Learning curves – Part 1

In the last few months I’ve attended two felting workshops tutored by happy feltmakers who have been very generous with sharing their experiences and knowledge. The first by Jenny Pepper was titled Decorative felt Surfaces (I had no idea what this was to be), whilst the second by Clare Bullock was making nuno Travel Cloth at a workshop for our local textile group.

I have certainly experimented, I’ve gone out of my comfort zone totally but learnt a lot (and as you will read – continue to learn!).

Jenny demonstrated the laying of the felt to all giving the instruction to ‘lay the shingles thinly’ (important note to self), before she then added her decorations choosing from her vast collection of silk waste, silk fibres, silk gauze, silk carrier rods, wool locks, pieces of cut-off felt etc to name but a few.

I commenced my piece working to the maximum size possible on our tables by laying out my 3 layers. Ha…thinly has different thicknesses (note – next time I must check)! I draft very thinly compared with others, so on inspection Jenny suggested I add another two layers. Fine – five layers total not a problem….but I had forgotten the colour placing by this time!

Encouraged to try as many different decorative elements as possible – I went for it….although totally out of my comfort zone!

I came home and showed my endeavours to EPH (ever patient husband) who was quite silent. When I said I thought it was too busy (my five layers of colours didn’t help) his comment was ‘Mmmm it’s certainly not your usual style!’ Following several days of pondering I decided to mute the cracked area by picking up the colour of the silk carrier rods. To do this I blended suitable colours from my wool collection (BFL, merino & Nepalese). Using this I then needle felted it in.


Trying to make it secure I decided to brush the reverse side, raising the fibres, then further wet felt that area. Definitely a learning experience!

The surface pilled very badly so once dry I attacked it with a rasor and de-bobbler!

Three months later, the work measuring 380 x 420cm (15 x 16.5 ins), remains a PINOS (project in need of something), and currently hangs where I can see it every evening to ponder what I can add/do to make it acceptable in my eyes and to decide on its direction – I definitely know which two it is not! Although?

The two to the left I feel are a ‘No’. What do you think? Then come further questions – should I cut it square, or into strips? What can I do to it – apart from a very obvious one of ‘bin filing’?

My next post will be about the second class that I took, Clare Bullock was making nuno Travel Cloth at a workshop for our local textile group. Stay tuned!

Posted in felt art, Guest Writer, Surface Design, Wet Felting | Tagged , | 12 Comments

Inspiration Photos

The photos of the felt piece I was going to blog about today didn’t turn out, so I thought I’d share some photos I took recently for inspiration. I was up early enough to enjoy some morning sunshine in the back garden, so took lots of photos of anything which caught my attention. The first thing was these little wild geranium flowers which grow everywhere in Spring:

They look nice, but they are really invasive and have a pretty unpleasant smell. I know lots of people hate Dandelions, but I’ve always really liked them. I had no idea the centres looked like this until I got a camera with Supermacro settings:

The next thing was this little glass cabochon. I used it as a weight on a stencil a few weeks ago and it got flecks of spray paint on it:

I’m not sure what this plant is or even if it’s something I bought or something which found its own way here, but it’s another thing whose detail is lost (to me, anyway!) without the Supermacro camera setting:

I’ve taken photos like this before, and I’m pretty sure I’ve shared them on here. This is a leaf from a teasel plant. I love the way it looks when it starts to die/decay:

I love the texture of Sage leaves, especially when they are young:

I’m not sure what is clinging to the ‘hairs’, but here’s a cropped close up:

If any botanists know, please enlighten me! The cat who has adopted us joined me in the garden, she enjoyed rolling around in the dust. She has nice patterns and markings anyway, but the sun seemed to make them more obvious. Even though this is really soft, it reminds me of a hedgehog:

I took this photo because I really like the soft hair behind her ears, but when I looked closer at the photo, I noticed that on just one small part of her head she has lots of different types of hair/hairs:

I only took this photo because I think the cat’s chin is really cute:

But when I looked closer, the fur seemed to be in a kind of pattern, kind of like the pattern of Sunflower seeds or a Dandelion seed-head. I’m not imagining it, am I?

I took these last photos a few weeks ago at the park near the well being centre. I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve shared photos of these trees here too, they’re at the entrance and always make me want to photograph them. I thought it was interesting the way the clouds matched up with the trees.

This tree has a really unusual trunk, it seems really fibrous:

There’s a tree behind it which has really interesting seed pods, at least that’s what I think they are! I thought this might be something which Ruth might find inspiration in:

I don’t often sit down and plan a project directly from the inspiration photos I take, but I’m pretty sure the textures, colours and patterns influence my work anyway. Do you take or collect inspiration photos? What do you do with them? Please feel free to use any of these photos for direct or indirect inspiration.

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Dog Hair Felting

This is a throw back post I thought you might enjoy because there have been a few people asking on Facebook about felting with dog hair. Just like sheep there are different kinds of dog hair and even the top coat and undercoat on every dog so you need to do a test piece for every new breed.

Recently I was asked to make something out of dog hair in memory of the dog it came from. Originally the woman asked a friend of mine to spin the dog hair so it could be woven into something. The hair was to short for that so she suggested talking to me. I wasn’t sure about doing it but she was so emotional I said I would give it a try. She had a large bag of hair that was quite short. The problem was she wanted me to use as little wool as possible and not to blend it. From My dog grooming days I knew this kind of curly coated small mixed breed dog felted their hair while wearing it so I was hoping it would do it here too. I laid out a base of wool and then add a thick layer of dog curls to the top. I made a sample that turned out quite well, I showed her and she agreed to me making a pillow and stuffing it with the remaining hair.

Here is one corner as I started to add the dog hair. You can see the blob of hair I am working from.


Starting to add dog fur


Here is the finished pillow.

and a close up of the texture.

The only problem with this felt is it sheds a lot. With the dog hair being so short, the really short straight dog hair sheds out very easily. Fortunately she will not be using it as a pillow but putting it a way to remember him.


Posted in Other Fibers, Uncategorized, Wet Felting, Wool | Tagged , , , , , , | 23 Comments

Adding a Focal Point to Rebekah’s Collage

In March, when my sister Rebekah visited, we had one of our group art meetings. She and her daughter Lizzie went along to do some ice dyeing and create a paper fabric collage.

This is Rebekah’s collage. She decided to leave it with me and since I didn’t want to have more stuff piling up in my studio, I decided I needed to add a focal point to it. The one I made that day was not to my taste and I gave it to Deb who has since stitched on it. These collages are made with thin paper, thin fabrics, fusible and paint.

I had recently sketched this succulent plant and thought it might be a good addition to the collage. (Marilyn has since told me that this is called a jade plant.) My original plan was to free motion machine stitch the design on to the collage. But after a little trial and error, I thought it would look better with more color than just outlined in thread. So then I decided to applique with fabric and then machine stitch. I had already decided on purple thread so I opened up my box of colored fabric and right on top was an ice dyed purple fabric that worked perfectly. I guess it was meant to be as that fabric was ice dyed the same day the collage was made. The fabric was supposed to turn out grey but was purple instead. Funny how that worked.

Here is the fabric cut out and fused down to the collage. I used the fusible paper to trace the design from my sketch above. I did leave out a few bits but I don’t think it made any difference to the design.

Then I free motion machine stitched around the edges. I did use a piece of heavy interfacing behind the paper fabric collage as it was quite thin. The focal point of the jade plant definitely helped the composition. I have one more of these to do as Lizzie left hers with me as well.

This is the last chance to sign up for my April session of online classes. Classes start tomorrow. The next session won’t be until September.

You can register at the links below:

Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination

Experimental Screen Printing on Felt

Print, Stencil and Play with Thickened Dye on Felt

Free Motion Machine Stitching on Felt

Posted in free motion embroidery, Mixed Media | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

British Quilt & Stitch Village

Last Saturday I drove over to Uttoxeter to meet up with a felting friend for a visit to the British Quilt & Stitch Village Show. Although this show has been running for 7 years, and has been in my list of places to visit since I started crafting, this was my first time here.

The event is held at Uttoxeter Racecourse and spread over several buildings so, for anyone planning to go next year, I would recommend buying a programme to ensure you don’t miss any of the exhibits.

Most of the traders were geared for quilting and patchwork, naturally, with lots of fabrics and notions and familiar names including Monkey Buttons, Hannah’s Room and The Little Lavender Patch.

There was a good mix of traditional and contemporary quilts on display…..

This is a detail from “Hole Cloth” by Birgitta Scheuller which was overall winner…..

This one, Plastic Ocean by Kathy Unwin, was one of my favourites….

As well as the patchwork and quilting there were several groups of mixed media textile artists exhibiting and it was these ladies we had really gone to see.

This piece was created by Catherine Howard, a member of On The Surface. This garment has been torn seven times and stitched back together in a random, sometimes messy way. It celebrates the imperfections we all have, how life’s struggles leave their scars and shape who we are. On The Surface are a mixed media textile group who support, inspire and encourage each other to develop their own unique styles and preferred ways of working. The group consist of Anna Barrett, Catherine Howard, Deb Day, Jackie Harley, Judith Rowell, Nadine Tabberer, Vicki Townsend-Gee.

The following mixed media work, which we found particularly inspiring, was created by members of the group Un:Hinged…..

There was very little felting on display so it was good to round the corner and get to meet two of the members of Traverse who are feltmakers. Traverse is a group of textile and mixed media artists who came together in March 2017 after studying Experimental Textiles. They began exhibiting in 2018 and the members are Dia Martin, Deb Day, Cath Tyler, Bernice Hopper, Becca Birtles and Vicki Townsend-Gee. unfortunately the light wasn’t wonderful in this part of the building so apologies for the quality of the images…..

We spent a good three hours at the show and met some lovely people so I can certainly recommend it if ever you get the chance.

Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments

Needle Felted Flat Landscape Workshop 2019

Ann told you about the workshop she gave on felted Flowers. So I thot you might like to hear about the last workshop I was teaching. This was the first time I had taught it and I was a bit nervous and excited (inner voice to self, take a deep breath, relax). In December you heard about the panic of making the Catalogue sample for this workshop. (https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2018/12/01/this-is-the-story-of-a-felting-emergency/)

As you may remember I have a background in both commercial and fine art.  Add to that the sivear dislexia which tends to change my way of approaching a subject or at least the way I tend to interpret it.

Last August the guild started to set up the list and order workshops that would run in 2019. There were a number of felting workshops but we had requests for felted landscapes in 2D. I had signed up to teach Inkle weaving as usual but Our Workshop coordinator was sure I could do the landscape and re-run a felted sheep class I had done over 10 years ago. I said sure and between working on the Catalogue for the workshops, restructuring the Guild library and a few Exhibition and Sale chores I started writing my notes.

I am pretty big on notes.  I want a student to be able to look back on them and remember what to do even if it’s been a year since they took the workshop.  For this one I felt I needed to include a bit on composition, perspective, aspects of different mediums of painting and finally how to deal with the felting itself.  So think small book rather than regular notes.


(picture 1 Name tags and a bit of back ground information )

I was going to teach them a different way to look at felt; treating it more like a water colour than an acrylic and using some of the work principles used in pastels and oil paintings.  Because of the time restraints of only 5 hours to felt I went for a smaller size, working in a 5×7 inch format.


2 (picture 2 the supply,  a stack of notes, a picture chosen and all ready to start )

I prefer workshops where you don’t have to go searching for a long list of supplies to bring.  So I try to have everything that will be needed to start your adventure included in the materials fee. The Introduction to inkle weaving workshop is the same, students even get the integrally important box of smarties. For this workshop smarties were not as important but they did get a 5×7 frame with white mat, a selection of needles, a mat to work on (I took a workshop from Megan Cleland who had used Dollarama Garden kneeling pads as work surfaces which were light and worked very well. The handle even held fibre I was working on!)

I had found some mid-weight felt at Michaels that was longer then needed for the project so we had enough to do  a name tag too. I started everyone off by making a name tag. Firstly, so I would remember their names.  Secondly, it would give them a chance to try the eye-hand coordination required to needle felt. It also let them get a feel for the differences between needles at moving fibre.  They had 2 each of the fine, medium and coarser needles and one spiral in a fine gage.  I had ordered a Multi-needle tool (it’s the flake clover needle holder from china) but it was not expected to arrive in time. it arrived Friday afternoon just before the Saturday workshop.

3(picture 3 transferring image )

We started by discussing different ways to transfer an image to the felt. Megan was teaching a variation on the light box using a window. This will only work well on thin felt. So if you want to work on a heavier ground or a dark colour choosing another method would be preferable. I mentioned the most common methods for scaling and transferring images including using a Lucy or projector, the grid method and the template method. (I also mentioned pouncing as an option, it is used with frescoes) Since I haven’t seen anyone teaching template transfer we went with that.  Its low tech and requires only scissors, permanent marker and an image.

I had selected a number of images ranging from quite simple to more complex since the class was to accommodate beginner and intermediate students. I had a couple students bring their own images too. With a bit of discussion they all chose there images. As they prepped and transferred there images to the felt I did a vary brief overview of perspective, how overlapping objects give the illusion of distance, how colour fades out as it recedes, detail in the foreground and less detail in the background and sky is lighter at the horizon and darkens as you go up. We discussed light and shadows and keeping your light source consistent if you are using more than one photo reference.

I also explained about thinking about using wool as paint.  Using properties from water colour , acrylic and oil techniques.

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(picture 4- 14 Slideshow Work in progress )

By that time they were ready to begin.  There was much poking but I don’t think anyone stabbed themselves. (I did have 3 boxes of bandages just in case) Most of the students had never felted before so were quite amazed as the wool started to turn into a picture. There was some reworking of areas to get the shadows they wanted but it started to come together.

15 (picture 15 Framing there work)

As you have probably found out yourselves if you put a frame on even a simple sketch it gives it importance, focuses the viewer and gives it the feeling of Art. As the students put there finished pieces into their frames it was fun to see them so pleased with their results. Two of the students had to leave early due to impending bad weather and lengthy drives home.I realized afterwords i missed getting a picture of there finished piece.


(picture 16- 19 Finished and Framed )


Posted in Classes, Guest Writer, Teaching, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Felted Flower Class

Wednesday I taught an evening class in flowers at the Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild. It is a bit rushed for beginners to get both flowers finished but everyone got it done and we all had a good time.

As usual, I kept forgetting to take pictures but I did get some and Jan was in the class and got some but she was busy too.

First, we did a petunia/morning glory shaped flower this is me explaining how you layout the wool for the flower.

Jan remembered to take a picture of her layout. This is part way through.

Here everyone is diligently felting their flowers


This is Jan’s flower after scrunching and throwing. People usually look skeptical that this will be a flower at this point.

But then Ta Da!

Then there was no time to waist and we were on to Flower 2. Stems and stamens and silk hankies.


There was rubbing and rolling and gentle fulling and no throwing for these.

And lastly Jan to a good picture of her 2 blue flowers.

I think I may make this into a full-length class with a few more flowers. and maybe add some leaves to the stems.





Posted in Classes, Silk, Teaching, Wet Felting | Tagged , , | 12 Comments