Completing Montana Sunrise

Completing Montana Sunrise

Here is where I was when I left off in my last post about my latest nuno felted landscape. I decided the next step was to create more evergreen trees to add to the left hillside.

I used some green wool sandwiched between two pieces of water soluble fabric and free motion stitched some trunks/branches. These were then soaked in hot water and gently felted. I started adding them into the foreground. I decided I didn’t have enough so I went back and stitched more several times until I was satisfied with the volume. I also added in a few areas of lighter trees to give a bit of contrast. Once I had those arranged and pinned down, I started looking at the yellow brown area in the middle of the picture, part of the closest mountain. It seemed to have too much contrast and due to being the same color as the foreground, it “moved” that mountain too far forward.

So I added a couple of pieces of sheer nylon scarves, one deep red and one purple over the area. That’s better! I try a lot of different things as I’m working and take quick photos on my phone. I’m not showing all the photos as it is hard to tell the differences in some of them. But I use the photos to see how the piece looks from a distance and find any glaring problems. At some point in here, I added some sheer black fabric behind the foreground mountain as there were bits of black wool that were drawing my attention too much.

After I stitched down the trees with a variety of blue green threads and a bit of feather stitch, I started working on the foreground. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the details a bit better. The grass is a combination of raffia, burlap and cheesecloth. I also was bothered by the “driveway” of green on the middle right. At some point, I tore some of the wool from the surface so that it wasn’t such a line.

I arranged the grass bits numerous times and then started stitching them down. The photo on the left has the “clumps” stitched but I was trying various pieces of raffia on the very bottom and had them pinned in place. I also decided the raffia was a bit too light so I colored it with a felt tip marker in light browns, greens and dark brown edges. The photo on the right shows the piece after completing the foreground. Next up was the sky.

I wanted to “move” the colors in the sky around a bit with some stitching. But how to do that? I first thought about couching threads to the surface. The photo on the left shows that idea being tested. I wasn’t happy with that but couldn’t decide what to do. So I reached out to Antje (who has authored posts here in the past), and she made several good suggestions. I decided to use running stitch. I used variegated colors and mixed several strands together to not have such a solid color effect. Click on the photo on the right to see the starting of the running stitch. The point of adding the stitching was to soften some of the harder transitions in the sky. Thanks Antje for your help!

Here is the finished Montana Sunrise (16″ x 30″). It definitely has a bit different feel using a mosaic type of nuno felt instead of one piece of dyed silk. I think it is much less abstract than some of my other recent pieces. Now I have to find the right fabric for it’s matting. What color would you use as the matte?

19 thoughts on “Completing Montana Sunrise

  1. I love this picture Ruth, it has real depth and true colours. Finding a suitable matte colour would be very difficult. I think that the palest colour in the top centre of the sky, or failing that a natural off-white fleece would be best; because there are so many strong colours in the picture you might find that any one of those would darken the mountains and bring them forward a bit too much?
    Do you have an app like Microsoft Publisher? If you do, you could try putting a photo of the finished picture onto a a surrounding text box and then colour sampling from the picture into the text box to see what colour might be best.

    1. Thanks Ann, finding the matte color is always a challenge especially from commercial fabrics. So I go with what is available and what works best. I’m sure that some would disagree with my choices but as I have said before, I don’t want to add the expense of dyeing a piece specifically for the “matte”. I have used Photoshop in the past for working out colors in the way you describe. Now, I go to the fabric store and pick the best fabric.

  2. What a sunrise! It’s beautiful.

    Every little thing you added/took away really made such a difference. The foreground rafia is great and it really pulls the scene together.

    I copied the picture, put it into word then tried various coloured borders to get an idea for the matte. Difficult or what? Pale colours detracted attention from the sunrise whereas darker colours made it pop. But which dark colour? Sorry – couldn’t decide 🙂

    1. Thanks! It’s always interesting to see how the work changes as I go along. It is hard to decide on the matte border color but I go with what’s readily available and works the best.

  3. Today I was years old when I realised you can use felt tip markers to change the colour of a textile art that doesn’t need washing. Genius! It would never have occurred to me…

    That Montana sunrise is lush and the finished piece certainly makes me want to experience one in person someday.

    1. What a great idea Leonor. A super alternative to searching out textile pens. Thanks for sharing.

    2. Thanks Leonor, I have used all kinds of markers, watercolors, colored pencils etc. on my pieces since they never get washed. Then you can change things in a subtle manner without going over the top.

      I would love for you to come and visit Montana, you’re welcome any time!

  4. I love this piece and think the choices you made with additions and subtractions made all the difference. I think I would matte it in a dark green to make the Montana sky really pop. Please post a picture of it when matted and framed so we can see the finished product!

    1. Thank You! The additions and subtractions are always interesting. I take loads of photos as I go to see what’s working the best. I did try the piece on a dark green but ended up using a dark brown.

  5. Truly beautiful Ruth. Thanks so much for sharing your process.

    Since I perceive myself as being useless with colour (to thine own self be true is my moto), I asked my son Cian to assist. Now he is a guy I am in awe of as he can dissect colour. I will readily confirm that he did not get this skill from my side of the family. He helped me out historically when our choir ran out of choral corsages for concerts. I gave him one of the silk flowers and my wool fibre stash and like an alchemist he mixed up an identical material for me.

    Anyway he worked with your photo and is sending me back to you with the following mix for your consideration. If you copy your artwork over to Microsoft Word (or similar program) pop a frame around it and then feed in the following co-ordinates to for the frame.
    Colour Model RGB
    Red 189
    Green 143
    Blue 87

    See what you think of this possibility.

    1. Thanks Helene and thanks to Cian too. I put the colors into a color mixer website and that color was definitely a possibility. But I found that darker brown seemed to be the best option. It’s nearly stitched down on to the backing fabric now. Next up is finding a piece of foam board big enough to lace around to hold the piece taut. I will probably have to order it from Dick Blick.

  6. This work is beautiful, and thank you for the description of the process. I will be tweeking my own work with some of these ideas!

    1. Thanks Alberta, I’m glad that the process is helpful for you. Tweaking the design is always fun and really helps to take out any problem areas that might have developed.

  7. It is fabulous Ruth. I really enjoyed watching it come together and the coloured raffia works so well. Your road turned into a bit of a swampy area maybe? I was going to come in with the suggestion of light grey like is behind it in the pictures but I see you when with brown. I can’t wait to see it matted and ready to go.

    1. Thanks Ann, the raffia was in my stash unused for years. And you may be right, that might be swampy. I am in the process of finishing up. I will show photos when I am finished.

  8. I always like your landscapes Ruth and this one is no exception! You’ve used a wonderful array of different techniques to achieve your finished piece. I’m sure others will be inspired to try some of these after reading your post.
    I’m relieved you’ve decided on a matte colour…..I would have spent ages trying to decide on that!

    1. Thanks Karen! I do love to mix techniques in a piece using what works best for the effect I’m trying to achieve. The matte colors are always hard to decide on but with limited choices, it makes it easier.

  9. Oh Ruth, it is a breathtaking piece! I love everything about it. To see your process, along the way, is so interesting to someone newer to felting. My wet felting pieces always seem so flat, and it’s no wonder. I’m learning that I need to to be fearless, and just try things.

    I’m not the person to ask about inexpensive matting. I’m that person that goes to the framing department, at JoAnn’s, and manages to end up with double or triple matting. Once I see what I like, there’s no going backwards. (I have always been that way. I know it, when I see it.) That said, I am choosing for a piece that will hang on my walls. If I was selling a piece, things would be very different. The first thing that struck me was a textured mat, that would tie in the Raffia grasses.


    1. Thanks Capi, I am glad you appreciate the process. And do be brave. Try new things. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. But you always learn something new.

      Framing is difficult. I do the most simple that I can. Keeps down the cost and simple seems to sell the best.

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