Browsed by
Category: Challenges

2021 First Quarter Challenge Researching

2021 First Quarter Challenge Researching

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.

6-9 Alfons Mucha; Medea 1998, The Pen 1899, Laurel 1901, Cycles Perfect 1902

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.

11.1 Urnes Style Norse art on Stave church

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.

First Quarter Challenge

First Quarter Challenge

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

They gave us examples of what was going on and what caught my eye was the aerial photography.  It made me think of some wonderful works by the fibre artist Chris Cullen of As theCrow Flies.  She uses mostly recycled knits and yarn in her amazing pieces. she sells mostly through galleries but does commissions through her Facebook page. for sale at in St Ives, and Also from Spring, Baxters Gallery in Dartmouth.

These are 2 of Chris’s recent pieces


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. or use the Forum button on the left to get there.

2021 First Quarter Challenge

2021 First Quarter Challenge

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.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Annie (rosiepink)

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 🙂

There is more detail about it over on our blog if you are interested:

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:


Fourth Quarter Challenge 2020 Jan’s Ornament

Fourth Quarter Challenge 2020 Jan’s Ornament

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!

4th Quarter Challenge: the Making of Elf Boots.

4th Quarter Challenge: the Making of Elf Boots.

Recently Karen Lane did a post on Christmas ornaments.  fourth-quarter-challenge

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

Have you done anything for the 4th quarter challenge? We would love to see them. You can post them over on the forum.

Holiday Decorations – Fourth Quarter Challenge

Holiday Decorations – Fourth Quarter Challenge

I have been thinking about what holiday decorations that I wanted to make for the Fourth Quarter Challenge. I wanted to do something simple and decided to try creating an ornament with prefelt. I don’t usually use prefelt in creating my designs so I thought I would give it a try. I decided on a snowman design.

I had commercial prefelt in white and black but none in red. So I created a piece of red prefelt as the first step from mixed 56’s hand dyed fiber.

Next I needed a circle of red prefelt from the background. I wanted my finished ornament to be around 5″ diameter so I used this approximately 7″ container to cut around. I used a craft blade and essentially just scored around the container and then finished cutting the circle out with scissors.

I had enough red prefelt for 7 circles. I hadn’t really planned on making multiples but what the heck, I might else well make more, right?

Next I cut out two circles in white prefelt, two black hat shapes and a black circle to go behind the red circle. I decided that my red prefelt wasn’t going to be heavy enough with just one layer. I used black instead of white because I like a deeper red better than I like a pink. I didn’t have enough red prefelt for two layers. Now on to felting.

I had hoped with two layers of white prefelt that I wouldn’t get a lot of fiber migration. No such luck. I did shave a bit off the surface of the white so it wouldn’t look so hairy and that helped. I only felted this one just to see how it would come out. Next time, I think I will cover with a light plastic to try and prevent any movement of red and black fibers into the white. This one was rubbed with my hand so I think that I got a bit of movement of fiber as well as migration through.

Now on to more decoration. I stitched a small piece of sari ribbon on to the hat for a band. The sari ribbon adds a bit of shine. Then I hand stitched the facial features. Now I have to decide if the ornament needs further backing, if it needs an edging treatment and how to hang it. What would you suggest?

Past Holiday Efforts – Fourth Quarter Challenge

Past Holiday Efforts – Fourth Quarter Challenge

Annie and Lyn recently posted the Fourth Quarter Challenge. I thought I would take a look at what holiday decorations and cards I had created in the past. It’s always easy for me to forget about pieces I have created so it’s nice to walk down memory lane and I thought I would share what I found.

Here’s a set of cards that I made in 2017 for the Holiday Card exchange that we have on the forum. I used some samples that I had made for the Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination online class.

This is the card that I made last year.

And another card made in 2018.



Here’s the 2016 cards that I created.

And these are a few different ornaments that I created over the years.

In 2013, I stitched a bunch of these bowls to give to people filled with candy.

I just found another card from 2016. I’m not sure why I made so many different cards that year.

And just for fun, here I am with Deb and Nanci at Christmas Stroll at The Purple Pomegranate.

We did make some Ukraninan eggs one year (not exactly fiber but still holiday!)

And another just for fun photo of me as a baby by the tree.

Here’s a basket I made as a Christmas gift. I’m not much of a weaver but it turned out OK.

And I thought you might like to see a bit of winter decoration from Mother Nature.

That was a fun trip down memory lane. Now I need to get started on this year’s holiday card. If you would like to join in the forum’s Holiday Card Exchange, sign up here.

Or, if you have some holiday creations that you’d like to share, you can post them here.


A New Drop Spindle and the Holiday Card Exchange

A New Drop Spindle and the Holiday Card Exchange

In early September I came across the website John Galon Designs. I think I found the link in a spindle group on Facebook but I don’t remember.  He makes beautiful spindles, many from old, timepieces. I didn’t get a timepiece one but I did get one.

Here is the reveal

Are you ready? here it is:

It is a very pretty and cool spindle. The acrylic in the middle is actually clear but the purple of the spindle radiates out through it. There are about a dozen colours to choose from. I am really pleased with it. Now I need to spin properly with it. I am not used to a spindle with such a small whorl.

The other thing I wanted today is to announce the 2020 holiday card exchange on the Felting and Fiber Studio Forum.  We have been doing a card exchange for several years now. Its a fun and easy way for us to share a little cheer at this time of year.

You can sign up on the forum, here: Holiday Exchange link

the deadline to sign up is Oct 24th, Partners will be assigned ( by random generator) on Oct 25th

You have to make a felt card and send mail it to your partner by Nov 14th

Once you receive your card you post a picture of it on the forum

The cards do not have to be Christmas cards they can be anything. There is a lot going on in late December and there is New Year too.   We are starting a little early this year and on a tighter timeline, having you ship earlier so the cards have a good chance to get there for the holiday season.

Here are a few I have made over the years







Here’s the final challenge of 2020 for felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists …

… make an item for your home for the festive season!

It could be anything at all – practical or just decorative.  Here are a few of the things we’ve made over the years.

These felt tree hangers were re-purposed, by adding a wire loop, from a previous decoration.

The star was made origami-style from a piece of fabric and the snowflake was crocheted then stiffened with equal amounts of pva and water.

This bunting was very quick and simple to make. The fabric flags were cut with pinking shears (no hemming) then pegged onto a length of string with mini-pegs.

We used fancy children’s socks, stuffing and oddments to make snowmen.

We’ve made festive felt artwork (some of which was used to print Christmas cards).  ‘Rudolph’, pictured at the top of this post, is made from fabric with free motion stitching.

This ‘Partridge Sitting in his Pear Tree’ was made in the same way.

‘Figgy Pudding’ is wet-felted art embellished with hand stitching and beads.

This wet felted snowman, decorated with hand stitching, was going to be a Christmas card but he looked so good sitting on the hearth that’s where he stayed.

Who doesn’t have sweets around during the festive season?  We thought it would be fun to make ‘Christmas Podding’ and ‘Sid the Snowman’ to keep our favourite chocolates in.

We always decorate the table at Christmas – something different every year – and one year we made placemats…

…and coasters…

A wet-felted tea cosy, that was plain on one side, was decorated for Christmas with yarn, a reindeer cut out of white pre-felt and needle-felting.

These machine embroidered organza crackers were made many, many moons ago.  Apologies for the poor quality photo, but this was back in the day when we didn’t consider photos to be that important.

We hope you have lots of fun with this challenge!

Please post your photos on in ‘Studio Challenges’.

%d bloggers like this: