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.
Registration Open for Hanging Felted Spiral by Helene Dooley
Helene has developed a method to create the felted spiral shown in the photo above. You will learn with Helene’s excellent videos and downloadable PDF’s. She will also be available on the class website for questions, sharing of your spirals and to encourage you to experiment with the knowledge gained in the class.
Please note that Helene’s class is aimed at felt makers who have already developed their technical felting skills. It is not suitable for felt makers who are at the start of their felting journey. A knowledge of book resists is preferable, though not essential. Previous experience working in three dimensions is essential. Also required is a basic knowledge of needle felting and sewing.
If you haven’t been a reader here for very long, you might not know that back in 2013, I made a 16 foot diameter yurt (ger) with my husband. I wanted to try “large” felting and decided a yurt would be a good idea. It was a real learning experience and a ton of work but I had a good time and we ended up with a yurt (ger). Click on any of the links in the post to read the original post which goes into the details of how it was made.
The yurt began with buying 200 pounds of wool in March of 2013 and getting it processed. You can read all about it in my post “Wool Gathering”.
Then we moved on to building the frame. “Yurt Beginnings” explains how we handled the lattice walls.
We continued working on the walls with drilling, sanding and figuring out how it all went together in a big lattice puzzle. In my post, “Sanding and Being Confused”, you can read more. Then another update about the wall is in the post “Wall Success”.
And we did it! Our yurt raising party was held at the end of October and it worked. We had a yurt. It was really satisfying to complete the project and honestly, looking back now, I’m not sure where I got the energy. Of course I was a bit younger then but I guess determination and perseverance can get you anywhere. I hoped you enjoyed the reminiscence with me.
I have started working/playing with my green nuno felt landscape. When I last posted about it, I showed you an idea that I got from layering a photo over the landscape in Photoshop. I liked the dreamy look of the landscape. Now how to create it in fabric and stitch?
I had stamped some silk organza with a flower design for another project. Perhaps it would work for the landscape? So I started playing with different fabric choices and placement.
I added more fabric and then covered with a pale yellow green nylon organza (you can see it on the right edge) to see if it gave it that “misty” feeling. It was OK but not exactly what I wanted.
I took away the overlay and added some white lace for the floral component. That is starting to look better. I think the background behind the upper flowers either needs a grey or blue overlay of sheer fabric to make it seem farther in the distance. I didn’t really see that until I looked at the photo.
Then I wanted to compare using silk paper (flower on the right) for the flowers instead of lace. I am leaning towards the lace.
That’s as far as I have gotten on the planning process. It involves many trials of putting fabric on and off. Taking photos of each trial. Figuring out how I can integrate the applique into the background. Deciding whether I am going to use machine or hand stitching. The process is definitely a journey!
I’m just squeaking in under the deadline for the third quarter challenge. I had a hard time deciding what to create. Finally, I fell back on experimenting with layered color mixing. I have always thought that Mark Rothko’s paintings would work well as an inspiration for this technique. So I searched for a painting of his that was created in the 1950’s. I found number 10 painted in 1950 at MoMA’s website.
I didn’t have any tall glass vases like Ann used but I did have an olive jar that was the same shape mostly. I could use that. I created a resist to include approximately 30% shrinkage and got out my stash of short fiber merino. I didn’t really have enough of the blue for the first layer but decided to go ahead and wing it.
The short fiber merino that I do have is in batts, so I wrapped the blue around in the vertical direction for the first layer.
Then I added more colors in layers wrapping the resist horizontally. These were all solid colors to start with and I wanted to see if the movement/migration of the fiber would create a more mottled look like you see in Rothko’s paintings.
I did add a bit of dark grey at the top for a deeper value. The photo on the left shows the piece after layout and wet down. The photo on the right shows the piece after felting before I removed the resist. You can definitely start to see the color migration. I cut out both ends of the resist and as you can see at the bottom of the right photo, the blue wasn’t covering the ends completely. But I decided to leave the ragged edges as the Rothko piece felt like the paint had ragged edges. Then I fulled the piece and pulled it over the glass jar to hold it’s shape while it dried.
Here’s the result. It looks very much like a landscape to me and the color mixing worked just as I wanted. You can see the top of the glass jar in the photo on the right. I would prefer a smooth vase and I will have to go and look for some at the local dollar stores. I did try a light inside but I made the felt too thick for that to have much effect at all. But I do like the possibilities of this technique, creating thinner layers next time. I hope to create some landscape lanterns with real glass vases. Thanks for the idea Ann and thanks for the challenge Lyn and Annie. It made me try something out of my usual box.
In my last post, I showed you how I was creating some mark making tools for our annual art retreat. We had the retreat and had so much fun creating abstract artworks. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos as the light is very bad at the lodge where we stay and I was in a bit of a hurry.
The process involved each of us starting with the same size piece of painter’s canvas and then ‘changing’ the canvas with a variety of media and techniques. Some of the steps were timed and some not. It took us nearly a full day to ‘complete’ our pieces. Some of us are still working on them, some may tear them up to use in a different way and other’s may keep the end result as is.
Here are some of the supplies that we used and you can see the piece of folded canvas at the front of the table.
We did construct a few more mark making tools, mine are on the left, Paula’s in the middle and Louise’s gelli printed feather brush is on the right.
I thought it would be interesting to see the pieces as they progressed so I will show each person’s piece separately.
This is Deb’s piece from start to finish.
Here is Louise’s piece. I think she is still working on it.
Here is Paula’s piece. You can see the light shining through the picnic table in these photos. We usually forget that the picnic tables have spaces in between and this always causes issues with such things as printing or marking over the surface. I think Paula is planning on cutting/tearing this into smaller pieces to use in some manner.
And here’s Sally’s. You can’t see this in the last photo but she has added hand stitching and beading. She was not sure if she is finished with it or not.
And lastly, this one is mine. I think I am finished with it and actually happy with the result. Usually, I don’t tend to like my attempts at abstraction. I didn’t add much color so maybe that’s why I like this one better.
We had a great time and I am always amazed at the different styles that come from each person. We know each other well enough that it would be easy to recognize who’s piece is whose.
My local group has an art retreat every year and it’s coming up soon. (We’ve all been vaccinated.) This year we are planning on creating some abstract art and I wanted to create some of my own mark making tools. I have been collecting feathers around my house for years and since we have a lot of wild turkeys, I find a lot of larger feathers. I also, collected some goose feathers when walking by my sister’s house.
The turkey feathers are on the left and the goose feathers (right) are from Canada geese. Now all I had to do was figure out how to make a brush from a feather. So Youtube is the answer. You can learn just about anything on Youtube. I found two videos and decided I would try both methods.
The first method involved cutting the turkey feather in a specific way to get a “sharp” point. I had a bit of trouble with the hollow shaft cracking on this one. I’m not sure if that was because it was old and had dried out more or not. But I used some tape and attached it to a chopstick that had already been used for mark making in my studio.
The second method uses almost all of the shaft of the goose feather and you pulled the vanes of the feather off to just leave the top portion for the brush. This seemed to work a little bit better for me and this shaft didn’t crack. It was definitely a newer feather and wasn’t as dried out.
Then because I had a large piece of goose feather left over from the second method, I decided to use that to create a brush by using double stick tape, masking tape and a skewer. It actually gave me the “sharpest” point on all three of the brushes.
The last brush I created by making a tassel from black #5 Perle Cotton on a chopstick. You can use any kind of stick for the handle and next time I plan on using some natural found sticks which will be more interesting. With this method, I created the tassel and then wrapped it tightly around the end of the chopstick. It seems to be very sturdy and won’t pull off too easily. I left the tassel ends long but you could cut them to any length that you prefer. Or you could cut them very raggedly so that would produce a different type of mark.
Then I tried the brushes with a bit of black paint to make some marks. I need to play a bit more and try some different types of movements with the brushes but I was happy with the start of making my own brushes. More to come!
This is Bear, my friend Nanci’s dog who has since passed away. Nanci has been so kind to collect our mail and papers while we travel. So I wanted to create a gift for her that was meaningful. I have been doing paint and stitch portraits of my dog Edgar for my class homework so I thought I would try one of Nanci’s dog Bear. Luckily, I had a photo of Bear on the computer because Nanci used to work for me and we used various pet photos in our social media campaigns. The photo was really dark but I was able to put it into Photoshop Elements and add in more light so that I could see the outline of the dog. I then traced the outline on to lightweight cotton muslin with a pencil. Now on to painting.
Here is Bear after painting. I used guar gum and watercolor pencils/crayons to paint. The guar gum is a thickener that keeps the paint from spreading too much on the fabric. I was happy with the result and almost left it like that. But I decided a bit of free motion machine stitching would highlight the furriness of the dog more.
I added a tear away stabilizer and did some stitching in black and darker red brown threads. Bear is complete. I gave the portrait to Nanci recently and she loved it. Come to find out, she loves this photo of Bear as it is the last photo ever taken of her. I had no idea that this particular photo meant so much to Nanci but it was what I had on my computer. Serendipity, I guess.
The fall series of online courses are open for registration. The registration for the 4 modules of Embellishing Felt with Surface Design Techniques – A Mixed Media Approach opens today, August 27 for a class start date of September 10, 2021. Click on any of the links about the courses to learn more. The courses are four weeks of PDF and video information and two extra weeks of instructor support for only $45.00 US for each module. You don’t have to be present at any certain time during the course.
The fourth module is Free Motion Machine Stitching on Felt. Have you always wanted to add machine stitching to your felt but didn’t know how? This course takes you through the basics of machine stitching on felt and works through to more complex techniques of using your sewing machine to embellish felt.
If you are interested in any of these online classes, please click on the links above for further information about the classes and scroll down to the bottom of the page to register. You will also find the supply lists of what you will need for each class on the linked pages.
Our Wet Felting for Beginners online class is available any time. You will have unlimited access with this class. So if you’d like to know more about the basics of felting including laying out the wool, embellishments, shrinkage and a variety of felting methods this is the class for you. You can sign up any time at the link above.
I showed you earlier the nuno backgrounds that I had created. I decided to try using the idea of the layered photos that I created in Photoshop Elements.
So instead of going with what the background suggested (pine trees), I thought I would try some fused machine applique over the nuno felt.
I printed out my service berry photo and got out my light box, tracing paper and a pencil. I completely ignored the background in the photo and just concentrated on the branch with berries and leaves. I simplified the design as I went.
Here’s the traced design that I came up with for my applique. Now I needed to choose a piece of fabric, get out my fusible (Wonder Under) and transfer the design to the fabric.
Here’s the piece of fabric that I chose on top of the nuno felt. The photo is not the best as the nuno felt looks black. I fused the Wonder Under to the back of the green fabric with my iron. It’s easy to do but if you haven’t used fusible before, make sure to read the instruction of the type that you have. All of them are a bit different.
Once I had the fusible in place, I transferred the pattern to the paper on the back of the fabric. I had to remember that the pattern would be reversed when cut out and applied to the background. I used the tracing paper to do this by flipping my drawing over on to the fusible paper and drawing on the backside of the tracing paper to transfer the pencil line. This works best if you enhance the original pencil line with a softer lead pencil, I used a 7B. Once the pattern was transferred, I cut it out with a pair of short, sharp scissors. I left the paper in place until after everything was cut out.
Then I applied the cut out fabric to the background by ironing it in place. The fusible melts and holds the fabric in place so that it’s easy to stitch down and add details.
Before I started stitching, I decided to add a little thickened water color to get a bit more definition and shading in the leaves and berries. Then on to the sewing machine.
Here it is after stitching (free motion) on the machine. I used three different greens and a couple of reddish brown threads. It’s hard to get an accurate color representation in the photos as the dark red seems to throw the camera off very easily. This was a fun project and different than most of my other nuno landscapes. Now to figure out what to do with the other backgrounds. More to come!
Teri’s online classes will open for registration tomorrow. The classes will begin on August 19. Teri teaches two great classes, one on how to felt concertina style hats and the other one on how to create felt bags. Both of these classes will teach you methods of improving your felting techniques so if you have felted around a resist before such as to make a felt pod, you should consider taking the next step on your felting journey.
It’s amazing how my slow stitch project is moving along and almost complete. Twenty to thirty minutes of stitching per day definitely works for me and even though I have been working on this project for a long time, it has been a fulfilling project. I have enjoyed seeing the piece slowly fill in with thousands of stitches.
Here’s where I was the last time I showed you the piece in mid June.
I added a lot of foreground stitching. The bit on the top left shown here is still a little pale for me. It jumps forward in front of the foreground bush in my eye. So there will be a little more stitching there.
I added some running stitch in the distant trees with a “grey” thread. It leans very heavily to purple but really works well to give these tree trunks a bit more definition and to move them further into the distance.
Here is where I am now. It’s getting very close to finished. A few more areas of darkness perhaps. Lindsay asked me a while ago how I decide when it’s finished. What I do with a piece like this is to get to the point where I think it might be finished and then I hang it up on the wall in my studio so I can study it. I look at the piece from different distances and different angles. I give it some time to “rest” and then I add what I think is still needed based on the assessment I have done. Or I pronounce that it’s finished. What do you think?