This last week I decided the scarf I use to line my basket needed a wash and my basket could use a hose down. It is quite an old apple and is pretty dry. The basket masters say either dunk it in a bucket of water or hose it down every once and a while. It is an old apple picking basket and I love it for taking it everywhere with my stuff in it.
And this is all the stuff that was in it and will go back in it plus the 3 more spindles. It’s like a purse or backpack you just keep adding more stuff until you have to clean it out. The bag of yarn may go to the studio and a new one started.
There was more in it, that is just what is going back in it. You can see why I need it more organized. I thought I would make a roll-up pouch, like an artist uses for brushes. This also gives me an opportunity to do the 2nd quarter challenge. Art deco was often a repeating simple pattern. So I can do that on this piece and maybe be the first to complete the challenge. (insert maniacal laughter here)
I had to figure out how big I wanted the finished piece. the blue roller mat is 12×18 inches so I tried folding it like the finished piece. This is too short but think the length is good
Here is the layout. this layer is on the bottom but will end up inside the pouch. Some Bambino wool from World of wool. It is quite shiny. I can’t figure out which one. The picture of the mixed bag is pretty accurate but I can’t match it to the individual pictures.
The blue background seems to have turned it orange.
I then added 2 layers of white merino and a final layer of this lovely blue-green merino called Malard, for the outside.
I wet this down and cut out some prefelt pieces for the decorations but that’s it for today because it’s time to take the puppy out, feed the lambs again and make some raspberry scones. More to come. I hope I can get more done tomorrow morning. I will show you more next time.
I have a guest post for you today. Alisa McClain is a pretty new felter, she is in my local Facebook group. When she posted her piece for the first quarter challenge I asked her to do a post about it and she stepped right up. Thank You, Alisa
Hello! I started felting in the early pandemic, and I’ve fallen hardcore in love. It’s blooming and it keeps me grounded and joyous, and I am slowly developing more skills that allow me greater control, too. I’m an experiential learner, for the most part, so I just keep doing and figuring things out. I make art playfully, usually without a plan.
When I first saw these blogs about a first-quarter challenge, I didn’t intend to participate. You see, my brain is pretty much an open browser with 1,000 tabs open at all times, and I always have a plethora of ideas vying for my attention and screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!”
And, then one day I took a look at all the photos suggested in the original challenge blog from the decade. The suffragette posters caught my eye. Maybe I should make something feminist in petticoats? That old Disney song starts up in my head: We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats and dauntless crusaders for women’s votes. But, I haven’t done human forms and probably can’t pull that off. That skill is in the not yet pile.
The next time I looked through the photos, I thought about finding an aerial view of the area I live in and got lost in the history of my little corner of suburbia. No aerial view though from 1900ish though.
And, then the third time I looked through the photos, I thought about nature through a microscope. In the lounge of the ski hill I frequented in the before-pandemic times, there was an entire heavy book full of breathtaking pictures in a microscope. Sometimes the wonder of nature just awes me anew. While I was still thinking of those micro photos, I walked by this piece of art in my home by Wendy Feldberg that I had purchased the previous summer.
Wendy told me that she’d been quite intrigued by the history of the Ottawa River and that many of the labourers had died of malaria versus physical accidents that occurred on the river. She had done a series of fibre arts featuring the cells of malaria; this one was malaria cells in a placenta.
Overall, I give the pandemic a solid thumbs down, but there has been beauty within it. The blooming of my felt, yes, but also there has been a cementing of several of my friendships into a deeper, lifelong kind of bond. I’ve had more time with my children. I have had a chance (and been forced to, at times) to slow down and think through things. There is a kind of beauty in this moment, in the midst of the horrors. I thought about people that I’ve loved that have developed serious medical issues and how, sometimes, those issues forced them to consider what mattered in life, to prioritize, and also to notice a community of love and support around them.
So maybe that’s my theme: disease and the beauty within it. I wondered what was happening in the 1900s in the way of endemics or pandemics, and Google brought me to microscopic pictures of typhoid fever (apparently on the rise in Texas, an antibiotic resistant strain? Enough already this weird time!)
So here are a few pics of the jellyfish-like bacteria responsible for typhoid fever. I’ve made a jellyfish before that I like and feel proud of so I was pretty confident I could do it.
Of course, along with having a thousand tabs open at all times, I also sometimes fall down rabbit holes in which I refuse to sleep and, instead, decide to read extensively about subjects that will be pretty much superfluous to any conversational moment. Did you know that Typhoid Mary was pretty much the original superspreader and that she was quarantined for over two decades after she ignored public health advice? I mean, they did tell her not to cook but failed to provide any kind of alternative income stream for her, a woman in a time where women weren’t supposed to financially support themselves so maybe there is a structural issue with the collective safety net there. I digress. Moral of the story: I guess wearing my mask really isn’t so bad.
I also got lost in the world of microphotography. See, I already had ideas in my head, but now I feel like I need to felt a few of these, too. There will be more noisy arguments between ideas about whose turn it is. But, also, what a great problem to have!
Oh yes, my typhus. It hits the decade both on the microphotography front as well as a time when typhus was raging. When it was almost done, I posted a picture for my friends and said that if they could guess what it was, I’d send it to them. They guessed (before the legs) that it was a paddleboard, a kayak, a UFO and a comet. Someone guessed it was a jellyfish, and that was the closest someone came.
And, now, I pretty much HAVE to felt covid, don’t I? As I said, there is a certain kind of beauty in this moment… if we can’t escape this pandemic or fast forward through to the end of it, we might as well look hard for the beauty that is blooming here. Neighbours helping neighbours. Pods looking out for each other. The recognition that working from home can be a good option for many workers. I know it’s not universal and I don’t mean to silver line the devastation that is occurring. If I focus on the kindness, I get through this moment just a bit easier. That said, you best believe I will be hugging the crap out of my friends just as soon as this over… the kind of hug you just melt into. I look forward to locking arms together instead of fibres on a way more regular basis, but for now… I guess it’s time to pick the next loud-mouth idea.
Thanks, Alicia, microphotography is a really great place to be inspired. Has anyone else been working on the first quarter challenge? you can share it on the forum or if you would like to be a guest blogger just contact us. we love guests.
When I posted last time, I showed you the felted portion of my 1st Quarter Challenge piece. The next step was to start free motion machine stitching to add more detail.
First to find some thread that would work with the colors of the felt. I used all of these except for one of the reds.
I started with dark green thread and worked on the stems, leaves and bud. I kept the inspiration photo by my sewing machine so it was easier to see where I needed to add stitching.
Next was the light green thread. I just used it for a few highlights on the stems, bud and top of the big leaf.
Now on to the poppies. I used a light pink for highlights. Somehow, I always forget how much the machine stitching compacts the felt. It makes the unstitched portions feel very puffy.
Then I add some yellow for the centers of the poppies.
Next is the medium value red. You can’t see it very well because it is the same value as the main poppy color. But perhaps it gives a bit more definition of the edges.
Then on to adding a little more dark value where it was needed. Afterwards, I put it up on the design board and stepped back a little. Looking for anything that didn’t look right or drew the eye too much in one place. The areas that bothered me were the top poppy there seemed to be a straight pink line coming down to the bottom of the flower. And the bottom poppy, I thought the pink at the bottom center was a bit too much.
So I added a bit more burgundy in those two areas to tone down the pink just a little. So it’s complete. You can click on the photo to see it up close. Thanks for the challenge, Lyn and Annie!
Lyn and Annie posted the 1st Quarter Challenge at the first of the year and I have been considering what I wanted to create with 1900-1909 in mind. Then I remembered the Antique Pattern Library. This is a free online resource that has PDF’s of interesting antique patterns and magazines. There are a lot of different categories to explore. If you haven’t checked it out before, you should take a look. There is loads of inspiration to be found there.
So I put embroidery in the search box and then looked through the options. I found this magazine from 1902-1903, perfect! If you click on the link, you can view the entire PDF. I had decided that I would use one of the patterns in this magazine to create a felt piece and then add free motion machine embroidery for the details.
So I chose the poppies. This was originally intended for silk embroidery in a traditional long and short stitch. I decided to use the photo for inspiration and go from there.
My studio is piled with stuff all over the place as I am working on a large wall hanging for my Level 3 Stitch course and I didn’t want to climb over a bunch of stuff to look through all my wool. So I used what I had already out. I can say I was challenging myself to a limited palette or it could be I was being lazy.
I used prefelt that was left over from Christmas ornaments and some other bits of green that were still out from some of my differential shrinkage projects. Hmmm…. perhaps I should clean up the studio a bit? Here’s the layout. I am planning on adding all the details with stitching after felting. I also decided to leave out the separate stem on the design and just go with two open poppies and a bud.
Here’s how it looks after felting. I didn’t full it heavily since it will end up being framed. I will have to use a stabilizer for free motion machine stitching as it is quite thin. It’s drying now and I will show you the added stitching in my next post.
I am not as far along on my challenge as Ann is. She was showing hers off last night at the social (on Zoom). I hoped you might be both curious about my research progress and may find inspiration for your own challenge. I am looking at Art Nouveau, which starts before our challenge period but extends through to 1910. It draws influence from the arts and crafts movement, craft revivals and the introduction of Japanese prints to England and Europe.
Art Nouveau, “ornamental style of art that flourished between about 1890 and 1910 throughout Europe and the United States. Art Nouveau is characterized by its use of a long, sinuous, organic line and was employed most often in architecture, interior design, jewelry and glass design, posters, and illustration.”
in Architecture one of the earliest to use the art Nouveau style was Victor Horta who’s most famous town home in Brussels predates the challenge, but Hôtel Tassel is a particularly good example of the organic fluid style of Art Nouveau with structure and patterning inspired by nature.
1-5 Victor Horta; Tassel house Brussels. Exterior 1893, Railing details, Staircase, Stained-glass.
Another example of this style is in commercial illustration, (for which I have a particular fondness) was the work of Alphonse Mucha. He was a Czech painter, illustrator and graphic artist, living in Paris during the Art Nouveau period. His distinctly stylized and decorative posters often encompass organic flowing lines. He often used circles or arches to highlight his subject and embellished them in lavish flowing fabric, flora and hair. He is most famous for his Theater posters, particularly of Sara Bernhard. He also did other commercial art designs and large murals for the exhibition of 1900. He produced portraitures in New York while getting backers for his work the Slavs but this is just after our challenge time period.
I purchased prints of his while I was at University and again after graduation. I only have one of them up at the moment, Media, since I have many bookshelves and little wall space. In grade 13 I was one of 2 girls who read the part of Medea in English class. The teacher suggested the boys should be careful of both of us since we both seem to have enjoyed reading the role.
in Laurel of 1901 and some of the top decorative elements of the Pen 1899, you can see the arts and crafts inspiration from the textiles and wallpapers of William Morris.
10-11 William Morris; 1896, 1897
In Art Nouveau, I also get to see some of the Norse art of the Urnes and Oseberg style. this may be why I am so captivated by its flowing linear quality.
While I have been delving into hours of looking at the amazing graphic linear design I also was finishing off the main guild library lists for 2021; Topic, Magazines, Author and Title, submitted the outline for the armature study group and am finalizing the supply list for it.
Then I got a message reminding me I had promised to get a photoshoot done for the armature study group sign up page. Ooops, OK change of plan where did I put the wire, oh yes in the white bucket beside the computer desk! I re-piled my partly cleared desk with various packages of wire, so much for cleaning up my desk. Now, how can I display all that in an aesthetically pleasing manner? Mr. Mer volunteered again (I suspect I will never convince him he should be a fisherman after this.)
I used my chair as the backdrop and draped a throw Glenn gave me over it. I selected the 11 gauge steel (grate for quadra-dents not so much armatures), the 12 gauge aluminum and 20 gauge floral wire. I suspended the 11 gauge wire with a piece of kumihimo I had just finished since it was too heavy for even a Mer-man of his excellent physique to lift.
I suspect all that looking at all the Art Nouveau may have unexpectedly influenced the photoshoot! I had not been thinking about it at the time I set it up but see what you think.
Here are a couple of shots from the photoshoot.
12-13 Mr. Mer Posing with Armature and Quodra-dent wire
I pulled one of the photos and stuffed it into “PhotoPad” which is a free photo editing software and started to play using the Cartoon edit feature I got this.
14 Cartoon edit from PhotoPad
With a bit of stretching of the image, it changed to this.
15 added stretch to JPEG to create proportions of the theatre posters of Mucha.
When I played around in Microsoft Word, I did a bit of artistic photo editing and got this.
16 Microsoft effect “Photocopy” with increased contrast and saturation.
I have gone from 3D felt to 2D flat, like the prints by Mucha. I’m not sure this is it. It’s a bit too stylized and abstract but I like the flow. Is that frothing sea foam crashing behind him? There is definitely something here. I will think about this for a while. Now I wonder where this will take me as I continue to consider the first challenge of the year.
Lyn and Annie have set us a challenge for this quarter to make something inspired by the decade 1900 – 1909. The challenge is here If you would like to see it and maybe you could join in. first-quarter-challenge
I have in the past thought about doing a piece inspired by her amazing work. Lyn and Annie have given me the push I need. I thought I could do something similar in felt for my own farm. First a prototype. This is a flat piece and not of my farm but just a farm. I used an old sweater that I ran through the washer then dismantled and ran through a couple more times. I wanted a nice sturdy base.
I did this picture by needle felting into a square cut out of the sweater. I have one of the little 6 needle holders that I used for most of it. Then switched to a single needle to put in the details. It is done in a very minimalist way with
The sweater piece.
The background and the road and the start of a field.
Added the fields and the house and barn.
Then some sheep of course.
I folded all the wool
Lastly used some green curls to make the trees.
It was a lot of stabbing, too much stabbing. I think I will try to do all the main features like roads and the fields by lightly needling them into place and then wet felting them. Just adding the detail and features with needle felting. The next one will be more 3D. I have some ideas for the house and barns. Have you started thinking about his challenge? We would love to hear about it on the felting and Fiber studio Forum. Here’s the link to the place to post pictures. https://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com/thread/4247/2021-first-quarter-challenge. or use the Forum button on the left to get there.
We’ve chosen 4 decades from the 20th century upon which to base the challenges for 2021, and the first challenge to all felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists is …
… to make something inspired by the decade 1900 – 1909.
At the beginning of the 20th century the Wright brothers achieved the first powered flight; Australia became a Commonwealth; the first silent movie was made; Marconi made the first trans-Atlantic wireless transmission; Einstein proposed his Theory of Relativity; the Suffragette Movement became strong and the North Pole was discovered!
We hope the public domain photos below will help to kick-start your imagination.
Alexander Graham Bell (better known for his work on the telephone) developed many tetrahedral kites of varying designs (1903-1909) – here are two of them.
In Australia someone had an unusual pet! Photo dated 1900.
Wilson Bentley photographed raindrops and snowflakes most of his life This photo of a snow crystal was taken in 1905. Below it are more of his photos but they are undated.
A First Nation Group near Lethbridge, Alberta, 1909.
Arthur Smith’s photos were featured in a book “Nature through Microscope and Camera” 1909 – here are just a few of them.
Beckett and Hadfield took these Lantern slides in Norway.
Dr Julius Neubronner developed a miniature pigeon camera to photograph the earth from above. The patent for his invention was granted in 1908.
The images were processed and sold as postcards at expositions in Dresden and Paris 1909-11.
There is a lot of inspiration to be had from the art world.
“Vetheuil” by Monet, 1901
“Anenomes” by Renoir, 1907
“La jetee a L’Estaque” by Derain, 1906
Buildings and statues can be inspiring too.
The Flatiron Building – an iconic skyscraper in New York – completed in 1902.
Statue – a bronze replica of Michelangelo’s ‘David’, Buffalo in the USA, 1903.
Handmade cards were popular. This valentine card was made in 1900 (maker unknown).
Wealthy ladies had some impressive clothing !
We hope you feel inspired to take part in this challenge. It looks like there was a lot of really interesting things going on back then offering all sorts of exciting ideas for fibre projects. Please post your photos in the Studio Challenges section on The Felting and Fiber Forum, we’d love to see them.
For the 4th quarter challenge I made a few different things because once I started thinking about it I came up with lots of ideas and I couldn’t decide which to make! I ended up making:
a stars themed table mat
a Christmas pudding decoration
some stars on sticks to poke into my houseplant pots
and a wreath of holly & stars
I needed a mat for the side table in my hallway because people always put keys etc on there and it gets scratched. I was going to make one in the summer but didn’t get round to it and now that it’s winter I went for a theme of dark inky blue sky with white stars for a festive feel. I had a disaster with it when it wouldn’t felt, but that turned into a triumph when I rescued it with the embellisher because the mat not only felted but also became reversible where the pattern migrated through to the back 🙂
When trying the mat on the table I saw my simple felt “flower” on a stick that is poked into one of my flower pots, and it gave me another idea. I thought some stars on sticks would look nice and festive scattered in my plant pots. The flower is just a circle sample of felt from the odds box that I stuck on a wire one day and pushed into the soil. A friend commented that she really liked it so I left it there. Also, I had promised my plants I would make them some name tags this year and I didn’t, so they can have a star each instead 🙂
Since making the Christmas Podding a few years back …
… I kept thinking I’d like to make some more wired twisty holly leaves, possibly made into a wreath. After some experimentation I made 3 sheets of colourful felt to cut the leaves from…
…but then decided it would take too much time to make all the leaves, so I decided to make a flat Christmas Pudding instead that could stand as a decoration and then I’d only need to make a few leaves! The pudding is stood on a plate but leaning against a hidden glass jar.
To make the holly leaves I pinned some fabric to the back of the felt for stiffness then free motion stitched a few holly leaf shapes round 3 times in black thread and twice with white. I also used some old felt to make some other leaves to mix up the colours.
To make the pudding I raided the scraps box. From scrap felt I cut out two main shapes – a 20cm diameter circle for the pudding and a wavy “topping” for the custard. I backed both pieces with fabric then stitched them together.
I cut some little “raisins” from orange felt and stitched them on then free motion stitched a pattern around them on the main pudding.
I attached the holly leaves and added some felt balls for berries. I had already made these a long time ago but they were perfect for this project. Lastly I added a few little yellow stars for extra sparkle.
I had originally planned on making holly leaves using a base of green fibres plus a lot of other unusual colours to make it a bit quirky. I made a big sheet of felt to cut them from, but found I had used too many dark greens and not enough of the other colours so it wasn’t quite right. I decided I wanted to go more colourful, resulting in the felt I made above. However, it is a lovely piece of felt and has some interesting passages in it. For example, I can see lots of little landscapes in it and I will revisit it at some point because I think it has potential. For now it’s one for my pile of “Ideas & Projects in Progress”. Again, there is more detail on our blog about this if you are interested because this post is way too long as it is!
Then in a sudden swirl of enthusiasm I decided to make a big bunch of holly leaves after all to see if I could cobble together a wreath of sorts. Here are some in progress photos:
After making lots of holly leaves (but sadly no wire, no time!) I hit a problem in that I couldn’t get the leaves to attach nicely to the metal wreath ring I had. I didn’t want to glue gun it in case I want to take it apart and repurpose the bits at some point. What to do? I had a look around and rediscovered a narrow felted “scarf” that I had made in the summer. I had been far to impatient when making the scarf and it turned out nothing like I had hoped (basically lovely colours but a complete disaster!). I kept it in the hope that it would come in handy one day, and it did. I wrapped the ring in the scarf which gave me something to stitch the leaves to:
I mixed in some felted stars and some yellow glass beads as berries (yellow, red, who cares?!) The stitching is appalling as it was done in record time, but it’s on the back so it won’t be seen. My patience has limits especially on something fiddly like this when I’m running out of time! But I think the overall appearance is fun and a bit different and if I ever make another wreath I have learnt a lot along the way for next time!
Here is everything together on the table in the hallway:
Hummmmmm. I would like to make an ornament, using the cookie cutter needle felting technique. Now, what do I have as options? I have been collecting cookie cutters for over 30 years now. My original Christmas cookie cutters were dinosaurs. (the T-Rex was Santa! and the Triceratops had tricky horns to get out of the cutter.) Eventually, my collection grew and I added more traditional X-mass shapes to my collection.
Unfortunately, most of my 2 boxes of cookie cutters are stored well out of my reach at the moment and Glenn is off at work so can’t extract them for me. I should have remembered they were out of reach and no longer in the bottom drawer. (mumble)
Well, what do I have for options?
1 A bat, vampire teeth, a coffin, a cat, a moose and an Ikea set of snowflakes. As much fun as the vampire cookie cutters are, I think they don’t say X-mas to most people. So they’re out.
2 As much as I love cats I don’t think I will try a holiday cat this time. (how would I choose between Timothy in Orange and white, Miaka in Black and white or Evil in all black? Someone would be feeling unloved.)
3-4 we are left with two highly festive shapes, snowflakes and moose. But there was that incident on highway 401 while travelling to Oakville last week. We were not involved but it looked very gruesome. No maybe not the moose.
5 So it’s the “Vinterfest” Snowflakes from Ikea. (They may not be sold out if you check your local store)
As I understand the concept of the cookie cutter, it is to provide a structured shape to contain the wool as you inflicted horrible stabbing upon it. The sides make sure the wool has nowhere to run! (i love needle felting it is such a gentle relaxing pastime! <Grin>) The nature of the wool compacting as you poke it means extra attention and the addition of more wool is required along all the edges and protuberances.
6 I think that was some of the white Corriedale wool and the needle was a T36 or T38.
7-8 As the wool shrunk below the rim of the cookie cutter I added more fibre to the thinner areas. I also turned it over so I was compacting from both sides. If you wanted a thinner snowflake you would not keep filling it to the top of the cookie cutter. Whether you make a thick or thin shape it would still work best if it is fairly firmly felted.
9 I switched to the pen holder with two T42 needles (I had to look around for it. I had left it in Mr. Mer’s Glute muscles.) I focused on adding short bits of wool around the perimeter of the cookie cutter. I was amazed at how much more wool it absorbed at this point.
10-11 Once it was very firm to the touch I started to extract the snowflake to see if it would be stable.
12 Ooh, nice solid snowflake. Better not get hit with this one, you could poke out an eye!
Hum, now it’s looking a bit plain. I got that lovely variegated thread that had been donated to EcoEquitable a few weeks ago (they are a not for profit group that teaches sewing and recycles fabric and sewing supply). I bet it would make lovely crows-feet and a star.
13-14 Oh well the variegation is longer than I thought but I still like it. Now, where will I put it?
15 OH NO! Mr. Mer swam through, grabbed it and has run off with it!! That will teach me to store the needle pen in his butt!
I thought the elf boots she made were so cute I would have a go at making some for our tree too.
I drew one out the size I wanted then scaled it up.
I traced it. I like this underlay. You can see through it to trace things out. I have some blue stuff that’s opake and I have to cut things out to trace around or work it out, right on the underlay with a marker.
Then I have some “sheep” wool in a batt that was a nice gree so I laid it out wet it and started the rubbing.
I did some rolling with a mini pool noodle and some shelf liner. when it was ready I cut them apart.
I worked them one at a time. you can see the difference between the start and finished.
I have some gold Beada tinsel, non-tarnishing that was probably bought in 1960. It is a thin cord. I used it to make the laces.
having success I decided to make some more. Now, you would think after all this time and the fact that I warn my students about directional shrinkage, I would have known better than to lay the wool (merino top) across the boots because it would be easier to wrap it around. Needless to say, the foot part is much thinner. So perhaps they belong to some clown elves.
I think I will try it again. They are fiddly to finish but I enjoy having something to do with my hands watching BritBox shows in the evening.