Felting Beaches

Felting Beaches

In my last blog I looked at different ways I’ve tried to represent sea and water in wet felted pictures.

Felting Sea Patterns

Looking back at this link, I realise I sold the sea picture I used as the blog header this week. Happy times! A couple of people asked in the comments if I’d also show how I’ve made beaches, so here we go.

The beaches where I live are mainly pebbles, but there are sandy beaches a little to the east and I’ve used both types of beach in my pictures.

Whitstable West Beach: the pebble beach at the bottom of my road

Here’s a picture of two Sanderlings at Minnis Bay: a lovely sandy beach with chalk rocks embedded in places in the sand.  I’m starting with this as it was an early picture and the first time I thought of using a blue cobweb felt overlay to represent a wet beach reflecting the sky. It’s a technique I like and use quite a lot.

Layout for and final picture “2 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay”

There’s a pewter-coloured base for the sand and light prefelted sections and silk fabric pieces for the chalk with a bit of darker shading around them

Here’s another Sanderlings picture, also at Minnis Bay. This time I’ve used a few different sandy shades to add the idea of shade and texture in the sand.

3 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay

Pebble and shell beaches are more common in my pictures as this is what I see when I walk near home. There are quite a lot of variables in how I create them. Some choices are for ‘artistic’ reasons (how do I want this to look and feel?), some for experimental reasons (what would happen if?) and some are entirely pragmatic (what suitable bits of prefelt and felt offcuts do I have kicking around at the moment?).

This is a Big Wave picture that is now owned by a friend of mine. Here I have cut up felt and pre-felt into pebble shapes and put them on a base of several layers of sandy coloured wool tops. I then laid a bit of blue cobweb prefelt and silk over the pebbles nearest to the wave to give the impression of the remains of a previous wave over the pebbles before wet felting everything together

This is a similar picture where I’ve added more patterned silk scraps (recycled charity shop scarves) which are topped with wisps of wool to help them felt in.

Here I’ve taken a different approach. Whitstable is on the north Kent coast of the UK. It’s famous for oysters and has a very long history of oyster catching and farming. Empty oyster shells are piled up on the beach next to a local restaurant to be reused for farmed oysters. When it’s quiet, turnstones pick over the shells, ferreting out bits of left-behind oyster. I love the turnstones! You can see one in action in this video and hopefully see where they get their name from.

Turnstone picking over the oyster shells

I’ve made a few turnstone pictures. In this one I prefelted lots of oyster shells for the foreground then snipped up loads of different coloured tapestry wool for the beach as I wanted a more distant background impression rather than individual pebbles. The tapestry wool is all from charity shops: I really like recycling old and second hand materials.

It took a surprisingly long time to snip all that wool into a large plastic washing up bowl ready to mix it up and lay it out on top of sandy wool layers. It also made a bit of a mess as the felting threw up lots of loose wool strands because the fibres were very short.

“Turnstone Dining at the Royal Native Oyster Stores”

Another experimental approach was a picture I made earlier this year using pieces of recycled silk (cut from charity shop scarves, of course) on top of a couple of layers of wool tops with some wisps of wool on top for colour and to help attach the silk. This gives a different feel – more impressionistic – but still (I hope!) the impression of a pebble beach.

This penguin picture was a commission. Unusually I was working from someone else’s photo rather than my own observations and pictures. By necessity the felt picture is similar to the original photo (though I had to give the penguin on the right a proper head!). I custom made various sheets of light grey pebbly prefelt which I cut up to make this beach as there’s quite a lot of it so I couldn’t just rely on scraps.

And finally, I think this is my favourite beach so far (maybe apart from the oyster shells). It includes several of the techniques I’ve described. I pre-made some shell shapes and used prefelt pieces for pebbles. There’s lots of silk too – I think I may have put down a whole sheet of silk on top of wool layers then added the rest on top of the silk. This gorgeous ringed plover was standing on a shingle spit that juts into the sea just along from my house and I felt this was a good representation of that particular terrain.

Do you have a favourite? Or anything you don’t think really worked? I’d love to hear your views.

20 thoughts on “Felting Beaches

  1. I have to say that the last one is my favourite too. I had to look really closely to see that the picture on the right wasn’t an original photo, the bird is really well done – it looks as if it’ll fly off if you move! Thanks for all the information on how you do the beaches. I have been taking photos of our beaches here in Dorset, but have yet to get up the nerve to try a seascape. Maybe one day.

    1. Thanks for your kind comments Ann. You should have a go. However it turns out it will be a good learning opportunity and you might surprise yourself. I’d start with something small, like a coaster, so you can decide what works best quickly and with the minimum of materials. Good luck and if you go ahead, please share your work on the forum.

  2. The video of the bird and beach is lovely and to be able to hear the sound of the shells being pushed aside and the lapping of the waves is a bonus.

    ‘Yay’ for the sale!

    The way you manage to represent the sea and beach with various fibres is amazing.
    It’s far too difficult to pick a favourite – we love them all – and all the birds are so cute!

    The penguins are fab (better than the photo) and you were so correct to give the one on the right a proper head – it would have looked like a ‘head gone wrong’ in the felted version 🙂

    1. Many thanks Lyn & Annie. Yes, I couldn’t cope with felting the no-headed penguin. That picture was a lot of work but it was commissioned as a surprise for a friend’s wife’s birthday. I was able to deliver it in person and there were tears (fortunately of joy) so it was definitely worth it.

  3. You’re so clever. I think the way you use the prefelt to give the idea of pebbles (and shells) is brilliant. The silk as sea foam is also so good, I can really “see” the water! Well done.

    Congrats on the sale, too!

    1. Thank you, Leonor, I’m really glad you think I’ve represented the pebbles, shells & sea foam well. These things bring me great joy so if I’ve captured a little of the essence of them, that’s fantastic.

    1. Yes, they really are. The way they run away from the waves as fast as their little legs will carry them then dash back in to pick up food is really entertaining. I could watch them for hours.

  4. Congratulations on the sale Lindsay! That shows for sure that you are capturing the essence of the sea since you sell so many of your seascapes. What a wonderful thing to have the sea at the bottom of your road. I’m sure it gives you inspiration every day. I really like all your seascapes and beaches and each has it’s own uniqueness. It’s interesting to see that there are so many different textures to capture. Thanks for the video, it was lovely to get a bit of the sea in landlocked Montana.

    1. Thank you very much, Ruth. I’m happy that that picture (quite a large one) sold this week and will be living just round the corner from me. Yes, it really is wonderful to have the sea at the bottom of the road. It’s not the most beautiful sandy beach nor indeed tropical weather or huge waves but even a short walk along the coast is so calming. It helps to put things in perspective.

  5. Wonderful work Lindsay and so fun to read about the process, except that I like to believe that you are just magic to bring all of the materials together from other things, especially recycled charity shop silk scarves, to end up looking like photographs with proper texture. Big fan! xmaryna

    1. Aww, thank you, Maryna, such lovely comments. My mother was and is a big influence on me. She grew up in wartime so always has a thrifty eye but also a genuinely joyous appreciation of materials, being creative and making the best of what you can find. She’s also an expert birdwatcher. Not in terms of seeking out rare things but just loving the wild birds you can find all around you. I owe a lot to her.

  6. I love them all Lindsay but I have to say I had to look twice at the penguins your work looked so realistic. All superb and beautiful .

  7. Lindsay, you’ve aced your beaches.

    Each technique producing a wonderfully unique work, allowing you to vary the scene between sand & pebbles, because how the waves roll on & pull back from each is so very different. Thank you for your interesting explanations.
    The idea of overlaying a cobweb of blue really achieves that shimmering of the sky in the receding glaze of water.

    In terms of charity shop finds and being thrifty….I too was brought up this way. In the coming year/s it may prove very useful, so we might be ahead of the game!

    Your work in general is becoming more detailed almost photographic – lovely to watch the transformation. Congrats on further sales.

    1. Many thanks for your comments, Antje.

      It’s interesting what you say about being almost photographic. I’m rather in two minds about this. When I’m making a bird I’m keen for it to be accurate but I worry that if it’s an almost photographic reproduction then I may as well have just taken a photo – it would be a lot quicker! With the penguins it was almost inevitable as I only had the one photo to work from and I knew that specific image was important to the client. Actually, I did suggest they have their photo printed on canvas rather than rendered in felt but on closer inspection the Penguins are rather out of focus so it wouldn’t have worked.

      Hopefully with other pictures I interpret them & particularly their environments a bit more loosely but it’s an issue I wrestle with a bit.

    2. I wouldn’t worry at all….I did say ‘almost’.
      What photographs don’t have is the texture & that wonderful handmade quality. Your works always have texture whether physical or with the use of the found fabrics, you even include these in your birds feathers on occasions….something photos could never achieve.
      Keep on it girl 🤪

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