Experiments & Exhibition

Experiments & Exhibition

I almost missed my contributing post this time….so this is skidding in with only hours to spare!

The ‘what if’ part of my brain has been active of late so I want to share some of my recent experiments and why I’ve been so busy – making everything else a blur.

A recent purchase (having seen someone on Pinterest using it in her work) was of some space dyed/variegated wool – Merino wool by Malabrigo.

Anyone here in the UK working with wool and fibre will know that, compared to other countries, it is expensive to buy. With this in mind I decided to see just how far I could ‘stretch’ this Merino. With all my test pieces I work to a 30 x 30cm paper template covered in plastic – easy to see under a bubble surface.

When I learnt to do orienteering and map reading as a child I learnt that you have to walk to the stairs before you can climb them!….you are now scratching your heads and wondering at the relevance of this statement….map references are given with the horizontal East-West first followed by the vertical North-South….I know….you are still scratching….!

Remembering my ‘stairs’ I always lay out my fibre horizontally first then vertically as the second layer. Tada – you can now stop scratching! I also add (assuming I remember) a thread to the left side to remind me which is the top and front of my experiment.

Using the variegated Merino I weighed out just 3g in total and then drafted out my shingles very very finely enough to cover the 30 cm square template with 2 layers. For the second piece I again weighed out 3g total of the variegated fibre but this time loosened and stretched it to cover the template. They were felted and fulled then ironed. Shrinkage of the 2 pieces was similar-ish (approx. 30%).

As I wanted to see how fine I could actually make the felt and what the shrinkage would be, I am pleased with the results which in practice would be suitable for a scarf as they have good drape.

Again with cost saving in mind I tried a further experiment using natural wool wadding (Hobbs I think). This wadding is normally purchased for use with quilts and comes with a fine fabric to one side similar to interfacing. In terms of yardage it is much cheaper to buy than wool batting so I wanted to see if I could get it to felt and how it would compare. I spent 2 evenings with this ‘knee warmer’ carefully peeling off the fabric – I finally achieved it with only a couple of weak areas in the process – but I also achieved some sore fingers too!

I cut two 30 x 30cm squares of the wadding. Over the first I laid out 10g of Shetland fibres in 2 layers and over the second piece I laid out 5g of Merino fibres, again in 2 layers.

The Shetland sample (total weight 20g) felted well by hand as the fibres are course, producing a sturdy, even, well integrated, flexible fabric although there is little drape. Shrinkage being approx. 18%.

The Merino sample (total weight 15g) was not so easy to felt by hand. If I do this again with Merino I think I would roughen the surface of the wadding prior to adding the Merino fibres. Shrinkage was approx. 10% which amazed me, so I actually gave it a session in the washing machine – but there was no change to the shrinkage! The fibres are integrated although the direction of the Merino fibres can still be seen, they almost look like embellishment. I’ve tried pulling them off but they are definitely anchored and being held fast. The sample has a lovely soft feel and some drape.

A last minute photo to show the drape – Shetland top, Merino bottom

Then I experimented further with synthetic Crystal organza – except I didn’t do a test piece as I was very time pressured!

I cut out two oval shapes of the organza and placed a fine herringbone layer of white BFL between them then felted using a lot of gentle hand palming, before fulling. I was delighted that both layers of fabric are well and truly integrated with the fibres (they can’t be pulled apart) and due to the stiffness of the organza and the little amount of wool fibre the piece has retained it’s flatness without crinkling….perfect for my needs. If I was to do this again I would ‘fluff’ the fibres as the herringbone gives the organza a ‘grain’.

Now an ‘experiment’ of a different kind – On the forum recently there was a discussion about signing work so I thought I would share my signing journey….

I do like to sign my work but signing 3D textiles is difficult. Over about a year I looked at so many different techniques/methods without any jumping out at me, so I let the ideas percolate.

My signature (whether my full name or my initials) has not changed over the last 40 years so I decided to stick with them. I must have signed hundreds of times on several sheets of paper then chose the best and transferred it to the computer, where I then drew it up digitally, playing with a few ideas before settling on my preferred option.

By this time I had come to a decision – to get a 2 x 2cm stamp of my initials signature made. I sent off the details and drawing and 10 days later a beautiful brass stamp came back. My reasoning for choosing brass is that it will allow me to do several things – 1. With care (as it is not rubber) dye stamping, 2. Hot foil stamping, 3. Wax stamping and 4. Leather stamping. The results of these then give me different options for applying my signature to my work

Now to the time pressure I mentioned above….to create a collection of 5 seeds for an exhibition. The organza experiment had worked, thankfully, allowing me to produce (hours before some travelling) a large Honesty (Silver dollar) ‘seed’ which I took with me to complete – the exhibition was to be only 5 days after my return.

The Snape Art exhibition (25-27 Oct) was the first since 2011 and was a lovely exhibition including works from many artists from a wide variety of disciplines. I was actually one of a team of 4 tasked with setting up the displays of work for which artists could exhibit up to 6 items. Friday was an exhausting day with only a 10 minute lunch as we worked to create an interesting journey through the works. We placed the last number on the last piece at 6.50pm, got changed and were back on duty for 7.20pm ready for the preview evening at 7.30pm….I certainly slept well that night. I’m sure it will be like childbirth….we will forget the pain of setting it up!

The following are just a few photos of the exhibition.

And some of my felt works.

The event was well attended, and we have had some fantastic comments from the visitors including one who hopes it will be repeated next year….!!!

Have you exhibited any work recently?

16 thoughts on “Experiments & Exhibition

  1. Hiya, love your post as always! Can I just double check please, 3g of that vareigated on a 30cm square seems amazing! Was it stable after fulling?

    1. Anna thank you. Yes you saw the scales photo & read correctly it was 3g – I did challenge myself! My tendency is to draft finely but on this occasion it was extra fine.
      The Felt is stable (both samples) although being fine, is obviously delicate. I can only imagine it is what would have been produced before we had nuno felting.

  2. Phew! We’re exhausted on your behalf just by reading about what you achieved. Well done on creating a beautiful set-up for the artists.
    All your seeds are lovely but the honesty, using the organza, is a huge success.
    Your sampling was very interesting and the wadding result was surprising.
    The brass stamp is impressive and made more so by your dramatic initials.
    Will you be able to resist the urge to play ‘post offices’ for a few minutes? Do you remember the post office sets for children? The best bit was thumping the stamp onto the ink pad then onto the envelopes.

    1. Oh Lynn – memories! We are obviously of a certain age.
      To add to my busy-ness I’ve just yesterday pm said goodbye to my 16mth grandson over from France who was staying with us (with his parents too of course).
      At some point I’ll write about my seeds & include more detailed photos, but I’m glad you liked the honesty seed, which really has a lovely sheen from the organza.
      The wadding (I was hopeful) surprised me too that it worked and it has produced a lovely felt useful for perhaps clothing such as a vest where you don’t need the drape, but flexibility. I will need to experiment further with thicker (maybe double) wadding and to see if I can dye it. The latter is not something I’ve played with properly on my own.
      I must admit as a team, once the initial set-up/too-close-to-it tiredness had evaporated at the preview, we were chuffed with our efforts.
      How do you sign your work?

    2. We had some fabric tapes made that we can sew to the reverse of free hanging felt artwork – ‘handmade by rosiepink’ – you can see one in the banner of our website.

  3. Your felt display is very stylish and all seed heads are fantastic! Where is the place this exhibition was? Your signature is great and the stamp is beautiful and obviously working. Thank you for this post!

    1. Thank you Galina. I enjoyed making the seeds and my head is full of ideas for more, particularly now it is autumn I’m seeing ideas everywhere! I hope the stamp has provided you with some food for thought.

    1. Thank you for your lovely comments, I am honoured being a follower of your work.
      Yes Snape is the name of a local village. At some point I will write about my seeds and their making.

  4. Great to see your experiments and results. It is amazing to me, how little wool you need to create a piece of felt. The organza seed head is interesting that it didn’t get much shrinkage and wrinkling of the organza. Love the seed heads and the exhibit looks fabulous. I like the stamp idea and remember as a child that I had a wax seal that I really liked to use. Lyn’s comment about playing post office made me smile 🙂

    1. Thanks Ruth.
      The organza seed head did work a treat I’m pleased to say especially as I didn’t have time to do the practice run first, and that it didn’t shrink was a total bonus.
      Experiments are fun to satisfy the ‘what if’ questions and like the organza sometimes have surprising outcomes.

  5. Great post, Antje. The stamp is distinctive & stylish; the exhibition very inviting & I love the seed heads. I’m going on a seed pods workshop next weekend so hope to be making more of these myself very soon. Like you, I’ve been looking at and thinking about dried honesty for some time so am particularly interested in your solution to this. Have you used wire for the stem and / or surround or is it just felt?

  6. Thank you Lindsay. I’m glad you like my stamp & our exhibition set-up.
    Yes I felted wire into the stem. Then after a lot of thinking and re-designing of the stem/head assembly structure I then used fine wire around the perimeter too. Enjoy your workshop – I hope you’ll show us your results.

  7. Great experiments. I don’t think we have wool wadding like that here. At least I have never seen it.
    Your seed pods are great. Seeds are so facinating in shape. I keep thinking I would like to do a 3d picture of milk weed pods.

  8. If you make your milk weed pods picture I hope you will show us. The wool wadding is simply the pure wool wadding used for quilts. If I can find the specific details I’ll let you know.
    I’m glad you like the seed pods….Mother Nature is so rich with forms to replicate.

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