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3D wet felting experiments (part two)

In my last blog spot I showed how I made a sprouting seed pod as part of a group of 3D wet felted objects I’m calling ‘Lifecycles’ that I am submitting to an open exhibition.  You can see that blog here if you missed it or want a reminder https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2020/01/13/3d-wet-felting-experiments-part-one/.

The second piece is a fallen tree branch with fungus and lichen. My ideas is that as one thing dies (the branch) it gives life to others (fungi etc). This will tie in with the sprouting seed pod (a new tree) and maybe I’ll add a couple of other things too, yet to be decided.

Wondering where to start with the texture I take myself off to the local park to look at different types of bark.

I am particularly taken with these very ridged examples and wonder how I’d go about creating that texture in wet felt.  I happen to have some off-cuts from the seed pod on my work table – a piece of fabric, probably linen, I found in a charity shop and felted –  so I decide to see what it looks like if I lay those under some new felt.  Keen to do things properly (and not waste time) I make a sample.

I am still experimenting with using wool batts from different breeds of sheep (rather than merino tops) so put together natural brown and grey Shetland and Finnish wools plus a little dyed green Perendale including a couple of bits of prefelt. You can just see the ridges when felted but I want more so try cutting into the surface. I really like that effect.

Sample of recycled scarf felted to become lichen

I try out some pieces of a (charity shop) hand dyed silk scarf for lichen and like those too so decide to get on with making the log.

I make a sheet of nuno felt using the recycled fabric which I cut into uneven strips.

Using a large rectangular resist I lay out 3 layers of wool on each side, wet it down, and add the felted linen strips on one side in what I hope is a bark-ish pattern. 

I cover these with two more layers of mixed brown and grey wool then add the surface decoration including prefelted discs for fungus and some marbles under the largest green section.

Surface of side one laid out

I would normally lay out the whole thing before starting to felt but there is a lot going on by now that I don’t want to disturb by flipping it over so I start working the first side to try to get it stable before finishing the second side layout.

On the second side I add yarn, locks, nepps, slubs, silk noil, nuno prefelt, pieces from a striped charity shop silk scarf….I am really starting to enjoy this. It’s a good job there isn’t a kitchen sink nearby as I might throw that in too. I’m thinking that as the log will be lying down, this will be the under side so it doesn’t matter if I don’t like everything. I could even cut bits out.

It takes quite a long time to rub and full this woolly smorgasbord, working hard into all the grooves. As I finish working it I decide it looks better standing up and so the log becomes a tree stump. 

Final tree stump from the front

In the end I decide not to cut into the surface as there is plenty of texture and I also leave the marbles in as I like the green knobbly bits (visible in top picture). 

What next? I’ve been mulling over how the pieces will be displayed together and decide to make a flat piece of ‘woodland floor’ felt for them to stand on.  I start with a piece of mixed leafy-coloured prefelt.

I cut the prefelt into rough leaf shapes and lay them on some layers of brown wool.  I can’t resist adding a little bit of 3D so felt some thick green rope to look like new shoots emerging from the ground. 

Finally I make an autumn leaf to highlight the annual cycle of a tree’s dying and renewal. 

Here’s the final piece.  Have I captured the idea of life cycles?

Final “Lifecycles” piece

And yes, Lifecycles has now been accepted into the exhibition so will be on display at Beach Creative in Herne Bay from 20 March to 2 April as part of the 3 gallery exhibition ‘Map’. If you’re in the Whitstable, Faversham, Herne Bay area do pop along to the Fishslab, Creek Creative and/or Beach Creative Galleries and check out how other people have responded to the Map challenge (dates vary slightly). I know some of my friends have fabulous work in the exhibitions so I think they will be hugely varied and interesting shows