Some people close to me are giving up eating animal-based products this month – Veganuary – while others give up alcohol – Dry January. As I’ve set aside some time for playing with 3D wet felting this month I’m going for ‘experimentanuary’ which is much more self-indulgent and shouldn’t be compared with the other examples but what the heck?!
I’ve had various ideas simmering in the back of my mind for a while, so now is the time to bring some to the boil:
- Last summer I noticed some particularly lovely fungus growing on a dead tree trunk.
- Since the wonderful Gladys Paulus seed pods workshop I did in November I’ve been thinking about how to felt sprouting seeds.
- A couple of months ago I saw a call for submissions for an open exhibition across three local galleries (Creek Creative in Faversham, The Fishslab in Whitstable and Beach Creative in Herne Bay) with the title ‘Map’ – to be interpreted as widely as you like.
From a sprouting seed to fungus on a dead tree I’ve been mulling over the idea of ‘mapping’ life cycles.
First I think about texture. I’ve stitched a piece of thin grey Shetland wool pre-felt into ridges with no specific end in mind so I loosely wrap it around a lozenge-shaped resist covered in 2 layers of wetted brown Finnish wool – all from carded batts – to see what happens (I usually use wool tops so this is another experiment).
The remains of the ridges give an interesting texture and I like the top where pre-felt was lightly pushed together – it reminds me of the ‘seam’ on a walnut shell.
I remember some thick lacy fabric (maybe linen) I’d found in a charity shop which created an interesting texture when I felted a sample so I dig that out and decide to give it a try.
I cut out two egg-shaped pieces of the fabric and a slightly smaller resist (to give me a seam round the middle), lay three layers of white Finnish wool on each side of the resist, put the fabric on top and add some tufts of wool on top of the fabric, particularly round the edges.
Here’s the pod as I’m ready to cut out the resist and start fulling more vigorously and the finished item – which I think looks rather like an almond / walnut hybrid. I like the texture and shape.
I wonder what would happen if I used darker wool under the fabric and if I didn’t put any wool on top, so I decide to have a go.
I’ve already made the ‘sprout’ section from a green dyed Perendale carded batt with two leaves at one end of a felt rope, unfelted wool at the other end so I can felt it into a seed pod. Using the same resist I snug the unfelted end of the sprout under 3 layers of natural grey Shetland wool and add the fabric.
As I rub the pod I wonder if it was wise to try the fabric with no wool on top because it doesn’t look like anything is happening for quite a while but it’s one of those times when you just have to have faith in felting and keep going. I’m relieved when I look side-on and see the wool hairs coming through.
Here’s the pod when it’s dry. I knew I would need to stiffen the stem for it to stand up in the way I want. Although it’s fulled very hard, as soon as you tilt it it won’t hold the weight of the leaves. I got some advice from the forum here on using GAC 400 so thought I’d try that.
Here’s where I’d like to be showing you the finished pod but unfortunately I bought the wrong product (GAC 500 instead of GAC 400) so I’m now waiting for the right product to arrive before I can go ahead.
While waiting, I’ve made another seed pod based on something between a sweet chestnut and a hazelnut using 3 shades of Finnish wool.
I’ve also made the rest of the ‘lifecycles’ pieces….or at least I think I have, but I keep thinking of other things I could add, like maybe a stag beetle, so who knows?
There’s a danger of this becoming a very long blog because I’m having so much fun. How many pieces will I submit to the exhibition? Will my entry be accepted? The submission deadline is later this month so I don’t yet know the answers to those questions. In my next guest blog spot I’ll show how I developed the log with fungus and lichen, a piece of (mostly) flat felt for them to sit on, and let you know what happens about the exhibition.