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Connections: An Exhibition

Connections: An Exhibition

I’ve just taken down my work from a Made in Whitstable group exhibition at a local arts centre gallery so thought I’d tell you about the felt pieces I had in the exhibition.

Made in Whitstable is a loose affiliation of artists and makers who have a close connection to the town, on the coast in SE England.

With a diverse artistic group it’s not always easy to find a title that everyone is comfortable with. ‘Connections’ seemed to offer enough room for people to work with in their various styles and mediums.

This exhibition was postponed from Easter 2020 so it was great finally to get some work out there, and to catch up (albeit at a distance and in a mask) with people I haven’t seen for a long time.

As I’ve described in previous blogs, this year I’ve been learning from online workshops. I’ve long been interested in both seed heads and shells and these have both continued to feature in my recent work. Reflecting on this, I realise they are all forms of natural protective cases and although it’s not a snappy title, I decided it was a good ‘connections’ theme for me.

This is a picture I made specifically for the exhibition.

Recycling Oyster Shells: Turnstone at the Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable

These photos show the oyster shells laid out, prefelt shells in a single sheet, then cut up and laid onto a background of white Norwegian batt (lower half) and tan Perendale batt (top half). There’s a recycled silk scarf laid over the tan batt layers to give the impression of a pebbled beach in the distance.

Layout for the turnstone, using a combination of merino wool and prefelt; fully felted turnstone and a trial with two birds. I decided to go for just one. I needle felted the turnstone into place then added the eye, beak, legs and a few feather details

I also made some smaller pictures along the shell & seed pod theme

Top left: mussel shell with recycled silk sea, cotton scrim wave foam and prefelt pebbles

Top right: Oyster shell with mixed wool and yarns and fabric barnacles on a recycled silk background

Bottom left: pink shell on a recycled silk beach with cotton scrim wave foam and mixed wool and silk fibre sea

Bottom centre: paper felt shell on recycled silk background

Bottom right: Corriedale, silk and yarn background with multiple-resist circles, hand stitching and a sycamore key

I also had various 3D shapes in the exhibition.

Left – based on a eucalyptus seed pod. I made this in a wonderful workshop by Gladys Paulus in November 2019. I covered that workshop in my first blog for the Felting and Fiber Forum. Various wool batts and mohair locks.

Top right – conker made in two parts (using the stem technique I learned from Gladys). Outer made from Perendale and Norwegian batts, inner is merino wool tops

Bottom right – based on a hazelnut, also made soon after Gladys’s workshop.

Here’s a poppy seed head I made this year after Fiona Duthie’s Fibre + Paper workshop. Mulberry paper is felted into the felt surface. The paper adds structure, folds and pleats well and can be drawn on / painted. I painted this with watercolours. I had to make the top separately so stitched it on. A local craftsman made the base; the pod is held on a piece of dowel attached to the base.

This nigella seed pod is also paper felt but made side-on with pre-felted ropes and thicker wool sections (not prefelted) to allow variable shrinkage (learned from Soosie Jobson). I had a reclaimed jarrah wood and dowel stand made for this.

Another paper felt shape, inspired by shells, with pleats and nobbles made as a result of Fiona Duthie’s workshop

And finally, I included a few plant holders and some earrings.

Here’s my display area – I did put the cards (bottom right) on a small table!

My display area

There were lots of good exhibitors. Here’s a small selection: top left fused glass by Irene Southon; middle left acrylics by Josephine Harvatt; bottom left watercolours by Sarah Louise Dunn showing local sites commissioned by Whitstable Museum to illustrate a map of the town; right, prints by Linda Karlsen. Work by Irene, Josephine, Sarah and Linda (Wearartworks) can all be found on social media like Instagram and Facebook. They and other exhibitors can also be found on Made in Whitstable’s Facebook and Instagram.

The footfall was rather disappointing and I would guess that sales were down on previous years, but it was really good to get some work out on show and to see what other people had been creating.

A Redshank and Other Felt

A Redshank and Other Felt

As shops, galleries and exhibitions start to reopen in England and I have quite a few sales & exhibitions coming up, I decided to make another picture based a local coastal bird.  I’ve seen quite a few redshanks recently walking along the shoreline and haven’t done a redshank before so I think that would be interesting.

I start by making some prefelt for the back and tail feathers in a muted pewter and white tone, plus some firm felt I will use for the orange/red beak and legs. (I forgot to take a photo of these.)

I have a composition in mind and I make a quick sketch to get the shape, stance and size of the bird then lay out the bird’s body using a base of white merino tops and the prefelt feather shapes.  There’s not much detail as I will needle felt this in later.  I haven’t tried this before but I needle felt in some of the feather detail part way through wet felting then finish fulling the bird.

I’m not sure what I was thinking (if at all) as I’m not happy with the loopy-ness of the needle felting or the direction of some of the feathers.  I park it for now and get on with the background. One of the many things I love about felting is that you can usually continue to work on it until you’re happy with the result.

Redshank body: wet felted with some needle felting added part-way through

Onto the background: I have bits and pieces of natural coloured prefelt that I cut into pebble shapes ready to form the beach.  The redshanks I’ve seen recently have been walking close to the water’s edge, either in the water or on the pebbles.  Thinking about the water experiments I did last year I lay out 2 layers of pewter-coloured merino for most of the picture with a white and rusty orange section where the wave and beach will sit.  I put long strands of blue tops in two colours running horizontally to represent the light reflecting off the water.  I leave a darker section near the top with some of the pewter wool laid at an angle as if there’s a small wave coming in there, though in the final picture you can’t see most of this because it’s behind the bird.

Next come the pebble pieces and finally the foreground wave, as it sits on top of both water and beach.  I haven’t tried using mohair for wave crests before so I run a wiggle of mohair tops along the water’s edge and onto small sections of the sea as if small waves are cresting there.  I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the water in my local sea / estuary so I know the colours and shapes well.  The water is often choppy like this with small waves.

Background layout, ready for wet felting

I wet felt the background then try out the bird body to see how they’re going to fit.

Background and Bird body – trying things out for size

I needle felt the redshank’s body onto the background then add the legs and beak which I’ve cut from the red/orange felt. Then I add the eye and fiddle for a while until I’m happy with the bird.

The final redshank picture ready to frame

The finished picture is about 50-55 cm square and will go into an oak veneer box frame that’s 64 x 64 cm. I took this photo in the evening, with electric light, so it’s a bit less yellow in reality.

As I didn’t take a lot of progress photos for my Redshank, I thought I’d add a few other things I’ve made recently. Like my felting friend Antje (who posted here recently) I took Judit Pocs’ milkweed pod workshop on 1 & 2 May. I direct dyed some 18 mic merino tops and some fine ponge silk for my pod.

It was a good workshop and I’m happy with the result. I got my dye ratios wrong which resulted in a lot of bleeding and dyed hands but thankfully it’s not a wearable so it shouldn’t now be a problem. I hope to use this silk pleating technique in future projects.

I realise the colours are very similar to the ‘hippy trippy’ Corriedale bag I was making when I last posted. It’s still work in progress but I’ve done some additional ink work on some of the silk patches and am part way through adding some stitching. I’m now adding some french knots in the rectangle near the top left. This combines some of the techniques I learned in Terri Berry’s bag class with some from Fiona Duthie’s Ink + Cloth workshop and my new venture into direct dyeing (using the Felting & Fiber Studio tutorial).

Previous picture on the left, current on the right.

As part of Fiona Duthie’s Paper + Fibre workshop I made a lamp shade (actually a sleeve that fits over a lamp). It’s interesting how the paper sections are barely visible when the lamp is off. I think I will make more lamps when I have time.

Finally, I’m making some smaller pictures to take the little beach hut gallery in Whitstable Harbour where I often sell my work. I’m in there from next Wednesday for 2 weeks. I’ve wet felted some mussel shells and am making backgrounds to set them into small box frames (without glass). They’re about 19 x 19 cm. Here’s one that’s nearly ready to go. The background is nuno felted with recycled silk and old curved lace. I just have to decide where to stitch the shell. What do you think?

3D Felt Landscape

3D Felt Landscape

I sold three of my landscape pieces in March and I need to get more down to the gallery shop soon. So I took five pieces to be framed and I needed to make a few smaller pieces to go in ready made frames. The first one was easy, I made a replica of the holiday exchange card of winter time birch trees. I wrote a post about creating it here.

Here’s the second version. I forgot that I had used two layers of prefelt for the birch trees so they weren’t as white this time. But to me, it just makes it look colder!

Then I needed another idea. I have been watching some artist spotlight videos on the Youtube channel Fibre Arts Take Two and had seen one about the felt maker Kristy Kun. There were several short segments in the video that showed a bit about her process which looked interesting.

Then I walked by this small piece in our living room that I created in Level 3 Art and Design. It’s made with paint, gel medium and cardboard. Perhaps I could recreate this design in felt? And I could attempt some three dimensional felt on the horizon line with a similar method to the video I had just watched.

I first laid out wool in similar colors as the original. I should have noticed at this point that the horizon line was too close to the center vertically but I missed that.

Then I laid out some strips of the dark red and black mixed together in different sizes.

Then I began felting. I only wanted to go to the prefelt stage with both of these elements. The red bits reminded me of bacon the entire time I was felting.

The strips seemed too wide for what I had in mind, so I folded them in half lengthwise and ironed them. Once I figured out what I wanted the arrangement to look like, I began stitching them in place. I used a thread that would blend in so I wouldn’t need to take it out.

Suddenly, I remembered that I was supposed to needle felt these in place before stitching. No worries, I went ahead and needle felted the already stitched pieces and kept going.  Once everything was in place, I felted everything together. I spent a lot of time rubbing the strips in place and making sure that they were holding on to the background felt. I even tried a little underwater felting as I had seen in the video.

Here is the end result. I am happy with how it came out and it is well attached between the strips and the background. It didn’t shrink down as much as I wanted so I will need to find a bit larger frame for it. And I might remove a bit of the bottom to make the horizon line a bit lower. It was a fun experiment and hopefully, someone will love it and take it home.

Post edited to add final photo.

Here is the final photo of the piece in it’s frame. I did trim a bit off the bottom to change the horizon line a little. The frame is 8″ x 10″.

Investigation of 6.5mm and 7mm aluminum wire (the heavy stuff)

Investigation of 6.5mm and 7mm aluminum wire (the heavy stuff)

I have been working on more samples for the study group, I hoped you might like to see some of my investigation of the heaviest gauge of aluminum wire (6ga/7mm) we were looking at. It has come to my attention that it is also Palm Sunday. (I am glad I had included Palms in my samples!)

1 Part of the 7mm samples

I know most of us will not be making armatures that would require this gauge, but if you are wanting to make something quite large or you need it to have very strong legs this may be an option for you.

For both the 6.5mm and 7mm wire, I found it helped to wrap the foot loop wire with a layer of wool before I started to build up the foot itself.

The twisting of the 7mm wire required anchoring with the large welding pliers. (These were a fabulous find at Princess Auto. Yes, in the welding section. Did they not know they are well suited to make ninety-degree corners in armatures so should have been in the felt section? Oh right they don’t have a felt section yet.)

Here are photos of the 6.5mm wire is being wrapped to form the support to attach the rest of the wool for the foot.

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4-9 foot development leads to a leg.

With the 6.5mm I used the wire untwisted with no augmentation or secondary wire. While I did not find this particularly challenging I do see that some felters may find the lack of grip on the wire a bit annoying. While the gastroc (calves) at this size were very stable and quite firmly felted the quads did have the ability to rotate slightly. This I did find annoying. I suspect this would not be as much of an issue if this appendage had a pelvis. So if you are making a shape that ends in a cylinder shape you may want to investigate other options than a plain wire.

I would investigate Sara’s wax products to give a bit more stickiness to the wire or try tacky craft glue. Other possibilities to investigate would be Pipe cleaners possibly paired with floral tape if the pipe cleaner was not gripping to the wire itself. I have not investigated the life expectancy of floral tape so I can’t guarantee its longevity.

For the 7mm sample, instead of the open foot loop, I folded back the lower section to make it doubled to the patella (knee). This made me thread the short section of roving I was working with through the foot loop to cover the wire. It was a bit fiddly but was worth it to have a base from which to build the foot.

The lower leg to knee was very easy to wrap. Remember when you are adding the wool in thin layers to make sure that when you start to get close to the end of the fibre spread it out so it’s quite thin and work back over what you have already applied. When you get to the end of the fibre keep turning the appendage as if you were adding more fibre while rubbing and smoothing the fibre you had just laid down. If your application is firm and built up in thin layers you will have very little needle felting needed to get this under layer to stick to itself. The preparation of the fibre will also make a difference, stripped batts work better than top but top will work.  it’s just a bit harder for this particular application.

When I had completed the appendage, I found that there was even greater rotation in the larger gauge wire. This may have been due to the under layer being a bit looser than I could have wrapped it. I did a second sample and yes the quad still had a bit of rotation but not as much as the first sample. So I suspect part of the rotation is a looser under layer.  I have made a sample with a pipe cleaner wrapped around half of the appendage and will see if that reduces rotation but I will get back to that one later.

12-13 next sample to address the problem in quad movement

Leaving the legs for a moment, I went on to the next sample, which was a hand with wool. This I consulted the bare wire samples I had taken for each gauge. After consideration, I started with the 20ga hardware wire (steel) from Dollarama for the fingers and 6ga for the palm and forearm. Unfortunately, that sample made like the hand from the Adams family and the thing crawled off. (I am sure IT will return the Thing shortly).

14-15 consulting the wire samples

To make the fingers I used Sara’s “Digit widget”. I have previously used my tapered mettle seed planting measuring guide for little fingers on my mice and the mettle ruler for the fingers on the Mer’s.

16 the finger former implements; mettle ruler, seed depth guide, Digit Widget.

My second ample was 20ga aluminum from AliExpress for the fingers and 6ga for the palm and forearm.

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17-18 Fingers

At this point, the weather outside had stopped raining and we had a break. During which I rushed (ok, slow shuffle) outside to attend to the overflow for the rain barrel that had come adrift as well as fill the bird feeders. (I got scolded by a chickadee as soon as I stepped out of the door!!!) . I got three tomato pots and one tree moved from the front garden, where the pots over winter, to the driveway.  Then my back said, Are you nuts? Did you just move a potted poplar tree? Well, we are not moving the next one!! We are not doing anything that requires sitting or standing for at least the next day!!! If we don’t decide to yell at you longer so I crawled back into the house took off my boots, by this point that was a big accomplishment and crawled into bed with a hand, one needle and a small baggie of wool. So, I apologize for not grabbing the camera, so it would be in reach to document the finger creating. Thus there is a bit of a jump in photos while I am adding wool to the fingers, palm and then to the wrist.

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19-21 (the Palms of Sunday) the wrist still needs a bit more work, but the palm is close

I am not quite happy with the hand yet. I think I would be having an easier time with scale if I had been building from the arm down as I usually do with full figure sculptures. This way I am trying to guess the forearm thickness to match the hand to. I found the aluminum is a bit soft but may be able to stiffen it a bit more by more felting. There is enough grip strength to hold the felting pen without dropping it. But I would like it to be just a bit stiffer. Therefore, I may investigate shifting to a stronger type of wire or a heavier gauge of aluminum since the fingers are still quite thin at 20ga aluminum. I will find the 18ga aluminum and try that next.

We had a quick trip out to Rona to look for pot saucers (no luck) and while there, I checked out their wire selection. I picked up a brass and a copper as well as another un-coated aluminum. The new wire seems to be hiding in the car may be under the big bag of potting dirt Glenn put in the back. Once I find them, I will make samples and add them to the collection.

The 6.5 and 7mm would be a gauge to investigate if you were building a 3D picture that needed a supportive tree trunk or branch something would be hung from. You will need reasonably strong hands to work with it especially if you are working with it doubled. If you have a desperate need, you may consider a bench vice and substantial pliers to assist you in the wire twisting (no wimpy pliers for this gauge!). Glenn has a cool blacksmithing tool called a bending fork but I do not think I want to stick the aluminum in the forge! He also has a couple of jigs for bending “S” hooks which might be fun to play with. There is also a large leg vice sitting by the “small” anvil.  I will let you know if I sneak out and play with his tools.

On a different topic, I just heard that “littlelaurelfibre” on Instagram, has tried to heat the bee-combs from Princess Auto that I was telling you about in a previous blog  https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2019/10/15/a-cheap-alternative-to-wool-combs/ .  instead of an Oven, as was used in making plastic armour, she used a heat gun. (she has a great photo of the before and after on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/p/CM5ToLnJw37/?igshid=duidf6r2yckg&fbclid=IwAR1Qj3-1gKu5GURshhce-DGhGl0F5ZUBAw7kNqByQZXYJ0E0RymCKhXdDG8 . The Heat gun did the trick perfectly! She was able to adjust the angle from the handle to the tines so it would better suit our needs (instead of the bees).  Now I will have to send Glenn to the “room of tools” in the basement and see if he can find the heat gun. I was sure we had one!

Have fun and keep felting!!

 

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

The last time I posted here (in January) I described my plan to take various online felting classes. With all my sales and exhibitions cancelled or on hold I thought this would be a good way to keep me focused and motivated during our 3rd pandemic lockdown. Here’s the link in case you want to look back to January’s post.

https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/01/21/finding-focus/

This time I’m talking about my online learning since then, including how it has led me in some unexpected directions.

I was part-way through Teri Berry’s bag making class, which was great. I made my third bag, a backpack, and am very pleased with it. I’d definitely recommend Teri’s class. The instructions were clear and comprehensive and Teri was very responsive to my many questions, thoughts and comments. I learned a lot about bag making techniques, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Corriedale Backpack with Canvas Straps

Because two of the bags I made are large, relatively thick, and have to be fulled very hard, I admit bag-making was rather harder work than I’d anticipated. I rent a studio in an old industrial building that is largely unheated so maybe mid-winter isn’t the best time to be working so much heavy, cold, wet wool, but it’s a minor point. I had to use plastic gloves for the first time as my hands became so shredded and I often went home with sleeves wet to the armpit!

I’d planned to take 3 classes over January to March but was irresistibly drawn to a 4th: a 2-session live international felt-along by Aniko Boros (Baribon.Hu) learning to make her beautiful felted tulip pendant with pebble inclusions. Having signed up I realised it was going to be difficult to find the colourful 14 micron merino wool I needed. I only had white. I’ve never dyed my own wool before but I thought, why not have a go?

I already had some acid dyes so I started off with some 21 micron merino before going on to the finer and more expensive 14 micron. Then I tried silk hankies, Corriedale tops, mohair tops, silk fabric, alpaca & nylon …. nothing was safe. I had a blast. I had no idea how much fun dying would be.

Then it snowed and I thought ‘ooh, I could try snow dying’. That turned out to be great fun too. On the right are just a few of the snow dyed fabrics.

I had several colour choices of dyed 14 micron merino by the time Aniko’s workshop came around. The workshop itself was really interesting. A clear and detailed PDF was sent in advance and turned out to be very helpful on the first day when the sound or picture dropped out occasionally. It meant I could see what I needed to do next so was able to keep up. I’m pleased with my pendant (although I still have to add a fastener) including how the dyed wool worked, and feel I’ve learned techniques I will be able to use to make my own designs. Also, it led me into the entirely unexpected joy of dyeing.

Hand dyed 14 micron merino pendant with pebbles: Aniko Boros’ workshop

In the meantime I’d started Fiona Duthie’s online class Ink + Cloth. We practiced adding ink at various stages of feltmaking with loads of potential for using these techniques in future projects.

Above are samples of adding dye / ink before felting (on silk fabric) and on prefelt

These are samples of ink added in different ways to finished nuno felt with cotton and two types of silk. I’d found an image in the V&A museum online catalogue (a fantastic resource) of an early 20th century furnishing fabric with this style of lollipop trees that I was thinking of using for the 1st quarter challenge …but that’s a story for another time.

At the end of this I decided to combine various things I’d learned: to dye my own Corriedale wool tops for a bag and maybe to decorate it with inked or dyed pieces. This is still work in progress as I am not completely happy with it. I decided to let it dry and have a think before doing the last bit of fulling. After I’d laid out the wool I dithered over whether to add silk and prefelt pieces or not as I quite liked the wool as it was. At the last minute I added all sorts of bits and pieces without properly thinking through the design. I fear it betrays its history. A colleague who saw me rinsing it at the studio casually commented it was very ‘hippie, trippy summer-of-love’ which is absolutely not the look I was going for! I will come back to it soon. I included the strap in the photo to give an idea of what it will look like finished.

Now I’m part way through another class with Fiona Duthie: Fibre + Paper. It’s a fascinating process of combining specialist paper with wool. We started by making lots of samples: paper and felt, paper relief, extreme paper relief and paper with prefelt.

Above are samples showing different amounts of paper felted into 21 micron merino wool and bottom right combines prefelt and paper. They feel lovely and there seems to be so much potential to use paper with felt in different ways.

This week I made a vessel with paper embedded into the surface. It’s not perfect: I got a bit over-confident near the end and tore some of the surface (you can just see it bottom left, between the two ribs). I’ve been interested in shell shapes for a couple of years so I shall enjoy making more 3D paper & felt shell-inspired objects.

Paper felt shell-inspired vessel

In the coming week I will be trying out adding colour and surface designs with ink and paint plus making samples with some different papers. Fiona’s classes have been really enjoyable with excellent PDFs, photos and videos and lots of class interaction.

All the online classes I’ve taken have been great fun and very inspiring. They have given me lots of new skills and techniques that I will be able to use in my work. And they have definitely achieved my other objective: they have been really helpful in keeping me learning, focussed and motivated during what could otherwise have been quite a bleak time.

Distractions while working on the Armature Wire Study group homework!

Distractions while working on the Armature Wire Study group homework!

As I mentioned earlier, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners guild had decided to try 3 study groups starting in February. One on weaving, one on spinning and I had the Felt study group looking at armature wire. We were going to look at different types of wire, in different gauges and in different combinations. To see how flexible they were and what size of sculpture might be appropriate to use them with.

We started on Feb 24, 2021, at  07:30 PM and ran for 4 weeks till Mar 17, 2021.  I had ordered a lot of different aluminum wire online and had found quite a bit of non-braided wire at the hardware store and Dollarama.  I was doing quite well until last week!

As we came out of lockdown, we had the opportunity to do fun stuff in a limited way again like have a guild library day!! Ayah!!! Getting out of the house, pulling and bagging books to ready for pick up, the Anticipation!!! Then the horrible realization that the car still wants to quarantine in the driveway, watching the buses go by. After a quick consultation from the nice CAA man who said he has seen a lot of this problem, suggested we wait for the next warm snap and see if she will start. Unfortunately, that would be after Library day!!

0.5 This is the Sunday of Library day (Masked Librarian receives book return). Saturday Elizabeth, not pictured but also masked, helped with book pulling and bagging while I dealt with the circulation database and added new items to the library.

I was very grateful for 2 of my very wonderful friends who gave me lifts down and back to the guild library while my Kea Soul sat in the driveway refusing to stop self-isolating. I rather overdid it even with their help, well I do not get out much now and wound up back laying down how frustrating. As the 3 days of warm weather arrived, on day 3 she started!! 2 trips to the car doctor and a rather hefty bill and she is now fine.

Besides library and car surgery excitement, I have been organizing and participating in the “Armature Wire Study Group” through our local guild. We were making samples of various gauges of wire, single, twisted, and then felted over. We had a number of different kinds of wire, copper, steel, rubber coated steel, stainless and aluminum. We had gauges from 6 aluminum to 26 steel floral wire.

For my samples I have been making appendages, well, 15 twisted wire and 15 wool covered legs with feet, 4 wire arms with different gauges of fingers on hands and 22 samples of each wire I was able to get. (there are a few that still have not arrived yet!) All the appendages are hanging up beside the desk in little baggies, with labels, notes and wire samples. I had wanted to do samples of two different gauges of wire as well, but am running a few days behind where I thought I would be. I still have a day so I may get a couple of the options done but without a wool covering.

 

1-3 all the samples (This is part of tonight’s zoom meeting for the study group)

The EXPERIMENTATION –Loop joint Samples

One of the participants had wondered about increasing articulation at the joint. I decided to try a simple loop to loop connection and a loop to loop with lateral support. The idea was to keep the “bone” sections from bending when it’s not appropriate. I sampled 2 connecting loop options in 9ga aluminum which is quite heavy. The first was two loops set perpendicular, at a 90 deg. angle to each other. The second was the same configuration but with 18ga aluminum secured above and below the joint and acting as the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL) to this mettle joint.

– to try to give articulation in one plane of movement. Using 9-gauge Aluminum wire.

8 the bare armature with the first joint attached. Joint 1

Joint 1

2 loops locking together, the lower turned so the main articulation swing will be front to back. This will give hyper-extension but may be reduced by wool over layer.  Wool does provide increased support but still allows more lateral shift than wanted.

– Freely swings to the front and back (anterior/posterior movement).

-it also swings freely from side to side (Medial / lateral movement).

-the joint can not be positioned to stay in one location other than what little support the wool is giving it. (This joint needs emergency surgery to correct for the lack of both the lateral and medial support ligaments!!!!

Joint 2

Loop at joints – with double twisted wire of the same gauge creating a loop for superior articulation. Augmented by 20 gauge aluminum wire (at sides of joint for adding grater lateral support).

-lateral support from wire greatly reduces lateral shift in the joint almost all the movement is front /back, anterior/posterior.

-again positioning is not an option other than the restriction from the wool covering the joint it can be moved but will not stay if released. moves more freely than just a single or twisted wire.

Conclusions: will not work for posing a figure but may be of use if you need a flexible joint that returns to its resting positions. This may be an option for some other project, but not for the project I want to do next.

We will have one more meeting in a month to report after we finish all our samples and exchange information. So I may be able to give you an update on a bit more of our findings. This looks like it was a good felting question to investigate

18 Articulating swing arms for webcam and tablet

I bought some new equipment to help with my zooming and after much surcharging for improved lighting. Eventually, I remembered the box with the magnifying lamp picture on it was not empty. (I had moved it when I was trying to sort out the office so should have remembered more quickly that I had it.) I got out my light for de-hairing Qiviut fibre to augment by poor office lighting. Of the new stands, one is designed to hold a phone, (if only mine would let the zoom app lode and open) but also how has the attachment to hold a webcam pointing at the desk and the other is holding Glenn’s older small tablet. I got Miaka’s email to log in through the tablet, so it could take a picture of me. It’s all been very exciting and a bit of a steep slope on the learning curve!!

It’s now getting quite late, which is why my spellchecker is not available (I think sleep spellchecking may be no better than me believing Microsoft word when they tell me “that is defiantly the word you meant”!!! I will hope that it doesn’t lead me too far astray.)

There are rumours it is getting warmer and there may be spring soon. I saw strawberry leaves poking through the fall leaves on Friday (car doctor assessment day) but by Monday (day surgery car day) they were all dead again. they always seem to be a bit overenthusiastic. I know that soon we will all be out Felting Alfresco again!!!

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Day 2

After leaving the hedgehog overnight to dry on the air filter, he had successfully completed his mission to dry.  

I could now begin to add a bit more width to his cheeks. Next, add his coat. I chose an Icelandic fleece using the outer guard hair part of the dual coat as the bristles and bits of the inner coat to help space and increase adhesion of the guard hairs.

27 time to consider the face and coat

I separated the tog (outer coat of guard hairs), which is less inclined to felt when wet, from the undercoat which is soft and crimpy. To separate the two types of coats, hold the tips and base firmly and gently pull away from each other. Sometimes it takes a bit of a rhythmic tugging to free the tog. Once separated, I could use the tog to start building the outer prickles for the hedgehog.

I used a 38 star needle for most of the felting (except the ears which I also use the fake clover tool with T40’s loaded). I lay the guard hairs down, attaching across the locks then laid in a bit of the under coat to increase adherence. I worked the needles at low angles to almost parallel to the fibers catching a few fibers in the barbs at a time and pushing them into the layer of felt over the soap bar.

I added a bit of the under coat to give extra adhesion.

I then folded up the tips which had been pointing away from the fibers I was adding to.  Again securing them into the under layer of felt above the soap.

Occasionally I would add a bit of the under coat to the folded tip side too.

The order of addition was backwards to the layering I usually do when I want a coat to lie naturally. Since I wanted this to stand up, I needed to increase the density of the coat so it would not lie down. This time I starting from around the face (in white) then switching to the darker part of the coat, worked back towards the butt. I left the butt ends a bit shorter than the tips as I laid them in.

Once I got his coat on, I brushed and lifted the ends with the mini carder (dog brush). This fluffed him up nicely.

He is a cute little hedgehog! Here is a shot of the underside so you can see the bar of soap which is the base.

45 the soap base

Laying in the coat which is quite tightly packed took most of the day. I finished him after dinner and did the fluffing. So this would not be a economically viable option for mass production. There are a couple other options that may work faster such as using a section of the washed fleece and attaching it to the underfelt more as a blanket rather than a few locks at a time. I suspect it would not give the density that adding locks as I did allowed.

Finishing touches

Poor little guy, doesn’t suspect his life will be full of wetness then getting dry just in time for the next wetness to set in. I bet he would drip dry quicker if he could hang up.  I should add a “rope” for this soap.  I looked first at a piece of Kumohimo but the cotton fiber seemed wrong.

46 kumohimo option

So, I took the brush waste from the mini carder and added some of the washed locks and drafted it out. By adding a good deal of over twist with one of my spindles, I quickly had a two-ply yarn that could be mistaken for a rope.

I added the rope with a bit of needle felting along the edges of the underside of the soap-hedgehog using a bit of the under coat and pulled apart bits of the extra yarn to help secure it.

50 adding the rope to the soap

Ah, that’s better a way to dry faster and a loop handle so you don’t have to pick him up by his nose!

51 “please don’t pick me up by my nose!”

Last thing left to do. It is Valentine ’s Day after all, so He needs a Heart! I hunted around, found my bag of various red coriadales, choosing Nutmeg, and hand blending it with some of the reddish brown undercoat from the Icelandic fleece. (Colour should never be flat! Unless you are doing something graphic)

A few quick stabs and I had the shape. Now to add it to the right spot. Hmm, there is not much wool on the underbelly of this hedgehog! So, I was very careful in the angle of felting. The needle does sink into the soap fine but leaves a stinky soap smell on the needle and a bit on the wool as it emerges. (Just a warning – make sure you keep the angle of entrance and exit the same or the soap will want to break your needle)

55 “the Hedgehog is in the bag!!”

Now I just have to wait to find out if Glenn likes his new shower time friend.

56 “Glenn, can you meet me in the bathroom to unwrap your valentine’s day present please?”

      57- 62  the unwrapping, he found the Heart!

Yes Success!! I will try to get a shot after his first shower experience and see how he holds up!

63 First Shower! one bedraggled hedgehog

Epilogue

There seems to be a strange moose in my bed but he does have a bag of chocolate Easter eggs so I guess he can stay! (This is Canada, you do find moose in odd places here, often in swimming pools)

E-1 What is that in my bed?

 It is normal to see the triceratops, Cthulhu (who is somewhere else today) and the Balrog in bed. The moose was a surprise so was the chocolate, he can stay.

the last word from Hedgehog:

“Oh the Humanity!!! i give you my soap so you are clean!! Now i drip!!! Oh the wetness!! Oh the horror!!!”

Utterly useless – a watering can that can’t hold water!

Utterly useless – a watering can that can’t hold water!

Inspiration: US Sculptor Rogan Gregory’s piece

Okay! I will admit it! I have a big thing about shapes.  Sometimes it keeps me up at night.  Over the Christmas between planning what to do with all the leftover turkey the dog hadn’t managed to steal (I had no idea he could jump THAT high) my mind got to thinking about book resists and how introducing a hole in the resist would totally transform the shape of the piece.  Then in the New Year I came across this felting challenge on social media (thank you Mia Hartgroves) which involved producing a wet felted interpretation of this watering can, created by the US Sculptor Rogan Gregory.  In my mind it ticked all the boxes.  I love the shaping around the handle and I reckoned the overall shape could be achieved with an asymmetrical book resist.  Plus I got to put a hole in the resist!

First was the sketching.  Not my strongest point but this year it’s on my to do list to practice more.  Normally I just do my calculations in my head and visualise (no wonder I’m awake half the night).  From a practical viewpoint I knew that I needed to get out the pad so I started small and grew the piece over a number of iterations.  Soon I had my pattern as the drawing had grown sufficiently to fit on an A3 page. I reckoned when designing the resist that it was important that a line could be drawn through the pattern so that each page would have sufficient area to accommodate the laying down of the fibre.  This was going to be especially important at the spout end of the design.  Also, the placement of the hole for the handle was important as I wanted to capture some of the curvature on the sculpture.  Once adjustments were made to accommodate these factors, I finalised the pattern and cut out the resist.  The resist has three pages; two to accommodate the bulk at the bottom and one at the top.  Therefore I cut the pattern twice, sewed along the centre of the resist and then stuck the two layers (where the handle was) together.  At that point I was ready to felt.  I chose Corriedale (grey) and I planned to embellish the piece with grey viscose.  Viscose has a beautiful sheen so I reckoned I could capture some of the shine of the original piece with this fibre.

Three page resist

I started with the bottom page of the resist as this was the one part of the project which could remain undisturbed once it was laid down.  First layer was laid north/south and second east/west as I wanted the top direction of the fibre to flow with the direction of the piece.  Viscose was then added and it was wetted down. Once a skin had formed on the fibre I covered it with some light plastic (decorator’s plastic) and folded over the page, making sure that the plastic remained next to the fibre.

The bottom of the resist ready for laying down the fibre
Ready for wetting out
Gently does it!
Turning attention to the top pages

Turning my attention to the top (handle) side of the resist, I set about folding in the excess fibre from the underside. To avoid build-ups I trimmed back some of the excess by pulling away and discarding the fibre.  I paid particular attention to the spout.  As the Corriedale fibres were long there was a danger that I would end up with a build up of layers at the top of the spout.  I did the unthinkable and cut back some of the excess with my scissors.  Then it was time to lay down the first layer of fibres.   Again in a north/south direction, I paid particular attention to two areas; I broke the long fibres in half so that I did not crowd (too many layers) the spout; I also took care when placing the fibres around the handle area – I laid the fibre on the bottom part of the handle and then tucked it into the other side of the resist.  Once that was safely tucked away I was able to continue to cover the rest of the side tucking in the fibre about the remaining section of the hole.   I laid down only one layer and repeated the process on the other side of the resist.

First layer paying particular attention to the hole
Wrapping the wool at the hole

Once both sides were covered with one layer of fibre I wet them down, tucked it in and set about working a skin on it.  Then it was time to decide where to place my fishing line into the felt so I scoped it out with pins, measured and added extra for the ‘overflow’ from the can.  I cut 6 lengths of fishing line (3 for each side) then tacked them down onto the fibre.  I made sure that they were symmetrical on each side of the resist.  I threaded the ends of the fishing line through a straw so that I had some control over them when I was tacking them down.

Scoping out the positioning of the fishing line
The tacking begins …
All secure and ready for the next stage

Once secured, I put the second layer on the top two sides of the resist.  I was once again mindful of the hole and the spout.  I checked to make sure that the spout end of the resist was still visible as I did not want this end to felt together. I applied the viscose fibre to the two top sections of the resist.   After that I felted the whole piece (placing decorator’s plastic on both sides of the top to stop the fibres being disturbed as I worked on each of the pages) and rolled it until it started to shrink.  Then I removed the resist.  I cut into the bottom section of the hole. I did not remove any of the felt just sliced through this section and then sealed it.  Once these were sealed I started the fulling process until I was happy with the size. 

Cutting the hole in the prefelt and removing the resist
Time to Shape

I wanted more definition on the curvature around the handle so I decided to stiffen the piece.  I soaked the can in a dilution (Golden GAC Medium-800) stuffed it and left it to dry. 

I’m pretty pleased with the end result.  If I was making it again I think I would use more fishing line in the piece, perhaps including it in the bottom section.  That way it might not look as if the line is flowing through the top section only.  At the moment the line (representing water) seems to be defying gravity. 

I thoroughly enjoyed planning and making this piece.  Next time I may try a hole in a symmetrical book resist just to check out the overall alteration in the shape of the structure. 

Happy felting!

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Oh NO! I got distracted! I will get back to work shortly but I was so inspired by Alex’s Ladybug or Bird and was wondering if a hedgehog would work with a bar of soap? There was also a suggestion of a heart of soap for valentine’s day…… hmmmm. I wonder if I can combine that?

Bad Brain!!! Stop thinking and wondering where the soap stockpile is stored! No! It’s wet felting! It involves getting wet!! NOOOOOO! Remember brain we like needle felting partly for its DRYNESS! Even if there is occasionally a bit of blood, it’s not as wet as wet felting! ….hmmmm.

I think Glenn would like a hedgehog soap for Valentine’s day, it will last longer than chocolate or flowers!, (the flowers without roots that is.)  Oh well, I guess it must be done, I will get wet! Step one, I will need to clean the bathroom sink (yes there is almost no counter space in the bathroom so it was messier before I neatened it up a bit).

Let me think, what will I need? Fibre, soap bar, a container to work in (the drain is problematic so let’s use a plastic box to work in), I need to find some bubble wrap and maybe a zip lock bag would help contain the wetness? I blended up a bit of white and beige for the nose and over felting fibre.

I discovered that the soap hoard is woefully low at least of my glycerin soap (remember to add that to the shopping list). Luckily, Glenn’s giant package of smelly soap from Costco was only half gone! He probably won’t notice one is missing until after Valentine’s Day right? (he didn’t)

Day One:

I quickly noticed that the sink is not a comfortable work high. I wonder if I flip over the storage box and use that as a table surface. Yep, much more comfortable. Remembering the instructions from Alex and his Mom, the fibre must encompass the soap. Then the fibre and soap are secured by putting it all in a nylon and felted. I don’t have nylon. I also want to have more fibre on the back than the belly as well as having a nose and face at one end.

Layout

I alternated thin layers making a shape that would wrap around the soap and then added more in the middle and towards one end.

 

A bit more in in the butt I think then wrap and a bit of needling to hold everything together.

 

He needs a nose; a bit more poking will fix that. Better check photo reference! I watched (listened to) a few YouTube videos as I continued to needle felt until the general shape was achieved.

I found a small piece of bubble wrap (I spotted the larger piece after I was done) and an extra-large sandwich bags.

10 ready for his bath!

Now the hard part, I have to get the wool wet so that soap (Liquid Lavender and cucumber you can see in the photos) and agitation can do their work. Hedgehogs’ first bath!

I got a flash of a brilliant idea! If I put the wet soapy hedgehog and the bubble wrap in the extra-large sandwich baggie I could sit and watch the impeachment of the neighbour’s ex-president. Rather depressing, but it will keep my mind off the possibility of impending wetness. (I will work in the plastic bin in case that happens).  The seal was stressed but as much as the soapy bubbles tried, only a few escaped.

I started softly, gently, caressing the fibres. Slowly increasing my pressure until I was massaging with some enthusiasm (I have a license for that!). Unlike work, I used bubble-wrap on this patient, focusing on the nose and the general body shape. I built up so much soapy lather that it became hard to see the hedgehog! After a few impeachment presentations, I felt I had achieved Felt!! I also had not sprung a leak and got wet!

Time to rinse out the suds and make sure the felting worked! (really I can’t see much in all this soap!)

I brought the Hedgehog back to the office so he could dry and finish watching YouTube, maybe I will have to give him eyes so he can better see what is happening. In the meantime, he is practicing some form of Yoga nose stand. I wonder what that pose is called. (Balanced nose drying?)

While I know watching a naked, eyeless, hedgehog dry is absolutely fascinating, and is worthy of hundreds of photos, at every stage of wet to dampness to ultimately dryness. I can see that you may have other things to do so I will resume once he has accomplished his mission to dry. So I will pause today and resume to see if I can add spines and other important parts.

To be continued on Day 2!

 

Mer Hands and Armature Study Group

Mer Hands and Armature Study Group

This past week in Ottawa was cold, with a few days that were not overcast and gloomy. We even had a little snowstorm and lost power for a few hours.  Since I couldn’t work on the computer and the lighting was off for colour work I tried to wash the dishes, no hot water…. Ok, how about cleaning up the dust bunny I spotted in the dining room the vacuum is right there… oh….. I will get the broom… Well, it was not all bad, I didn’t have to vacuum and Glenn brought home Fish and Chips as a treat for dinner!

 1 Ice on the window to inspire you!

So when the sun came back I made the most of the good light and blended some yellow-ish skin tones for Mr. Mer. I was focusing on his hands and building up his forearms (lots of arm curls and extensions to build up the biceps/Triceps now wrist curls to build up the extensors/flexors in the forearm) I suspect he would just like me to add a bit more fibre to him so he can skip the exercising!

 2 Mr. Mer, Miss Mer and Mrs. Mer.

It has been a while since you saw the understructure for Mr. Mer but the armature for the hands is floral wire doubled over and twisted. The rest of the body is 12 gauge aluminum. The armature was then wrapped in part of an alpaca bat I had used with all the Mer’s.

      3-8

The top layer is blends of Corriedale in cream, yellows, greens, blush and browns aiming to be similar to the underside of a northern pike with a suggestion of skin tone. I want to layer over a few more tones but I think he is heading in the correct direction.

 9 its hard to see with the wet window but there are gusts of snow on the other side of the glass

Today has been bleak and snowy, but not as cold! So I finished off my notes for the study group on armature wire. I have the outline written. It took a while to try to source locally some of the wire gauges we will be investigating. I also made a list of some of the online options. I wound up with five pages for the outline and shopping notes! I got them off to the registrar so she can send them out as registrations come in. The OVWSG study group web page is now live! The first few fellow studiers have signed up! I hope the rest of my wire orders come in soon!! We are starting 23 February 2021 running weekly on Wednesday (Zoom meeting 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm Local Ottawa time) until 17 March 2021. Because we are Zooming we can be accessible to more people. Please take a peek if you would like!

 10 Mr. Mer is demonstrating how well his new fingers work by holding the first wire order that has arrived. (Approximately 10 gauge Aluminum.)

 11 This is an assortment of wire collected locally in Ottawa at; Dallerama, Home Depot, Walmart. I also found some 12 gauge aluminum wire at McBead Creations but it’s not in the picture! (the 11 gauge steel is what I used in the Quadra-dents and is too stiff for most armatures. But does make excellent weapons!)

I hope this will inspire others to try study groups as a way of learning remotely while we are still stuck at home. At least the commute to work is quick for some of us? And hopefully, the rest of us are having fun felting!!

12 Mr. Mer shows off his fingers

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