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.
I added some more machine stitched moss to the first page and a definition of mossy.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
2023 has already sent me a change of plans notice. My last goal for the end of 2022 had been to have the local guild library book check completed. Then I would spend hours grouping, sorting and formatting data into lists so the library would be more accessible for members to use. I was running a bit behind schedule and the new deadline was to have the circulating books counted by 4 pm on Jan. 9th. If I cannot get all the circulating books checked between one meeting and the next it means I have a lot of extra checking to do once the books start moving in or out of the library. Ann had been extra busy this past year and was not as available as she had hoped. This meant that on the day of the meeting, there were four full cabinets of books checked, leaving one last cabinet full of books to check (780.’s Basketry to 900.’s Textiles – Finished cloth).
1) OVWSG Guild Library cabinet full of weaving books, on the door is a list of what is on the bottom shelf. In front of the cabinet is the old guild computer on the library rolling table.
I got into the studio extra early and It all was going quite well until I got to my nemesis, the bottom shelf. The “Problem” shelf. The Shelf placement within the cabinets does not allow binder-height books to sit upright on the bottom shelf, so most books sit with their spine edge facing up. For easier use, I had created a photo and list of what should be on that shelf. Unfortunately, I had to check to make sure that all were present and accounted for. This involved a bend, twist and lean maneuver that I had to repeat as I found each miss placed book or worse lack of book. Missing books kept me searching longer before giving up, and marking them as not there. I finally got to the end of the shelf and thought I had gotten away with this particular acrobatic bending maneuver…. But my back was only considering how best to discuss this grievous insult to its dignity. (It also likely recalled the 4 previous circulating cabinet bottom shelves.) I knew well before the meeting had started I was not going to be able to stay. I had the library set up for the evening, labelled everything I could think of and waited for Ann to arrive after work so she could run the library. (Sorry Ann!!) I got help back to the car and headed home, hoping to watch the meeting on Zoom. (There is still the Reference section, Audio-Visual and Magazines left to check!)
It was a fabulous presentation on a reinterpretation of district checks by Carl Stuart. But by the end, it was a challenge to get from the computer down the short hall to the bedroom and into bed. It’s taken 4 full days to get the grumbles back to a manageable level so I can hope to think and type.
My original plan of having a chat about fibre prep vocabulary has been put on hold (it will let me find better photos for you too) and instead, I wanted to keep with the theme of this post so far and show you the books of X-mass 22.
Glenn has discovered buying Felting Books for me is as much of a challenge as buying Blacksmithing books for him. Even so, he did very well this year.
2) Unwrapped Christmas presents, 3 felting books, candy and a plastic box sitting on a black duvet.
(The Mysterious contents of the plastic box we will chat about in an upcoming post with Ann.)
He also found an IKEA Octopus and an Octopus winter hat!
3) Yellow IKEA Octopus wearing a Red, Black and Purple Octopus winter hat sitting at the pillow end of the bed.
4) Japanese book cover by Sachi with framed needle felted cat on the front
The first book is in Japanese, I think it may be “Portrait of Cat Made of Wool Felting”? It has a lot of detailed pictures about the needle felting of cat faces including how to make eyes, whiskers, patterns, and fur in detail. The text is completely in Japanese but the layout is correct for a European book (spine on the left-hand side) so I hope there will be an English edition soon. Ann said there should be an app on my phone to take a picture and translate it. I don’t think my phone is that smart but it would be helpful while waiting for an English version.
Let me show you a few interior shots so you can get an idea of the content, the pictures are extremely detailed and give lots of information even if you don’t read Japanese (Written English is still challenging enough for me, arigtozimasu).
4.1-4.4) A couple of random pages showing photos and text from the book.
This would likely be a good book for those interested in extreme realism and fur applications. I suspect it will be even more enlightening if you have a friend who reads Japanese! I hope it will be printed in English, I would buy it.
The second book I had seen mixed reviews on. I was hoping to find an inexpensive second-hand copy to check out. The rumours had been quite negative, that the book was basically a coffee table vanity project with lots of pictures of the artist’s work and almost no info about how to needle felt.
5) Cover of “Make Animals felt Arts from Japan” by YoshiNobu
While I would agree the first section (66 pages) of the book is inspirational images of the artist’s work, the second section, (page 67 to 118) are divided into information on tools, types of wool, ways of blending fibre, basic techniques, then on to small projects to teach the basic techniques and expand on them. The projects are finger puppets and broaches. The instructions start out with simple shapes and a bit of colour blending and get more complicated. There are occasional translational word choice problems but overall it has good information. (There is a drum carder labelled as a combing machine! I will return to address that in a later post).
This book may have received better reviews if the inspirational section was after the informational section. But the information included is good and the pictures though small are reasonably clear to follow.
5.1-5.4) A few interior pages from Make Animals felt arts
6) Cover for “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon showing needle-felted penguins.
The last book he found for me was one I already had picked up in 2021. “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon.
6.1-6.4) parts of interior pages of “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon
This book has a different approach to sculpture than I usually take. There are a few projects where the wool is cut and the armature inserted when the sculpture is almost complete. There are a number of projects with partial armatures and some with no armatures. I purchased a copy while I was working on the armature wire project. There is the use of strips of felt to make the core of a sculpture as well as the suggestion of using a ball of wool yarn to start the center of a spherical shape.
There is an interesting suggestion for making felted mushrooms (a currently popular topic) by using cardboard yarn and then adding a cap and stem of needle-felted wool. Most of the projects are simplified shapes which are not too intimidating for a beginner or advanced beginner.
All 3 books are worth looking at and depending on the direction your style of needle felting is taking you may want to get a copy of some of these for your own library.
7-7.1) Ann looking at my Christmas felting books
Ann and I will show you a bit more of our Christmas acquisitions but that will be in a later post. In the meantime have fun and keep felting!!!
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.
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.
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.
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.
A wonderful 4-week holiday in Australia, Christmas markets and hosting lots of family visitors mean I’ve done very little news-worthy felt-making since my last Felting & Fiber Studio blog. ‘Production felting’ is my own term for making lots of similar things for shops and markets. I did a fair bit of this in November and December: mostly printed tea light holders, printed wool ‘pebbles’ and Christmas cards. These were my 2022 cards: handmade felt with hand-printing. I extracted the tree from a larger, royalty-free, public-domain image and added the heart before printing onto fine flat felt.
I sold these through various outlets and sent a small number myself.
I’ve enjoyed making felt ‘pebbles’ for some years. Since learning to print on felt from Lindsey Tyson, I’ve been able to adapt photos of some of my Mum’s watercolour paintings to print onto the pebbles.
Alas, I left the base alone for a long time during a pandemic lockdown and it was attacked by moths. In a way, being eaten by moths was rather fitting: lifecycles in real life, but the moth holes meant I ended up cutting it up to make bookmarks (after some very hot washing). I did, however, recently sell the tree stump on its own and it now lives in Canada.
Pondering future projects for the tree challenge: I have a very tall, beautifully coloured ‘silver dollar’ eucalyptus tree in my garden.
The eucalyptus tree has potential for lot of other projects, including maybe using the leaves for eco printing onto felt. Eco printing is something I’d like to try, though whether I will get round to it remains to be seen. I don’t recommend any breath-holding for this.
Contemplating Caterina’s quarter-one challenge of making something practical that you can’t buy: one of my favourites is this case I made for my iPad mini. Nuno-felted with sections of recycled sheer silk scarf.
I know you can buy iPad cases but I like that this one is unique and fits perfectly without any fasteners. Because it’s an exact fit, the iPad stays put until you need it, then slides out easily. It’s getting rather battered now as I carry it around all the time so maybe it’s time to make a new one.
Felted vases and plant pots are also both unique and practical. Here are a few. I like that you can co-ordinate them to your décor, or to a specific plant or flower, or just go for colours and patterns you like.
And finally, here’s something that meets both last year’s challenge to complete some UFOs (un-finished objects) and this quarter’s challenge to make something that you can’t buy.
Here’s a pair of earrings that I started making a while ago using hand-dyed 14.5 micron Merino wool. I incorporated the earring post into the felt and some black sequin fabric inside using resists. These were inspired by the work of Aniko Boros and Judit Pocs.
As you can see, I got quite a long way along, but while I finished fulling the one on the left, I stopped with the right-hand one in the pre-felt stage. I’m not completely sure why: probably it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. But it surely can’t take more than about an hour to finish that one, so I’m promising myself here that I will complete that second earring. The world will be minus one small UFO.
I hope I’ve given you a few ideas about different ways of taking on the challenges. How are people getting on with them? If you make something in response to these or any of our previous challenges, please do post your photos on the forum. We all love to see and be inspired by what other people are making.
The local Ottawa Guild had been optimistic in the latter part of 2022 and started to reschedule workshops, unbeknownst to us the evil covid was friends with 2 influenzas and invited them to drop by too. So we wound up with students and instructors out sick by the end of November into December. This was also the month my new workshop had been booked. I had offered to teach a chickadee or a tiny dragon but had been requested to make a Thing since Elizabeth, the workshop coordinator and I had not been able to decide on a definite thing. This is the description that was listed for the workshop.
“Description: Jan is paralyzed with too many possibilities for an item to use to teach needle felted sculpture, thus we announce a workshop in needle felted THING creation. Jan will probably decide more or less what the THING will be before the workshop but it will be a surprise for students. You will create your THING using three dimensional needle felting. By the end of the workshop, students will have the skills needed to go home and make a THING of their own choosing. Previous felting experience is helpful but not necessary. Good eye hand coordination is very helpful (those needles are sharp).”
As soon as it was scheduled, I started to work on organizing a brand new workshop. I quickly figured out this scope is a bit broad, so making a small basket protecting thing would help. I had admired an amigurumi mix-and-match monster making book. “Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters” by Kerry Lord. Using the simple shapes from crochet to inspire the students, should give absolute beginners an achievable target and those who have felted before the opportunity to try four different wire gauge hands or wings and a tail.
The notes covered wire and needle gauges, fibre, fibre preparations (carded vs Combed it can make a difference), then wrapping. I had gone through and followed a couple of my projects and showed how I had made and built the armature, as well as a few wire augmentations I have had to do over the years. Most of that last section is actually in the blog posts! I finished off the notes with a list of books they may want to investigate and three online sources of videos.
If the various flues and covid were not enough of a challenge we had our first big winter store about to hit. I think most of the worst went south of us. I wonder, what the states could have done to offend the weather? After some debate with Elizabeth it was decided that since the forecast was to have the storm ending by Saturday morning, we would see how the roads looked closer to the workshop. The snow had momentarily stopped and the workshop was declared a go. I had collected the supplies together and then pulled the bags of fibre to go from the basement. Glenn hauled and loaded it all into the car. He and our new neighbour also cleared out the end of the driveway and we made a brake for the Guild Studio on the other side of Ottawa.
1-3 it’s impressive how much wool you can stuff in a Kia Soul!
The side streets were not the greatest, but the highway was fine and the parking lot had been cleared!!!
4-5 Arriving at the Guild and dropping off the stuff
He carried in the bags of wool, the box of armature things and the couple boxes of supplies. Then went and found the missing tables.
6 Tables found and now I can set up!
He set them up in a C or U pattern so I could sit in a rolling chair in the center and help any student without a lot of standing and bending over.
7 18 pages of Notes, Foam kneeling pad, A piece of pool noodle, 2 sizes of dowels, finger cots, wooden single needle holder. Still to add will be the needles.
8 I also had a few needles for them to see what difference a gauge will make.
9 the books just past the needles
You may have spotted I brought a few possibly useful Books; Comparative Anatomy (Animals Vs. Human) Cyclopedia Anatomicae: More than 1,500 Illustrations of the Human and Animal Figure for the Artist by Gyorgy Feher. I also had a book on Anagarumi to give the students some ideas. Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters by Kerry Lord. (Kerry Lord also has a book on crocheting sheep! Toft Sheep – 18 Crochet Sheep Patterns (uses UK terms))
10 a couple of my sculptural books.
Armature/Sculpture books I brought to show the students; A Masterclass in Needle Felting Dogs by Cindy-Lou Thompson, Needle Felted Kittens: How to Create Cute and Lifelike Cats from Wool by Hinali.
There are now quite a few good books on sculptural felting with or without an armature. I had a list of 14 that they may want to keep an eye out for.
11 I also brought sustenance and plastic inspiration
The Ottawa guild has always wanted to have small class sizes to insure good student-teacher ratios. Most workshops have a maximum of six students. With the first snow dump of the year and 2 types of flu plus covid, I was a bit worried that it may not run. In the end, we had one student driving over an hour to Ottawa and made it safely but one was sick and another with a sick child. So we ran with four students. Three went for Anagarumi-based Things and one went with a Kraken/Octopus combo. They were a bit bigger than I had envisioned but they all still had their armatures in time to have lunch.
12 Armatures are underway
We had two Things with four arms and a tail, one with two arms a tail and wings, and the octopus creature used pipe cleaners (ok now there called Chanel stems since there are not a lot of pipes to clean anymore) to see how that would help with wrapping later.
After a lunch break, they started to wrap the fibre around their armatures.
13 wool wrapping begins
I brought a couple of types of fibre preparations. This would let them see the difference between carded (which makes a woollen yarn) and combed (which makes a Worsted yarn). I am going to talk about this more in a future post.
14 This thing was being helpful by holding fibre for its creator, even when that was not as helpful as it sounds.
15 this thing is developing fabulous wings.
16 Unlike my last octopus this one has 8 arms! The pipe cleaners were found easy to wrap over.
A little way into wrapping, the students all realized it takes a bit of time to wrap, so instead of rushing and risking lots of punctured fingers, they decided they would like to add a second half to the workshop and focus on surface work. I did spend part of the time they were wrapping to show them a couple of options for adding fluffy furry surfaces.
17 two of these things arms were added to increase its head.
18 This one still has all four of his arms and is now standing on his own.
By 4 pm we had good shapes developed and no major bloodletting due to rushing.
19 the octopus is starting to emerge
20 the thing with 4 arms has now received a head
21 the winged thing has temporary eyes and looks like he is looking forward to getting wings.
The class while not quite finished seems to have had fun to this point. We will get a bit of time scheduled for part two to finish the outer layers in the new year. It’s always hard to estimate on time for a new workshop and the pace the students will progress at. Not pushing for speed, I think is the way to go for this one. Needle felting yourself is not conducive to creating more needle felters!
I hope you will get to take some time over the holidays to do a bit of needle felting. If you are at a loss for what to make you may want to peruse the Anagarumi Monsters for a bit of mix and match inspiration! Happy Hanukkah, Mary Christmas, Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays from the Mer Family, the Scott-Martin Family and the rest of my felted menagerie.
PS is it just my dyslexic brain or is this date really cool 12-22-2022 (if only we had 20 or 22 months it would be perfect! OK, the last few years have felt like years containing more than 12 months) but I hope you can enjoy such a fabulously numbered day! See you Next Year!!
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I taught a new wet-felted bowl workshop recently so I decided I’d share my thoughts and ideas about developing and running that workshop in this blog.
I’ve taught a few different wet felting workshops over the years. I really prefer people to start with making good quality flat felt before moving on to other things, but sometimes I bow to the pressure to do something else. I try to remind myself that I’m not the felt police and neither can nor should be in charge of how other people choose to learn. (But, of course, there’s still a little bit of me that would like to be the felt police. If the vacancy comes up I will almost certainly apply!)
This time I decided to go even more 3D and do a basic bowl, working around a flat circular resist. I wanted the workshop to be suitable both for complete beginners and those with some felting experience who were interested in trying out a 3D make.
I dug about in the studio and in my photos to see if I could find some old bowl examples and came up with a few.
I then walked my way through making a new sample bowl with a workshop hat on. By ‘workshop hat’ I mean focusing on what I think are the simplest techniques for inexperienced felt makers to achieve the best and most reliable results.
I decided on my layout: starting with a fanned-out layer from the centre then a second layer following the circumference of the circle. I intended the circular layer to overlap the edge as little as possible to reduce bulk in the middle, with the main overlap to connect the two sides on the ‘fanned’ layer.
I immediately realised I should have done the layers the other way around. It’s much easier to follow closely the edge of the circle if you can actually see it! I also realised it was better to start laying the wool around the edge and move inwards rather than starting at the centre and moving out.
I find it interesting how wearing a different ‘hat’ makes me think in a very different way from when I’m just making something myself. It’s a useful exercise.
I thought the sample bowl could demonstrate a couple of different surface design options so added some silk fabric, some locks and a little white wool to the grey area.
It’s not the most beautiful bowl but it did its job. The collection of bowls then got me thinking about the size of opening. I like a small-holed bowl to look at but it’s not necessarily so useful and it is certainly harder to full, being difficult to work from the inside. I decided that participants could choose.
I gathered together a range of tools and smiled at the weird variety of odd things I own. This is only a small proportion.
Something these tools all have in common is that not one of them was designed for felt making. My most recent purchase was a job lot of 15 small plastic rattles bought second hand on eBay. Actually, these worked remarkably well, especially for the bowls with small openings, and the quantity would come in very handy if I was teaching a bigger group. That was £5.35 well spent.
The workshop venue was the Horsebridge Community Arts Centre in Whitstable. The Centre has a lovely workshop area: really light and spacious with good tables and lots of sinks. Ideal for our purposes. After welcoming the 4 participants and a short introductory chat I demonstrated the layout. Jenny, Suzanne, Jane & Ronn then chose their wools and set about their bowls.
I had decided to go for 2 layers of wool rather than 4 as I find most people lay the wool out quite thickly to start with. 2 participants had some felt making experience and 2 did not. All of them went for quite thick layers.
We wet the first 2 layers down before flipping to the other side as I find this helps to get the wool tight around the resist.
Next I showed them how to start to work the wet wool: paying lots of attention to the rim of the circle and encouraging the wool towards the centre to reduce the chance of creating an accidental ridge.
Once they’d reached the prefelt stage we did some rolling using just the bubble wrap and towel. Then they were ready to cut the opening & remove the resist. Jenny went for a small opening, Jane and Suzanne a slightly larger one, while Ronn had something more organic in mind. She made 6 cuts out from the centre to create a sort of flower / leaf shape that would hold a plant pot.
Plenty of chat, a little music and lots of elbow grease later ……..
….here are the ladies at the end of the day, delighted with their finished pieces.
And here’s a better view of their bowls (plus the one I’d made alongside them to demonstrate the different steps – 2nd left). I was very pleased not to see any accidental midriff ridges as I think a smooth transition between the two sides is one of the hardest things to achieve when starting to work with resists. The bowls were felted really well, which made my inner felt policewoman very happy, with just the plant pot holder needing a little more finishing at home to fit around its plant pot.
I always ask participants to complete a short feedback form at the end of the workshop. There’s a bit of admin then 3 boxes to complete: ‘what did you like about the workshop?‘; ‘what could be improved?’ and ‘any other comments?’.
I also make mental notes for myself along the same lines. So, here are my own observations
We had a really nice day. It was a lovely group with a friendly and relaxed atmosphere: everyone seemed to enjoy making their bowls. Judging by the feedback forms, people found me adaptable, clear, knowledgeable and helpful throughout the session so lots of positives there.
What could be improved?
The participants didn’t have any suggestion but for myself I thought the timing was a little generous. I’d allowed 6 ½ hours (including a lunch break). We finished slightly early so maybe 6 hours next time, though that may be different if there were more participants.
I realised I didn’t give enough thought to / instructions on the interior of the bowl design. Because my sample bowl had a small opening the interior isn’t visible so I forgot to think that bit through. In fact all the visible bowl middles were good but definitely more luck than judgement on my part.
My making a bowl alongside the participants worked OK but I had to work very quickly to get it to the next stage while spending most of my time helping and advising the others. It would have been simpler to have pre-prepared another bowl sample to pre-felt stage.
All in all a successful workshop with some notes for myself on how to improve a few things if I run it again. Hope you enjoyed your virtual visit to our bowl workshop.
It has been a longer break than usual between posts but it’s also been a busy time. I am partway through writing about the carp fair (yes, I will tell you if you can felt with gloves on shortly but not today.) Today I want to tell you of the continuing adventures of the Mer’s.
Was it just a week ago that Mr. and Mrs. Mer and I followed Glenn off to the Kanata Games (and Felting) Convention? I have gone before and happily, spent the weekend felting, listening to my audiobook and watching the convention goers gaming. After a 2-year break, they were finally getting back to the fall tradition.
While Glenn wandered off to play train games (the older trains rust out part way through the game and there is a lot of math, doesn’t really sound fun to me.) the Mer’s and I settled into an empty table in the corner with a view of most of the gaming.
We are a little out of sequence since I had been working on Mrs. Mer at the Carp fair (which you haven’t seen yet!) I had built up her fishy parts to the point I was ready to add the wires for the fins.
1-Mrs. Mer, lying on a felting pad, with fin wires for lower fins added to her fish body, the needle is adding wool to the lower abdomen of the fish section.
2- Close up of fish part of Mrs. Mer, adding folded wire that will be anal fin, the other fin wires are in place for lower fins and are wrapped in wool.
3-Mrs. Mer viewed from the back showing understructure of wool and adding the back fin wires. She is lying on a wool pad on top of a handwoven cotton blanket of various colours of blue and bits of purple.
Since we cot Mr. Mer flirting again at the fair I was determined to get Mrs. Mer closer to completion over the convention weekend.
4-Mr Mer, as his arms resting over the handle of my willow basket, is showing off his chest and smiling.
One of the tables designated for overflow games was suggested as a good spot so I was out of the way and it was large enough to work comfortably.
5-Table at the back of the gaming convention, gaming going on at tables in the background, Mrs. Mer lies on the table showing her back. She has her fin wires wrapped in wool and has a felting needle stuck in her sacrum.
I finished wrapping the last of the fin wires and was ready to start sculpting more detail into the fish bits and then add the actual fins. I still have work to do on her human parts but am focusing on her fishy bits at the moment.
I am interested in the intersection between human and fish again, this time playing with the echoes of lines that would have been gills.
6- Close up of Mrs, Mer’s gluteal muscles and the transition to fish, 2 ridges are developing reminiscent of gills.
As I thought about the transition, I decided to move to the tail for a bit as I considered her options.
7- Mrs. Mer on a wool pad on the table. Showing the tail fin being built up with white wool over the Alpaca underlayer.
8- Showing Mrs. Mer on the pad on the table, with very thin felt being built up between the upper and lower tail wire, there is gaming going on in the background.
9- Mrs. Mer, lying on a felt pad on the table, with the clutter of mini Chocolate bars, Ice crackers, glasses and extra needles spread around her. I am adding more fibre to expand the thin felted tail fin.
I added a lateral line on both her fishiness as well as her hips sort of where her IT band should be.
10- It band integrated with the Dorsal line on the fish body anal fin over a felt pad with a felting needle adding a thin wisp of fibre to the wire fin armature. Glasses and tiny pliers and cutters are lying on the felting mat.
11- Close up of anal fin and tale (Caudal) fin both with very thin wisps of felt for the fins. They are lying on the felt pad with a needle sticking out of it.
12 – Starting the Ventral fin one on each side of the lower body of Mrs. Mer’s fishy body
13- Mrs. Mer is lying on her side on the table with her Ventral fin on the felting pad with a needle stuck in it. There is a bottle of mountain due (pop with a lot of caffeine), reference photos and my audiobook player also sitting beside the pad.
14- Mrs. Mer is now leaning on her elbows on the felting pad. I have all the lower fins added as well as the tail, I have started to add a bit of light skin tone to her lower back and glutes.
The gaming will go on until 11 pm on Friday night, there are still quite a few people that I can see and more in the other half of the hall. Since I have a bit more time I started the Dorsal fin.
15- Mrs. Mer Lies on the table with her Dorsal fin spread out across the felt mat. There are wisps of wool being added to the space between the spines.
16- Mrs. Mer props herself up on the table with a bottle of the mountain due behind her.
It is the end of day 1 at the Friday gaming and felting convention and time to send Mrs. Mer back to her project bag,
Day 2 (Saturday) unfortunately I had a previous shopping commitment when I learned about the gaming and felting convention planned for Saturday morning. Therefore, the Mer’s and I jumped in the car very early and headed north not just out of town but also out of province to Wakefield Quebec. They were having a wool day at the market.
17- Photo of the community center and the corner of some of the Market stalls with white tents.
We arrived in time as they were still setting up some of the booths.
18 -bin of wool and 5 small bags of tiny locks sitting on the small chest freezer, more of the market in the background
19- Feme sol Fiber yarn and batting for sail in pretty baskets.
I found Femme Sol and sorted through some of their fibre, selecting bags with small curls in white and dark brown. The next booth over was Rocks end farm with Icelandic sheepskins and yarn but no fibre this time.
20- Rocks end farms yarn displayed on a table with driftwood support
I also spotted some colourful wool mitts, shooting mitts (have a finger for the trigger), fingerless mitts and toques.
21- table covered in boutique cloth with colourful mittens on top
22- 2 ladies looking at mitts one lady selling the mitts
Ginger had asked about Mr. Mer so I went back to the car to let them visit.
23- Mr. Mer and Ginger Chatting.
24- Mrs. Mer interrupts Mr. Mer’s Flirting.
There was a dyer of yarn there, Riverside Studio, who had a great selection of hand died yarn.
25- Grid racks of hand-dyed yarn, a woman with a large pink handbag admires yarn
I admired the last of the fall flowers in front of the Wakefield community center before heading back to Ottawa.
26- Ornamental grass and brown-eyed-Susan flowers with dark rose colours flower I don’t recognize and general greenery behind.
The trees are just starting to turn colour at the higher elevation around Wakefield.
27- fall colour along the highway is green, orange, red and yellow leaves on trees.
Did I mention the main highway in Ottawa is getting one of its overpasses replaced this weekend….. that would explain the odd extra traffic. I eventually made it back into Ottawa and then west to Kanata where the convention was underway.
Mr. Mer was very attentive to his wife. It may be she was annoyed with his flirting of earlier this morning.
28- Mrs. Mer on a felt pad on the table with Mr. Mer leaning over the back of the walker supervising her felting. In the background, gaming is going on.
Today’s focus is to firm up the fins I laid in yesterday.
29- his wife as she lays on the table with her Pectoral fin about to be worked on with the fake clover tool.
Glenn borrowed the camera so I have a picture of myself felting.
30- Jan using fake clover tool on pectoral fin, with Mr. Mer watching over his wife.
Many hours pass…
31- Mrs. Mer balancing on 2 mountain due bottles on the table, gaming happening in the background.
32- Mrs. Mer tries to go for a swim but it is now time to go home. Glenn had fun and so did i.
As Mr. and Mrs. Mer head home they share a project bag.
33- Mr.and Mrs. Mer share a project bag as they prepare to head home. Glenn sits behind the table ready to carry everything to the car.
Well, that was a good weekend of felting and shopping! I hope you are enjoying your fall, and that winter doesn’t arrive too soon.
A couple of weeks ago the latest princess auto flyer booklet arrived. It is always fun to look through and see what is on sale! Princess Auto is an interesting store that has a vast variety of things, hunting, camping, farm supplies, a bit of blacksmithing, welding, tool boxes, electric bikes, and lots of stuff I am not sure what it’s for but it looks interesting. I sat down to see what exciting things might be included this time. There may be more Bee Decapping combs (which make very cheap emergency wool combs! However, I have a couple of sets so maybe I don’t need to get another pair?) Aha! There is a metal bench on sale, circle that! Is there anything else? YES!! Magnets! (This is the link, they will go back on sale again sometime) https://www.princessauto.com/en/48-pc-rare-earth-magnet-and-dispenser-set/product/PA0008996993 ) 1) 48-piece Rare Earth Magnet and Dispenser Set
Glenn had a couple of things circled in the flyer too so stopped in after work the first day of the sale. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with them but I knew it would be fun and I bet there will be wool involved. These are very strong yet very tiny magnets.
2) Tiny, tiny Enthusiastic Magnets sticking to a felting needle to show you how tiny they are
I had a question a few weeks ago about making a sheep head, if I make a tiny sheep’s head I bet I can make a broach. Where did I put the wool with the tiny crimp I had purchased from Ginger at Farm Sol at the Wakefield Farmers Market? And more important, can I get more?
The mark 1 prototype I used unlabeled white wool roving, I am hoping it’s Corriedale but I’m not sure. It seemed less enthusiastic to felt than I usually find in Corriedale. So after more stabbing than I would have liked, I did get a basic head/nose shape.
3) This may not be the Corriedale you were looking for (spooky Jedi background music)
4) Eventually there was a head-like shape, sort of
Now that isn’t as sheepish as I would like. (This is why reference photos are really helpful) I know what’s missing, I will need to add ears!!
5) Ears added to the slightly sheepish head
Now that is a bit better. Next to add the first magnet.
6) Magnet balancing precariously on superior aspect of sheep neck
The magnets were tiny and behaved in a slippery manner determined to fling themselves to their death on the floor!! Alas for the magnet, I used another previous Princess Auto Sales item to find them and pick them up!! (Without bending or crawling around on the floor under the computer desk, even better!!)((I am suggesting anyone doing Dry Needle felting should consider this marvellous invention to retrieve errant needles, and magnets from the horror of nether regions that the floor has become.))
7-8) Extending magnetic picker-upper of things mettle, with built-in light (it Is dark under the table)
I wound up trying 3 ways of affixing the magnet into the back of the sheep head.
9-10) First I tried lightly felting a bit of wool, then attaching it to the back of the head. This was not totally successful since the magnet migrated lower than where I had been trying to hold it. I also found the needle was very attracted to the magnet when I tried to poke adjacent to it. Interesting.
This did let me find out that the magnet is strong and once embedded in the wool stuck to bulldog clips (some people call them binder clips) with enthusiasm and required gentle prying to get them to let go.
11) Sheep head sticking to bulldog clip
Next, I tried a divot in the superior aspect of the neck or back of the skull depending on your perspective. I placed the magnet in the dent and then added a backing that I had felted flat.
12) Magnet sitting in a bit of a divot and leaving the rest of the loose wool to work over the top of the magnet once it was in position.
13) The magnet was attracted again to the needle so this may not be quite the best solution
14) It was a bit more challenging to keep the magnet where I wanted it but the divot did help.
15) Success! But this took more time but kept the magnet location where I had wanted it.
(16) The third option is “this picture is unavailable” which was a combination of making a dent to seat the magnet and then making a felt backing for covering the magnet. I could have used a commercial felt but it’s so easy to just make a bit more of the wool you are using and you are sure it will match the head if you use the same wool.
17) Now let’s talk about ears.
It is time to use those C40-111’s again, Crown Needles!!! For the first two sheep heads, I attached white ears and then added the wisp of pinkishness to the attached ear. For the third prototype, I build a base layer of the white, then lay in wisps of pink to make the inner ear. Using the crown needle at an angle close to parallel allows the addition of colour to one side without affecting the other. The working depth of the crown needles is much shallower than regular needles. Once the ear was constructed I attached it to the head. This was a bit easier than adding the pink to the ear after it was attached.
18) Time to add the second Magnet and check it sticks through cloths. Yep!
This sheep is still rather naked and needs curls. Remember that trip I took to Wakefield a few posts ago? Well, we are about to find out what happened to those fabulous little locks.
The locks worked perfectly. The tight and tiny crimp was perfect for this scale of sheep. Her sheep are Icelandic/ Frisian/ Gotland/ Finn and Shetland crosses. These were really fabulous fibre blends.
20-21) Front and back view of the sheep broach with a second magnet to go inside your shirt. This is less damaging to fabric than a pin broach back would be.
22) Here is the sheep with both the curls and ear details added.
23) A bit of online shopping arrived and I have added the two new boxes to the tools I used for this project (you don’t need quite this many needles I actually only used 3needles, which were each different, to make the sheep)
I had ordered two more needle boxes, this time a T-38G-333 and T-42G-222. The T is the shape Triangle, the first number is the gauge, the G is the tip or point specification, and there is another letter designating the barb specifications which I have ignored and the last digits are the number of barbs per side. So I will leave you with a shot of the new needle boxes (yes there are 500 needles in the new ones a bit less in the older boxes) and the other tools and pieces I used for this project.
Next week I have a choice of things to tell you about, Mr. and Mrs. Mer’s trip to the Carp fair (Friday, Saturday and Sunday) or the mini-workshop I gave on a card stock 7- strand kumihimo-like braid (Monday). There is also going to be another trip up to Wakefield this coming Saturday, to purchase more little locks and hopefully get some good pictures. It has been a VERY busy four days in a row!! Now it is time to find the Robax-platinum and crawl back into bed for a day or so.
Have fun and keep felting (even if you are wearing gloves – you will hear about that when we chat about the Carp fair!)