Coastal Felted Pictures

Coastal Felted Pictures

I had a few weeks of sales / exhibitions coming up and was rather low on felt pictures so I decided to go on a little picture-making binge.

First an oystercatcher. I’m particularly keen on square pictures but I know some people prefer rectangles, so last time I had a batch of box frames made for me by my friendly local framer, I ordered four large rectangular frames – two finished in oak & two white wood. (Frame size 84 x 64cm / 33 x 25”)

I’m afraid I didn’t take many ‘in progress’ shots of the oystercatcher.  I’d wet felted the bird’s body a little while ago. I then wet felted the background to fit the frame using a variety of pebble-coloured prefelts for the foreground, some incorporating bits of recycled silk scarves. The waves are merino wool with lots of small locks and some sort of tube of knitted yarn designed for scarf-making that I’d picked up in a charity shop.  The patches of sea foam are bits of cobweb prefelt and I also included some blue cobweb prefelt to suggest light reflected from the sky. These were added to two base layers of pewter-coloured merino with additions in green and mink.

I needle felted the bird into place then needle felted in the eye, beak and legs, using orange prefelt and hand-dyed fine merino wool.

I wasn’t sure what I’d put on the right-hand side of the picture.  I’d considered a second oystercatcher with its back to the sea but there wasn’t really enough room.  I live in Whitstable, in south east England – a town famous since Roman Empire times for its oysters – so thought oyster shells might work well for an oystercatcher.  I wet felted a pair of 3D oyster shells using bits of different recycled wool and silk yarn on the outside and some pearl fibre from World of Wool on the inside.  I like the pearl fibre as it adds a sheen and is presumably made from the insides of shells (i.e. mother-of-pearl) so it seemed appropriate.

I thought it needed another shell so cast about in my stock and found a wet felted mussel shell to add to the collection.  I messed around with the composition a little then needle felted them into place before framing. I now use sticky backed hook strips (like the hook half of Velcro) when framing felt – the hook strip attaches to the mount board and the felt is held in place by the little hooks. The felt can easily be removed without damage or residue if I need to move it or someone decides to reframe it.

Next up I made a very lightly felted cobweb prefelt to use in the next three pictures.

When making cobweb felt I tease out a piece of wool roving rather than laying out separate tufts of wool in a single direction. This is part way through the teasing-out process. I prefelt it very lightly – in fact it’s scarcely more than wet wool – so I can stretch it out as I apply it to a picture.

I then started on Summer Sea. Again a pewter-coloured merino base but with lots of other colours applied in wisps on the surface.

Then a layer of blue cobweb prefelt topped with some white cobweb.

Here’s the final picture ready for framing. I’m happy with this, even though the wisps of colour aren’t quite as visible as I’d have liked.  (64cm / 25” square)

Next picture is a single wave. I start with 4 layers of pewter merino for the sea area and two layers of natural white for the wave and beach.  In the past I’ve forgotten to take into account how much extra material goes onto the wave and beach. If I have 2 layers for the whole of the base, the sea part shrinks a lot more than the rest.

First I added some lighter grey/blue merino on the sea alongside some strips of darker blue cobweb prefelt. Then some cobweb prefelt in front of the wave to suggest water from a previous wave. Next I layered on broken baby alpaca top, mohair, silk hankies, wool locks and wool burrs to create the wave itself. I’ve also put a few strands of silk on top of some of the background waves and the wet-look front area to create sea foam.

Here it is from the side so you can see how high that wave is piled!

And here is the final picture.  I spent a while when it was dry picking up some of the wave elements with a broken felting needle to enhance the 3 dimensionality of the wave before framing it. (64cm / 25” square.)

4th and final picture was a smaller one (framed size 43cm / 17” square) called ‘Choppy Sea’.  Base layout is pewter with highlights in green and mink, with sections of blue cobweb prefelt and silk hankies for wave tops.

Here it’s felted and dry, sitting on top of its frame waiting to go in.

Again, I’ve used a broken felting needle to tease up the silk hankies that make the wave edges to enhance the depth.  And here is a view from a low angle to show the 3D.

So, that’s how I’ve been keeping myself busy recently.

To end with, a few shots of these pictures in situ in a gallery.

These pieces didn’t sell in this week-long exhibition but some older work did – which is a great result for me. I like to live a while with the new pictures so we get to know each other but prefer older things not to hang around for too long! However, the last week and a half I’ve been in the beach hut gallery in my local harbour and yesterday both the oystercatcher and the single wave found new homes, which made me do a couple of very happy ‘shop small’ dances.

If you sell your work do you also get that ‘I’m not ready to let it go’ versus – ‘ok, you need to find somewhere else to live’ feeling?

16 thoughts on “Coastal Felted Pictures

  1. The ‘Oyster Catcher’ is so alive strutting along the beach – he’s wonderful – and the third shell is a lovely addition adding a pop of colour.

    ‘Summer Sea’ is brilliant – it’s exactly what you’d see!

    Looking at ‘Single Wave’ – have you considered selling prints of it in it’s layout stage?

    The silk hankies work well in ‘Choppy Sea’ – the waves really do roll towards you.

    1. Thank you, Lyn. Lots of lovely comments. I do sell cards with photos of my finished pictures but haven’t thought of doing any of a layout. I may give it a try.

      There are certainly some pictures that look better before they are felted, though I’m not a big fan of ‘wool only’ pictures as finished pieces. Perhaps precisely because to me they are not finished. I know this isn’t what you’re suggesting. I will look into it and thanks again for all your kind & thoughtful comment.

  2. Like Lyn I think that photos (cards?) of the dry fibre layouts of your pictures would be good. I’m sure they’d sell too. Also the 3D view of the choppy sea – it really looks like the waves are turning over. Your idea of reusing the broken felting needle is good too. I was going to suggest a reverse needle would be as good, but I think it would give a different effect.
    All the pictures certainly look good in the gallery – is that lovely poppy head yours too? And in the second shot, the short wide picture of the beach and wave looks fantastic, as do your lovely pot covers.
    Makes me want to take a trip back to Kent just to see them all.

    1. Thanks very much Ann. Yes, the poppy seed head came out of 2 workshops: Gladys Paulus’ seed pods and Fiona Duthie’s paper felt. It has mulberry paper felted into the surface which means I was able to paint it with watercolours. I think I did a blog about it on here though it was probably still white at that time.

      Yes, the little long picture in the second shot is also mine and the one with oyster shells on the right is one of the older pieces that sold. I think I only put it in the window as it was the right size!

  3. These all look wonderful. I love the texture in the choppy waves and tge dry single wave is just fabulous with all that texture in the layout. I agree with Lyn, it would look fabulous as a print or card. I love the idea of using the Velcro to attach. I never thought of that so thank you. I have difficulty selling pictures here in Lincoln so keep thinking maybe I shouldn’t create them but then something else catches my eye and another one emerges. Congratulations on all your sales.

    1. Thank you, Jo. It seems there’s a consensus about the dry layout! I will give it a go as a card. Selling isn’t easy. It’s often an expensive business if you have to hire a venue or pay commission to a shop or gallery. And there are times when it doesn’t work which are both costly & disheartening. I hope it doesn’t put you off creating though. For me that’s still the most fun.

  4. All of these are wonderful Lindsay! Your ability to felt the ocean and give the look of realistic water continues to get better and better. The birds are my favorite though. I’m glad you sold pieces, that’s the best news 😜

    Usually once I have finished a piece, I am ready to send it out the door. I really love it when I sell an old piece. I’m happy for your success!

    1. Many thanks, Ruth. Yes, I think the birds are my favourite too though getting the feathers etc right can be a bit fiddly & time consuming. On the other hand I do like this summer sea one. I have at least one of the pictures on the wall in my house when they’re not being exhibited and I think it will be this one’s turn when I finish in the harbour tomorrow. I only have one more exhibition this year then nothing till March 23 which will give me plenty of time to get fed up with it!

  5. Great pieces. It is such a great feeling when an older piece sells. it gives you hope that they are all just waiting for the right person. Its funny how framing changes everything. I wasn’t fussy about the single wave until I say it in its long narrow frame. It really suits it. pictures of layouts is something I think about doing all the time but I never seem to have the right light to get a good picture. I will have to fix that.

    1. Many thanks, Ann. Actually the one in the long narrow frame (in the gallery window) is a different, smaller picture – with a white wooden frame without glass. The single wave is in a square wooden frame on the right in the other photo. I think it looks better in person but it’s ok not to like them all! I have a large easel that stands outside the hut which is my best point of sale. That one had been on the easel less than an hour before it was sold. I think that might be my record!

  6. Lindsay, your handling of subtle colours, cobwebs & silk hankies etc – capturing the sea in all it’s moods – has grown in skill & confidence over the years.

    I like the suggestion of using your single wave ‘layout’ as a card. Something else to add to your extensive, varied & interesting collection.

    Your choice of adding the mussel shell was inspired as it enhances the busy oyster catcher….just lovely.

    Congrats on your sales.

  7. Thanks so much for your kind words and encouragement. The mussel shell was as much luck as anything else. I knew I wanted 3 shells and not all the same shape, size or colour. I was fortunate that I had made one previously that fit the bill. As you know, I do love the shoreline so am happy when I’m watching or looking at it and then trying to show what I see in wooly form!

  8. Love that Single Wave. I also really, really like how it looked before it was felted, the piled fibre looked fantastic in 3D!

    As for my feelings on stock created, I have both simultaneously – I love the yarns, batts and braids I dye and want to use them all for myself, and at the same time get a lovely feeling whenever someone decides to give them a home 😀

    1. Thank you, Leonor. Yes, I think that’s a really good point: I both want to keep and sell them. Something about having your cake and eating it!

  9. Beautiful artwork Lindsay and I particularly like the way you’ve achieved the breaking waves.
    I agree re having your cake and eat it! I love it when my work finds a new home but there are pieces I’ve made which I can’t bare to part with so these have become keepers.

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