Learning curves – Part 1

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!

16 thoughts on “Learning curves – Part 1

  1. It’s a lovely piece of abstract art Antje! There is much to see and the colours are fab. The last one is the best direction – it looks ‘balanced’.

    However, if you’re not happy with it, you might go over the piece with 2 ‘L’ shaped pieces of card as a ‘viewer’ (holding the cards to make variable size squares/rectangles) to check if there’s some sections you may like to cut out and re-make into mini pictures? Perhaps add stitching or needle felting to them?

    There’s too much prettiness in the piece to bin-fling it!

    1. Interesting that you say the last one Lyn – it’s direction of creation, is the one I’m still favouring. Machine embroidery is a hot contender to ‘help’ my liking of it.
      The ‘L’s’….good idea….I’d completely forgotten about them.

  2. I like it, but if you feel it needs more, then perhaps you could either add some free motion stitching on the machine, or some hand embroidery.
    On the other hand remember less can be more. 🙂

    1. Thank you. Just working out what to do is my dilemma. I should have applied your last comment much sooner! This project is definitely a slow burner.

  3. The one on the right looks like an abstract landscape to me. I like it. I don’t think it needs anything else. But cropping it into smaller pieces could also work. You could create greeting cards from the smaller sizes.

    1. Thanks Ruth – you know what for! Interesting that you also see a landscape, although not planned as such the first quarter challenge came to mind after it’s completion. I will investigate cropping and will make some L’s.

  4. There is plenty of movement and interest with the different colors, textures, etc. I agree the right one has the most potential of being an abstract landscape. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d add. But keep looking at it and the answer will come. If not, Lyn’s suggestion may help.

    1. Thanks Marilyn. Getting feedback is very helpful. I’m doing due diligence Pinterest homework to find the answer, as divine inspiration hasn’t arrived yet!

  5. Good blog. Agree that the orientation on the right works best. As you’re not happy with it I’d either hand bead & stitch onto it, appliqué felt offcuts onto it, do as Lyn described to decide how to cut it into smaller pieces, or offer it for sale as it is (I don’t know if you sell work) and see if its person turns up.

  6. Thank you Lindsay – much appreciated feedback. Appliqué of felt offcuts – I hadn’t thought of that one, I will now look at it again with that in mind. Selling is currently on the future card pile!

  7. Thanks for sharing your process and this piece. I love all the textures and color going on in it. Recently, I took an art class “Reality to Abstraction.” Abstract is way out of my comfort zone but I learned a lot doing the work, studying it, having it critiqued by the class, and adjusting areas or, yes, even sometimes throwing it out. Having said all that, I like the far right orientation the best. Perhaps you might think about giving the lower right hand quadrant of the piece more visual weight through color so that it becomes a larger, more unified mass. Let it anchor the piece. Right now, the two blue areas and the cut area have the same visual weight- at least on my monitor. Maybe if that lower mass of yellow, red, grey, and blue could be tied together somehow to make them read as more of a single entity that would help the overall composition. Regardless, it’s a lovely piece. Bravo! You’ll figure it out!!

  8. Thank you Laura for your detailed thoughts. One thing we are all unanimous on is the orientation.
    I have been avidly studying ‘fluid’ art, pinning lots (!!!) and one particular artist I’ve recently come across has captured my imagination – Crystal Ma (she has several youtube videos). With her work as inspiration and In line with your thinking, I’m going to see if I can pull the various areas together so that they ‘flow’.

  9. What do you think is wrong with it? I see a river flowing through it with multiple colorations of the countryside. The only thing I would do is add more vibrant colors to make it pop! Your work is very conservative and you have just taken a step out of your box; Brovo! GiGi

  10. Thank you GiGi. Reading your comment and in the lamp light of this evening looking at the piece I can see the river and countryside with blue sky and green land. I’ll keep this in mind as a potential direction for embellishment. I definitely stepped out of my box – if you read tomorrow’s post you will see that I rapidly stepped back!

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