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.
I sold three of my landscape pieces in March and I need to get more down to the gallery shop soon. So I took five pieces to be framed and I needed to make a few smaller pieces to go in ready made frames. The first one was easy, I made a replica of the holiday exchange card of winter time birch trees. I wrote a post about creating it here.
Here’s the second version. I forgot that I had used two layers of prefelt for the birch trees so they weren’t as white this time. But to me, it just makes it look colder!
Then I needed another idea. I have been watching some artist spotlight videos on the Youtube channel Fibre Arts Take Two and had seen one about the felt maker Kristy Kun. There were several short segments in the video that showed a bit about her process which looked interesting.
Then I walked by this small piece in our living room that I created in Level 3 Art and Design. It’s made with paint, gel medium and cardboard. Perhaps I could recreate this design in felt? And I could attempt some three dimensional felt on the horizon line with a similar method to the video I had just watched.
I first laid out wool in similar colors as the original. I should have noticed at this point that the horizon line was too close to the center vertically but I missed that.
Then I laid out some strips of the dark red and black mixed together in different sizes.
Then I began felting. I only wanted to go to the prefelt stage with both of these elements. The red bits reminded me of bacon the entire time I was felting.
The strips seemed too wide for what I had in mind, so I folded them in half lengthwise and ironed them. Once I figured out what I wanted the arrangement to look like, I began stitching them in place. I used a thread that would blend in so I wouldn’t need to take it out.
Suddenly, I remembered that I was supposed to needle felt these in place before stitching. No worries, I went ahead and needle felted the already stitched pieces and kept going. Once everything was in place, I felted everything together. I spent a lot of time rubbing the strips in place and making sure that they were holding on to the background felt. I even tried a little underwater felting as I had seen in the video.
Here is the end result. I am happy with how it came out and it is well attached between the strips and the background. It didn’t shrink down as much as I wanted so I will need to find a bit larger frame for it. And I might remove a bit of the bottom to make the horizon line a bit lower. It was a fun experiment and hopefully, someone will love it and take it home.
Post edited to add final photo.
Here is the final photo of the piece in it’s frame. I did trim a bit off the bottom to change the horizon line a little. The frame is 8″ x 10″.
I haven’t updated you recently on my slow stitching project. I hate to admit it but after my last post in January, I got out of the habit of daily stitching. It’s amazing how easy it is to stop doing something and then find it hard to get back into the habit again. But I did start stitching again towards the end of March and I have made a little progress.
Here’s the entire piece now. I have added some darker values in the foreground trees, added a few leaves down in the trunk areas and stitched some of the “shrubbery” to the left of the trees. I also added some darker values in the middle ground area to give it more depth.
Here’s a closer look at the area to the left of the trees. I am planning on continuing the stitching in the foreground areas to give the look of bushes and undergrowth. So the slow stitching will continue. I could probably forgo the stitching in the foreground but I like the look of the dense stitching and want to cover the entire surface. It’s not about the time spent on this one but the journey.
I thought it would be interesting to compare a very early photo on the left to the way it looks now on the right. A bit different?
This is a guest post from Ann B. Thanks for the post, Ann!
After reading Karen’s post on how she found her inspiration for her entry for the International Feltmakers Association proposed online Exhibition, I was encouraged to have a crack at it.
I had found it extremely difficult to find inspiration from the theme of their previous exhibition, which was “Kaleidoscope”. I have a very literal mind and could not think of how to portray that idea – I don’t/can’t do non-representational, but I must try to think “outside the box”.
At first I found it impossible to think what to do. First I looked up “reconnect” in a good dictionary – the Cambridge dictionary said:
1. “to join or be joined with something else again after becoming separated”
2. “to improve a relationship that has become less good or less close”
3. “to make you feel or understand something that you had stopped feeling or understanding”
4. “to create a relationship with someone again after a period of time”
as well as the obvious of reconnecting a disconnected phone call or internet link.
How on earth was I going to depict any of that? Initial thoughts ran along the lines of the connecting stitches in garment construction, and the more obvious stitches connecting inserted lace and tapes and how to use this in a felted piece. All this was going round in my head, when I happened to notice one of my husband’s photographs of the Scissor Arch holding up the tower in Wells Cathedral pop up on my laptop screen saver and this brought my attention to connections with the past and the future.
I started to mull over the idea of a piece of felt with the scissor arch as cut open channels on a piece of felt, which were then sewn together again, i.e. reconnected.
I cropped the image and printed a grey scale picture so that I could more easily gauge the colour values, and I subsequently decided to stick with the grey scale as it seemed to add to the drama of the image.
I then made a tracing of the main features, leaving out a lot of the detailed glimpses of the crucifix, the Jesse Window, the organ and the vaulted ceilings behind the arches. I used this to plan the piece: what prefelts I would need; what resists I would use; the order of placing resists and layers of prefelts. I wanted to start dark and come forward into the light, so that the arch itself would be white. I decided originally that there would be a minor variation from the greyscale palette – I would use the fact that the vaulting of the ceilings was picked out in gold paint and I added pale yellow to the list of prefelts.
This picture shows the prefelts I made, but in the end I did not use the mid grey, nor the yellow.
I made a couple of photocopies of the tracing so that I could cut out templates for the resists and the prefelts, and then I cut them out. I made a “crib sheet” setting out the order in which I needed to work – I have been known to forget what I was supposed to be doing halfway through a project, and I didn’t want to do that this time. I have not attached a copy of this as you probably wouldn’t be able to read my scrawl.
This picture shows the resists and templates after use. In fact there should be a resist in the shape of the little curly topped bit shown centre bottom. Unfortunately it’s still in the piece somewhere I couldn’t find it so left well alone. It was supposed to reveal the white base of the picture being lit from the Jesse Window shining through above the organ.
Once I had finished the initial fulling, I cut out the resists, (those that I could find) the resist for the scissors was cut at the cross so that I could pull it all the way out, as I did not want to cut the channel just above the cross. The top of the arch and the lower “legs” section I did cut all the way so that the darkest grey would show behind the white. I then inserted a piece of metallic grey fibre inside the top channel so that when the stitching reconnected the cut edges it would resemble the slashed and pinked work in Tudor costumes. I then finished the fulling, sealing the cut edges. I then set it to dry, but unfortunately I did not pay sufficient attention to where I laid it to dry as it has a distinct lean to one side at the top, and I didn’t notice this until I came to photograph the finished piece.
Although I had abandoned the idea of adding the pale yellow prefelt inside the top of the scissors arch to try to echo the gold paint on the arches there, I decided to pick out the nearer arches in gold thread and used a back stitch. I decided to stick with gold as the only colour in the picture and reconnected the cut channels with two goldwork yarns using sorbello stitch, which is an embroidery stitch used for insertion work. Using some silk yarn which I had hand dyed variegated grey many moons ago, I emphasized the edges of the scissor legs and the circles connecting them to the walls of the cathedral.
Having abandoned the yellow prefelt, I wondered what I should do with the blank space that left me with. I’m not sure why I decided to add the masked face instead. It just seemed the thing to do as we have to wear the things so often at the moment.
By this time, I was heartily sick of the piece anyway, so I took the required photographs, filled in the application form and sent it all off; and lo and behold I eventually received an email confirming that it had been accepted for the Exhibition.
This is the finished piece and the close-up of the Sorbello stitched lower arch.
This is the link to the Exhibition on the IFA’s website . If you click on an image it takes you first to the part of the submission form with a description of inspiration etc, and then to more photos of the work. If you click on those images you can see the complete photograph – in some cases they had to be cropped to thumbnails for the general exhibition page.
This is a guest post by Ann B, one of our fabulous readers and forum members. She is planning on updating us as she makes progress on her project.
Having decided that I needed (and I do mean needed) to make another picture, I hunted through my design source photographs and fell in love (again) with the picture I took of a horse grazing on a hill in Devon. This was typical Devon, lots of hills and trees and (best of all in my mind) no people or buildings in sight. This is the original picture above. What appears to be sky at the top is in fact distant hills. There is no sky at all in the photograph. I was a little disappointed as I love using silk fibres and neps to produce a realistic sky, but the distant hills would be a good challenge in colour blending and matching. I also felt that the photo was a little dull, there having been plenty of clouds about on the day that I took the picture, so I decided to “photoshop” it a bit to brighten it up.
This is the result. There isn’t a whole lot of difference – I still wanted it to look natural – but you can now
see the fields on the hill right at the back, and in fact I think that there is a building on
the hill on the right. Next I decided that I needed to work on the composition a little. The horse isn’t quite in the best position for either a “Golden Ratio” or a Fibonacci spiral composition. So I took the dimensions of the picture – I would do an approximate A4 size – and I worked out the Golden Ratio figures. I had (I can’t find it now) a book on art which showed how to do this and I made myself an
Excel Spreadsheet with the formulae and formatting which would work out the proportions for me once I had input the height and width measurements.
That would be measurements A-B and A-D on the diagram above. This diagram is not to scale, it merely serves to show where the measurements that the spreadsheet throws up will be. Below is the Fibonacci spiral which largely reproduces the Golden Ratio on one side of the page only. A second, flipped, image imposed on it would produce the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio calculations make it easier to get
the right proportions for a non standard shaped “canvas”.
The measurements of my picture are approx. A-B 26.5 cm A-D 20cm so not far off a square. The Golden Ratio figures would then be: A-G 9.9cm; G3-G4 6.1cm; G4-B 10.5cm, across the top and A-G1 6.9cm; G1-G2 5.5cm; G2-D 7.6cm down the side (I usually work in “old money” but it is easier for this purpose to use metric).
In fact I sub-divided the left hand and right hand sections again, drew out the lines on a piece of A4 paper and then sketched in how I wanted to lay out the various parts of the picture. I moved the horse further to the right; I placed the stream on one of the vertical lines; I placed the trunks of the trees on the left onto two of the vertical lines and various other changes of level and subject on or near to intersections of the lines. (This is the composition technique used by Constable in his paintings.) Here is the sketch.
Just to see what would happen I put a tracing of a single Fibonacci spiral on top of the sketch and found that it worked too. The horse was right where the centre of interest should be. The sheets moved a bit when I tried to scan them together but I think you can see what I mean from this:
So now I will sort out my backing felt and start to lay out the picture on it. I had tried to lay out the background colours on some white commercial prefelt and wet felt it but I had overlooked the fact that the prefelt would not shrink as much as fibres from tops, so that was a failure because the size was not right for my measurements. I have therefore cut out a correctly sized backing felt, again made from white prefelt, but of a much larger size so that I’ve got some left over for the next picture(s). I have made a tracing of the sketch and will use that as a template to mark out the placement of the main features by stitching through the tracing. Then I will need to blend some colours and start “painting”. (Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)
1. Viscose tops – I really love working and experimenting with this plant based fibre. Created from regenerated wood pulp, viscose has all the look and feel of silk tops, without the static when you draft it and it is considerably cheaper. A brilliant fibre for adding some lustre and surface interest to wet or dry felted projects. You can make fibre sheets in different densities and use thin wispy sheets for layering or thicker ones for cutting out shapes. Being a similar micron, viscose integrates really well with 19 micron merino roving. You can card it with other fibres, lay it out thickly or thinly for different effects or blend colours together. Being a smooth manmade fibre with no scales, it won’t wet felt on its own, but only needs a surprisingly little amount of wool fibre to get it to all hold together.
2. Merino roving – Like many felters, I am a fan of combed 19 micron roving. It is easy to work with, quick to felt and ideal for wearables and many other projects. After a visit to the DHG dye-house some years ago, I am still in awe of the complex process and scale involved in processing, dyeing and creating commercial roving from raw fleece.
3. Uniblends – Our exclusive Uniblends are my dream fibre. Custom blended, they combine the qualities of viscose and 19 micron merino wool. I love to use it in one-way cobweb layouts – it drapes beautifully, reduces pilling and is less itchy against the skin than using wool only. Using Uniblends speeds up the laying out process as the fibres are already combined and you don’t have to worry about embellishing the other side! You can also add additional viscose if desired, 2-directional layouts give a heathered effect and it spins well too.
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
Well, apart from my 2 hands, I use my homemade mega felting tool and ball brauser constantly. Ball brausers are fantastic water sprinklers for speedy wetting out of a project and with a little care, can last a very long time. My biggest tip is to never to leave it standing with the spout in water or soap solution for any length of time. This prevents rust potentially settling in and snapping off the sprinkler head. Shown here with a ball brauser for scale, my mega felting tool is pretty large. I have made smaller versions but this one is great for large projects like making wraps, garments & scarves. Glass décor beads have been glued to a rendering tool, sourced from the local hardware store.
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
Nuno felting without question. My preference is to use embellished prefelts rather
than applying roving directly onto fabric, using hand dyed Margilan silk or cotton gauze.
What is your business?
Unicorn Fibres is an online business selling supplies for wet felting, needle felting
and associated arts.
What kind of items do you sell?
Lots of Fibre, Hand dyed fabric and Tools for felting. We stock 19 micron merino roving in +100 colours – solid & variegated colours, merino/silk blends & our exclusive merino/viscose Uniblends.
Our range of carded wool batts is growing and particularly popular for needle felting along with Corriedale roving.
Over 45 viscose colours available as well as hand dyed Margilan silk and Cotton
gauze for nuno felting.
Ball brausers and a variety of tools for needle felting.
And if you are stuck for a gift, eGift cards too!
What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?
Along with having considerable felting expertise, we are focused specifically on the needs of felt makers/artists. Our aim is to keep prices low and service high.
Weight options – Fibre can be purchased from as little as 10gm (0.35oz), up to 1kg (2.20lbs) bumps. Flexible quantity options to suit your needs.
Custom products – Our Uniblends are created exclusively for us and a dream to use.
Bundles – Merino and viscose bundles are offered to make colour choices easier, quicker and a little cheaper.
Hand dyed gauzes – Margilan silk gauze and Cotton scrim with characteristic colour nuances to enhance nuno felting & other textile projects.
DHG reseller – We are an official reseller for DHG products who use ethically sourced fibre and create their products to the industry’s highest safety and environmental standards.
Shipping – Turnaround time for orders are generally same-day and we dispatch orders really fast, twice a day. All stock is onsite, so there are no drop shipping delays.
Where are you located?
We are an online business in Perth – a pretty idyllic spot, at the bottom left hand side of Western Australia. Close to amazing beaches and a city that sits on the Swan River.
Sara is very kind and generous and she is doing a giveaway for all of our readers. Please read the instructions below to enter. She has also given our readers a coupon code for a discount for a purchase of Uniblends from her site. See below for details. Thanks Sara!
Giveaway and Offer
Two Giveaways –
For one international and one Australian recipient:
You can win a bundle of Uniblend rovings – 6 x 50gm (1.76oz) packs in colourways of your choice, inclusive of shipping.
Giveaway is now closed.
Use coupon code: UNIBLEND10 for a 10% discount on our exclusive range of Uniblends – stunning variegated extra fine merino wool and viscose roving blends.
Prices include 10% Australian tax, but are excluded at checkout for international
The spring 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, March 12 for a class start date of March 26, 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.
Covid has had a negative impact on so many areas of our lives but the joy of human ingenuity means that the solutions we find to these unwelcome problems can lead to some unanticipated benefits.
Normally the International Feltmakers Association (IFA) holds their AGM as an “in person” meeting in the second quarter of the year. This year I was very much looking forward to spending a few days with lovely, like-minded fibre enthusiasts at Felletin in France, the workshops organised by the IFA are always excellent and you are guaranteed to make new friends at the social events.
Then Covid raised its ugly head and a plan B was needed….
This year, for the first time, the IFA has commissioned a series of free videos, for their members’ exclusive viewing, from four internationally renowned feltmakers. We will have opportunity to “meet” them live during the AGM weekend in advance of the video launch on YouTube.
If you are not already a member I can thoroughly recommend taking out membership, especially if you are based in the UK, as membership includes free Public Liability Insurance among other benefits. This link will take you a page detailing more of the benefits of membership and at the bottom is a button where you can sign up.
Below is an outline of the 4 tutors taking part, their bios and what they plan to share. The AGM will be over the weekend of 27/28th March 2021.
Nancy lives in Australia and is artistic director and founder of Treetops Colour Harmonies. For over thirty years she has immersed herself in the science and study of wool, felting and colour theory. As an international tutor, she specialises in Nuno felt techniques and her recent focus is applying Fibonacci’s Design principles to feltmaking.
How Fibonacci’s Design Principals can help Reconnect your Creativity
There is a Natural Rhythm in things we consider beautiful. Leonardo Fibonacci, a 13th century Mathematician wrote about it, Leonardo Da Vinci used it when he painted Mona Lisa. The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci’s numbers… how could this help your creativity?
Nancy’s video will explore simple, practical ways to apply this powerful design principle to your felting and no maths is required!
Three words describe my textile practice: simple, natural, crafted.
Since my introduction to felt and eco printing I’ve been on an exciting journey of discovery. Over time the sustainability of my work and teaching has deepened leading to new connections online and in person with like-minded individuals. The advent of Covid-19 means that keeping safe, staying local and living in harmony with the environment has never been more important.
For ReConnect I will share a series of 3 videos: where this journey began, an introduction to eco printing and an eco print/natural dye tutorial using locally sourced vegetation.
Fiona Duthie is a Canadian feltmaker recognised for her dynamic, sculptural clothing and artwork. Fiona strives for excellence in design and technique, while furthering the medium of felt through the use of new material combinations.
Creative Sparks looks at reconnecting with simple techniques and familiar materials in a playful and exploratory way. Perfect for uplifting us out of a creative slump, or to refresh our existing design process. We explore sixteen creative prompts while making a beautiful, harmonious set of felt tiles. Each prompt can be taken beyond this project and used to add creative sparks to any felt project.
I’m a Hungarian felt artist, who experiments a lot to develop felt in 3D and to achieve new, interesting surfaces.
It has always been a challenge for me to see how felt can be transcendent, whether stone-like or metallic. I find it very exciting when a particular substance goes beyond itself. When designing a surface, I usually push these boundaries.
Recycling is also a feature of my work, I often cut old, used clothes and incorporate the pieces into my wall hangings and other creations and more recently I also recycle coffee capsules into my works.
So this happened at my house recently. When it snows, what do you do? Snow dye, of course!
Luckily, I had just gotten a bunch of silk scarves that needed dyeing. I put them in a large plastic tub with grates underneath to keep them above the muck that occurs with this process. The scarves were soaked in soda ash solution before I put them in the tub. I tried several methods of scrunching up the scarves so the dye would be unevenly applied, sort of a cheater’s shibori. This process is very serendipitous and if you want the colors to stay separate, use separate tubs.
Then I scooped up a bunch of snow and put that on top of the scarves.
Next I added fiber reactive dye powder (and a bit of acid dye). Sorry for the bad photo. I tried to keep the colors over where the two scarves were. Of course, it migrates where you aren’t expecting it. From left to right:
cerulean blue, turquoise, sapphire
antique gold, pewter
daffodil, purple haze (acid dye)
scarlet, cabernet, oxblood, fire engine (last three acid dye)
I always get excited to see what I have the next day. The snow melted overnight and I had already removed the scarves on the far right before I remembered to take a photo. You can see the dye in the bottom of the tub is very dark and that is why I use the screens. This process does waste dye powder and I think I over did it this time and used too much. But I don’t like a bunch of white in my scarves and I like deep, rich colors. That’s my excuse 😉
Then the rinsing and washing out of scarves happened. Followed by a lot of ironing. These never look very good until they are completely ironed. Then you can see the color changes, some of which are subtle.
There are two of each main color and I am showing these as they were in the tubs from left to right. I’m calling these two iris.
These are called Monet’s Garden.
These are a bit more golden then they show in the photos and I have named them Dawn Mist.
These two are from a combination of purple acid dye and yellow fiber reactive dye. I wasn’t sure if the acid dye would be strong enough but I really like these two, named Northern Lights.
The last two were mainly acid dye with one fiber reactive. I was a bit disappointed with these two but hubby says that he thinks some people will prefer solid colors. We shall see. I named these two garnet. I will be taking these to Bigfork Arts and Cultural Center to sell in their gift shop.
Which colors do you prefer? Have you tried snow or ice dyeing? Always fun to see the results!
When I posted last time, I showed you the felted portion of my 1st Quarter Challenge piece. The next step was to start free motion machine stitching to add more detail.
First to find some thread that would work with the colors of the felt. I used all of these except for one of the reds.
I started with dark green thread and worked on the stems, leaves and bud. I kept the inspiration photo by my sewing machine so it was easier to see where I needed to add stitching.
Next was the light green thread. I just used it for a few highlights on the stems, bud and top of the big leaf.
Now on to the poppies. I used a light pink for highlights. Somehow, I always forget how much the machine stitching compacts the felt. It makes the unstitched portions feel very puffy.
Then I add some yellow for the centers of the poppies.
Next is the medium value red. You can’t see it very well because it is the same value as the main poppy color. But perhaps it gives a bit more definition of the edges.
Then on to adding a little more dark value where it was needed. Afterwards, I put it up on the design board and stepped back a little. Looking for anything that didn’t look right or drew the eye too much in one place. The areas that bothered me were the top poppy there seemed to be a straight pink line coming down to the bottom of the flower. And the bottom poppy, I thought the pink at the bottom center was a bit too much.
So I added a bit more burgundy in those two areas to tone down the pink just a little. So it’s complete. You can click on the photo to see it up close. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie!
This is a guest post from a new contributor to our site. Please welcome Ildi Klozsi!
I’m Ildi Kolozsi from Romania, Europe. I live with my family in a small village in Transylvania. I started working with wool about 18 years ago, and from then on I have had a special connection with this material.
The wool is part of my life, sometimes I dream of my next project or work. I love to try new techniques.
I also teach adults and children, I think that it’s very important (for everyone) to recognize the beauty of this natural material.
The project that I have showed you in this post was made for a custom order, she wanted something with birds, not too much color and inspired from nature.
I love to felt bird designs, maybe because I live close to nature, I’m part of this.