Now a momentary pause from my last post and the horrors of math gone wrong.
Instead, I shifted gears back to a project I had started working on a couple of weeks ago but the deadline is now coming up quickly. As you may remember reading, as a commemorative of their parents, I had made each of my brothers-in-laws (there are 5 brothers in total), a chickadee.
1)Chickadee feet, birds in progress for the 5 brothers from 2021
We recently had exciting and unexpected news from one of the brothers. He had been contacted by new family members and was able to arrange a first meeting at the end of June. I wanted to find a good way to have them feel welcome. When we lost both my in-laws, I made each of the five brothers a Chickadee. (There is a post about that somewhere in the blog.) We all have fond memories of sitting on the back patio, or washing dishes in the kitchen sink and watching the birds, there were only a couple of bird feeders but so many birds!! The blue jays, cardinals, robins, finches, sparrows, other little ones (that I wasn’t too sure who they were) and the determined throng of chickadees. (There were also crows but I think I was the only one who liked them, plus an army of squirrels, oh and the occasional very cute rabbit.) I have inflicted photos of most of them on you already! Well, maybe just one more to inspire more felted birds.
2) Blue Jay steals Peanuts in Oakville
What we found out was that the brothers have gained a sister! (Ancestry has made a match!) And she has sons so we now have two new Nephews!!! (New to us, they are a bit older than brand new nephews usually are). We knew that Brother #4 and family would be visiting in Ontario and could travel closer to the eastern end of the province so may be able to arrange a meeting. With a flurry of e-mails, all was arranged.
We were grateful to my brother and his wife for lending us their cottage. This is the cottage from my childhood, where I honed my by-hand-hunting-skills with the local frogs (bull, leopard and occasionally tree frogs), snakes (black rat, Garter and grass snakes) and turtles (Snapping, painted and soft-shelled mud turtles). Unfortunately, I think my hunting days are behind me.) My brother focused on sneaking up and decapitating unsuspecting wildflowers (hunting) which were more appreciated by my Mom than my much more difficult to catch gifts. (Who could possibly say no to a tree frog? Ok, it was my Mom.)
We went up after work on Friday, it was a bit overcast but was forecast to be a hot weekend and it’s always cooler at the cottage than in the city. I packed up my box of chickadee supplies and was determined to finish all three before the new relatives arrived!
It is a fabulous spot looking out into the trees well above the level of the lake. It was a very inspiring spot to work. As you can see I took over the dining table and then spread to the coffee table. Felting is lighter to transport than spinning or weaving but it sure can take up a lot of space when it escapes from its confinement!
3)Wool expanding to fill the space provided (dining room table). Large windows showing trees and tiny glimpses of the lake, far below.
4) I did leave my hubby a bit of space to read his book.
The Mer’s had come with us, as well as Miss Manta. The Mer’s tried out the teal chaise longue before checking out the window view. Once the Mer’s were happy, I got to work on finishing the Chickadees.
5) Necking on the chaise longue
I had gotten all three armatures wrapped in wool and to the point that they were ready to have their top coat added before leaving Ottawa.
7.1- 7.5) Adding tail colour and underwing detail
One of the beaks was not behaving as well as I would like. I noticed the wool on the top upper end of the beak was just a bit looser than when I had wrapped it and was looking a bit fuzzy. This suggests I either did not use quite as thin a bit of fibre or I had not kept wrapping and rubbing the fibres long enough after running out of wool on the beak. Under the wool is floral tape which is embedded with wax but I found it was not quite as sticky as other times (it may be the section of the roll or its age? I don’t do a lot (or any) wrapping of flowers so I’m not sure of all the factors. It could be that I just didn’t pull that section quite as enthusiastically and did not activate the stickiness correctly.
If I have a bit that should be tight (tips of claws, beaks) and is not up to what I would like, I can add a bit of conditioned wax. Wax on its own can dry too brittle or not penetrate the wool, so something that makes it more pliable when dry is preferable. I did not have my wax mix from Sara (Sarafina fibre arts) so I resorted to a dip of wax from a blue candle that was conveniently sitting on the hutch. I first tried using the end of a felting needle to transfer the wax but found the wax cooled too quickly and did not penetrate the fibres, instead sitting above the felt. I cleaned off the unhelpful wax and finally just put the tip of the beak into the wax puddle, which worked. I rubbed the wax as it cools and found it had penetrated into the wool nicely. (I bet the little bird will not be looking for seeds in wax candles again!)
I don’t think I have shown you this, it’s another way to make a line on the surface of your felt. I wanted a line on the back that was visible, but not as hard-edged as one that is created by tacking down at one end and then drafting out. (I did use that technique along the wings.) For this I started with a wisp of fibre blended to the colour of the line I wanted, laying it over the area the line would go. I used a needle (I think it was a T-36 or T-38 ( a finer gage would not entrap as much fiber so it would just take more poking and could make a finer more wispy line.)
9) Step 1 lay a whisp over the area to add a line and (poke/stab/impale) embedding the fibre in the general line-ish shape you want.
10) Lift the fibre up (vertically) away from the felt.
If you were wanting a semi-hard edge colour change you could flop the fibre down on one side of the line and blend away, but I wanted to see a slightly indistinct line so I lifted both sides up and used my curved blade embroidery scissors, you can see on the table, to remove the excess fibre.
11) the excess fibre from the whisp has been cut away leaving a line embedded in the surface of the felt
You may already know this way to make lines and have used a similar technique when adding fur to a sculpture but without such enthusiastic trimming. I figured I should mention it in case you had not yet investigated further and seen further possibilities. The only drawback to this form of line making is that the wisp can obscure where you are laying the line if the “wisps” is not as wispy as a wisp of fibre should be! (Well, that is the start of a good tung twister I am sure one of you can expand on that thought!) I have been finding the curved blade embroidery scissors work very well on curved felt surfaces. This red handled pair I found for sale online out of China.
When I had the backs ready I created little wing shapes in 3 pairs. I added detail. I had made a special trip to get a brighter white fibre. When I tried it on the first wing, I found that it looked very odd compared to the other tones. So, I went back to the off-white/natural white which looked much better.
12) Once I was pleased with all the wings I added them to the little bird bodies.
13) Here all the wings are on and looking good.
One last step to do, now where is the thread, giant bead needle and the little black beads go? Ah! Not to panic the thread and needle were in the bottom of the little toolbox and the beads are in the bottom of the box marked Chickadee!
14) Eldest Nephew of brother #4 joins the Mer’s admiring the lake (through the trees)
Saturday afternoon Brother #4 and his family arrived and were impressed with the cottage. (Thank you again to my brother and his family!)
15) I had just finished putting on the eyes and tucking each bird into his little box when the new members of the family arrived.
I am not sure we were quite what they were expecting. (I hope we didn’t disappoint them too much!) I think my new sister-in-law may have been a bit overwhelmed but they were all fabulous!
16) New Nephew #1, New Ant!, New Nefue #2
They did seem quite interested in the needle felted birds (as well as the Mer’s and Miss Manta (who seems to have dodged all the photos), so I sent both my new nephews off with a bag of felting needles carefully labelled with gauges for them to try. I am determined that there will be a next generation of felting, spinning or weaving but I had thought it might be my nieces on Glenn’s side or maybe a niece on my side. This is fabulous I may have two more nephews to confuse with fibre!! I wonder what their thots on spinning wheels are? Maybe next visit! (I don’t want to frighten them!!)
It was fascinating to suddenly notice similarities between the nephews and their new uncles. I think nature is winning out over nurture again but all in a very good way.
17) New Sister, New Nephew #2, New Youngest Uncle, New Nephew #1
We had a wonderful visit on Saturday afternoon and evening, then they returned on Sunday morning for breakfast. It was sad to see everyone headed home, but I am hopeful we will get to see them again soon. We lingered to do a final clean-up of the cottage. While we were sweeping, vacuuming and collecting laundry, we found the Mer’s were cavorting or maybe that was air swimming, it’s hard to tell.
18) the Mer’s having fun at the cottage.
Once we had persuaded everyone into their project bag, we took a moment just to enjoy the quiet (ok there were sea-doos and the loons and some other birds and that daredevil squirrel…) for a moment, before heading back to Ottawa.
19) Hubby taking a moment to relax and read his book.
The lighting was truly fantastic and the living room made a perfect chickadee finishing spot.
20) one last look before heading out and back to Ottawa.
As we got closer to town, we noticed that haze was back, and then that the smell had returned …. More forest fires still burning. I was hoping so much that all the rain would have dissuaded the hungry flames.
It was a memorable weekend, it’s not every day your hubby and his brothers get a new sister and two adult nephews! They definitely seem like part of the family, Art, Music, and I suspect a lot of reading! I hope they will get to meet the other brothers/Uncles soon. In the meantime maybe I can distract them with a bit of needle felting! Or maybe they would prefer wet felting? Or maybe both!! I have pointed them to the blog, and Sara and Marie’s YouTube felt-a-longs, I can’t wait to see what they make! Maybe some more Mer-People? The Mers should have relatives too!
PS Happy 4 of July to our southern nabours and family!