Colourscape & inspiration from sampling

Colourscape & inspiration from sampling


above: Colourscape in felt

I was fascinated by this colourful photo of Chilhuly Glass.  I love the transparency of the glass and the way the overlap gives a secondary, and sometimes tertiary, colour.

Chihuly glass installation at the Bellagio in Las Vegas

But how to achieve that effect with fibres?

My first idea was to try delicate nuno felt so I cut three circles of fabric (2 are silk and 1 is unknown but it’s open weave) and some lengths of 100% wool yarns that I reduced to one ply.

fabrics and wool yarn

I arranged wool on each piece of fabric then overlapped the circles. I was hoping that gentle agitation would make the wool fibres migrate into all the fabrics and hold them together.

fabric and yarn wetted down

Long story short – it wasn’t successful and it would have been a waste of a photo to have shown the resulting mess.  The thin strands of wool were not ‘loose’ enough to work through the silk but the wool on the open weave unknown fabric was ok.  Also there wasn’t enough transparency with the silk.

My second idea was to try cobweb felt.  I fluffed up a small amount of wool fibres …..

puff of fibres

…  wet it down, then added a spiral using just one strand of wool.

fibres and wool yarn

I made two more puffs of fibres in a similar way then placed them down as shown in the photo.  I felted them very gently.

fibres and wool yarns put together pre-felting

When the felt was dry I picked it up and I liked the effect but I wasn’t sure where I was going with it – should I make a see through piece that needed light behind it or a piece to be mounted onto a stretched canvas?

dry cobweb felt

Eventually I decided to make my colourscape using puffs of fibres and one-ply yarn on a thin base of bright white merino fibres so that I could mount the finished piece onto a stretched canvas.

Sampling may look like a lot of effort, but it actually saves time, frustration and materials!

Sampling also inspires new ideas.

I made circular puffs of fibres in different sizes and decided to just use one line of yarn on some, but not all, of the circles.

My colourscape developed during the laying the down of fibres to become the almost finished piece, shown below, that I trimmed with a rotary cutter when dry.

The trimmed felt is 43x28cm (17″ x 11″) … and yes … it really is that bright!

I have a lovely assortment of commercially dyed wools: vivid fuschia, vibrant lilac, canary yellow, bright orange,  spring green, fluorescent pink etc…

…and the puffs of fibres were see-through enough to imitate the effect of layers of glass.

circles laid down and felted

Then it was time for a bit of pencil-end chewing as I still wasn’t sure of where I was going with it.

I knew I had to keep the circles theme so I sketched out several ideas but none really felt right.

So I put the felt to one side and carried on with other things. The next day an idea formed.  I  picked up some cookie cutters, an air erasable pen then I drew circles of two different sizes on the cobweb felt using the cookie cutters as guides. I cut them out, shuffled them about, put them back, and I liked the result!

I secured the circles in place with a single-sided fusible fabric, ironed onto the back, then,  as this piece so lightweight, I simply applied a thin layer of fabric glue to the fabric backing to attach the felt to a stretched canvas.

Below are some close-ups:

circles 1

circles 2

circles 3

circles 4

Anyone else taking up the fourth quarter challenge?  A colourscape really can be anything at all: wall art, clothing, vessels or perhaps a small piece to put on a greetings card.



14 thoughts on “Colourscape & inspiration from sampling

  1. Great post and very lovely effects. I went to a Chihully exhibition in Seattle a couple of years ago, absolutely loved it, and think you’ve really captured some of the feeling of the glass. Great job!

  2. Absolutely fabulous – Thankyou for sharing this. Can I ask what yarn/wool you used please ? When I’ve tried using knitting wool ,it goes wiggly – yours doesn’t seem to. TIA

  3. Thank you Anne-Marie. Usually knitting wool does go wiggly in my felting as the shrinkage of the wool fibres pulls on the yarn in all directions.
    But this piece is cobweb felt (if you hold it up to the light you can see light through it) and it required very little felting therefore there was very little shrinkage. If you look at the close-up photos you can see that the yarn is a bit wobbly but not much.
    I used a very fine 2 ply lambswool yarn (lace weight) – I have several colours in 10g balls that I bought at a fair from a stall by Wee County Yarns.

  4. Thank you Sherry. How wonderful to have worked with glass for 22 years – it’s a beautiful medium for art!

  5. Great job! I love the see through effect and the way you applied the cut circles over top at the end. It is good to sample for sure. As you say, it saves time in the end and may take you in a direction that wasn’t expected to start.

    1. Thank you Ruth. Sampling certainly enabled me to make my colourscape – I wouldn’t have come up with the idea for the whole thing from the beginning – it was an evolving process that started with sampling.

    1. Thank you Leonor. It’s on a wall where I can see it many times each day and it’s really brightening up these grim November days!

  6. Oh wow Lynn – amazing. You have achieved a wonderful transparency certainly very glass-like. Art glass is something I’m very fond of (collecting, seeing glass museums, watching glass blowers etc) as I enjoy how the colours interact/blend or sit as a focus. Your piece has captured the subtleties & delicacy of such glass & I love the vibrant colours you’ve chosen….definitely a spirit booster in the continuously dull wet weather we are experiencing!
    This piece is definitely giving me ideas….thank you.

    1. Thank you Antje. I’m really pleased (and a little surprised to be honest) that it turned out so well. Cutting the circles out and replacing them in different holes was the game changer.

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