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.
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 https://www.justcolor.net/ . 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.