Composition and Design – Scale and Proportion

I had been trying to do these Composition and Design posts on a monthly basis but somehow I missed four months. Oops. But here goes the next one on Scale and Proportion. I only have one more post after this so hopefully, I will get it done in September.

Scale and proportion basically refer to size. Scale means size i.e. large scale means big. However, unless you have a standard of reference, the term “big” is meaningless. Proportion means relative size as in size measured against other elements or against some mental norm or standard.

Scale and proportion are closely tied to emphasis and focal point. Large scale makes for an obvious emphasis especially in proportion to other elements of the composition.

The scale of art can be considered in several ways:

• Human scale – consider the scale of the work itself in relation to human size; Unusual or unexpected scale is attention getting. Sheer size does impress us.

Thanks Ann for the use of your photo of your hat on display

• Context – consider the surroundings and the circumstances in which the art is displayed – does the scale of the work affect the meaning in that particular context?

• Internal proportions – scale and size are relative to the overall area of the format of the work; changes in scale within a design change the total effect of the design. The choice of scale and proportion should help to achieve the artist’s intentions.

• Contrast of scale – scale can be used to draw our notice to the unexpected or exaggerated, as when small objects are magnified or large ones reduced. A sudden change in scale draws attention.

• Scale confusion – deliberate change of natural scale to intrigue or mystify the viewer rather than to clarify the focal point – surrealism often uses this technique.

Proportion is linked to ratio. The proportion is judged to be correct if the ratio of one element to another is correct. The ancient Greeks sought to discover perfect proportion and developed the golden rectangle. This has influenced art and design throughout history and is found in growth patterns in nature.

Questions to get you started:

Do you usually make pieces that are small or do you always work in a large format? How does switching to a different size format affect your work? Can you make three separate works about the same subject but vary the scale and proportion in the work? How do you think the viewer will feel about the change in scale/proportion and it’s affect on the meaning of the work?

Can you use contrast of scale or scale confusion in your composition? How does this exaggeration make you see your work differently? Do you use the “golden rectangle” in your proportions? What happens if you deliberately make a piece based on the “golden rectangle”?

Posted in Design | Tagged , | 5 Comments

The Tale of the Stubborn Crocheted Bowl

Remember the floppy crocheted bowl I made?  I posted about it here:

Lyn suggested I full it to make it sturdier.  So I tried and no change other than being fuzzier. I checked the label on the yarn ball, but I was pretty sure I didn’t buy superwash.  No, 100% wool.


So, I thought I would try boiling it. No change.

Lyn also suggested I decorate it.  I tried  using a thin wool, but didn’t like it.  So, I used beads in little clusters around the bowl.  But it was even more floppy.

The next step was to bring out the GAC 400 stiffener.  I had bought it, but never used it. Why not give it a try?  I used an empty mayonnaise jar for the shape, then painted on the GAC and let it dry.

When it dried it was perfectly solid and clear.

Now I had to decide what to use it for.  There are a million things I could put in there, but it  wasn’t too hard to decide.

My favorite treat close at hand.

What projects have you saved lately?




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Felted Wool Kebabs

There weren’t very many of us at the Well Being centre last week, but the idea of ‘wool kebabs’ went down so well, I think it could become an art form in itself! We’re carrying on this week, so I took the opportunity to make a few wool kebabs and a few felted examples to take in. I mostly made lots of black/white/grey combinations for the kebabs. For the first sample I used black Merino and blend I got from a Botany Lap waste bag. The shiny fibre looks like bamboo or viscose. I just used 5 pieces on this:

From this angle you can just about tell, that they aren’t exactly flush with the surface:

For this sample, I covered the whole pices with wool kebabs, these were mostly quite ‘hairy’ rather than smooth because I used some coraser blends. The neat rectangle really changed shape with the areas of different shrinkage according to how thick/thin it was in places:

I thought I’d used all the ‘same’ type of kebabs, but I think I picked up a couple of different ones next to each other, which made a nice patch of dark/shine contrast:

I think the blend I used for these had a few brownish shades of wool in. These were quite texturey too. I don’t know which wool I used for a base. I think that was from a Botany Lap bag too. I think this is my favourite:

I think another ‘rogue’ kebab got in with these too, one of them has a bit more grey and a definite sheen:

I bought some stripey wool from wollknoll a couple of years ago, and thought this would make some nice wool kebabs. I used them on Black Merino, and they turned out really nice too:

You can see more texture on these, I think:

Even closer:

I got quite addicted to making the wool kebabs, something very soothing about the process: blending, laying out the wisps, rolling, sliding the tube off, repeating, and watching the little pile of similar tubes grow 🙂

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Needle felted pictures for the 150th anniversary of Canada art show –Jan Scott

Today we have a guest post by Jan Scott she is a great needle felter.

The concept of the show.

As you likely read in Ann’s earlier posts the Ottawa Valley weavers and spinners guild was given a proposal to have an art show of 150 pieces of a uniform 12inX12in size to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary. The originally the idea had been discussed at socials to decide the rules for the submissions.


The rules were quite simple:

Rule #1 – the artwork could be any medium of fiber arts, spinning, weaving, felting, knitting, were all ok. But the rest of the rules quickly developed as I started to propose ideas I would like to try to Carlene who was going to present the idea at the meeting. My first thought at hearing the format was AH!! Cascading waterfall in felt over 3 canvases!Rule #2 – all 12×12 pieces must not extend past the canvas.                                                         My second question was can we do this in 3 dimensions?

Rule # 3 – nothing should extend above the canvas more than 3 inches.

I’m glad I dint ask any more questions.

Art show Piece 1:


So now with the parameters decided and 3 canvases purchased I started to consider ideas. I had to find something that was quintessentially Canadian to me. I thought of all the places I liked best in Canada and settled on my parent’s cottage and the summers spent with my giant bullfrog friends. So I started to plan frog on lily pad as art work #1 and Lilly pads in flower as my second piece.


My work process seems to have developed as; first research images on the internet. (or looking thorough my photographs no wonder I have been taking pictures of everything through most of my life!). Then decide the general composition with a couple sketches. Do more researching for details of the composition. I created a folder of frog pictures that had elements I wanted to work from. Toes from this picture and the profile of the head of that one. Coloring from another shot. I selected the best bits from various photos and printed out a few reference photos to work from. With the frog covered I looked into lily pads and flowers, did you know they have huge lily pads that are used to photograph baby’s floating on them? I think they were in Thailand definitely not the ones from the cottage so I mostly ignored those.

My next problem as I started to make an armature for the bullfrog (a bit smaller than the life size ones I had played with) was how to make sure he/she was under the 3 inch height limit? Ahhhh. I turned the canvas over and looked at it again. Working from the back gave me almost an extra inch so Froggy could still be crouched to spring and fit in the height restriction!!!


I worked on the armature using mostly pipe cleaners and light gage wire to make the framework. I made an upper and lower skull/jaw, dorsal lines in the back and all appendages with articulating tows. It was somewhat frog like!


I had gone over to Ann’s to get help with carding Free Fleece from agriculture Canada’s experimental farm flock. I had washed the excessively dirty and vary spongy fleece but wanted a really cores carding to make core wool. That is the wool you use for structure but don’t want anyone to see. She put it through her picker which helped immensely and then we carded it on her really impressive electric drum carder. Much bigger than the home use ones we normally see. Ann’s help was greatly appreciated she saved me a lot of time!

So I started with stuffing rolled up balls of core wool (likely a redo Arcott blend) into the center of the frog frame armature. Until I had the body formed and started rapping the legs and the first foot. It was quickly apparent I had miss judged the tow length and had to give Froggy finger extensions in pipe cleaner! After quick osteology surgery to repair his bone structure I continued giving him muscles until I was happy with the overall shape. Next I needed Froggy like colours. I started looking through my stash of spinning and felting wool. Hummm, Green does not seem to be my favorite colour. I have Lots of blue though! I had won at one of the guild auctions a bag of lime yellow green that I had planned to use as a core wool on something but hadn’t got around to it. I did a run to some of the local supply places, bought some more fiber at the Chesterville spin in and begged a bit from Ann’s stash and a bit from Bernadette too.


The horrid yellow green was perfect for the under colour for the lily pads, but I didn’t have quite the green I wanted for the frog colours so it was time to think like a painter and blend my colours.



Maybe now is a good time to tell you a bit about myself. I am severely dyslexic you likely have figured that out by the spelling or lack of it. From Pre-school on I wanted to be a paleontologist but decided you had to be able to spell your profession so gave up on that idea in grade 6 when I realized I still couldn’t spell paleontologist or most of the dinosaurs’ names. My other interest was Art (I can spell that!). I loved technical illustration, I was really bad at it but was good at layout and design and kept being told I should be a fine artist not a commercial one. So I wound up with 3 years of commercial art and 3 years of fine art and art history. With Dyslexia and all the commercial art background I tended to approach my fine art projects at school with a slightly different perspective then the rest of the class. As an example we had a large scale painting assignment. I asked if I could use un-stretched un-gessoed canvas with acrylics applied in watercolor like washes and was allowed. So I arrived each class with my painting folded in my smallest portfolio and some painters tape to tape it to the studio wall. While my classmates tried to figure how to get there monumental pieces on and off busses.

It has become apparent to me over the years that the dyslexic brain does not take a straight line to get to the solutions to a problem. Of the 150 pieces created by members of the guild only 6 canvases were turned and worked from the back. Froggy, Lilly pads, muskox, polar bare, the forge, were mine. The only other one was the Hudson’s bay blanket woven on nails attached to the back of the canvas. So problem solving tends to result in a nonlinear solution not usually arrived at by the majority of the group. This can be a good thing or not. In this case I think it worked out very well.


So now you know why I looked at little balls of coloured wool and was excited about colour blending like my long unused acrylic paints. As well as thinking about layering colours like washes of acrylic used like water colours. My third important concept was grisaille painting technique where you paint you’re under painting in gray scale and then overlay the colour over it. This is used to give amazing depth of colour at the end. I thought about the under structure of the armature and core wool as my underpainting then layered over the colour and shading as the final layer. This make it much easier to get a Froggly look to my Frog.

I tried two technique to bend the colours. The first was very traditional using dog brushes from the dollar store as if they were little carders. This tended to give more uniformity to the blend but dint look quite rite. So method 2; I took little bits (a bit longer than the staple length) of the constituent colours and started to bend them by holding the tips and pulling them apart. Over and over, this produced a more stripy colour which looked much more natural. It took a long time to get the colours blended in this way but I think it was worth the extra work. This blending technique which I practiced on Froggy I think really worked most effectively on Muskox and Pole bare.

I had purchased from Noble fiber last November at the guild exhibition and sail a piece of pre-felt to be used for the backing of a picture. I had chosen a large piece of blues and greens in colours that reminded me of both the cottage and Monet water colours. Unfortunately I should have bot 2 pieces. So I allotted the one to the lily pad background and started colour blending to make the second for Froggy and his lily pads to sit on. I made the background large enough to rap around the frame and attach to itself thus making a form base to work from.

The lily pads were the next to make. I used a mix of both wet and dry felting to create them. I discovered that pipe cleaners don’t shrink at the same rate that wool dose and had to do a bit of patching to cover up the differential shrinkage. I laid in stylized veining and darker edges to the leaves. Then started to bend the pipe cleaners to the shape I wanted the leaves to be. I used thread to attach the leaves to the felt backing.

Next step Froggy must grip the edge of the leaf with his little articulating fingers and prepare for his grate leap to the lily pads in the next picture. So I got to play with bending and posing Froggy until I was satisfied. Than he too was sewn to the lily pads and felt below.


Canvas #2 the lily pads


I created the lily pads as I had the first 2 Frogy is sitting on. Pipe cleaner armature sandwiched by 2 layers of wool on either side. Using again wet and needle felting to get the structure I wanted. Over laying the final colours to give a representation of a lily pad.

For the flowers I made a core that was sort of lozenge shaped with a point at one end. The base of the core wool had 2 entwined pipe cleaners for the stem. I then created triangles with the tip firmly felted and the base left unbelted. I added white over the core wool for the center of the flower then the triangles for the white petals that surrounded the core. The outer layer was triangle of the limey green I had used with the lily pads. I needle felted each petal onto the core and stem until I finally rapped the base of the flower and stem itself.

I made 3 flowers and 3 leaves. I split the pre-felt base and rapped it over the back of the canvas frame attaching it securely. Next I played a bit with the leaf composition, no draping off the frame or flowers poking up too high. When I was finally happy I used button hole thread (since it’s nice and strong) to sew it all down.


I started working on the Froggy/lily pad combination idea in November just after the exhibition and sail and was pleased with parts by the February meeting. Originally Froggy was going to get a lily flower too but it make him too high so all the flowers went on the second canvas frame.

Posted in Challenges, Design, Guest Artists, Inspiration, Needle Felting, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Felted Phone Cases

I have about run out of felted phone cases to sell at the store. I have some larger ones for those “gigantic” phones but needed some smaller ones that fit a smaller phone. I already have a bunch of kits made up for a felted phone class that I ended up not teaching so I used those. The theme for the phone class was “cosmic”. I find with beginner classes it is easier to have the students do similar designs so that people don’t get stuck on what their phone case should look like and work more on the techniques of felting. So these kits were made up to work with a dark sky and planets, moons or stars.

The kits include batts and a few embellishments with different colored wool and some dyed silk noil. Again, for a beginner class I like to keep it simple. So I was just using the supplies I already had made up so it was quick and easy and I didn’t have to get all my wool and embellishments out. Here’s the first layer of batt around the resist.

And here’s the first phone case laid out and wet down.

On to the next one, after I laid out the blue design, I wasn’t sure I really liked it on the background color but decided just to keep going.

And here’s the third layout. I kind of did an “assembly line” for these so I could felt and full them all at once. I didn’t do any rolling, just rubbing. I use a textured black rubber piece under the felt and it speeds up the process a bit.

And here’s all three of the phone cases complete.


And if you’d like to see them a bit larger just click on the individual photo. I have found that having a variety of different sizes works the best for selling these as there are so many brands of phones with so many different sizes, it is hard to get one size to fit all phones.

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged | 24 Comments

Working Small

I’ve been trying some new things to work on that I could do easily and fairly quick. Right, haha.

I had seen some crochet and bead earrings online I wanted to try.  I used the same Aunt Lydia’s variegated cotton thread that I used on one of the scrubbies  I posted about recently.


It turned out out to be a little fiddly, but I got the hang of it and was pleased with the results. I especially like the variegated thread since it makes it easy to wear with several colors. My favorite ocean like colorway.  Here they are lying flat.


But then I thought they would nice hanging. So I scoured my house for something to hang them on.

Can you see the beading?

I keep pulling out my felt scraps and wonder what I can do with them.  I had some prefelt leftover from making business cards covered with throwsters waste to add a little bling and just enough to make two earrings.  I cut out two squares and played around with how to use them.  I like dangling earrings but not too big.  Since it was prefelt I didn’t want to add beads on it and weigh it down.

So, I used a head pin put a few beads on it then attached the prefelt around it just sewing it closed in the back. And finally attached the hooks.  They aren’t perfect but they are handmade.

I started another round pair with beads, but got frustrated and put it aside for another time.

I still have piles of scraps.  I’ll have to play with them some more and figure out what else I can use them for. Unfortunately, many pieces are too small to match and are odd shaped.  What have you done with your scraps lately?


Posted in Beading, crochet, Repurpose | Tagged , , , , , | 18 Comments

Bits and Bobs

I made a couple of felt pieces to use as lampshade covers not so long ago, one of them wasn’t nice at all, it looked okay, but it was made with Shetland, and what I think is Corriedale (from a bag of Botany Lap Waste) and now I understand why people shiver at wool! I used that one for the shade, but couldn’t get a decent photo. The other piece I made is going to be a removable ‘skirt’ when I think of how to attach it. It’s a bit crinkled because it ended up under a pile of things!

A while ago we made pouches using resists at the well being centre. I think I might rewet this and reshape it as a bottle cover:

We’re going to start learning some techniques for making felt landscape pictures at the Well Being Centre. After we were talking about it I showed the group the picture Tracey blogged about not so long ago:

I also showed some of Marion/Blyth Whimsies gorgeous floral pieces: I don’t think we’ll be making anything on that scale though! To get started we made some really simple landscapes, I like doing these, they’re usually around postcard size:

I made it clear that landscapes aren’t something I’m particularly good at or experienced with, Mine are usually simple like that above or very abstract like this:

But, I know fibres and effects and techniques, so we’re going to start with those and build up the skills to make more adventurous pieces. We’re going to start with making simple things like wool strands and twists:

Wool kebabs … I recently read something that when small rolags (usually of cotton) are made, they’re called ‘punis’. But I think these are even smaller, and I’ve been calling them ‘kebabs’ – because they’re rolled around a kebab stick-for so long it’s just stuck now!

Handspun yarn, singles, plied, mixed with fibres or commercial yarns etc:

Coils and Spirals:

We’re probably going to buy some prefelt, but we’ll make our own too:

And combine all the things:

And add things like leaves and flowers, nepps, fibres etc. And hopefully, we’ll all be landscape experts before long! Luckily, we have a group member who is amazing at hand-stitching and embroidery and our very own Free Motion Embroidery expert so we can embellish on the sewing machines too 🙂

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , | 15 Comments