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Author: Capi Puszcz

A lifelong fiber artist, teacher, and color enthusiast. Color affects me at a molecular level: bright colors make me happy, and feel alive. My ADHD only enhances my crazy eclectic nature.
Unexpected Finds

Unexpected Finds

Apologies are given in advance of my post. I had my first bout of Covid 3 weeks ago, and now have this years flu variant, despite all vaccines onboard. There will be many photos, and few words this month, as I can’t wait to get back to my bed.

Felted Flower Update

The felted flowers from my last blog post (top) were glued on thin white headbands, with an accent leaf or two. (Bottom photos)
Happy faces at the Fall Harvest Tea Party. (top) More headbands (bottom)

I think this project was a huge success! The ladies were so proud to show off their tea party fascinators, and I was proud that we all made it happen. I originally approached the activities director, to volunteer my services to teach felting to the residents. She totally blew me off! When the ladies of Memory Care came in wearing their lovely fascinators, and big smiles, she said nothing to me…but approached the unit activities coordinator, to teach the other units how to make them. She handled it perfectly, saying she was willing to share the information, but they would first, have to procure all the supples I donated for free.

My Parent’s Treasure Trove of Love

I am currently writing this post in a hotel room. We have been in Phoenix, Arizona for almost 4 weeks now! I’m selling my mother’s house to cover her monthly expenses in Memory Care. Thanks to trustworthy people and technology, 50% of the contents were donated to worthy charities, before we got here. The remaining 50% was placed in the garage for us to sort through. Ugh! A daunting mess, doesn’t even come close, to what we saw before us.

Mom and Dad’s retirement dream home
These are display pieces, designed by my father and assembled by my mother, for our needlepoint shop: The Yarn & I. Needlepointed Bolero style vests (top) painted canvas (left) and Bargello/flame stitch pattern (right). Bottom photo shows 3 different belts available at the time.
Quilts designed and made by father, Don Mettler.
More quilts! Finished, and Unfinished pieces (right)
These are examples of my father’s later works. Fabric Embellishment (quilted art) and Mixed Fiber Art
Fabric Art pieces collected by my parents (top) and a Needlepointed Art piece designed and created by Don Mettler.
These are some vintage pieces I found, going through numerous boxes. Starting at the upper left moving clockwise; a) trivet made of cotton threads, b) vintage needle package, c) needle package opened up, d) hand embroidered tissue cover, e) lace collar removed from a young ladies dress…possibly my grandmother’s.

Thank you for taking a trip through time and treasure with me. The holiday season is quickly coming upon us. Please take care of yourselves as you are out and about – there are some nasty viruses out there. Now, I’m going back under my covers for a rest.

Capi

Making Unexpected Memories

Making Unexpected Memories

For this article, I’m going to take you on an adventure, using your imagination. Sounds mysterious…possibly exciting! However, in reality it was poor planning on my part, and I had to figure out something on the fly. That’s real life for many of us, so let’s move on, and it will all work out.

My mother recently moved to a Senior Living residence, in the Memory Care unit. It’s a difficult transition for anyone, and it was especially tough on my mother. I wanted to do something that would help her, get to know those around her better. A monthly tea party, presented a good opportunity. My mother has always been a lady that loves her tea…the English way, with milk. When Prince William and Kate got married, I bought my mother a fascinator to wear to tea. I went early the day of the tea, and grabbed the fascinator, from my closet.

Marsha dressed up for tea

We arrived for tea, and everyone stopped what they were doing. The residence photographer took her picture, and she was awarded the “best dressed” prize for the day. Everyone was buzzing about the need for hats. I mentioned to the craft coordinator, Cindi, that I could help the Memory Care residents make felt flowers for fascinators! We started discussing our plans immediately.

Needle felting wasn’t a good fit, for the residents, even though I had the protective gear. The coordinator said they let residents put projects together, take a photo, and behind the scenes secure items in place. That would totally work for flowers, cut out from felt, they made themselves. Last Friday was the day we set aside to make the felt. I knew my article was coming due, and thought, this would work out perfectly, but I neglected to think about privacy issues. So this is where your adventure comes in…(I know, you were hoping for a trip, to some far away destination…and maybe an umbrella drink.🍹) This is a recreation, of how we handled this for a group, in a Memory Care setting. I have a photo, with no faces, to show results the residents achieved.

I have to say, this activity was a huge success. I’m hoping by sharing the story, others will volunteer to do a similar activity, in their own communities. We had 8 ladies decide to join us, and I was prepared, if gentlemen decided to join us. I really thought this out ahead of time and had everything ready to go: bamboo placemats, cut bubble wrap, small pieces of clear plastic sheets, 2 water containers, 2 ball brausers, and liquid dish soap. I used my electric drum carder to make, very thin individual batts, for each person. I can’t tell you how pleased I was at that decision: it made everything flow along beautifully. I was told the residents love anything that sparkles, so I knew Angelina and Stelina would be present in each batts composition.

Merino, and Blended, Rovings … with Sparkles!
I made a thin sandwich of Merino, the Sparkly blend, and Merino on top. That keeps my drum carder lickerin cleaner, and requires less stopping. I repeated this process until my batt was as thick as needed.
Thin batt ready to remove from the carder. I’m hoping this blending of colors will resemble a sparkling rose petal, when it’s felted.
Just before finishing, I carefully add additional blended fiber directly to the drum for added interest to top of the felt.
This is the batt, once removed from the carder. Pretty petals on the ready!

The beauty of using my drum carder, is no need to lay out, and layer the fiber. A definite plus for working with groups. We covered the tables with clean hospital blankets instead of using towels…when in Rome, use what’s convenient. We set up each place with the following (bottom up) 1. bamboo mat, 2. bubble wrap – bubble side up, 3. thin fiber batt, 4. piece of clear plastic off to the side.

Starting from bottom left (moving clockwise) photo shows thinness of batt about 1/2 inch – batt laid out, ready to go – covered with plastic, wet down, air pressed out, and light circular rubbing.

The residents did each step the best they could. We had to help a few with rubbing, after a while, but by that point a few aides dropped by. They were curious, when they saw all the people, crowded in the crafting area. Their help allowed us to move on to rolling. Everyone rolled at least a little: good movement exercises. After rolling was finished, we took everything away, except their bamboo placemat. We told them to “wash their windows” and they rubbed a bit on the placemat. The best part came next: after rinsing the first piece out I demonstrated “whopping” the piece on the floor. Big smiles came out of hiding! Many couldn’t manage that, but the aides sure had fun, obliging in the process. There were good times had at the the craft table last Friday. The best part was my Mom beaming, with pride, and telling everyone I was “a pretty good girl,” when someone asked a question. Mom was having a good day, and knew who I was. I will take that memory with me forever…as I break away from typing to shed a couple tears.

These are the real photos of felt made by the residents. We will begin making flowers tomorrow, after this article is published.
This is the felt I made for this article. It’s absolutely gorgeous in person.

I’m looking forward to seeing the flowers, we make with our felt. But mostly, I hope to see a glimpse of the happy faces, that watched me throw that felt at the floor.

Experimenting With ArtFelt Paper

Experimenting With ArtFelt Paper

Have you ever bought something, thinking “this will be great to use for…,” and then it sits on standby for a few years? Well, it’s even worse when you are a shop owner. Everything sparkles brightly, when you attend a vendor show, but then the product arrives and sits on your shelves. For me that item is ArtFelt Paper: but after a couple days of experimenting with it, I think it deserves more consideration.

ArtFelt Paper

ArtFelt Paper is a starch based product, created by Gerhard Schoppel, of Schoppel-Wolle in Germany. He invented it to make his daughter’s school felting project, easier. ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’ especially when helping a child with homework! This paper becomes a base on which wool and other fibers, can be fixed in place, until ready for felting. Designs can be made with shingled wool, or thin pre-felt material. You can draw on it with permanent markers, or outlined with pencil roving. Using a foam board or similar underneath, a barbed felting needle is used, to tack fiber to the paper. After the design is complete, it is wet with soapy water, rolled up in plastic and thrown in the dryer. ArtFelt paper can be used with wool and woven fabrics, like silk and cotton, with interesting results. We will be looking at all sorts of things, so lets get started.

My experiments began with batts I created on my drum carder. They were at least 70% wool with other fiber and fun bits blended in. I pulled shingles from the batt at first, and then thought, why am I not using the batt as is? So, I pulled a section off and thinned it out with my hands.

Batt on the left, Roving on the right

The following photos are labeled to show my process. I’m surely not an expert by any means, but there is very little information, on how to use the product. Most of the things I’ve seen it used for, are less than inspiring, so I am jumping straight into the fun part.

It is then placed in a low temperature dryer for 10 minute intervals; unrolling and turning 90 degrees as necessary. If you are like me, you put it in the dryer the second time and forget about it. No worries: it’s most likely still damp enough to reshape.
Zoom View shows the small tufts of fiber coming through cotton fabric.

I didn’t stop there… I used the same batt to test bulky wool yarn, sari silk yarn, and art yarn, simply layed across the batt. I applied to the thinnest amount of wool fibers over the yarns. (top photos) Then I went crazy with whatever I could find; blue bamboo threads, sequins on and pulled off thread, chopped up pieces of sari silk ribbon. (middle photos) Then I chopped up all sorts of art yarns to see what they would do. (bottom photos)

Then, I had to test out all sorts of silks on different fiber batts. The gold fiber batt (top photo below) is 100% merino wool. I used magenta silk noil nepps, hand dyed hankies (right side) under chopped sari ribbon pieces. The blue fiber batt, contained fibers that were obviously not wool: not much shrinkage. I applied silk lapp at the bottom, sari silk roving in deep blue, silk yarns, and a blue lock that fell off after felting.

I wanted to see how ArtFelt paper worked with silk fabric. To really test it thoroughly, I used 100% NZ Merino for both tests below. The top sandwich had; ArtFelt paper bottom/wool middle/silk fabric and sari ribbons on top. The result was not much shrinkage at all. The ribbons could easily be pulled off, and the silk fabric adhered, but felt very loose. The bottom sandwich…I didn’t take a photo of the other side!! The layer order is; silk fabric bottom/ArtFelt paper middle/wool and decorative bits on top. You can see the silk peeking out from the lower left corner.

The wool layer felted really well. Even the bits of fiber are secure. How did the silk fabric do? It adhered really well to the wool fiber. It looks the ruching on the cotton fabric, but it has a softer, genteel look.

ArtFelt Paper between the silk and merino layers.

I think the possibilities are definitely positive for this product. I think there are still more things that can be done with it. I did a couple more samples to see how it would work for pre-felt pieces. The green was some wisps of fiber I had lingering in my stash. It is very thin. I thought it could be useful, as trees or grasses, in a landscape. Then I carded a batt to create a pre-felt of sky and water or land. The last photo is a brooch by Louise Giordano, (http://scarf-it-up.net) who used ArtFelt paper to create the piece.

9/18/2022 Update: 35% ArtFelt discount period has ended for this article.

Capi

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

I actually had a plan for what I would write about in May. I planned to circle back, to my crocheted hexagons; discus finishing options and show some new color fun I have had. Then Porter, our 6 month old [Bernese Mountain] puppy delivered his latest woodworking project to the patio door. It was a perfect specimen for the second quarter challenge; “look at what is right around us, and make something.” I shot a couple pictures, of Porter and his woodworking pieces.

Porter and the Original Piece
Cherry Wood Specimen

I was planning to use the “tree knot” in the first photo, but my wool selection wasn’t right. We gathered all his dropped pieces on the patio table and found the perfect replacement: a piece of cherry wood from a previously removed tree. The colors were perfect with the wools I had to work with. I got my drum carder set up, and went to work, blending shades. The batt colors came out better than I expected.

Drum Carder and Wool Batts

I hoped to wet felt a piece that resembled our patio table. First I laid out the gray batt [top left] for the backing. In the opposite direction, I laid the batt blended in the colors of the table. [bottom right] I added wisps of additional colors in areas. Last, and to my regret, I added a brown Alpaca/ CVM yarn for grout lines. I wet it all down with soapy water, covered with fine mesh, and rubbed gently. After a few minutes, I removed the mesh, and replaced it with a second piece of bubble wrap. I flipped the piece over and rubbed on the back a little. The toothy wool was already attached fairly well. I placed this bubble bundle on a bamboo mat, and began rolling 25 times in each direction. When I checked the piece…ugh! I failed to think about what shrinkage would do to those grout lines.

Wonky Lines

Straight lines when felted go wonky! I should’ve thought to needle felt them in later. I look at all these situations as learning opportunities; and I won’t forget this lesson anytime soon. Overall, I am very pleased with my background attempt. All is not lost, I will store the piece away, and cut it up for other projects. My felted cherry wood piece, on the other hand, was a happy surprise! I have done some needle felting, but none of my 3D pieces, turned out the way I hoped.

I started the wood piece, by making a very tightly rolled snake, and stabbed at it only enough to keep it together. I rolled it together between my palms, and once it meshed together, it was longer than needed. I decided cutting the wool snake in half, and placing both halves together, would get me closer to the girth required. I used my 38 star needle to felt the pieces together, then rolled that up tightly, in another piece of the batt.

Needing to create a small protruding piece, I rolled some scraps together, folding in half as before. I stabbed the little piece to the lower part of the twig. Then to hold everything together and create the inner coloring, I rolled the whole piece in a brown/tan batt, splitting the fiber when I came to the knot. This is what it looked like:

Wool wrapped twig piece prior to Felting. Shown with the real piece of wood.

At this point I turned exclusively to my felting needle: felting around, and around, up and down the entire wool twig. Every once and a while, I made a series of stabs, on either end to begin shaping. Once the piece was good and firm, I applied a nice layer of the rusty/blue gray batt I blended with my carder. (photo 1, below) I needle felted the fiber in place, concentrating my attentions on the blue gray, and rust areas. (photo 2) I was really happy with my (accidental) blending capabilities. Lol:-)

1. Blended Batt 2. Initial Felting 3. Knot Area 4. Final Result

I used some brown alpaca yarn, to enhance the area under the knot. I continued to work on either end of the twig, using some lighter bits of wool. I stabbed some deep lines, coming up from the bottom, and tried to add a bit of realness to my specimen. (photo 4) Overall, I am really pleased with my felting experience, this time. I don’t know what I will do with my felted twig, but in the meantime it will hang out with knitted gnomes and the “As You Wish” sprite creature I created before the pandemic.

Gnomes and Capi’s “As You Wish” Sprite

 

 

Let There Be Light

Let There Be Light

I’m out with lanterns, looking for myself.   Emily Dickinson

Sometimes things happen, that change our perceptions of who we are. That’s where I have been for the past 6 months, or more. I have suffered with anxiety and depression my whole life, but something wasn’t right this time. I decided to bring in the professionals, and I am so glad I did. Covid-19 and being rather isolated, to protect my mother with Alzheimers, has been really tough on me.

In an effort to turn things around, I started reading about the benefits of journaling your feelings. I tried bullet journaling, a couple years ago, and that lasted about a week. I have a gratitude journal, that I write in occasionally, but it’s hard to be grateful when you’re not feeling it. I read about art journaling and it seemed like a good option. It allows you to tell a visual story, with collage, paint, inks and all kind of media. Of particular interest to me, it can be amended anytime, with additional layers. I watched several videos, and was particularly intrigued with gel printing. I bought myself a small gel plate set, and used the brayer, I had from Ruth’s paper lamination class. It was a lot of fun, and husband Brian, got interested too. We signed up for an online class, Mastering the Layers with Carolyn Dube.

This article was coming up, and I thought a Multi Media Art Journal, would provide a perfect way for me to express all my different art interests. I found this wonderful journal, made by Ranger, that has fiber pages; denim, burlap, and heavyweight cotton paper. (Dina Wakley Media Journal – Blue Edition) This journal is perfect for expressing myself and the things I love.

For this article, I created the title page. I decided to include many fibers, and my related interests on this important page. My title “Love the Journey” reflects the new path I plan to uncover. I found an old set of magnetic letters, headed for the trash bin, and put them to use.

 

 

The butterfly was made from a gel print. The antennae was made from denim threads that raveled off the page. The right corner shows, some hand dyed coral silk lapp, cut from a wet felted piece I did quite a while ago. The blue pieces of knitting and crochet, are a combination of 2 threads; silk covered stainless steel, and a lace weight yak/alpaca/silk blend dyed by me. The silk covered stainless steel is one of those things, that seemed like a good idea when I bought it, yet has languished in a yarn bowl for years. Now, I have all sorts of ideas on ways to use it.

 

I included my shrink plastic and metal pieces, and embroidered them on the page with linen thread. The plastic hearts were a last minute addition to show humor is always a good thing.

Capi

Recycling: Making Old Things New Again

Recycling: Making Old Things New Again

I wanted to make a special Christmas gift for my fiber friend Lisa. It’s hard to create something original, for someone who does the same crafts you do; and many, much better. She was certain to get hand dyed yarns, and the cute trinkets we buy each other every year, but I wanted something different. I searched Pinterest for something that struck my fancy, and used some crafting items I already had. (Actually, I’m smiling quietly, as the hubs is right here.) Who am I kidding? There’s always something I need. 😆

I eventually found some beautiful projects, using beads, findings, Shrinky Dink plastic, and some art supplies. I had all of it. ✅ These items were combined to create some beautiful pieces of shrink jewelry. Julie Haymaker is an artist who came up with this method in a day dream. She used some tools she had on hand, and manipulated the warm plastic into shapes and eventually flowers. [Julie’s website: https://www.juliehaymaker.com/story%5D The beautiful thing about shrink plastic; if you don’t like your first attempt, you can heat it up and try shaping it again.

Julie Haymaker’s Home Page

I have been having fun with this versatile material ever since. Who would imagine this product, formerly used by kids, to make magnets for Mother’s Day, could be turned into art or mixed media components. With all the possibilities…my “bunny butt” was down another rabbit hole. I purchased Julie’s set of 4 silicone molds; my favorite being the pink one, followed by the green. Here’s my first attempts: made with stencils and Tim Holtz’s Distress Oxides.

Shrinkets made with stencils, ink, and color pencil lines: using Julie’s bead patterns and Shrinkets molds (below)
Julie Haymaker’s 4 Piece Shrinkets Silicone mold set

I made several of these prior to Christmas, mixed them with findings; had and bought. (Rabbit Hole) I made several pair of earrings, and pendants, that I gifted to friends.

Earrings and Pendants made with Shrinkets

After making all these pieces, I wanted to take my lessons to a new level, at least for me. I found some vintage broach backings on Etsy, and went to work creating. Since our friendship started with knitting and fiber, I wanted to incorporate my felted fiber into her special piece. I thought: why not attach the broach to a felted backing.

Felted piece recycled from a sample piece made last year.

You can see all the end caps and beads used: there’s even a crocheted piece under the yellow flower for additional texture. Everything is attached to the broach back with wire. My engineer husband Brian, is much better with wire tools, than I am. He put a series of 3 jump rings, on either side, to make it hang correctly from a chain. Then we attached a large jump ring on either end. Then to add a bit of panache, I attached hand dyed silk ribbon ties, to each end. This is the result:

Lisa’s Necklace

I didn’t know I would be using this photo in an article. I snapped it to remember what I did with the necklace. But, I think you can get the idea, and hopefully you will see many more possibilities, with your own fibers. I feel the possibilities are endless. Let me know your thoughts.

Capi

P.S. I intended to continue with my hexagon story, and show how how I connect them, but they have been in timeout, to prepare Christmas gifts. Then we picked up this little guy, Porter, who keeps us entertained, and on our toes. He likes to nibble on those too!

Color Touches My Soul

Color Touches My Soul

Hello. My name is Capi Puszcz (pronounced Push,) and I am a new contributor to FFS. I am an indie yarn dyer, fiber artist, and shop owner in Macomb, Michigan. My father was a lifelong fiber artist, and I started my fiber adventure very early in life. We had a weaving studio in the late 1960’s, and a needlepoint shop soon thereafter. I worked at the needlepoint shop every day after school, and all day, every Saturday. To this day, I am amazed at the number of fiber crafts I am fluent in. Now, onto the topic at hand: color.

It was the late 60’s in Detroit; the Vietnam War was in full swing, and the Hippie Movement was alive on Plum Street. On Sunday’s we would often, take a ride, to see the local street artists. My parents weren’t “into the drug scene,” but my Dad was intrigued by the art inspired by those drugs. I was too young to understand, what was really going on, in those houses on Plum Street. But I sure loved, the bright Psychedelic colors, that surrounded me.

Fast forward to this very day: I still love bright colors. 💞 Anyone who sees my hand dyed yarns, comment on the beauty of the colors. My color choices are bright, but not brash; clear, but not muddy. They are colors that make us feel alive, and add joy to my life. I have tried to understand the color wheel, and have spent way to much time, and money on tying to learn it…my brain is simply not wired that way. (ADHD is all over our family’s DNA)

Most of these yarns are dyed by me. The others are dyed by Logan of LeonAlexander yarns.

I apologize in advance, to any trained artists in the community, for the audacity of my next statement. I don’t feel you have to be trained, to make nice color combinations. I think you can take a couple colors that speak to you, (or are in your bin of leftover yarns)and take to the Internet. I get my best yarn dyeing ideas on Pinterest by searching color [colour] combinations color [colour] palettes. Then scroll through the pretty colors. You can search further by adding other words; like pastels, brights, purples, or by color name like “aubergine.”

But my favorite method of choosing colors is called Stash Busting. My current, ongoing project, is crocheting hexagons. I call them my “Happy Hexi’s” as I get such a kick out of combining my color combinations. The pattern I am using is a free pattern on Ravelry: rubyhexagonblanket by Nova Seals. I’m using DK weight yarn on a US-H (4.5mm). When Ruth asked me to write on a topic, I decided to analyze the process I go through to choose colors.

This is the stash I chose from…and yes I have way more yarns than this!

With my hexagons I have found, alternating solids and multicolor yarns, to work quite well. 90% of the time I start with a multicolor yarn like this:

I chose this one.

My next color is a solid color present in the multicolored yarn. In this case the blue. (Yes, sometimes it’s the smallest bit possible to choose from.) Then from here I take it one step at a time, choosing a 2nd multicolor, that has elements of the first 2 colors. Then I choose another solid, followed by a multicolor, and finally a solid that works with it. Most of the time, my method leads to success.

Progression of yarn choices: showing how each one relates to the others.

I’m not going to lie, once in a while a hexagon leaves me scratching my head. But it’s easy to take care of … I just rip back and try again! Here’s how this one turned out:

A Happy Hexi for sure!

I hope this inspires you to try out this lovely pattern, and pick some colors that make you happy!

Capi Puszcz

 

 

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