Surface Texture Challenge – From Studio Journal to Finished Piece

Here is one of my many photos of bark. This type of bark has flat looking pieces that resemble puzzle pieces. The pieces gradually flake off and I collected a bunch of these off the ground. I love the different layers and colors that result. Many times, I work in a studio  journal when I find an inspirational source. Over the last several years, I have played around with these bark pieces.

Here I have sketched the various shapes of the bark. Most are multi layered like the sketch in the top left hand corner. I just shaped the overall shape of most of the pieces. I made several different stamps and a few stencils of these shapes.

This is a collage that I did in my studio journal with pieces of discharged paper and stamps. I also added the linear components to give it the feel of bark on a tree. This has been in my studio journal for two years and I really haven’t done anything else with it. This past weekend, I decided I was going to try a technique that I have been thinking about for a long time. Because I had this challenge to work on, I finally got this idea in motion.

I took two pieces of water-soluble fabric and sandwiched some wool and viscose fiber between them. On the top piece of water-soluble fabric, I had traced some of the imagery from my paper collage. I then free motion stitched with zigzag stitch over the lines and shapes. I ended up not putting in as much detail because it shrunk so much with the stitching. And it would shrink more with the next step.

I then took the free motion design and added it into a felted cover I was making for my new Kindle. Since the fabric is water-soluble, it would wash away during the felting process and just leave the stitching. When you stitch directly on felt with the machine, it gives a quilted effect. I was trying to add machine stitching without getting that quilted look. I also want to be able to add machine stitching easily to 3D felt objects. It is hard to get a three-dimensional felt to fit under the sewing machine.

Here is the result. It was a bit dark when I was taking the photos so sorry for the quality. (Click on the photo so you can see the details better.) I loved the result! The stitching is completely attached as the fibers it was sewn to, felted right in with the rest of the fibers. And the stitching is right on the surface, it worked perfectly. The darker lines in the middle were yarn that was couched down by machine stitching. The machine threads are shiny in comparison with the felt and add a very interesting texture as the thread didn’t shrink but the wool did. I will definitely be trying more of this technique.

Here’s the Kindle sliding into the top of the cover. I made the cover fairly thick so that when I put this in my bag, it won’t get banged around so much. That shows a little bit of the way I tend to work. Have you tried anything yet for the surface texture challenge? Do leave a comment and let us know.

About ruthlane

When I discovered felting in 2007, I finally found the creative outlet for which I had been searching. I love that the versatility of fiber allows me to “play” with a wide variety of materials including wool, silk, fabrics, yarns and threads. Creating one of a kind fiber art pieces to share with the world fulfills my creative passion.
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12 Responses to Surface Texture Challenge – From Studio Journal to Finished Piece

  1. shepherdessann says:

    I like the way the stitching stayed on top of the felt. It is nice to see it form inspiration to finished article. Are you going to line it? I would be worried about the kindle getting scratched.

  2. ruthlane says:

    Thanks Ann – Scratched by the felt?? The only thing on the inside is wool. The stitching doesn’t go all the way through.

  3. shepherdessann says:

    You would be surprised how much it can scratch. I found out with sunglasses I put in a felt pouch and then in my purse. Taking them in and out and other things rubbing the felt against the screen. I think it was mostly other things pressing and rubbing the wool against the glasses in my purse that did it. Maybe something that would get less abuse in a bag would be OK.

  4. Karen says:

    That looks really great Ruth and a very clever technique, Its a perfect bag for your kindle 🙂

  5. ruthlane says:

    Ann – I guess I’ll just have to see what happens. It’s made from merino so hopefully it is soft enough not to scratch too much.

    Thanks Kaz!

  6. kipamela says:

    Ruth I Like the whole process and result. Interesting to hear about felt scratching, like you I would not have thought it possible so it is good to be aware. Congratulations!

  7. shepherdessann says:

    Let us know how it goes Ruth. My purse is a pretty rough place, lots of junk in it.

  8. koffipot says:

    My husband and I have been using similar pouches for our ‘phones and they aren’t scratched at all. I think they would be more damaged without their little ‘jackets’.

    Lovely effect Ruth – bark is such a good subject – so many different textures, from reallt rough to the very smooth and shiny. I’m sure your Kindle will be very comfortable;)

  9. zedster66 says:

    That’s a really good idea, Ruth and it looks great 🙂
    There’s a nice shine to it, is that from the viscose?

  10. artbylizb says:

    Another method to try. So much to do… little time! but it’s fun trying 🙂 Nice result Ruth. The sky’s the limit with the stitching possibilities.

  11. ruthlane says:

    Thanks everyone!

    Zed – the shine is from the viscose and it’s much shinier than shows in the photos.

  12. Pingback: Machine embroidery on felt « Flextiles

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