The is a guest post by my friend Jan Scott. She is my guilds excellent Librarian, a weaver , spinner and a felter, sewer. She is also my fabulous massage therapist. This is the story of her giant fish cat cave.
This is Miaka Scott-Martin
She has informed us for almost 20 years that she is the center of the universe and we must obey. Now!! So to create a cat cave worthy of such an illustrious being was a bit of a challenge. I could not do a rock no matter how gneiss it was (a type of metamorphic rock with a banded or foliated structure, typically coarse-grained and consisting mainly of feldspar, quartz, and mica. Pronounced Nice) so I spent about a month looking for inspiration finally deciding that I should make her the Cat buss from My Naboure Totoro. Then I made the horrible discovery, someone had already done that!!!
Ok rethink, besides her love of cardboard Vehicles, Sports cars (16th birthday), Dune buggy (17th birthday) and Vespa (18th birthday) what does she really like?
She can’t have anything she needs to drive herself since by her 19th birthday she was blind. She can’t have anything she needs to drive herself since by her 19th birthday she was blind. Since she fell off the bed we revoked her licence to drive. Humm… Fish have been a strong theme through her life. Usually fish go into her, I wonder if she would go into a fish? What kind would be worthy of her? It would have to be rare, exotic and large (she was the one who insisted her prestige did not fit in a mere cat carrier she wanted a mid-sized dog carrier. She is actually a small part Siamese cat, at least in bone structure if not colouring.) Off to the internet to look at weird fishes that Miaka might like, so the coelacanth project began. A scale of reference for there size!!!
Ann should have known something was up when I ordered a lot of wool in our group shopping.
Now for the good stuff: Felting commencing now!!
We arrived at Carsonby hall for the workshop. Ann had pre-set up the hall with two 6 foot tables for each of us. Then went around to help each of us create our resist shape. As you know the resist has to be bigger than your finished project because the felt will shrink as it increases cohesion. As befits the center of the universe, I wanted this to be a very big, thick, strong, fish! The resist was almost the length of the table so when the tail was added it just fit diagonally across the 2 6 foot tables.I divided my fibre in half and then divided each pile again from there. I layered out in thin layers working length then width and repeated (many times). This meant I was a bit behind the rest of the class. I had thought about adding the Fins like a book resist but decided it would be faster to add them afterword with needle felting. I had also thot about gills but decided that would have added more time too.So the process was lay out one side apply patient patting and massaging until it started to coalesce and then get help to move that out of the way while I started the second side. Massage side 2, flip wet and position the resist.
Rap edges of side 2 over the resist, position side 1 on top of the resist and side 2, wet, massage, flip. Smooth edges over fish. Reassess. Add more dark to the top (I know I should have added it before the water but it was still only holding together a bit so it was worth the try – and worked!)
Now more massaging, moving from Vibrations to Effleurage and finally starting petrissage! I can’t wait for Tapotement but It will not work if I rush!!! Now it’s time for rolling gently then with more enthusiasm first in one direction then the other; lots of flipping of fish.
My Hubby arrived with my camera just in time to help roll the fish some more. It’s good to have help!!!
Because of the scale of my project, I was not looking at the car mats that Ann had suggested. Instead I found the runner that goes in the center of a van, good knobiness, folds for transport and it was under 20.00 ok just under 20.00 but wow did it work well!
I had also brought some massage implements, acupressure balls and a knobby foot roller. Not usually looked at as potential felting tools but they worked really well too. The balls were grate for working the mouth after I had cut the opening to remove the resist. I had brought an IT band foam roller it’s much bigger in diameter than a pool noodle but didn’t get to try it out for felting.
At the end of the day I had a wet fish with the resist removed but not felted enough yet. I didn’t get to do the tapotement or the flinging it on the table!!
SO off to Ann’s later in the week to continue the rolling. Finally resorting to throwing it into her spinner (which it barely fit into) then on to the dryer with the spiky balls thrown in to help shrink it. To help it hold its shape while it dried we stuffed towels into the back end and then a blow up beach ball.
I was unaware of how important the kiss of life was in felting but Ann did an excellent demonstration! You can see the acupressure balls on the table beside the fish.
This will give you an idea of the shrinkage we achieved.
Now back to home to start working on the fins, there were a lot of fins. After rechecking my photo reference and counting all the fins I started making fins in an extra-large boot tray (it has a lattice pattern so that helped with felting as it restrained the water from escaping. As each Fin was finished it went to the washroom to be thwapped on the sink edge and then hung up to dry on the shower curtain.
I have a vary patient husband, at least it not nylons drying from the shower rod!!
Monday of the guild meeting and all the Fins were done! Finally, I was ready to assemble the grate fish. I was dropped off early (before 7:30am) set up the library and then started work on needle felting the fins into place.
Unfortunately, I realized as I started the 3rd fin I had the spacing wrong, so detached and started again. Luckily I had only lightly put them in place.
Other than putting on the eyes I had the fish done by the time of the meeting.
It was too big a catch to hide!!!
The Great fish was much admired for show and tell. There was some debate as to whether the recipient of the fish would like it or be able to get into it. (Being blind)
Miaka seemed very pleased with her fish and when shown where the entrance was, went right in. she got comfortable but was leaving her tail hanging out of the fish’s mouth.
The next day she spent most of the morning curled up between two of the side Finns. Later that afternoon her heath suddenly took a turn for the worse.
She died peacefully that night. I am very glad she waited until she got to enjoy her fish even if it was just for one day.