Making Waves Update

Making Waves Update

In my last post I mentioned a few of the projects I was working on with the “Making Waves” theme, along with other members of the Waltham Windmill Textile Group. I’d begun work on a 50cm x 90cm felted wallhanging inspired by the markings on large stone slabs on the beach at Seahouses in Northumberland.

Having recently bought myself a drum carder I carded a variety of left over bits of fibre, mainly blues, greens, yellows and neutrals, to make my background and laid them out with off cuts of hand dyed silk fabric, scrim and large nepps. On the left is how it looked after felting and on the right is where it’s at right now. I’ve added synthetic sheers, machine wrapped cords, hand and free motion stitch and in some areas I’ve heavily machine stitched to push them back and encourage the adjacent areas to stand out. The original bottom left section wasn’t working with those silk circles so they were pulled off and replaced with some stiffened, rust dyed fabric circles, recycled from another piece of work. I’m calling it Going With The Flow because a) it’s inspired by a trip to the beach b) it has flowing lines and c) like most of my work its design wasn’t preplanned. It’s evolving as I work on it, adding bits in and taking bits off until it feels right. It’s got a way to go yet before I can call it done.

One of the other challenges within the Making Waves theme is to make a 3D fish and my immediate thought was to create what many would regard as an ugly fish but which I prefer to think of as a fish with shedloads of character…… that would get noticed amongst a group of pretty fish!

Having typed  “ugly fish” into Google I lost many hours over the next few weeks looking at images and some incredible videos of life deep in the depths of the oceans. Each new search revealed yet another fascinating species of fish, some quite honestly didn’t look real while some, like the Tasseled Scorpionfish were strangely beautiful. One of the weirdest I discovered has to be the Red Lipped Batfish. If ever there was proof we descended from the oceans this red lipped, whiskered fish that “walks” on its specially adapted fins has to be it! 

Last month the Waltham group had a day making felted fish, some are finished, others are still work in progress.

Lucy made a wonderful wet felted Puffer Fish adding recycled plastics, including pipette tips, wine bottle netting and glass beads with recycling symbols underneath, to highlight the plight of our oceans.

Sue is very new to wet felting but she’s taken to it like a fish to water (couldn’t resist!) and has made “Angry Fish”. I think he looks more sulky than angry but he’s terrific!

Barbara’s felted fish is still work in progress but looking great, as is her sketch book and fabric fish purse!

Originally I had intended to wet felt my ugly fish but, after all those hours of studying them and getting excited about what I was going to make, for some reason when I took out my carded Corriedale fibres I found myself felting a cartoon version of an Angelfish…….I didn’t see that coming! Her name is TroutPout and she’s approximately 33cm x 36cm excluding her fins.

I’ve been enjoying teaching 3D Seed Pod workshops recently using wire wrapped with Tyvek fabric so decided to make my Anglerfish from wire rather than fibre. It was only when I’d got the 60cm x 33cm framework made that I sat back and realised I’d gone past the stage where I had meant to start adding my fabric! Time for plan B…..maybe I could use wire mesh to give it “body”?

I looked for some online but hesitated as I wasn’t sure how flexible or suitable the mesh would be. Having put the fish to one side, a few days later I joined the Lincolnshire Textile group and at my first meeting I was offered a piece of silver coloured Sinamay. Sinamay is one of the most popular hat-making foundations. It’s woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree, a type of banana native to the Philippines. I couldn’t believe my luck……..being silver coloured this off cut looked like wire mesh but wasn’t and if I sprayed it lightly with water I could easily shape it to fit and stitch it with aluminium wire to my framework. So this is how far I’ve got. I’m going to add a few more wire spirals and do something more interesting with the eyes. He should have menacing teeth but I might not go that far!

Another feature of next years Making Waves exhibition will be an Octopus’s Garden so once the fish are done it’s straight on to making lots of coral and a few Octopus. I’m loving this theme and could quite happily continue with it way beyond our event next year…….it has to be the most interesting and enjoyable we’ve had so far!

29 thoughts on “Making Waves Update

  1. Wow Karen, what a great post.
    Going with the Flow really caught my imagination. I’ve just started Ruth’s Free Motion Embroidery class and have been watching her first video, so your stitching really caught my eye. Looking forward to seeing where you go with this.
    Then your fish: I was going to say that the tasselled scorpion fish and the oyster toad fish reminded me of those women you see on reality TV programmes who have had their lips filled and have over done it. But the red lipped bat fish takes the biscuit and with those whiskers around it’s lips it shows what those women will look like when they get old! I love Sue’s Angry Fish – very sulky and your Trout Pout is great.
    Your Anglerfish is going well. I love working with sinamay, though I’ve only used it when working with hats and fascinators. It certainly fits the bill on your fish, great idea.
    Can’t wait to see what else you do with this theme.

    1. Thanks Ann. I love using free motion stitch on a wet felted background, you’re going to have so much fun with it now you’ve started Ruth’s course!
      Being so malleable I can see why you love working with sinamay and I’m so grateful to have been introduced to it at Lincs Textiles. They are also an exhibiting group and their current theme is “Water” so that sits very conveniently with Walthams theme.
      As for the self imposed trout pouts….the thought of vain aging women turning into Red Lipped Batfish is enough to give you nightmares!!

  2. Wow, what a fun exhibition this is going to be. Your wall hanging is definitely got the feeling of “flow”. And all the fish are wonderful. Your wire fish is looking good and I look forward to seeing him when he is finished.

  3. There are so many wonderful ideas in this post! I’m intrigued by the wire frames and look forward to seeing how you’ll apply the felt to them. Your seed pod class also sounds interesting. Is it available online or only in person?

    1. Thanks Renee. As Waltham is a mixed media textile group, rather than a fibre group, there’s no pressure to add felt to my wire fish. I’m going to keep him wire and sinamay and possibly add a few metal washers here and there.
      Im enjoying working with wire and the 3D seed pod workshop always produces great results. It’s only available face to face as yet.

  4. Where to start? What a fabulous collection.

    ‘Trout Pout’ brings a smile and she’s adorable.
    Angler Fish is looking so good with the Sinimay – what a lucky find!
    Puffer Fish, Angry Fish and Purse Fish are brilliant – Lucy, Sue and Barbara are very imaginative.
    Going With The Flow is evolving beautifully – love the colours and the stitching.
    Your garden coral is very pretty and it looks as if it’s waving in the underwater current.

    This is going to be a stupendous exhibition 🙂

    1. Thanks Lyn. We normally just show our work over one weekend in Waltham where we hold our monthly meetings. I’ve suggested for this theme, as we’re all getting so productive, we ought to apply to show at more venues.

  5. I’m with Lyn! There’s so much to love in your post Karen, it’s hard to know where to start. I’m first in awe of you having such a wonderful group of people to meet and work with on a regular basis. It’s something I don’t see, in our area of the US, at least?

    Your post has me interested in felting another fish, or at least finishing the ugly fish I tossed aside, as a total failure! I’m also taking Ruth’s free motion class. (with Ann 😉) Now, I envision the immediate possibilities!!

    I found your mates fish with pipettes and mesh, the purse with fabric and buttons, and all the others fantastic! I can only imagine what the exhibition will be like! How special it must feel, to be part of your felting group.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this post. Well done Karen and felting friends!


    1. Thanks Capi and great to hear you’re feeling inspired to have another go at your fish!
      Regards creative groups, they are everywhere in the UK and I have friends locally who are members of at least half a dozen at any one time. It just takes finding your first one to open up a whole world of textiles. The Waltham group isn’t actually a Felting group but my interest in fibre has rubbed off and if I suggest a felting project they are more than happy to join in! It’s a pity you’re so far away, you would absolutely love it!
      Have fun with your free motion course and look forward to seeing what you do.

  6. Wow Karen, what glorious work. I do love Trout Pout. All of the work is stunningly beautiful.

  7. WOW Karen! I wish I could see the exhibition. Everyone’s work is just so much fun to look at. And it sounds like you are really having the best time creating the pieces. WOW again! Great post and photos!

    1. Thanks Tesi. What I need is a kind sponsor to enable me to bring the work over to you guys! Failing that I’ll video the exhibition for you.

  8. I am so jealous of your wonderful and creative groups. How lucky you are to have two with similar themes. I also feel like a total slacker, you are so busy with all your creations. I will live vicariously through your posts. I am sure the exhibitions will be amazing.

    1. Thanks Ann, discovering an active, exhibiting group with a similar theme was too good an opportunity it to miss! Also their exhibition is being held in Lincoln Cathedral so will be a totally different look and atmosphere to Waltham which will be interesting.
      As for slacking, you live such a busy life thats one label no-one could ever pin on you!!

  9. Love the theme of your post, Karen. Those “ugly” fish make for great artwork models! The red lipstick one made me laugh 😀

    It’s interesting to me that, when I look at all the felted fish, they remind me a lot of Disney characters. I can imagine them complaining about having to pick up their children from Fish Nursery, discussing the latest gossip… I can even heard their voices, and one has a Brooklyn accent for some reason 🙂

    You’re very lucky to have such a creative and hardworking group nearby, I wish I had the same! I’ll just have to enjoy all your work and live vicariously…

    1. Yes, it’s Sue’s fish! 😀 Glad you can “hear” it too, haha!

      I’d have to turn up to a few very basic workshops first, I am so bad at wet felting…

  10. Thanks Leonor. You’re right about the fish having a Disney look and I’m guessing it’s Sue’s moody looking purple fish that has the Brooklyn accent?
    No one was more surprised than I was when I found myself making a cartoon fish but sometimes you just have to go with it! Maybe that was influenced by the recent run of cat and bird workshops.
    I’m sure there are lots of incredibly creative groups in and around your neck of the woods, it’s finding the time to take part that’s the difficulty!

  11. Oh my gosh Karen, where do I start!
    Your going with the flow ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos are a super idea. It is just amazing how the additions of various stitches have brought your piece to life. Just love it.

    The Waltham ladies must just love to see you coming – lots of hard work but what fabulous results Sue Lucy and Barbara have achieved. I can’t pick out a favourite they are all so wonderful.

    Trout Pout yep a real beauty and what about the great timing with Anglerfish, the Sinamay is just what the doctor ordered and really looks like metal.

    I won’t sleep easy now that I have seen the Red Lipped Batfish – thank goodness she lives in the deep lol.

    This is going to be the most amazing exhibition. Wish I was close by to visit.
    Helene x

  12. Thanks Helene and sorry if I gave you nightmares with the Batfish!🤣 That species was probably the reason we have the saying “a face only a mother could love”!

    1. Oh luscious lips herself. I’m off to source her lipstick colour! x

  13. Wowza Karen….I can only echo everyones’ comments. I was ‘hooked’ from the start of your post &, ‘going with the flow’ (wonderful) you just kept reeling me in, hook line & sinker!

    But those lips….non stop gaping at Mother Nature’s creations, then entertainment & smiles at the human creations. From now, seeing any on two legs I will only be able to see ‘fish’ & will have to cover my chortles!

    You have amazing exhibitions coming up with your very active textile groups….just brilliant.
    So glad to see & hear that you are enjoying yourself/ves 😘

    1. Thanks Antje. You know yourself, every days a good day if it involves being creative and we’d be hard pushed not to enjoy this theme!

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