s plastic) and folded over the page, making sure that the plastic remained next to the fibre.

The bottom of the resist ready for laying down the fibre
Ready for wetting out
Gently does it!
Turning attention to the top pages

Turning my attention to the top (handle) side of the resist, I set about folding in the excess fibre from the underside. To avoid build-ups I trimmed back some of the excess by pulling away and discarding the fibre.  I paid particular attention to the spout.  As the Corriedale fibres were long there was a danger that I would end up with a build up of layers at the top of the spout.  I did the unthinkable and cut back some of the excess with my scissors.  Then it was time to lay down the first layer of fibres.   Again in a north/south direction, I paid particular attention to two areas; I broke the long fibres in half so that I did not crowd (too many layers) the spout; I also took care when placing the fibres around the handle area – I laid the fibre on the bottom part of the handle and then tucked it into the other side of the resist.  Once that was safely tucked away I was able to continue to cover the rest of the side tucking in the fibre about the remaining section of the hole.   I laid down only one layer and repeated the process on the other side of the resist.

First layer paying particular attention to the hole
Wrapping the wool at the hole

Once both sides were covered with one layer of fibre I wet them down, tucked it in and set about working a skin on it.  Then it was time to decide where to place my fishing line into the felt so I scoped it out with pins, measured and added extra for the ‘overflow’ from the can.  I cut 6 lengths of fishing line (3 for each side) then tacked them down onto the fibre.  I made sure that they were symmetrical on each side of the resist.  I threaded the ends of the fishing line through a straw so that I had some control over them when I was tacking them down.

Scoping out the positioning of the fishing line
The tacking begins …
All secure and ready for the next stage

Once secured, I put the second layer on the top two sides of the resist.  I was once again mindful of the hole and the spout.  I checked to make sure that the spout end of the resist was still visible as I did not want this end to felt together. I applied the viscose fibre to the two top sections of the resist.   After that I felted the whole piece (placing decorator’s plastic on both sides of the top to stop the fibres being disturbed as I worked on each of the pages) and rolled it until it started to shrink.  Then I removed the resist.  I cut into the bottom section of the hole. I did not remove any of the felt just sliced through this section and then sealed it.  Once these were sealed I started the fulling process until I was happy with the size. 

Cutting the hole in the prefelt and removing the resist
Time to Shape

I wanted more definition on the curvature around the handle so I decided to stiffen the piece.  I soaked the can in a dilution (Golden GAC Medium-800) stuffed it and left it to dry. 

I’m pretty pleased with the end result.  If I was making it again I think I would use more fishing line in the piece, perhaps including it in the bottom section.  That way it might not look as if the line is flowing through the top section only.  At the moment the line (representing water) seems to be defying gravity. 

I thoroughly enjoyed planning and making this piece.  Next time I may try a hole in a symmetrical book resist just to check out the overall alteration in the shape of the structure. 

Happy felting!

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Oh NO! I got distracted! I will get back to work shortly but I was so inspired by Alex’s Ladybug or Bird and was wondering if a hedgehog would work with a bar of soap? There was also a suggestion of a heart of soap for valentine’s day…… hmmmm. I wonder if I can combine that?

Bad Brain!!! Stop thinking and wondering where the soap stockpile is stored! No! It’s wet felting! It involves getting wet!! NOOOOOO! Remember brain we like needle felting partly for its DRYNESS! Even if there is occasionally a bit of blood, it’s not as wet as wet felting! ….hmmmm.

I think Glenn would like a hedgehog soap for Valentine’s day, it will last longer than chocolate or flowers!, (the flowers without roots that is.)  Oh well, I guess it must be done, I will get wet! Step one, I will need to clean the bathroom sink (yes there is almost no counter space in the bathroom so it was messier before I neatened it up a bit).

Let me think, what will I need? Fibre, soap bar, a container to work in (the drain is problematic so let’s use a plastic box to work in), I need to find some bubble wrap and maybe a zip lock bag would help contain the wetness? I blended up a bit of white and beige for the nose and over felting fibre.

I discovered that the soap hoard is woefully low at least of my glycerin soap (remember to add that to the shopping list). Luckily, Glenn’s giant package of smelly soap from Costco was only half gone! He probably won’t notice one is missing until after Valentine’s Day right? (he didn’t)

Day One:

I quickly noticed that the sink is not a comfortable work high. I wonder if I flip over the storage box and use that as a table surface. Yep, much more comfortable. Remembering the instructions from Alex and his Mom, the fibre must encompass the soap. Then the fibre and soap are secured by putting it all in a nylon and felted. I don’t have nylon. I also want to have more fibre on the back than the belly as well as having a nose and face at one end.

Layout

I alternated thin layers making a shape that would wrap around the soap and then added more in the middle and towards one end.

 

A bit more in in the butt I think then wrap and a bit of needling to hold everything together.

 

He needs a nose; a bit more poking will fix that. Better check photo reference! I watched (listened to) a few YouTube videos as I continued to needle felt until the general shape was achieved.

I found a small piece of bubble wrap (I spotted the larger piece after I was done) and an extra-large sandwich bags.

10 ready for his bath!

Now the hard part, I have to get the wool wet so that soap (Liquid Lavender and cucumber you can see in the photos) and agitation can do their work. Hedgehogs’ first bath!

I got a flash of a brilliant idea! If I put the wet soapy hedgehog and the bubble wrap in the extra-large sandwich baggie I could sit and watch the impeachment of the neighbour’s ex-president. Rather depressing, but it will keep my mind off the possibility of impending wetness. (I will work in the plastic bin in case that happens).  The seal was stressed but as much as the soapy bubbles tried, only a few escaped.

I started softly, gently, caressing the fibres. Slowly increasing my pressure until I was massaging with some enthusiasm (I have a license for that!). Unlike work, I used bubble-wrap on this patient, focusing on the nose and the general body shape. I built up so much soapy lather that it became hard to see the hedgehog! After a few impeachment presentations, I felt I had achieved Felt!! I also had not sprung a leak and got wet!

Time to rinse out the suds and make sure the felting worked! (really I can’t see much in all this soap!)

I brought the Hedgehog back to the office so he could dry and finish watching YouTube, maybe I will have to give him eyes so he can better see what is happening. In the meantime, he is practicing some form of Yoga nose stand. I wonder what that pose is called. (Balanced nose drying?)

While I know watching a naked, eyeless, hedgehog dry is absolutely fascinating, and is worthy of hundreds of photos, at every stage of wet to dampness to ultimately dryness. I can see that you may have other things to do so I will resume once he has accomplished his mission to dry. So I will pause today and resume to see if I can add spines and other important parts.

To be continued on Day 2!

 

Alisa’s First Quarter Challenge

Alisa’s First Quarter Challenge

I have a guest post for you today. Alisa McClain is a pretty new felter, she is in my local Facebook group. When she posted her piece for the first quarter challenge I asked her to do a post about it and she stepped right up. Thank You, Alisa

 

Hello!  I started felting in the early pandemic, and I’ve fallen hardcore in love.  It’s blooming and it keeps me grounded and joyous, and I am slowly developing more skills that allow me greater control, too.  I’m an experiential learner, for the most part, so I just keep doing and figuring things out.  I make art playfully, usually without a plan.

When I first saw these blogs about a first-quarter challenge, I didn’t intend to participate.  You see, my brain is pretty much an open browser with 1,000 tabs open at all times, and I always have a plethora of ideas vying for my attention and screaming, “Pick me!  Pick me!”

And, then one day I took a look at all the photos suggested in the original challenge blog from the decade.  The suffragette posters caught my eye.  Maybe I should make something feminist in petticoats?  That old Disney song starts up in my head:  We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats and dauntless crusaders for women’s votes.  But, I haven’t done human forms and probably can’t pull that off.  That skill is in the not yet pile.

The next time I looked through the photos, I thought about finding an aerial view of the area I live in and got lost in the history of my little corner of suburbia.  No aerial view though from 1900ish though.

And, then the third time I looked through the photos, I thought about nature through a microscope.  In the lounge of the ski hill I frequented in the before-pandemic times, there was an entire heavy book full of breathtaking pictures in a microscope.  Sometimes the wonder of nature just awes me anew.  While I was still thinking of those micro photos, I walked by this piece of art in my home by Wendy Feldberg that I had purchased the previous summer.

https://www.wendyfeldberg.ca/galleries.html

 

Wendy told me that she’d been quite intrigued by the history of the Ottawa River and that many of the labourers had died of malaria versus physical accidents that occurred on the river.  She had done a series of fibre arts featuring the cells of malaria; this one was malaria cells in a placenta.

Overall, I give the pandemic a solid thumbs down, but there has been beauty within it.  The blooming of my felt, yes, but also there has been a cementing of several of my friendships into a deeper, lifelong kind of bond.  I’ve had more time with my children.  I have had a chance (and been forced to, at times) to slow down and think through things.  There is a kind of beauty in this moment, in the midst of the horrors.  I thought about people that I’ve loved that have developed serious medical issues and how, sometimes, those issues forced them to consider what mattered in life, to prioritize, and also to notice a community of love and support around them.

So maybe that’s my theme:  disease and the beauty within it.  I wondered what was happening in the 1900s in the way of endemics or pandemics, and Google brought me to microscopic pictures of typhoid fever (apparently on the rise in Texas, an antibiotic resistant strain?  Enough already this weird time!)

So here are a few pics of the jellyfish-like bacteria responsible for typhoid fever.  I’ve made a jellyfish before that I like and feel proud of so I was pretty confident I could do it.

 

Of course, along with having a thousand tabs open at all times, I also sometimes fall down rabbit holes in which I refuse to sleep and, instead, decide to read extensively about subjects that will be pretty much superfluous to any conversational moment.  Did you know that Typhoid Mary was pretty much the original superspreader and that she was quarantined for over two decades after she ignored public health advice?  I mean, they did tell her not to cook but failed to provide any kind of alternative income stream for her, a woman in a time where women weren’t supposed to financially support themselves so maybe there is a structural issue with the collective safety net there.   I digress.  Moral of the story:  I guess wearing my mask really isn’t so bad.

I also got lost in the world of microphotography.  See, I already had ideas in my head, but now I feel like I need to felt a few of these, too.  There will be more noisy arguments between ideas about whose turn it is.  But, also, what a great problem to have!

https://www.nikonsmallworld.com/galleries/2020-photomicrography-competition (the above and below from those galleries)

 

But what did I make?

Oh yes, my typhus.  It hits the decade both on the microphotography front as well as a time when typhus was raging.  When it was almost done, I posted a picture for my friends and said that if they could guess what it was, I’d send it to them.  They guessed (before the legs) that it was a paddleboard, a kayak, a UFO and a comet.  Someone guessed it was a jellyfish, and that was the closest someone came.

 

And, now, I pretty much HAVE to felt covid, don’t I?  As I said, there is a certain kind of beauty in this moment…  if we can’t escape this pandemic or fast forward through to the end of it, we might as well look hard for the beauty that is blooming here.  Neighbours helping neighbours.  Pods looking out for each other.  The recognition that working from home can be a good option for many workers.  I know it’s not universal and I don’t mean to silver line the devastation that is occurring.  If I focus on the kindness, I get through this moment just a bit easier.  That said, you best believe I will be hugging the crap out of my friends just as soon as this over…  the kind of hug you just melt into.  I look forward to locking arms together instead of fibres on a way more regular basis, but for now…  I guess it’s time to pick the next loud-mouth idea.

https://www.news18.com/photogallery/world/covid-19-photos-up-close-with-the-deadly-coronavirus-2532875-2.html

Thanks, Alicia, microphotography is a really great place to be inspired. Has anyone else been working on the first quarter challenge? you can share it on the forum or if you would like to be a guest blogger just contact us.  we love guests.

 

1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

1st Quarter Challenge – Part Two

When I posted last time, I showed you the felted portion of my 1st Quarter Challenge piece. The next step was to start free motion machine stitching to add more detail.

First to find some thread that would work with the colors of the felt. I used all of these except for one of the reds.

I started with dark green thread and worked on the stems, leaves and bud. I kept the inspiration photo by my sewing machine so it was easier to see where I needed to add stitching.

Next was the light green thread. I just used it for  a few highlights on the stems, bud and top of the big leaf.

Now on to the poppies. I used a light pink for highlights. Somehow, I always forget how much the machine stitching compacts the felt. It makes the unstitched portions feel very puffy.

Then I add some yellow for the centers of the poppies.

Next is the medium value red. You can’t see it very well because it is the same value as the main poppy color. But perhaps it gives a bit more definition of the edges.

Then on to adding a little more dark value where it was needed. Afterwards, I put it up on the design board and stepped back a little. Looking for anything that didn’t look right or drew the eye too much in one place. The areas that bothered me were the top poppy there seemed to be a straight pink line coming down to the bottom of the flower. And the bottom poppy, I thought the pink at the bottom center was a bit too much.

So I added a bit more burgundy in those two areas to tone down the pink just a little. So it’s complete. You can click on the photo to see it up close. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie!

 

Hello From Romania

Hello From Romania

This is a guest post from a new contributor to our site. Please welcome Ildi Klozsi!

I’m Ildi Kolozsi from Romania, Europe. I live with my family in a small village in Transylvania. I started working with wool about 18 years ago, and from then on I have had a special connection with this material.

The wool is part of my life, sometimes I dream of my next project or work. I love to try new techniques.

I also teach adults and children, I think that it’s very important (for everyone) to recognize the beauty of this natural material.

The project that I have showed you in this post was made for a custom order, she wanted something with birds, not too much color and inspired from nature.

I love to felt bird designs, maybe because I live close to nature, I’m part of this.

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