Stained Glass in felt part 1

Stained Glass in felt part 1

As I stared at a blank piece of felt thinking about what I wanted to try next, I looked around my increasingly cluttered office and considered my options. I considered: the sudden increase in freshly washed wool; spinning, weaving and felting magazines; plants brought inside to rescue from the winters’ impending cold; reference books; hat blocks; baskets and, somewhere under the pile of wool is a Poang Ikea chair (I may have to find it a new home –its very comfy to sit in but so hard to get out of). From among this clutter, I spotted a ball of green fine wool I bought at a Value Village.


I have had this thought flitting around in the back of my brain for a couple years now. It has kind of worked its way to the surface among all the washing of sheep-shedding. It involves another approach to considering felt pictures. I have enjoyed and had reasonable results from treating fibre like a Watercolour painting when felting; thin layers of colour to build up to the final colour. (Fox) I have also used fibre like acrylics; mixing the exact colour I want and applying it in a much more graphic manner (Frog). I have treated fibre like a 3-D Grassi painting which is sort of combining both acrylics and watercolours. I want to explore this further. (Polar bear and Octopus) However, in the back of my mind, I have been curious about using fibre like stained glass.

Stained glass and tracery windows have this amazing graphic outline in either the stone or the lead chasing. There is a similar graphic expression in colouring book pages. The lines are usually black outlining areas of colour. The colour areas can be solid or it can be more subtly shaded. There was a science fiction illustrator I liked, who used red under paintings and let them come through in his final pieces. You can see a similar outline under painting in some of the Group of Seven landscapes too. So this would be a bit more like thinking of an oil under painting. I did not get to try oils at school but did watch other students use theirs.

Now that the techniques were decided upon, what should the subject be?  Sheep, Flowers, a rose windows?

I pulled out the foam kneeling pad from Dollarama (they should be back on sale by February) and another piece of the felted wool Duvet to use as a base. It was not the right size so after a bit of opposite diagonal tugging it became a much better size. I did not want to draw with a sharpie marker this time so I outlined the area with pins to give me a 5×7 image. (This means you have to replace the pins and check your measurements when you lift you’re felt from your foam base. If you cut a template to the size you will be matting or framing to this will make resetting quicker.)


I pulled out the ball of green wool yarn that had caught my attention and lay the loose end over the wool playing with different shapes. Looking at the spewed yarn made me think of a quatrefoil.  This means I will need something to make a circle with. Hum.  Ah!   The handy bottle of Robax Platinum; not only good for my back but also to use to make a circle of yarn around its base! I attached the tail end of the yarn and started to needle felt the yarn into the background. I figured out quickly that if you tip your needle towards the attached end of the yarn it was easier to control the line and not have it distort as it became affixed to the felt base.



Using pins as turning points for the yarn enabled me to layout a quatrefoil



If you do not pin the yarn directly into the felt it will hold it in place but still allow the yarn it to move.  As you start to affix the yarn to the base felt there will be take up or shortening of the yarn but the yarn can slide past the pins but still keep your basic shape.

Once I had a shape, I considered filling it in. I had been combing some locks and had a bit of comb-waste to play with. I did the sections between the quatrefoil in blue and then did the quatrefoil in purple.

7.jpg 7



I realized it was not a rose window I had created but a Viking shield so I needed to make at least another one. I have noticed using photo reference is easier in the design and perspective phase. Working right out of your head can be more stylized and a bit trickier. Both can create interesting results!



Again I used the useful Robax bottle as a template and created more round shields (as opposed to a kite shield which is more Norman, not Viking). I extended off the edge of the pictures so I could get the composition I was developing. The prow won’t show but the curve going up to the prow would.  I should add a third shield to give the rhythm I would like. Next will be to start laying in planks on the ship.



Laying in the planks I had to cross the round shields I felted up to the shield then skipped over to between the shields then cut the unattached part crossing in front of the shield. This was trimmed back and felted into the edge of the shield.


I am not sure if I like the angle of the planks yet so I may pull them off and try again but I will sit and think about it for a bit. I will likely move the 5×7 outline in pins down a bit so more of the third shield will show. (working with a predetermined standard size will make matting and framing much easier later.)

While I think about the plank angles I had better go look at The Gokstad or the Oseberg Viking Ships. If you are lucky enough to live near The Viking Ship Museum in Oslo, Norway you can see them in person. I will have to use the internet.

I will continue to work on this technique and see how it turns out. But if you suddenly have an overwhelming need to try this too you might check out a ready-made source of images I should have considered more before I began this. With the explosion of stress-reduction adult colouring books, we have a lot of options to inspire us.  I am suspecting that simpler line drawings will be most effective but I am curious to see what catches your eye.  There are some free downloads of colouring pages in PDFs that might get you started at . Otherwise, try a google search under image for adult colouring pages, printable. Many of the images are a bit busy so you may have to simplify them.

8 thoughts on “Stained Glass in felt part 1

  1. It’s great to see where other artists get their inspiration from and how they develop and grow the idea.
    Looking forward to part 2!

    1. Thanks!
      the fling string was fun to look at and did prompt ideas. i had an art teacher that suggested a few ways to aproch a blank page that was refuesing to let you start. light pencil random doodleing lines then turn the page in various direction while looking at the lines can trigger ideas, then just erase the parts you dont want and start your drawing / under drawing. it was also suggested to just take a sheet of paper and crumple it up (that will teach it not to be inspiering) then smooth it out, consider the rinkles and start your drawing for there. (i dont think this would be apropriate on high art bord or a pannel painting!) i am already thinking about the next section but have a workshop cataloge that will shortly need to be data entered then the cataloge for next years workshop the our local guild made! so much to do not enuff time!!! (Sleep less so i get more done!! its a plan)

  2. You have a great start there Jan. I am not sure where you got Viking ship from your starting point but all of our minds work in different ways which is fun to see the directions others go. I’m looking forward to seeing how you complete this picture.

    1. i am supized where my ideas take me sometimes too! lets jsut blame that on the dislexia. i was sure i was thinking of the rose window up it the top Left hand corner what a suprize to realize i was looking at a viking sheild in the lower left corner! it must have happened as i was rotating the picture to go around the robax bottle. maybe i should have had a robax insted of useing the edge of the bottle! i am looking forword to working on this more. my mined has had a chance to think about it some more. ( i feer there may be water in my futer)

    1. thanks i had it with me on Monday but with all the people droping in during the day i didnt get the library work done untill after you arived and by then the rest of the guild was ariving too. maybe the next social i will bring it and be social insted of working on the library!

  3. What a wonderful experiment. I would never have thought of making stained galss as inspiration for felting. I look forward to the next installment.

    1. im shure its jsut the dislexia. not only can i create multiple opptions to spell words (5 differnt ways to spell jurry and none of them rite in one set of school notes), create puns that i dont see and generaly slotter the english langwage, i seem to have a randomly flowing esily distracted brain that remembers the oddest things and puts things together in unextpected ways. well at least dislexia isnt all bad. (i have discalula too but i dont usualy do math in front of people so no one notices.)

      i think thinking of stained glass may have a valid effect. there use as im trying now by outlineing first then filling in or by felting then outlineing after. both could give a feeling of stained glass but i think the wate of the line will afect how stongly the feeling of stained glass will be. also i am thinking aobut the luminosity of a tiffiny lamp can i get that efect in felt? ah this will be fun!

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: