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Author: ruthlane

When I discovered felting in 2007, I finally found the creative outlet for which I had been searching. I love that the versatility of fiber allows me to “play” with a wide variety of materials including wool, silk, fabrics, yarns and threads. Creating one of a kind fiber art pieces to share with the world fulfills my creative passion.
Another Historical Sample

Another Historical Sample

I showed you a historical felt pattern sample recently where I used a water soluble stabilizer to create the pattern. Obviously, in ancient times, this product would not have been available. So I needed to try a more traditional method.

I decided to try a different design based on wings. The pattern was printed twice and put one over top of the other in a mirrored pattern. The paper design was covered with plastic so I could lay wet wool down on top of the pattern. This is the method that Ildi uses, thanks again Ildi!

Next, wool yarn was wet down and applied over the pattern. Pre yarn would work better, but this is what I have in my stash.

The colors chosen were two shades of blue, one leaning towards blue green and the other leaning towards the violet side of blue. The fiber was wet down and laid in place. Layout definitely takes time with this method.

Then another layer of the dark blue was laid out on top of the wet wool pattern. I didn’t need to add any water to this wool as there was plenty already available. Next on to felting. The piece was kept in between plastic for the entire felting process but then with fulling, the piece was rolled against itself. Big mistake as this caused the yarn to fragment and pull free in some areas. Sigh.

Here’s the piece after felting and the black was not a clean line. Again, this is partly from using a twisted yarn instead of a pre yarn but also due to the fulling method.

I shaved the black but it is still not as clear as I would like. The design also had very sharp points where I cut the yarn and the ends didn’t felt in as well.

This is the sharpness that I would prefer. These two pieces were made quite a while ago. I made all the felt, then cut out the shapes and appliqued (hand stitched) them down. I then couched a green yarn around the shapes. This is a traditional ram’s horn design that is seen frequently in the Central Asian areas.

Have you tried any traditional felt patterns? I would love to see your results. You can upload photos here.  Or you can show us over on the forum.

Framed Artwork and New Gallery Representation

Framed Artwork and New Gallery Representation

Lots of people asked to see my recent landscapes once they had been framed. I get my work professionally framed with a narrow, black wooden frame. If you’re in Whitefish, MT and need some framing done, I highly recommend my framer, FoR Fine Art. They also have a wonderful art gallery in Whitefish and Bigfork, MT and Tucson, AZ.

Here are the two biggest pieces after framing. They are approximately 20″ x 30-32″.

Here’s a couple more that I completed over the winter.

And the last one with it’s new frame. I have been working on getting new gallery representation and contacted a couple of places. I heard back from Northwest Handmade in Sandpoint, ID. I took 16 pieces over to them and will be taking them some snow dyed silk scarves when we go back by there in July. Yay, happy dance.

I decided to make a few more 5″ x 7″ pieces to take with me but didn’t get a chance to show them here. These are included in the 16 pieces that went to Sandpoint. If you happen to be in the area, please stop by and visit Northwest Handmade!

The five framed pieces shown at the top of the post weren’t ready when I went to Sandpoint. I picked them up from the framers and the next day, I heard back from 4 Ravens Gallery in Missoula, MT. They were interested in carrying my work too! Wow! Those five landscapes will be on display towards the end of June. Again, if you happen to be in Missoula, MT, please stop by and visit 4 Ravens Gallery.

It is great to have two galleries carrying my artwork but now I have to get busy and make some new pieces to replace any that sell. (I’m being hopeful and thinking positively.)

Creating A Nogai Floral Design Using Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Creating A Nogai Floral Design Using Sticky Fabri-Solvy

As I told you in my last post about our trip to New York City, I visited the Met Museum’s Watson library. I am doing research on ancient felt making patterns in and around Central Asia.

This is one of the books that I found in the library and it had loads of illustrations with different patterns. But, the book was written in Russian. I went ahead and scanned the illustrations and hoped that I would be able to get it translated when I got home. It took me a few days to realize that I knew someone who speaks Russian, Galina! She is a member of The Felting and Fiber Studio Forum and will be teaching another Fantasy Fish online class soon. Galina kindly translated for me and also told me a little bit about the book. The book is about the Nogais, a Turkic ethnic group, who now live in the North Caucasus region. This is “next door” to Central Asia and since these were nomadic people, I think I will include their patterns in my research. The book was written by Fatima Kanokova and her doctoral thesis had a theme of “Decorative Art of the Nogais.” Thanks so much Galina for your help!

I took one of the floral patterns from the book and enlarged it. I then painted it on paper in the colors I was going to use. The colors were limited to what size and color of prefelt I had available. I used a very lightweight commercial prefelt and decided I was going to need at least two layers and then a backing piece of prefelt. I did try and do a little dry felting of the two pieces of prefelt so they would stick together during cutting. This wasn’t very successful. I would highly recommend using a thicker piece of prefelt to begin with and the cutting process would have worked better. Next, I needed to decide how I would transfer the design.

I was thinking of using the freezer paper method like Lyn used with her pigeon/rubber ducky piece but then suddenly remembered that I had some Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy that I had bought for free motion machine embroidery. I did not like using it with the sewing machine  or hand sewing because it gummed the needle up so much. But I hoped it would work with the prefelt.

The Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy has a paper backing on a sticky, water soluble fabric type stabilizer. So I traced the design and cut it out with a craft knife. I cut very carefully, so that I could use both portions of the design for the negative and positive shapes.

Here it is after cutting and you can see the negative and positive shapes that resulted.

Next was to peel the paper backing off and position the pieces on the various colors of prefelt.

Here is the prefelt with the cut shapes of Sticky Fabri-Solvy stuck in place. Now on to cutting them out. I tried cutting them with the craft knife but the two layers of prefelt kept shifting around. So I used a small, sharp scissors to cut out the shapes. Again, I was very careful so that I could use both the positive and negative shapes in the two different colors.

Here are the shapes after cutting. If you look closely, you can see the cutting wasn’t perfect. Again, this would have been easier with one piece of thicker prefelt.

Now to put the pieces together in an inlaid fashion. I used a piece of white prefelt behind the red background. If I had been thinking about it, I should have used a piece of red prefelt. Then you wouldn’t be able to see any movement of the cut shapes if it occurred during felting. But I didn’t have any white prefelt for the brown background piece. I decided to cut the edges of the brown piece and add a red background.

Here’s the brown piece after cutting and adding the red background. I didn’t inlay the brown into the red background, I just laid it on top.

On to felting everything. I covered both sides with a nylon curtain and wet the pieces down. Hopefully, you can see that the Sticky Fabri-Solvy mainly stuck on to the nylon curtain and then peeled off. I washed the remainder of the stickiness out of the nylon curtain and preceded with felting as I normally do. The little bits that were still stuck on the red prefelt dissolved. I’m sure the whole thing would have dissolved without pulling it off with the nylon curtain. But sometimes this type of water soluble fabric leaves a stiff residue and I didn’t want that to happen. So I was happy with it all peeling off easily. I had tried to peel if off before I wet it down but it would have damaged the prefelt. Also, I found that with the stabilizer in place, the pieces fit together easily and held their shape better than the other pieces that didn’t have any stabilizer. It didn’t really matter with the end result anyways.

And here you can see the two pieces after felting. The one on the right had a bit of ruffling edges since the prefelt in the center was thicker than the outer edge. But that didn’t matter because I was planning on trimming the pieces after felting.

Here are the two pieces after trimming. This method worked great and now I have a useful purpose for the roll of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy that I have.

 

 

Throwback Posts: How To

Throwback Posts: How To

Jan has still not got any power/electricity at her house so I am filling in with a post. We have a menu item for tutorials but not all our ‘how to’ posts are included. So I thought I would bring your attention to some of the past posts that are mini tutorials. Enjoy!

How to make a felted bangle bracelet.

How to make prefelt.

Felted Cat Cave

How to Ice Dye Fabric

 

Stitching a Felt Kindle Case

All about felting needles.

Making Felt Balls in Bulk

Influencing Shape with Prefelt

Textured Felt in the Washing Machine

Making a Felt Feather

Felting Soap

Dyeing with Avocado Pits

Tips on Beading

Color Mixing Wool

Bubble Hat

Batch Editing in Photoshop

Transferring Photos with Matte Medium

Felt Scrap Bowl Tutorial

Degumming Silk Throwsters Waste

 

I hope you enjoy all the posts and hopefully, there are some that you haven’t seen yet. I am sure that I probably showed a post or two that’s on the tutorial pages but I got carried away looking at old posts. It’s funny how you don’t remember what you posted about!

Road Trip Inspiration

Road Trip Inspiration

The second quarter challenge is all about finding inspiration wherever you might be. We recently took a road trip across the US, spent a week in New York City and then drove home again. I hope you will indulge me and take a look at a few of the inspirations I saw on my trip.

Here’s a map of the trip which covers approximately 2,500 miles. The red bit at the end is the trip on Amtrak from my sister’s house in Richmond, VA to NYC.

This was a photo I took coming across the US. I think it might be in South Dakota but I have forgotten where exactly.

Edgar went with us and although he is supposed to stay in the back seat, he loves to look out the windshield to make sure we are going in the right direction.

It was amazing to see how many plants and trees were blooming as we got closer to the east coast. I think this photo was taken in Indiana or Illinois. The redbud trees were blooming all along the highway.

Once we got to Richmond, we took the Amtrak up to New York City. Penn Station was a real mess when we arrived, they are doing a massive construction project. We had a bit of an issue figuring out the correct subway, the one we thought we should take was blocked off due to construction. We had a great adventure walking in the rain, hauling our suitcases and bags for 20+ blocks.

One of our first adventures in NYC was to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. In the past, we have been to the NYC Botanical Gardens but this one in Brooklyn is beautiful and well worth the visit. I spared you all the photos I took there and just shared the highlights.

After lunch, we decided to visit the Brooklyn Zoo since it is in the same area as the botanical gardens. It was a beautiful day to stroll outside.

If you haven’t been to NYC before, you might not know about all the wonderful mosaics in the subway stations. This is one I hadn’t seen before.

Another fun side trip was taking the ferry to Governors Island. It’s only a short 7 minute ride but it takes you right out of the city. You can even go “glamping” there!

If you were wondering about Edgar, he didn’t go to NYC with us. He stayed with my sister’s neighbor. Here’s a photo she sent of him watching out the window at her house.

Here’s Times Square where they had an installation about design. The metal structure on the lower right was an interesting addition this month. And of course, you can always entertain yourself with people watching.

Walking through Central Park is another fun source of inspiration. We always end up doing a lot of walking when we’re in the city. We also visited a couple of museums but I didn’t get any photos. I did do some research about ancient felt making patterns at the Met’s Museum Watson library. If you ever get a chance to visit the library, I highly recommend it.

We returned on the train to Richmond and then took off on the way back to Montana (another 2500 miles).

Edgar is watching me on the morning we were leaving my sister’s house to make sure that I didn’t leave without him.

The last couple of trips we took across country, we took our camper but this time we stayed in motels. I have decided taking the camper is the best way to go.

If you have been in a South Dakota rest stop, you will have seen one of these structures. There is even one of the rest stops with a statue entitled Dignity that you might want to see. I didn’t get a photo this time as there was construction around the statue. But you can click on the link above to see it.

The next step with these inspiration photos is to come up with some ideas for a sample for the second quarter challenge. Which photo inspires you?

 

 

 

Remembrance

Remembrance

I promised after I made a small poppy piece for the first quarter challenge repurposing a piece of nuno felt, that I would make a bigger piece in the same style.

This piece is large, somewhere in the 30″ length and 18-20″ width. This is the layout and I have sprinkled the cut up orange nuno felt over the base layer of green wool. I made sure that the orange bits were roughed up so they would stick down better.

Here is the piece after felting. I have pinned some larger poppies in the foreground made out of painted silk paper. I was distracted by the yellow in the direct center in the sky. I decided to add more yellow so that the one area wouldn’t stick out as much.

I needle felted some yellow across the left portion of the lower sky and a few wisps up higher. I also added some lighter/paler silk paper to the poppies as I felt they were too dark in the first try. Then I added some green locks to the foreground for foliage.

And here it is after finishing and “matting” on green fabric. Now Remembrance is ready to go the framer. Now I just have to find a new gallery to carry my work, easier said than done.

On the Swan

On the Swan

Recently, a local woman asked me to create a river view in felt for her. I created several watercolor sketches she could choose from so that we agreed on what the landscape would look like and what to include. The client lives on the Swan River here in Montana and decided she wanted a view similar to what she has behind her home.

After hand carding and blending colors, I started on the layout. I used a commercial prefelt background and mostly short fiber merino batts. Somehow, I wasn’t thinking correctly on shrinkage as I went with the idea that it would shrink 30%. But I forgot that I don’t normally full my wool paintings very hard as they don’t really need intense fulling.

I continued working down the picture laying out the distant trees, the river with the trees and mountains reflections and then into the foreground grass and lupines. At the same time I was laying out the big piece, I also laid out a smaller sample. That way I could try different options with final details and stitching. This shows the birch trees from silk paper that I was trying to decide upon. Luckily, I had made the birch tree silk paper several months ago at one of our local group meetings.

Here’s the small sample that I made. I tried the left tree trunk in prefelt and then used free motion machine stitching for the dark areas. The right tree trunk used silk paper which was painted for the dark areas. I also tried out some FME for the branches and the lupines. I didn’t feel that the FME was what I wanted for this piece and opted for the silk paper birch trunks. I had also used some brown/tan wool for the distant shoreline which was way too much if included in the original wet felting process. I ended up cutting out a portion of this sample so that the brown wool was showing much less. I then stitched the two pieces of the sample back together to give the feel of what I wanted in the large piece. This sample really saved me from making some big mistakes!

Here is what I had after wet felting. I had to full this piece very hard as the request was for a certain size. I don’t normally worry about size on my wet felted landscapes and I ended up cutting the edges because I had not figured the shrinkage correctly.

Next I started adding in needle felt details. I added more definition to the distant tress, added a shoreline and added some lines in the water to simulate movement.

Then I stitched some grass in the foreground and stitched down the silk paper tree trunks.

I continued on with details. I added some paint to the tree trunks, I couched down branches and added leaf details with needle felting. I added hand stitching in front of the trunks and some leaf details for the lupine.

Here’s a close up so you can see a bit of the detail in the foreground.

Then I found I already had enough green fabric that worked to finish the piece. My client is getting it framed with barn wood, so this is how I delivered the piece. And the wonderful thing is that she loved it. I’m so happy it worked out the way that she wanted.

Felt Saguaro

Felt Saguaro

This is a guest post by Cindy, our first reader to submit a photo for the 2nd Quarter Challenge. If you would like to submit a photo, you can do so here.

Hi everyone, my name is Cindy and I love playing with fibers – all the wonderful colors and textures. I sat down in the evening to relax and opened up Felting and Fiber Studio to enjoy the new posts. It is always like picking up a good book to read.

I was delighted that the 2nd quarter challenge was about noticing the little things – the details in everyday life. The project I just finished surprisingly enough was exactly that – a close up piece to resemble the ribs on a saguaro cactus. I decided to post the picture on the site for the challenge. Ruth reached out to ask more about it and would I share my process with the group – I happily agreed to do so – hope you enjoy.

I had been admiring the way the light and the shadows play on the saguaro cacti in my yard and surroundings. I started examining them – really paying close attention. I decided to make a few saguaro sculptures working on form and trying to get some texture as well. I had a shibori piece that I made on my desk and my thoughts meandered (as they often do -LOL) – wondering if this method would work to make the texture and ribs for a saguaro. I did not know if I would be able to keep the lines fairly straight to get the look I wanted or if they would scrunch up and be more of a zig zag like my other piece, which I love but not for this project. I thought it was worth a try. Here are a couple of my inspiration photos of saguaros in my yard that I was watching the play of light and shadows.

The inspiration photo on the right is a close up of the ribs of a cactus that I took a few years ago when we had snow in our area – which is a rare occurrence and that I enjoy immensely.

I set out to lay out fiber to wet felt – knowing that I would be pleating the piece for the ribs – I laid out the piece approx. 22” long x 9” high. I wet felt my pieces between a lightweight tightly woven fabric – assuming a polyester or such as it does not felt. I call it “slip” material because that is what I originally bought it for. You can see it under the fibers in the photo below.

The first layer is black core fiber. I knew I was going to have a few layers of colors, so I laid out each color pretty thin as I did not want the finished piece too thick. The picture shows the initial black core layer followed by the start of the 2nd layer – copper colored fiber.

Here you can see the 2nd layer of copper finished with all the fiber going in the same direction.

Next, I added some wisps of a tan core fiber as a 3rd layer. You can see that I did not cover it entirely – just wanted some lighter color for emphasis.

It was time to add a 4th layer of green, which was maori wool fiber.

I wanted more hues of green to add light and depth – so the next step was to add fine wisps of lima bean colored Corriedale wool fiber. I also added fine wisps of other greens – lime, Christmas, evergreen and olive – again to get light and depth in the piece. I decided to cut up some wool yarns in light, medium and dark browns to make the “spots” that I noticed on the close-up photo. Note: I would say that all of these blended in and I did not get the spots as intended, but they did add to the overall look of the piece. At this time, you can add any other embellishments that you might like. I enjoy color, so I added some purple and dark blue strands.

Next, I folded over my piece of “slip” material to cover the fiber and started the wet felting process – wetting with soap and water and rubbing and rolling the piece 30-50 times each side and direction to obtain to a prefelt material. My best description of prefelt is a soft material in which all the fibers and embellishments (if any) are interlocked together and are not moving loosely – it is basically a piece of soft fabric. When it reached that stage, I rung the soap and water out of the piece and gently rolled it in a towel to get out most of the moisture. I was impatient to start the next step and did not want to wait for it to dry.

It looks bumpy, but that is because the photo was taken just after I squeezed out the soapy water. Note: the blue shelf liner material, in the next photos, was under the bamboo mat for grip. Starting on the left side, I went in approx. 3⁄4” and made an upwards fold (1/2” – 3⁄4”) in the prefelt, I hand sewed a medium long basting running stitch at the base of this fold with black heavy-duty thread to make a “rib”. Note: at the beginning of the stitch, I knotted the thread at the back of the piece. When I finished top of each row, I left the thread long (approx. 3”) and loose. My theory was if it was loose, it would not pull, since I wanted the rows fairly straight. I sewed ribs all along the piece leaving space between each rib. I added a few “Y” ribs with my stitching. If you look closely at a saguaro, you see that where it changes shape from wide to narrow, the ribs form a Y. You may be able to make this out at the top of the close-up photo. In the spaces between the ribs, I decided to sew a running stitch. I left the thread approx. 3” long and loose on both edges. This was an attempt to get more dots that I was seeing in the close-up photograph.

In the photo below all the hand sewing completed and the piece full of ribs, it was ready for the felting/fulling process. I sandwiched the piece between the white poly/slip material. Added soapy water to the piece and began the fulling process by rolling it in a bamboo mat. I was always mindful of the ribs. I would open periodically to pinch the ribs to make sure that they were not felting together, and to keep them upright.

Once the piece was firmer and holding its shape, I rolled it up on itself with the ribs inside and then with them outside, alternating between both directions, and continued to roll it. I continued until I was happy with the size, texture and firmness of the piece. I then took a small pair of sharp pointed scissors and began to snip small lines and indents on the top of each of the ribs so that the tan, copper and black colors would be exposed to mimic the spines on the ribs of the saguaro. I was mindful of how deep I cut
with the scissors to expose the color I was after.

The stitched lines between the ribs had all but disappeared in the felting process so I carefully sliced off a very thin layer of felt at these areas to expose the stitches and my fun dots appeared! I decided to expose more of the colors underneath, so I carefully snipped away little areas here and there. I am happy to say the ribs stayed straight without the zig zag look I was afraid I might get when I made the cuts to expose the colors underneath. I believe that is because the thread remained loose, not tight, as it felted. I like all the colors and how they look together and the many hues of greens help with the light and shadow on the ribs. In fact, the right side looks brighter to me as if the sun is shining on it. I am very pleased with how this piece turned out.

Below is a photo of the finished piece on a white background with the lighting from above, so that you can see the colors and the fun black threads. Notice I cut all the way through the felt to expose the background color in just a few of areas.

 

I may trim a few of the long black threads. I plan to keep the threads exposed as they represent a continuation of sorts of the ribs on the background.

The final photo shows how it would look framed. I placed it on a copper felt background with a rustic wood frame with the strings tucked behind. As you can see, the light is coming from the right and happily playing light and shadows across the ribs.


Hope you enjoyed and hope it inspires you to try felting if you haven’t already. Thank you, Ruth, for letting me share my fun project. 🙂 cindy

 

 

Experimenting with Paste Resists on Fabric

Experimenting with Paste Resists on Fabric

I have tried flour paste resist before and even wrote a tutorial about how to use the resist on silk scarves. My local group decided we wanted to try some experiments again with flour paste resists. If you are wondering how you could use this technique, it would work great for making patterns on silk fabric used in nuno felting. If you want to learn the full process, click on the link above.

Because we were going to try this in one afternoon, I had to do some prep work. It takes at least 24 hours x 2 for this process to dry. I started with hand dyed fabric and used a variety of colors and a variety of types of fabric. I started out trying to document the process but the documentation fell apart in the middle of the process. So, I can’t tell you exactly which pastes were used on which fabric. But I did figure out what works and what doesn’t work so well.

So I pinned the fabric down and applied different pastes. Instead of just using wheat flour (which I know works), I also tried potato starch, amaranth flour, corn meal, and coconut flour. I could tell after applying some of these, especially the potato starch, that some of the pastes were not going to work as wheat flour does. After you apply the paste, you let it dry and then crackle the surface. The corn meal pretty much fell off the fabric and didn’t stick at all. The only alternative flour that worked well was the amaranth flour.

After the surface of the paste resist is cracked, then paint or thickened dye is applied. I used black textile paint. You can see that I left some of the pieces unpainted, as these would be used by my group during our afternoon get together.

If it’s working, you can see on the back side of the fabric, the paint comes through the cracks on to the fabric. This example is wheat flour resist and overall, it definitely works the best. I think if I had mixed wheat flour with some of the other alternative flours, it might have worked better and still given different crackle results.

Here are some of the results of the pastes that didn’t work so well. The fabric is still useable as the results were still very organic but it was not the crackle look expected from this technique.

Here are the two that worked the best. The one on the right is from wheat flour paste and the one on the right is from amaranth flour paste. It is really interesting how different the crackles look between the two. I’m not sure what I will do with these samples yet but I’m sure eventually, they will get used in some project.

If you try flour paste resist, we would love to see the results. You can upload your photos here.

New Community Pages

New Community Pages

I’m excited to announce that we have developed some new community pages for all of our readers and followers. We have had loads of requests from interested readers who wanted to submit photos after reading a post or being inspired by a challenge. We now have a place that anyone can submit a photo. Our Community Photo Submissions page is now ready for you to submit a photo. It’s under the Community tab on the menu.

We only ask that you resize your photo before submitting it to something smaller than 1MB. This allows more space for the photos and quicker loading of the site. Please include a description of what you are submitting as well as why you are submitting the photo. Once the submission is complete, we will review the photo and put it in the gallery under the community pages. This may take a bit of time (up to a week) but soon your submission will be available for everyone to see.

We have also included our Links/Resources page under the Community menu tab. There is some great information there if you haven’t checked it out before.

The other page in the Community menu is Links to Blog Posts. The page gives you a list of the last forty blog posts by name. It automatically updates whenever a new post is published. You might wonder what the purpose of this page is or how you would use it. If you read a post in the last several months, and you want to find it again, you can look on this page to find the post easily. That way, you aren’t scrolling endlessly through long posts trying to find a particular post. It’s also a place where Instagram visitors will land so that they can find the post they would like to read easily. Thanks Helene for setting this page up!

These changes have made this site much more interactive and we’d like to encourage all of you to submit some photos of your work. Have you created samples or a finished piece with repurposed or recycled items? The First Quarter Challenge is coming to an end but we’d love to see what you have created. It doesn’t matter if you created it recently or in the past, we would love to see how you are repurposing items into something new. And it doesn’t matter if it’s a finished piece or a small sample, show us your creations. You can upload photos here.

Or do you have some felt samples that you have from different breeds? Ann posted about her felt sample class recently and showed a sample of white welsh mountain sheep. Perhaps you have some samples of some wool breeds that aren’t commonly used in felting? We would love to see the samples with information about how the sample was made, about the breed, how the felting process went and the end result.

Also, don’t forget that registration is still open for the Hanging Felted Spiral with Helene. Class begins on April 8th.

 

 

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