With the first quarter challenge being all about making samples by deconstructing/reconstructing different materials I had intended to spend a day doing precisely that and detail them in this post. Like a lot of well intentioned plans time slipped away and I’m sitting here with no new samples and a post to write!

For the sake of getting this post out on time I’m going to have to cheat and show some of the deconstruct/reconstruct work I’ve made in the past.

This sample was my first attempt at Nuno Felting, made with synthetic sheers and some cotton fabrics. I remember thinking at the time “never again” as the process seemed to take forever! Obviously I did do it again and soon learnt which fabrics I prefer to work with. This sample eventually got cut up and used for brooches. Thanks to Helene and her post, which you can find here, for reminding me about these.

My second sample had silk fabrics top and bottom, cut from charity shop scarves, with a piece of my aunties wool shawl in the centre. As you would expect, being somewhat bulky, the wool section shrunk far less than the silks but all three pieces felted very quickly and easily so I was encouraged to go on and make lots more Nuno felt.

It hung around for quite some time before I decided to cut it down, add some stitching and put it in a frame. It’s now a lovely reminder of aunty Das who has since passed away.

Off cuts of prefelt, or deconstructed fully felted pieces, never get thrown away as they are always useful for cutting up and using as inclusions beneath fabric when Nuno felting.

This little fossil sample was a trial using Merino fibres and cotton wadding left over from a quilting project. The wadding felts very easily and is useful for creating ”lumpy” relief designs.

One of the great things about making felt is that, even if it doesn’t work out how you wanted, it needn’t be wasted. This mossy pebble necklace is an example of that. I had intended it to be asymmetrical but when it was finished it wasn’t asymmetrical enough. There’s a fine line between something looking intentionally asymmetrical and looking like you tried to make it symmetrical and failed! This looked the latter….. just plain wonky!

Thinking I would work on it at some point I left it on display next to a grey Bergschaf bowl……… and months later had a light bulb moment! The necklace was deconstructed and recycled to create the large surface “bumps” on this bowl.

Another deconstruct project was this triangular scarf. I loved the combination of the Superfine Merino and Viscose Fibre but wasn’t particularly happy with the design of the scarf. Several months later, after never being worn, it got cut up, pleated, beaded and recycled to create this chunky, highly textural bracelet.

My final samples were inspired by a photograph I took of barnacles. I can’t remember now what they were attached to but I saw them in the harbour in Ullapool and just loved the shapes and colours.

The hand dyed cotton fabric, left over from an old project, was given to me by a friend. The barnacles are constructed from several pieces sewn together on the machine and stiffened using acrylic wax. The next step will be to sample materials and techniques to create the very textural background.

If you have any deconstruct/reconstruct projects you would like to share, big or small, we would love to see them over on the Forum.

22 thoughts on “Deconstructing/Reconstructing

  1. WOW Karen! Lots of lovely repurposed stuff here. I particularly like your lumpy bergschaf bowl – how did you do the organic green bits? Tell us more.
    I liked the shape of your triangle scarf – the folds and end tucked through, but I agree it does make a very attractive bracelet.
    I’m looking forward to seeing what you do next with the barnacles. I love these creatures too. At one time I was trying to find a way of creating large ones from felt, so that they could be used to hold bags of ashes, but I never did figure it out, so that’s on the back burner along with lot of other things.
    I really must get round to posting pictures of my challenge pieces on the Forum soon.

    1. Thanks for your comments Ann. Those green bits on the bowl are painted Lutradur….it finds its way in to lots of my projects!
      The large felted barnacles sound like an interesting idea. I would consider differential shrinkage for those and trial a few samples. If all else fails there’s always the option of making flat felt, cutting it up and sewing it back together.
      Hope to see your challenge pieces on the Forum sometime soon… pressure!!

    2. Interesting – I’ve not yet tried lutradur, must get some.
      I’ve not done differential shrinkage, must have a go at that too. Even if I don’t need very large barnacles any more, it’s just occurred to me that medium sized ones would make good pincushions – something else for the Museum shop to sell probably.

  2. Love the bowl made from the deconstructed necklace – it’s beautiful!

    Your picture that’s a ‘reminder of Aunty Das’ was transformed from a sample to a pretty ‘riverbank with reflections’ by some lovely stitching.

    The use of fulled felt as inclusion in nuno felt works really well – we very much like the colours in your example.

    If you hadn’t persevered with your first sample of nuno you would have missed out on so much – there’s a lesson in there for us all.

    1. Oh you are so right Lyn! It could be so easy to try a technique and immediately dismiss it if, for whatever reason, it doesn’t grab you first time!

  3. Your work never ceasses to amaze me, Karen. I absolutely love all the textures and how you go about turning something you’re not overly happy with into something fabulous. I love every single item you showed in this post.

    1. Thank you, thats kind of you to say Leonor. I always tell myself it’s not finished until I’m happy with it…..some things just have to take on a whole new identify for that to happen!

  4. Great reuses. I love the little memento picture. I am really curios to see what you do with your barnacles. Its a good thing we don’t throw out our old felts or our not quite right pieces.They can be so useful.

    1. Thanks Ann. Although we haven’t yet finished our current Waltham challenge, “leaves”, we’ve already decided that the next one will be “ocean” themed. I need to make more samples before deciding which way to go with that piece.

  5. What a great collection of repurposed items! You have turned unsatisfactory pieces into beautiful items. I too am looking forward to seeing how the barnacles go.

    1. Thanks Ruth. I’m excited about the “ocean” challenge, I love anything relating to the sea, and looking forward to making pieces for that theme.

  6. Oh Karen, your work is just plain beautiful. I’ve no favourites but I must try the necklace transformation (I have one of those too). I hope you get loads of wear out of your bracelet – I suspect it it forever being admired.

    Looking forward to seeing your barnacle progress.

    1. Thanks Helen. That bracelet does get plenty of airing, it is lovely and soft to wear. I shall be interested to see what you do with your necklace.

  7. Wow Karen….I’ve nowhere to start. Each piece is beautiful and each so different.

    It is to our advantage that you are not like a friend of mine who throws anything she is not happy with on her open fire – sizzle….poof….gone – because your recycling is inspirational for the ‘duff’ pieces we create, but can’t bear to throw out. I often hope a tweak here or there might make me ‘happy’ but you’ve demonstrated that radical re-use can elevate an unloved piece into a re-imagined work with Wow factor.

    I know you love the ocean and have done much with rock pools so I’m looking forward to seeing how you continue with the barnacles. Good luck with your leaf exhibition.

    1. Hi Antje, thank you! And thank you for the unravelling tips. I think I went in a bit quick with the scissors (I’m always so impatient!) but it definitely is a great way to get some interesting yarn cheaply, in this case with the added bonus of the crinkle for interesting felt making inclusions!
      I love a bit of reusing and recycling so those matchsticks are defintely on standby for my next last-minute project! 🙂
      Maybe we do need a bonus challenge this year….hmmmm… about “do something that scares you / seems too hard / that you have been avoiding” (a.k.a thread and use the overlocker!) Ha ha! 😃

    2. Thanks Antje. I find radical reworking is a far better solution as you finish up with a completely new piece. Having no resemblance to its previous life means your not settling for second best!

    3. I’m glad I haven’t had anything to drink because I have just read everything double and would have been doubting myself 🤪😂

      I like your ethos about no resemblance to previous life thereby not second best. I will have to pin that quote up – thanks. X

We'd love to hear your thoughts!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.