My Second Quarter Challenge Piece
I actually had a plan for what I would write about in May. I planned to circle back, to my crocheted hexagons; discus finishing options and show some new color fun I have had. Then Porter, our 6 month old [Bernese Mountain] puppy delivered his latest woodworking project to the patio door. It was a perfect specimen for the second quarter challenge; “look at what is right around us, and make something.” I shot a couple pictures, of Porter and his woodworking pieces.
I was planning to use the “tree knot” in the first photo, but my wool selection wasn’t right. We gathered all his dropped pieces on the patio table and found the perfect replacement: a piece of cherry wood from a previously removed tree. The colors were perfect with the wools I had to work with. I got my drum carder set up, and went to work, blending shades. The batt colors came out better than I expected.
I hoped to wet felt a piece that resembled our patio table. First I laid out the gray batt [top left] for the backing. In the opposite direction, I laid the batt blended in the colors of the table. [bottom right] I added wisps of additional colors in areas. Last, and to my regret, I added a brown Alpaca/ CVM yarn for grout lines. I wet it all down with soapy water, covered with fine mesh, and rubbed gently. After a few minutes, I removed the mesh, and replaced it with a second piece of bubble wrap. I flipped the piece over and rubbed on the back a little. The toothy wool was already attached fairly well. I placed this bubble bundle on a bamboo mat, and began rolling 25 times in each direction. When I checked the piece…ugh! I failed to think about what shrinkage would do to those grout lines.
Straight lines when felted go wonky! I should’ve thought to needle felt them in later. I look at all these situations as learning opportunities; and I won’t forget this lesson anytime soon. Overall, I am very pleased with my background attempt. All is not lost, I will store the piece away, and cut it up for other projects. My felted cherry wood piece, on the other hand, was a happy surprise! I have done some needle felting, but none of my 3D pieces, turned out the way I hoped.
I started the wood piece, by making a very tightly rolled snake, and stabbed at it only enough to keep it together. I rolled it together between my palms, and once it meshed together, it was longer than needed. I decided cutting the wool snake in half, and placing both halves together, would get me closer to the girth required. I used my 38 star needle to felt the pieces together, then rolled that up tightly, in another piece of the batt.
Needing to create a small protruding piece, I rolled some scraps together, folding in half as before. I stabbed the little piece to the lower part of the twig. Then to hold everything together and create the inner coloring, I rolled the whole piece in a brown/tan batt, splitting the fiber when I came to the knot. This is what it looked like:
At this point I turned exclusively to my felting needle: felting around, and around, up and down the entire wool twig. Every once and a while, I made a series of stabs, on either end to begin shaping. Once the piece was good and firm, I applied a nice layer of the rusty/blue gray batt I blended with my carder. (photo 1, below) I needle felted the fiber in place, concentrating my attentions on the blue gray, and rust areas. (photo 2) I was really happy with my (accidental) blending capabilities. Lol:-)
I used some brown alpaca yarn, to enhance the area under the knot. I continued to work on either end of the twig, using some lighter bits of wool. I stabbed some deep lines, coming up from the bottom, and tried to add a bit of realness to my specimen. (photo 4) Overall, I am really pleased with my felting experience, this time. I don’t know what I will do with my felted twig, but in the meantime it will hang out with knitted gnomes and the “As You Wish” sprite creature I created before the pandemic.
10 thoughts on “My Second Quarter Challenge Piece”
I love your felted branch/twig. Does Porter like felt? I’m sure my dog would think that was an excellent dog toy that could be ripped to shreds. Your blending really made the difference on making the piece look like wood.
On getting a bit straighter lines with wet felting yarn on to a piece, I have found that wetting the yarn down first and then adding wet wool afterward (as Ildi does with her pieces) keeps the lines where you want them.
Thank you, Ruth. I’m going to have to give Ildi’s method a try. I’m keeping the twig well away from Porter. He would be more likely to eat it, and develop a blockage!
The artist’s assistant (AKA Porter) presented you with excellent samples as inspiration. Brilliant interpretation – a few times I had to do a close up to see which was which it looks so realistic. Love the colour blending too!
Thank you, Helene! I have more confidence now, for sure. I am grateful, to all of you, for giving me so many good ideas, and examples to learn from. (Porter has asked me to send you one of his kisses too.)
The wonky grout lines actually look good to our eyes and the colours you blended for the table are lovely.
Your twig is very realistic – the colour blending is fab – and what a great challenge piece!
Porter makes a fun felter’s assistant 🙂
Thank you, ladies! I wish we lived nearby…because I know we could get into “fun” trouble. After my time with Mom, one of our first lengthy trips, will be to the UK. We have saved our whole lives, for travel in retirement, and it’s essential we get started. I can’t wait to meet you both!
This is Porter’s PA. He asked me to tell you that he demands treats in exchange for inspiring you, which I believe is a fair deal since the twig looks gorgeous. Woof 🙂
Great twig. very realistic, your Gnomes and friend look very impressed as well.
Porter gave you a great selection to choose from. My last dog kept us in kindling. I agree he deserves a treat.
My thought on the lines was that the fibre was different, so didn’t shrink as much as the other fibre.
Thank you, Ann. I will keep fiber differences in mind in the future. I find it interesting, to see what happens with fibers, and why. Nothing lost means nothing has been gained…or something like that.
Thank you, Leonor, for the compliment, and assuring Porter receiving treats. He is totally spoiled in the treat department. His favorites are Blueberry Bacon, and Peanut Butter & Nanners. 😉