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.
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?