Quite a few years ago, as a way to give a fun summer challenge to guild members, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners guild executive decided to make a summer poker challenge. But since we are not a card-playing-poker-guild we would do fibre poker instead. I think it was Shirley Browsky who set it up (she has her OHS master Spinner (1991) and is completing her master weaver Certificate). she made a deck of cards listing different types of fibre, different techniques, thicknesses, colours and things to includes like feathers or beads. We drew 4 cards from the deck and could re-select one if we wanted to.
1) 2014 the drawing of the cards
Even after trading in one card for another, we occasionally wound up with conflicting cards, which made the finished item extremely hard to complete. There was also a deck for weaving created. Over the years, more cards have been added to the deck and for the summer of 2020, a felting deck was created. This year, each deck was updated and divided into 4 suits; for felting, it was Fiber, Colour, Technique and Other. This greatly reduced the likelihood of getting impossible conflicts in cards. (Use only plain weave + include overshot).
Cards would be drawn at the June meeting and you would have until the September meeting to create your yarn skein, woven sample or project, or your felted item. The September meeting would be a double show and tell meeting, a sort of what I did on my summer vacation and the poker challenge completed projects.
2) This is my spinning challenge from 2014. I think it was; include Found objects, use Locks, Pigtails and it was either use more than 2 plys or over twist.
3-5) Carl ran Fiber Poker in 2017 with a spinning or weaving option. He carefully wrote down everyone’s picks.
6) This is Ann’s finished skein.
7) A particularly interesting solution to one challenge was seen for “include Locks”
I had not been participating the last few years, due to working on the library architecture migration project; we can chat about that some other day if you are curious. This year we were in lockdown and with the most massive part of the library project done. (There are still a few small manageable chunks left to do.) SO, I can have fun rather than just watching what everyone else has made (and taking pictures of course).
This year the draw with the new decks was over email. I requested a felting challenge and the email arrived of what elements I would have to include. Nothing conflicted and I could do all the elements without researching. The problem was more what to pick?
8) 2021 my cards
OH my, so many options running through my head!! Slow down and write them down
- Stained glass with fine yarn using a blue 2D picture with 3D wire element finishing embellishment with beads. Going from 2D to 3D is lots of fun. I have done quite a bit of that with the Guild art show for Canada’s 150th. Keep thinking.
- Landscape with blue sky as a prominent feature. Wet felt background layout yarn for cloud edges, water ripples, with a tree or rock edges. Lay over yarn with thin wisps of wool, building back words to the backing base. Work the back dry then flip check wet and felt. Let dry enough to Add wire elements to the backing side to push out rocks/trees add edge stiffness to the piece. Add fibre and felt to attach the wire. Push stretch out 3D areas. Let fully dry and add beads. Hmm, that sounds like fun but let’s keep thinking.
- Hedgehog, yarn for spikes, make a blueberry or blue flower. Use an armature –mouth can open, add beads for eyes. – 1.5 (14ga) aluminum, high twist 2 tone yarn may have to spin it. black beads, white, beige and light gray and brown back. Research: “There are seventeen species of hedgehog in five genera found throughout parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in New Zealand” Also; adult size of 6–8 inches, short legs, but hedgehogs are equipped to waddle around with the help of an about a half-inch long stubby tail for balance. They can lift their underside completely off the floor and run very quickly for short distances. domestication will have five toes on their front feet and only four on their back feet. Spines only grow to be less than an inch long but are sharp enough to provide defence. the quills, which are modified hollow hairs. For domestication purposes, the white-bellied or four-toed hedgehog, Atelerix albiventris, was bred with the Algerian hedgehog, Atelerix algirus. The structure of their teeth, including two frontal incisors for 36 altogether, They prefer a cat food with meat or poultry listed as the main ingredient, and definitely with a high protein level. a supplementary diet including insects or mealworms. Some additional treats could be boiled egg, fruit, crickets, or vegetables.
Maybe not, i did one (with a soap inside him) recently for Glenn. (he named him Crevice)
9) Robins nest from a hanging basket at my mother inlaws’.
- A real Birds Nest arrived from Oakville – make a bird with an armature to go in the nest. Oh, I like this idea. Let’s look at it further.
My favourite colours are blue and black. (ok my favourite colours remind you of a bruise at least it’s not one of those awful green and yellow bruises!) A blue jay is too big for the nest, research birds that are blue in the Ottawa area of Ontario. Birds I like; crows (too big), Blue Jays (too big), chickadees (well they have black but not blue), most of the birds of prey (too big).
Include Wire well that is easy. Add an armature. Didn’t Sara have proportions for a wren recently in a video? Yes. What is she using for her armature? 22ga for legs, it looks like floral wire, 32ga for toes and a pipe cleaner for the body. Hmmm, I do not think that has the strength I want and I don’t have a 32 (I checked my samples). Ok, 20ga legs and body, 26ga toes. Wrens and chickadees’ are close in size. This should work perfectly!…. I carefully watched and re-watched the first bit of the video as she is working on the armature to figure out the size. Leg measurements check, body and toe pieces I have an estimate but I left the wire longer so I could trim to size as I work. This allowed for more support wrapping on the legs, which I had wanted to add while watching the video.
Include Beads Or Sequins: birds need eyes! I have at least 2 sizes of glass beads in the small box of beads. I switched that part of my collection into a different box when I rebuild my office shelves (moved the massage and computer reference stuff out and moved wool, wax, wire and beads in. ok where on the shelf did I put it and why is it not labelled yet? (Another job, add it to the list). I guess I should either not clean up or remember where I put things! Ah, one little bag of the right size, perfect! Now how to attach it?
Use Thread Or Fine Yarn: do I know where my beading needle is? ….no. Will one of the long sewing needles in the giant pill bottle by the window work? Maybe… Yes, not all the beads are exactly the same size so some fit over the eye of the needle and some don’t. I pick two that fit. Now for the thread. I just got a couple of huge bobbins of industrial thread for making bags (a shop that made bags was closing so I scored white black and a green, no blue) I picked up some quilting thread that may be a bit better size and it will still be strong enough. What do I find for colours? Black, white and a different green… there seems to be a theme here that doesn’t include blue. Ok, I like black too. Black, it will be. Any other instructions? let me check. No, that’s 4 and I have them covered.
Now to watch the armature section of Sara’s wren video.
Part 1 is here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHZnSWuz7AY
Part 2 is here; https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hnZrpAxrwcA
Sara (Sarafina Fiber Art) has a slightly different approach to felting than I seem to be developing. She is more additive and has been working on techniques and vocabulary that can be reproduced by others. She tends to wrap the armature, then makes shapes from the wool and adds them to the armature. (Thus, additive; like sculpting with clay). While I start with the armature and wrapping, I usually add loose wool and sculpt it down to what I want. (Thus more subtractive; like sculpting with stone. Just keep poking and compacting until you get the shape.) I am adding wool in sections and layers to build up muscles but I don’t tend to pre-build the muscle and add it on.
Since I had never tried to make a bird before I should probably try to follow Sara’s instructions and see how that goes… or how long that lasts before I wander off-topic and do my own thing. (I am a challenging student.)
As I said, I watched and re-watched the beginning of Sara’s video to get the armature correct. I modified her wire suggestions to increase the armature strength. For the body and legs, I selected the 18-inch long floral wire in 20ga steel (I used a magnet to pick up a part that fell off the table.) I measured and cut the legs then added the 26ga garden wire to create the toes and trimmed the excess. I then folded the 18-inch floral wire (20ga) following Sara’s measurements twisting the wires together and attaching the body to the legs. I formed a small triangle for the body and left the rest of the wire to support the tail.
10) Leg-wire adding the wire for the toes
11) The body added to the legs with the extra wire left for the tail
12-13) Added black ½ inch floral tape to the beak and neck.
Ok, time to look more closely for reference photos for chickadees. Oh my, there are many chickadee types! Our local one is the black cap Chickadee. Let’s try to find shots from various directions. Why is it so hard to find a shot of the back of the head? I guess it’s hard to sneak up on a chickadee or photographers just don’t think of that as a chickadee’s best side.
Time to add fibre
First, try on the beak, it was a dark grey long-staple fibre but it just didn’t look right. Next, I tried a bit of black merino roving but I wasn’t too happy with that either. Let’s leave that a moment and look at the legs
For the legs, I selected an extremely short crimpy brown/beige fibre. Although the baggy of fibre was unlabeled, I think it may be a bit of extremely fine Shetland. It is lightly washed and still has a bit of lanolin in it. I drafted out to about an eighth of an inch width started at the top of the leg and worked down to the toes.
14-15) Head and feet
I am still considering the black but let’s add the body and start the neck.
16-17) I anchored one end of my roving and added layers following Sara’s Instructions. It’s starting to look a bit more bird-like.
18) I continued to follow instructions (mostly), adding a roll of wool for the chest and to build up the back.
19) I am working over a cheaper quality pool noodle.
20) Yes, that looks a lot more bird shaped now. I don’t like that grey tonally. It’s too dark and flat. That’s ok. I have more fibre options.
21) Blending with hand carders
My options in Corriedale are Liquorish (black), Slate (dark grey), Fog (med-light blue-grey), Grey (med-Dark Grey), White Core wool world of wool. A bit of Fog, grey and a tiny bit of white and I had what I wanted. I again did not completely blend the fibre to a uniform colour since nature tends to be more creative than flat colours.
22) lightening the back colour
Now it’s time to consider the tail. The Chickadee seems to have a reasonably long tail so let’s trim a bit off the leftover wire and let that support the tail. I didn’t want to fold over the ends so I used the floral tape to keep them from poking through.
23) needs a tail
The nose was still bugging me so I took off the merino and replaced it with Slate Coriadale. Ah, much better. I then blended the slate and Licorice to get a non-flat colour for the black head markings and build up the top and sides of the beak.
24-25) Oops, I got distracted watching the Olympics while I worked (there was no blood shed but audio-books are safer when felting). At this point I have the wing shapes done but still need to add the feather detailing. I will leave that for later. I just have them held in place with a pin. I think I need a bit more rounding under the wings and the head and markings still need a bit more shaping. I also need to add eyes.
A pause while I go look for the box of beads. I will get back to that in a moment.
Through today I have been sitting in front of the computer (you can see the messy desk piled with wool and implements of wool torture and maybe the Mountain dew I was drinking). Just off to the right(?) is the phone which today is the bane of my felting. After someone wanting to clean my ducks, (how silly, ducks are self-cleaning. it’s the pond they wash in that would need to be washed – I don’t have a pond or ducks), multiple probably robocalls that there is no one on the line so I hang up and finally I got this one. Oh, I have chatted with their co-workers before this could be fun but it’s interrupting my felting.
Transcript: Ring!!! “Hello?” Long pause, “Is this Mrs. Glenn Martin? Noncommittally “this is Jan, Who is this?” “This is Microsoft service department about your computer.” I interrupt “which one, I have a few? If you can tell me the operating system I will know which one you want to discuss, I have some that don’t go on the internet too.” Silence……Click. She gave up much more quickly than I expected. It usually takes them longer to give up. Maybe I sounded like she had interrupted important felting?
After a bit of a search I found the small box of beads and yes I have 2 sizes of black glass beads. The bigger ones look like they will be perfect for this size bird. Now, where are the beading needles? I have a long needle that worked if I was careful selecting the bead (some had larger or smaller openings)
26) adding beads for eyes
So by bedtime, I had got this far. The eyes have been added and the felting highlight around the eye has been added. You can see the notes I took while watching Sara’s video. Unfortunately, I was partway through watching the videos when I heard her say she was working at a larger-than-life, size. Drat!!! Well, that explains why a chickadee fits in a robin’s nest!
27) still needs to have details added to the back and wings but that will have to wait until after the next library day. I promise I will show you it when I am done! I may make another which is more appropriately sized.
Have Fun and Keep Felting!!