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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.
Winter Inspiration

Winter Inspiration

To warn you in advance, this post has loads of photos and no fiber unless you count bison as fiber. But it should be inspiring so I hope that you will continue on reading to learn about my recent trip to Yellowstone National Park (YNP) and my first snowmobile ride. Last year, our friends from Idaho, Howie and Janine had asked us to join them for a couple of snowmobile tours in YNP and we thought, why not? It’s kind of a bucket list item as we are downhill skiers but have never snowmobiled before. So we journeyed off to West Yellowstone, MT and got to see some real winter inspiration. There was tons of snow and it was cold but we had a great time. Seeing YNP in the winter is so different than the usual summertime visits.

With the snowmobile tours that we took, you could rent all the gear to stay warm so everyone looked alike. The first day we took the “Old Faithful” tour where we saw a lot of thermal features, waterfalls and of course, Old Faithful geyser. We had a great guide who explained all about how Yellowstone is mainly a big volcano which is really quite close to the surface. He reassured us that the volcano is not predicted to erupt for another 70,000 years. You can read more about Yellowstone National Park here. 

Here are some of the thermal features that we saw. It was amazing to see some of these beautiful colors on a winter day. If you click on each photo, the titles might give you a bit more information.

We saw a lot of wildlife and it was amazing to be on the same roadway as the bison. We did not get off the snowmobiles when we encountered bison and we kept moving slowly by the herds with the snowmobiles close together so that a bison couldn’t get in between two snowmobiles. They pretty much ignored us. They are huge, shaggy beasts and quite awesome to see their size and strength pushing through deep snow off the roads. The coyote on the top left, was hurrying down the road as we went by. There were lots of ravens around and you can’t really tell from this photo but they are big birds and noisy! There are a lot of wildlife that can stay in YNP because the rivers don’t freeze. With all the thermals, geysers and warm water flowing in the rivers, it provides a habitat for a large variety of birds and mammals to survive in the harsh winter.

On our second tour, we went to the “Grand Canyon” of YNP. It was a bit longer on the snowmobiles but has some great scenery. The snow/ice has fascinating shapes as the steam coats the surrounding pine trees. We call these snow ghosts in our area (you see a lot at Whitefish Mountain Resort).

On our day off, we visited the Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center in West Yellowstone. It was a really cool place to visit. They rescue grizzly bears, wolves, otters and other small animals that would  normally be euthanized. They also do a lot of education of the public about these wild animals. It was great to be able to see the animals more closely. The bears don’t hibernate at the center because they get plenty of food. Bears only need to hibernate if they don’t have a good food source. I wish we could have seen some of the otters in the wild (some had been spotted several days before we were there) but no luck. They do have a bear cam and a wolf cam so that you can view the animals live if you like.

Dennis did get a video of the wolves. There is a building where you could be inside (warm and cozy) and watch wolves interact with each other. This is a pack of a mama wolf and her four offspring.

I had a great time on this trip, rode and drove a snowmobile for the first time and was inspired by winter. So if you get the chance to visit Yellowstone National Park in the wintertime, go for it. You will see some amazing sights.

Handmade Mixed Media Tree ‘Specimen’ Book

Handmade Mixed Media Tree ‘Specimen’ Book

I have been continuing to slowly add bits and pieces to my tree ‘specimen’ book. You can see most of the ‘blank’ pages of the book in this post and some pages that have had ‘specimens’ added to them here.

This is definitely a ‘slow’ project that I am working on very intermittently. It’s been fun to pick it up again and just add a few things here and there without pressure to finish it or make it look perfect.

Mixed media book, front page painted watercolor background, machine stitched moss glued to background and definition of mossy torn paper glued down.

I added some more machine stitched moss to the first page and a definition of mossy.

Mixed media book open to left page painted cracked plaster on the left and torn sketchbook page with 'pine needles' on the right.

On this page spread on the left, I had one of my plaster coated pages but it had cracked significantly. I need to get some gesso to paint over these pages but since I haven’t ordered it yet, I decided to try something different. I layered different colors of paint on the cracked surface. You can click on the photo to enlarge it. The page on the right is a torn piece from one of my small sketchbooks. It kind of reminds me of pine needles. It was originally screen printed and I added colored pencil to enhance the look of the pine needles. Torn and messy is the point of this book so I ripped the sketchbook page and glued it down to a lightly painted background page. You can see the dark edges of the next page which is next up.

Mixed media book open to a page spread with an eco print of leaves and buds on the right hand side.

The page on the right is an eco print on paper that my friend Paula created. She has a big stash of these papers and kindly let me use a few.

Mixed media book open to page spread with blank plaster coated page on the right and back of eco print with cut out frame of painted paper and tea bag machine stitched skeleton leaf on the left.

This is the back side of the eco print above. I cut a window out of the painted background so you could see more of the backside of the eco print. I added a machine stitched tea bag leaf as well. The right side is another plaster coated canvas pages that needs to be gessoed and then drawn or painted on.

Mixed media book open to page spread with blank plaster coated page on the left and green painted paper background and stenciled/painted brown pine cone on the right.

This pine cone on the right was stenciled ages ago. I pushed some kind of thicker medium through the stencil to give a relief effect. It didn’t work all that well and got a bunch of bubbles in it. I painted it green at some point but didn’t like that either. I got it out of my paper stash and decided I needed to finish it. I added walnut ink, sepia marker and matte medium to get it to a point that I was satisfied with it looking like a pine cone. It also needed more strategic cutting out than I had done previously. I glued it down to the painted background letting a little bit of the pine cone stick out over the edge of the page. This is a testament to never giving up on a piece of artwork!

Mixed media book open to page spread with orange feathers woven into a gridded hand made paper on the left and an eco print glued to a dictionary page on the right.

Next to the feathers that I had shown you in my last post, I glued another one of Paula’s eco prints down on to the dictionary page. I can’t decide if this page needs something else but I will just leave it for now. I do want to leave more simplified areas where the eye can rest.

Mixed media book open to page spread, blank plaster coated page on the left and painted skeleton leaf on the right.

This one on the right is the last page that I worked on this time. It was originally a deconstructed screen print on paper all in the brighter green. When I was looking through the book, this page caught my eye as I saw a leaf in the middle of the page. I used Inktense pencils and then water on a brush to make the darker leaf appear more strongly on the page. I hope you can tell I am having fun with this. It is a very freeing process not worrying about the final outcome.

 

Adding Lichen to the Mossy Driftwood

Adding Lichen to the Mossy Driftwood

My next step in finishing the driftwood piece was to create lichen. I had made lichen before from Tyvek but alas, I had none in my stash. So I looked for other materials that could be shaped with a wood burning tool and that would shrink and make interesting shapes with a heat gun.

What I found was a fusible lightweight Pellon interfacing and nylon organza. The interfacing does not need to be fusible to work, it’s just what I had on hand. I can’t remember why I bought it but hopefully, it would work so I wouldn’t have to buy anything else.

Painted pastel blue green interfacing and nylon organza on white background

I painted the small pieces of interfacing and organza with a light layer of acrylic paint. As you can see here, the paint was not heavy and the shade of blue green was very light in value.

wood burning tool burning lichen shapes into painted interfacing

Next, I got out my wood burning tool and a piece of glass to burn on. I made random lichen shapes in the interfacing. I also did the same with the nylon organza. Once they were cut out, I held the small pieces with a pair of tweezers and used the heat gun to make them shrink up and get curly. I also added a bit of brown marker to the edges of the lichen as there are definitely brown bits on the real stuff.

Here’s the result. Yay, it looks like I wanted it to. Success. Now to add it and the dead teabag leaves to the mossy driftwood. I glued the lichen in place as it was mainly on the wood itself. I stitched the leaves down to the felt in a couple of places.

Textile Art Piece - driftwood covered with felt, stitched moss, stitched tea bag leaves and lichen from interfacing and organza

Here’s the result. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.

And the close up views. I’m happy with how it turned out and it was a really fun project.

Surface Design on Felt Online Class Registration Now Open

Surface Design on Felt Online Class Registration Now Open

The surface design on felt 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, January 5 for a class start date of January, 20 2023. 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.

Here is a video that I made about the first module of my online courses, Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination.

The second module is Experimental Screen Printing on Felt. Screen printing is loads of fun and you can obtain a huge variety of results with the techniques you will learn in this class.

Or you might want to try the third module which is Printing, Stenciling and Playing with Thickened Dye on Felt. You will learn how to make stencils and stamps as well as the use of thickened dye to decorate the surface of your felt and make your own unique designs.

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.

Want to start off 2023 learning something new? Then 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.

If you are interested in our other online classes, Felted Concertina Hats with Teri Berry, Felted Bags with Teri Berry or Hanging Felted Spiral with Helene Dooley, please fill out the contact us form here with the name of the class in the comments section.

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.

Thanks for All of our Community Entries

Thanks for All of our Community Entries

It’s that time of the year when I look back over the last year and think, “Whoa where did the time go and what have I gotten done this year?” While I was thinking about writing a round up post of what I had created this year, I remembered our new Community Gallery page. I thought it would be great to feature work from our readers and authors who have submitted photos for our community page. Anyone is welcome to submit a photo and tell us about their work. We will be creating a new page for each year from now on. So I thought if you hadn’t taken a look, you would like to see what others have created this year. If you want to read about how the pieces were made or get further information, you can find it here on our 2022 Challenges Gallery page. Just scroll down to see all the entries.

Cindy M. showed us her wonderful interpretation of a cactus. She also wrote a guest post about the process here.

Marie E.S. submitted her beautiful needle felted and stitched creation based on a moss covered stone in her garden.

Melissa O showed us her interpretation of paint chips on cement which morphed into a fabulous wall hanging.

Capi submitted her entry for the 2nd Quarter challenge with a felted stick. Which one is real? Read more about it here.

This wonderful felt vessel was created by Donna B. using multiple photos as inspiration.

These lovely felt flowers were on of Ann B’s submissions for the third quarter challenge. Visit the gallery page to see all of her submissions.

These flowers were inspired from a quilting technique of yo-yo flowers which were cleverly felted by Mireille G M.

This flowered felt hat was created by Penny E and submitted for the third quarter challenge. The flowers are appliqued with machine stitching which adds a wonderful texture to the surface.

Cindy M. submitted another take on cactus for her third quarter entry. She also created a second version of this piece seen here.

This felt piece was created with real lavender plants and wet felted by Helene D. and was perfect for the third quarter challenge.

Donna B. made program booklet covers for a local woman’s group and submitted these delightful entries for the third quarter challenge.

Karen L. created this vessel from bits from her stash and submitted it for the 4th quarter challenge. She created it for an exhibition “Making Waves” and looks just like a tide pool.

Ann B’s entry for the 4th quarter challenge were these fantastic crowns she created for a Panto in 2020. Ann also contributed more entries for the 4th quarter which you can see here.

These fab holiday trees were created by Susan W. who was inspired by Helene’s post from the prior year where she showed how to make these trees.

Caterina P. shared her colorful necklace/neck warmer that she made from items in her stash. She has found it quite warm to wear during the colder months.

This adorable gnome was created and shared by Jessika O. He brings a smile to my face and is perfect for the holidays.

I would like to extend my gratitude to all of our readers and everyone who submitted photos this year. I hope that all of you will consider submitting photos of your work and participating in our quarterly challenges. We love to see what you are creating.

Have a Happy New Year and here’s wishing you a creative 2023!

 

 

Adding Dried Leaves to Mossy Driftwood

Adding Dried Leaves to Mossy Driftwood

I have been continuing to add more stitching and other bits to my mossy driftwood. You can see the progression from just felt to adding stitch in these two posts:

Moss on a Piece of Driftwood

Mossy Driftwood Continued

Driftwood covered with green felt and hand and machine stitched areas of moss.

The moss has been getting filled in by hand stitching and adding the machine stitched moss I created. I am trying to decide how much more hand stitched moss to add. I think it needs more “trailing” knots in the “bare” felted areas. But I also need to add lichen in places but I haven’t created the lichen yet. I’m thinking I will try Tyvek lichen.

Leaf shapes created out of tea bags and machine stitching.

The next step was to create dead, desiccated leaves. I found a tutorial for making them out of tea leaves on Youtube.  I had made them out of Lutradur before but not tea bags so I thought I would give it a go. I drink tea every morning so I started saving the old tea bags for this project. In the video, she used some type of stabilizer but I decided to try without one. I layered two flattened tea bags together and just started free motion machine stitching the veins. As you can see, you don’t want to stitch the outer edge of the leaf as it looks more natural without it. Then I cut them to shape with scissors.

Tea bag leaves, machine stitched veins and burned holes/edges.

The next step was to burn the edges and the holes. I found it was easier to get a more natural look when I was looking at photos of dead leaves. That way the leaves don’t all turn out the same. I used a wood burning tool for this operation (the video uses an incense stick). Obviously, you need to be careful when you’re burning things and it is pretty stinky too, you need ventilation. So I took mine to the stove and turned on the overhead fan to draw away the fumes. Plus the stove top is heat proof and won’t be burned or damaged.

Fiber art moss on piece of driftwood with three tea bag dead leaves.

So here’s the full piece with the leaves just placed on it. I will be stitching them down at some point to hold them in place.

Here’s a couple of close ups. You can click on the photos for a bigger view. I am happy with the progress and it is definitely looking very “forest floor”.

 

Handmade Book Continued

Handmade Book Continued

About a month ago, I showed you my handmade book that I created at our annual art retreat. I have since then been slowly adding “stuff” to the book. The theme is the forest and I am having fun finding things to add to the book.

Handmade book open to page spread with fabric photo of trees in morning light stitched to page and small torn piece of paper below photo with definition of woodland.

I had this photo of morning light on trees printed on fabric for my class homework but hadn’t used it. I decided to hand stitch it in place on this hand dyed page. I then glued a piece of handmade paper to the page spread and added a definition of woodlands scrap of paper that Paula gave me. She had a bunch of definitions printed out on “old paper” and she kindly gave me the ones relating to the forest. As you can probably tell, I am not starting on page one and working through the book. I am adding things randomly through the book depending on what the page looks like and what I think works best. This way, I’m not stressing about each page being wonderful. I just find something that I like and add it in. So these pages may have more things added as I go along or not.

Handmade book open to inside cover and first page. Specimen label on cover and small piece of handstitched "moss" on first page.

Paula also had some “old” labels and I used the Specimen Book label on the inside cover. And then I took a small piece of machine stitched “moss” that I had made for my moss covered branch and glued it on to the first page.

Handmade book open to page spread with a charcoal sketch of an aspen tree on plaster coated page.

The pages that have been covered with a mixture of plaster and gesso will all end up with some type of drawing or sketch. This Aspen tree sketch was done with a charcoal pencil and then I sprayed the page with a fixative so hopefully the charcoal won’t smear.

Handmade book open to page spread with lattice type handmade paper and feathers woven into paper.

I collect a lot of “stuff” when I walk through the woods around my house. I have a lot of turkey feathers but they were a bit too big so I used these smaller orange veined feathers to weave into the page of hand made paper. I’m not sure what bird these are from but they are much more rare to find on the ground than the turkey feathers.

Handmade book open to page spread with a torn edged photo of chickadee artwork pasted on dictionary page.

 

I wanted to try a photo transfer on some pages. I thought this would work on the regular paper of the old dictionary page. So I tried to transfer a photo of this painting that I did of a chickadee. The transfer did not work out so I ended up printing the chickadee on to regular copy paper, tearing it out and gluing it on to the page.

Handmade book open to page spread with transfer of a photo of a sketch of an Oregon grape leaf.

Here’s another attempt at a photo transfer on to a watercolor paper page. It worked slightly better but came out very lightly. I used a black marker to outline the Oregon grape leaf but decided to just leave the lighter colors as they were from the transfer. I am not trying for “perfection” in this book. It’s about collecting “stuff” about the forest in one book. The rocks on the page in the photo above are just there to hold the page in place so I could take a photo. But perhaps I need a sketch of the rocks added in? I’ll keep that in mind for another page idea.

I’m enjoying this process of working randomly in the book. It’s a storage vessel for all my forest “finds”.

Mossy Driftwood Continued

Mossy Driftwood Continued

Last time I posted, I showed you a piece of driftwood that I had covered in green felt to represent moss. It definitely needed more work to achieve the natural look that I desired.

I took a small pair of sharp scissors and cut out some holes as well as making the ends not so uniform and straight. I then decided to use the left over cut out pieces as padding for stitching. I added the left over pieces in a couple of places and hand stitched them down.

I then decided to try adding more texture with needle felting. I had a pile of little wet felted scraps which you can see on the left and I needle felted those down. Then I added some wool from my carded batts that I had left over after wet felting. I needled those down but not too firmly. I still wanted the texture of moss, which you can see in the right photo.

Driftwood covered with green felt, stitched layers of felt added, needle felted layers added

Here’s what it looked like after I finished the lower layered bits. I left hanging threads as this will be the “grassy” looking bits sticking up between the moss.

Work bench covered with variety of green thread and driftwood covered with felt.

Next was looking for different green threads. Here’s what I came up with. You can also just see on the left side that I found some of my photos of moss and printed those out for reference.

Close up of French Knots stitched on green felt covering driftwood.

I then started adding some hand stitching. These are “wonky” French knots with hand dyed lace weight wool thread. This is going to take a while. I have another “slow” stitch project on my hands.

Next up was to try some machine stitching. I made a sandwich of the threads on the left between two layers of water soluble fabric. I then machine stitched a random branching pattern. The photo on the right shows the result after washing out the soluble fabric.

Close up of machine stitched threads on top of felted driftwood.

Here’s a small piece of the machine stitched moss by the French knot section. I haven’t stitched it in place as I think I will do more of the hand stitching first. I’m loving all the different greens as that is definitely what you find in nature. I will keep you updated on my progress.

Moss on a Piece of Driftwood

Moss on a Piece of Driftwood

I have had this idea on my to do list for a while so I was glad to give it a try. I have seen several different ideas of felting on a stick or piece of driftwood and wanted to give it a try. Then I am planning on adding further embroidery to give the “moss” more details.

Piece of driftwood behind pile of green wool bits

I have a bunch of driftwood from my friend Deb so this is another way to use it. I pulled a bunch of different green wool from my stash and mixed it by hand. I suppose since this is all made from my stash, this qualifies for the 4th quarter challenge too!

Hand carded green wool

I then used my hand carders to card the colors together but I didn’t want it to be a solid green. I just did a rough card to mix the greens slightly.

Then on to wrapping the wool around the end of the stick. I wrapped it diagonally with one layer, tacked it down with a bit of quick needle felting and then wrapped another layer in the opposite diagonal direction. I then began squeezing and rolling the stick around on a ridged surface before I wet it down getting some air out of the wool. I think if I had wet the stick first, that might have helped with wrapping the wool a bit tighter around the stick. I’ll try to keep that in my brain if I do this again.

Piece of driftwood, one end covered with felted green wool.

Then I wet felted the wool by rubbing and then rolling the stick wrapped in a towel. I also did a bit of “bashing” the stick but had to be careful not to break off any of the wood bits.  This is how it looks now. I am planning on adding a variety of hand stitching to give more texture. I also might cut back the felt in some areas to allow the wood to show through. I haven’t tried stitching on this type of surface so it might be a bit of challenge. But I’ll just give it a go and see how it turns out. Do you have any suggestions for particular stitches or how best to handle the stitching? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

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