This is a guest post from Diane Coe, one of our readers, who recently submitted a photo for our 3rd Quarter Challenge. Thanks for sharing Diane!
My name is Diane Coe and I live in Featherston, New Zealand. I started being creative at a young age. Drawing, painting, and learning to knit from my Granny. I used to make tiny felt mice and exhibit them at a local annual art show as a young teen. Later on in life, in the 80s, I discovered Leadlight and produced for markets and made windows for houses. Then I progressed to Mosaics which I enjoyed for a while. I discovered a local felting group in 2014, and have been hooked ever since. Mainly I use wet felting with some needlefelt.
I was inspired to create Te Karanga Whakamutunga Ote Ruru (The Last Call of the Ruru (Morepork) from Maori Folklore, in which the Ruru is regarded as a guardian. With much of our planet being endangered, I wanted to portray the Ruru guarding the NZ Bush as a last call, as time is running out unless there is a change and more protection.
I wet felted the background and then needle felted, adding wool roving and balls of wool recycling from Op shops. The Kiwi is a scrap of possum fur. I spread out all my colours and fibres and picked up pieces to needlefelt as I went along, choosing what would work best for what I wanted to portray in each piece of the picture.
This close up photo shows more details of the intricate work.
There is hidden in the picture a Powelliphanta (native NZ giant snail). The piece took months to complete and is framed in native Totora farm posts.
This is the photo that I submitted of the piece for the Third Quarter Challenge. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.
Here I am in my studio, creating another landscape.
I have created other pictures like the portrait of my friends dog.
I have also entered recently a national competition in NZ called WoolOn, in which you can enter anything wool. It will be on the Catwalk and judged later in August 2003. Felting is a beautiful artform and a wonderful natural product. There is always so much to learn and create with.
Thanks so much Diane for telling us about your felting journey.
If you would like to submit a photo for one of our challenges, you can do so here. If you are interested in telling us more about yourself and your fiber art, we would love for you to write a guest post. Just fill out the Contact Us form to let us know of your interest.
In my last post I mentioned a few of the projects I was working on with the “Making Waves” theme, along with other members of the Waltham Windmill Textile Group. I’d begun work on a 50cm x 90cm felted wallhanging inspired by the markings on large stone slabs on the beach at Seahouses in Northumberland.
Having recently bought myself a drum carder I carded a variety of left over bits of fibre, mainly blues, greens, yellows and neutrals, to make my background and laid them out with off cuts of hand dyed silk fabric, scrim and large nepps. On the left is how it looked after felting and on the right is where it’s at right now. I’ve added synthetic sheers, machine wrapped cords, hand and free motion stitch and in some areas I’ve heavily machine stitched to push them back and encourage the adjacent areas to stand out. The original bottom left section wasn’t working with those silk circles so they were pulled off and replaced with some stiffened, rust dyed fabric circles, recycled from another piece of work. I’m calling it Going With The Flow because a) it’s inspired by a trip to the beach b) it has flowing lines and c) like most of my work its design wasn’t preplanned. It’s evolving as I work on it, adding bits in and taking bits off until it feels right. It’s got a way to go yet before I can call it done.
One of the other challenges within the Making Waves theme is to make a 3D fish and my immediate thought was to create what many would regard as an ugly fish but which I prefer to think of as a fish with shedloads of character……..one that would get noticed amongst a group of pretty fish!
Having typed “ugly fish” into Google I lost many hours over the next few weeks looking at images and some incredible videos of life deep in the depths of the oceans. Each new search revealed yet another fascinating species of fish, some quite honestly didn’t look real while some, like the Tasseled Scorpionfish were strangely beautiful. One of the weirdest I discovered has to be the Red Lipped Batfish. If ever there was proof we descended from the oceans this red lipped, whiskered fish that “walks” on its specially adapted fins has to be it!
Last month the Waltham group had a day making felted fish, some are finished, others are still work in progress.
Lucy made a wonderful wet felted Puffer Fish adding recycled plastics, including pipette tips, wine bottle netting and glass beads with recycling symbols underneath, to highlight the plight of our oceans.
Sue is very new to wet felting but she’s taken to it like a fish to water (couldn’t resist!) and has made “Angry Fish”. I think he looks more sulky than angry but he’s terrific!
Barbara’s felted fish is still work in progress but looking great, as is her sketch book and fabric fish purse!
Originally I had intended to wet felt my ugly fish but, after all those hours of studying them and getting excited about what I was going to make, for some reason when I took out my carded Corriedale fibres I found myself felting a cartoon version of an Angelfish…….I didn’t see that coming! Her name is TroutPout and she’s approximately 33cm x 36cm excluding her fins.
I’ve been enjoying teaching 3D Seed Pod workshops recently using wire wrapped with Tyvek fabric so decided to make my Anglerfish from wire rather than fibre. It was only when I’d got the 60cm x 33cm framework made that I sat back and realised I’d gone past the stage where I had meant to start adding my fabric! Time for plan B…..maybe I could use wire mesh to give it “body”?
I looked for some online but hesitated as I wasn’t sure how flexible or suitable the mesh would be. Having put the fish to one side, a few days later I joined the Lincolnshire Textile group and at my first meeting I was offered a piece of silver coloured Sinamay. Sinamay is one of the most popular hat-making foundations. It’s woven from the processed stalks of the abaca tree, a type of banana native to the Philippines. I couldn’t believe my luck……..being silver coloured this off cut looked like wire mesh but wasn’t and if I sprayed it lightly with water I could easily shape it to fit and stitch it with aluminium wire to my framework. So this is how far I’ve got. I’m going to add a few more wire spirals and do something more interesting with the eyes. He should have menacing teeth but I might not go that far!
Another feature of next years Making Waves exhibition will be an Octopus’s Garden so once the fish are done it’s straight on to making lots of coral and a few Octopus. I’m loving this theme and could quite happily continue with it way beyond our event next year…….it has to be the most interesting and enjoyable we’ve had so far!
At the Waltham Textile group we have a biennial exhibition with a main theme, supported by any other smaller works we’ve produced during the two year lead up. Our current theme was launched in August and I was really happy to get a thumbs up when I suggested we have a nautical/coastal vibe…..if you know how much I love to create rockpool themed work you will know why I chose it! Within this theme we each get a metre width of wall space for a large hanging or several smaller ones and we’ve agreed a few specific group projects such as we all make a 3D fish, a 3D jelly fish, a decorated box and contribute to creating an Octopuses Garden.
Coming up with a title is always going to be tricky when it’s done by committee and, believe me, we debated many of them! Eventually we settled on “Making Waves” as its catchy, links to the ocean/shoreline but of course it can also be interpreted as rocking the boat or doing something subversive. Strange but no one in the group has mentioned this meaning so far, surely I can’t be the only one who’s planning on being subversive with (at least one of) the group challenges?
The general consensus is that the fish be attractive but my immediate thought was “angler fish“ due to its dramatic and sinister appearance. However a bit of Google research has opened up a whole new world of ugly fish, these are just a few that grabbed my interest. The red lipped batfish is probably the weirdest one of them all, I can’t help thinking it looks like someone’s added a face and four legs to a mushroom! That really is a face that only a mother could love! Collecting images of ugly fish is a whole new rabbit hole opening up so best to get back on track…..
It’s been a busy time recently with shows and workshops, plus playing catch up after being knocked off my feet for a couple of weeks with Covid. This has meant I haven’t made much progress but I have at least started one exhibition piece. If you visit the Felting and Fibre Community Photo page you may already have seen this as it’s made entirely from materials I had to hand and therefore fulfils the criteria set for the last challenge.
My aim was to create a wet felted vessel with a blue/green colour theme, an undulating surface and lots of texture. A student had recently commented on one of my necklaces saying it reminded her of rocks and coral and this passing remark inspired me to use the same technique and materials for my “Making Waves” vessel.
Using differential shrinkage is a great way to manipulate the surface of your felt. Thin areas have the potential to shrink much more than thick areas thereby creating hills and valleys in your work. These can be symmetrical, as in the yellow/grey bowl, or asymmetrical which was my aim for the necklace and this vessel.
The grey and mink fibre used is mostly World of Wool 23 micron Merino although, because I was using up left over short lengths from previous projects (remember the F&F challenge), I think there’s oddments of superfine in there too. The thicker areas are prefelt covered with hand dyed silk fabrics, printed viscose paper towels, sari yarn and wool yarns to create a variety of textures and after felting it measured 36cm x 17cm.
The eagle eyed might spot two pieces of lace which are on the layout but not the finished vessel, these didn’t look right so were pulled of. I’m now looking forward to some spare time next month to complete it with more hand embroidery, beading and shells.
It’s summer time here in Ireland and the living is, well, slightly more laid back than the norm. Having decided to metaphorically kick off the shoes for the month of July, I thought it might be nice just to “see and share ” rather than “do” and this forms the basis of my post.
Before I start on the main focus of this post (my holiday in Italy), I just have to show you a beautiful piece that totally blew me away. Before heading off, I visited Dublin’s Botanical Gardens. Founded in 1795, it is an oasis of calm for any visitor and I would highly recommend a visit if you happen to be in the neighbourhood. While there, I noticed that there was a patchwork exhibition happening in one of their exhibition spaces. This piece just caught me, so I want to share it with you. The artist is Ethelda Ellis and the piece is called ‘Aoife’s View’. The curator told me that Ethelda is a medical doctor by profession. If you would like to see more of Ethelda’s beautiful creations check out her blog: http://ethelda.blogspot.com/
Now, to the Italian holiday. We headed to Como mid-July and, in spite of the heatwave, spent our time sightseeing and eating! Our base was Como which is to the north of Italy, right beside Switzerland. Lake Como is totally dwarfed by the Alps – a really beautiful place.
We called into the Cathedral, the Duomo which was magnificent internally and externally. I reckon that to appreciate all its beauty would take months observing 24/7! I want to share with you a small area of a tapestry which was made in 1610 and which underwent restoration in 1990. It was impossible to get a good photo of the entire masterpiece as so much detail would have been lost. So I settled for a little!
One of our tours took us to the tiny picturesque village of Orta which is situated on Lake Orta. It was recommended that we visit the interior of the local church which was situated at the top of a steep street.
My journey was interrupted by the sound of a piano recital and when I investigated I discovered a rather special textile exhibition happening in the same building. The works exhibited were by Sergio Cerini. The artist merges his early experiences in the Italian high fashion industry with his current artworks, producing beautiful pieces which are in essence a mix of paper mache and textiles. The description does not do justice to his widely exhibited pieces and he was reluctant to allow me to photograph his work. He did, however pose in front of one of the pieces and others can be viewed on his Instagram page @sergiocerini
Since the 1800s, the city of Como was historically the main producer of Italian silk. When ultimately production was outsourced to China, the area was in danger of losing connection with its cultural heritage. The large factory was bought by the Hilton hotel chain. These photos show early paintings of the factory, what it became at the height of the industry and where it is now (apologies for the reflection on the glass):
Rather than allow the old machinery to be lost to history, a wise decision was taken about 10 years ago to set up an Educational Silk Museum to preserve these beautiful machines. Along with displaying the machinery, some of which dates back to the nineteenth century, the museum offers interactive videos and exhibits of high fashion clothing. Unfortunately this section was not open during my visit but I thought it might be fun to show you some of the many machines featured. So please, grab a cuppa, sit back and I hope you enjoy the show. I have included captions for ease of reference.
A few years ago, while searching for an online textile workshop, I happened upon one that made me curious. I was familiar with the tutor’s name, Ruth Lane, as her book “The Complete Photo Guide to Felting” was and continues to be one of my ‘go-to’ reference books. Among its many attributes are two that I hold important, good writing and clarity.
At the time, Ruth was offering, among her courses, one titled Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination. This four week course is available under the heading Embellishing Felt With Surface Design Techniques – A Mixed Media Approach.
I was absolutely delighted when Ruth asked me to write some posts for the Felting and Fiber Studio blog and when I finally decided to design and produce the online Spiral Workshop I was thrilled when it was accepted as one of the courses on the FFS workshop platform. I feel so comfortable with the whole ethos of small class sizes and encouraging participants to engage with others if they so desire.
The Spiral workshop came about as a result of a challenge put to me by a fellow felter. Once I had refined my technique I set about filming each step of the process. I wanted clarity as, to a large extent, the videos needed to replace my physical presence in the learning space – that said as with all courses offered by FFS, tutors are available to answer questions for the duration of the course.
Once the full course was recorded, I set about editing the material. This did not involve a lot of deletions. Instead the videos were broken into smaller steps which would make particular elements of the process easier to locate for participants. Each video has an accompanying PDF which again is broken into steps to match the videos. These are available for participants to keep and the videos are available for the duration of the course (and a few extra weeks).
This will be the third run of the course which will start on 26th August. Registration for it opens today (12th August) and numbers will be limited to make the experience more intimate.
Here are some photos of students’ work. They are all so gorgeous and so different. I have included some of the reviews at the end of the video.
If you are interested in finding out a bit more, feel free to check out the following link:
I’ve just taken part in my first show after two years of Covid restrictions and it felt great to be back to normal! The event was the British Quilt & Stitch Village, an annual 3 day textile show held at Uttoxeter Racecourse in Staffordshire.
It was my first time exhibiting at Uttoxeter and I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would visitor numbers be low? Most ladies attending shows like this are of a certain age (me included!) and I know some still have concerns about mixing in large groups. This is predominantly a quilt show, would there be enough interest in feltmaking or would the majority walk straight passed? I was manning my stall alone…. would the neighbouring stall holders be too busy to relieve me when I needed a loo break? I needn’t have worried, when the doors opened at 10am the visitors flooded in and it turned out to be three very “full on” days! These are a few of the items I had on show……
My pitch was next to Project Linus, a charitable organisation that provides quilts and blankets for children in need. Their aims are to “Provide love, a sense of security, warmth and comfort to children who are seriously ill, traumatized, or otherwise in need through the gifts of new handmade blankets and afghans, lovingly created by volunteer “blanketeers.” And to “provide a rewarding and fun service opportunity for interested individuals and groups in local communities, for the benefit of children.”
Project Linus always attracts a lot of interest and the two lovely ladies on that stand were swamped with visitors for the three days! Somehow they still managed to cover for me when I needed a comfort break which was really appreciated!
I didn’t get much chance to visit other stands but when Jane (Wylde Oak Artistry) came over to say hello and told me she was working with Spun-bond fabrics I had to go see her work. I loved her masks and corsets, made on the theme of body dysmorphia, and came away feeling that there is so much more I could be doing with Lutradur!
Another stand I particularly enjoyed was “Traverse”, a group of exhibiting textile and mixed media artists. Apologies for not getting close ups of their work…….it’s worth following the link and taking a look at their website.
It’s a great show, spread over three large halls as well as various other smaller buildings. Most of the photos I took were prior to opening but as you will see from the last three, we really did get visitors! Roll on Quilt & Stitch Village 2023!
At the Waltham Textile group we normally have a biannual exhibition of our work but, due to Covid, it was cancelled in 2020 rescheduled for 2021 and then had to be cancelled again. It’s now been confirmed for August but in the meantime I’ve sold my main “Leaf” themed piece so recently made this mixed media “Monstera” to replace it.
I’m also thinking of submitting this piece for the 2022 IFA online exhibition which has the theme of Flora & Fauna. I’m waiting to hear if a mixed media piece will be accepted. I can’t imagine it being a problem but, if it is, I can simply crop one of the images to show the felted leaf.
I bought a 40cm x 80cm canvas with the intention of painting Monstera leaves on it and then adding a 3D Felted leaf. After drawing a template onto paper and offering it up to plan the layout I changed my mind about painting onto the canvas. It’s not something I’ve done before and the surface appeared to be a bit too textured for the look I wanted to create. Instead I sketched the leaves onto a piece of white cotton fabric, outlined them with an Inktense pencil and added a little shading. The aim was for very simple, very smooth, perfectly formed leaves looking more like curved metal than the foliage on my cheese plant. I think this was influenced by the very smooth metallic looking Tyvek seed pods I’ve been making lately. The Monstera in our lounge has been a bit neglected, to the point that I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it for this post!
I don’t consider myself a painter but I do like painting on to fabric. If you need to paint precise lines a good tip is to use aloe vera (by far the cheapest) or acrylic medium instead of water when applying acrylics on fabric. This keeps the paint where you want it to be and avoids it bleeding into other areas. I managed to get a tiny bit of black paint on the lower section of the fabric but stopped short of starting all over again when I realised the felted leaf would cover it up!
My paper template for the painted leaves was 13” x 18” so to make the felted leaf I multiplied by 1.4 enlarging it to 18.5” x 24” to allow for shrinkage. Layer one was a very yellowish green Merino (might have been lichen but not certain). Layer two was a combination of various shades of grey with the yellowish green running down the centre. This was topped with a layer of dark green Merino and Ireland Viscose all around the edge and snippets of gold Viscose down the centre. These images don’t give a true representation of colours but you get the gist.
After wetting out I measured the fibres and found they had spread to approx 20” x 27”. At the fulling stage, every now and then, I put the original template on top to check for size and ensure I was keeping to the right shape.
Once it had shrunk to the correct size it was left to dry. The next stage was to add wires to the back of the leaf so it could be shaped. This could possibly have been done with directional laying of the fibres and lots of fulling but I wanted the option of posing the leaf once it was attached to the canvas and wires are a good way of doing this.
The wires were spaced out and attached on the reverse using a zigzag stitch which also formed the veins on the front side. You can see that bright yellowish green colour on the reverse of the leaf. Once that was done it was just a matter of cutting into the felt to form the individual leaves and the characteristic little holes of the cheese plant.
After attaching to the canvas with a few strategic stitches the leaf was given its final shaping. It’s now hanging in the lounge above my cheese plant where it will stay until the exhibition…..although if I do get the chance to sell it I suppose there is still time to make another!!
Line Dufour has been a practicing textile artist and tapestry weaver for the last 35 years. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto Ontario and has always had her own studio. She taught weaving to adults for about twenty years, while at the same time doing art/craft shows and exhibitions. She is currently retired from teaching but continues her studio practice. At the moment, Line does not have a gallery that represents her, and if someone wants to purchase one of her pieces they contact her through her website or social media or other channels. Line’s website www.linedufour.com. You can find her cv on there as well. She is currently enrolled at the University of Gloucestershire in the UK and working on obtaining her Master’s in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking.
And now the project
Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry, Punta del Este, Uruguay 2017
Fate, Destiny and Self Determination  Le Sort, Destin, et l’auto-determination  Suerte, Destino y Auto-determinación  Los, Przeznaczenie i Wola  Das Schicksal, das Geschick und das Selbstbestimmungsrecht
 운명, 숙명 그리고 자기가 결정한 팔자. 팔자  Usud, sudbina i samoodređenje  Sorte,Destino,Auto Determinação  Öde, mål och självbestämmande  Fato, Destino e Autodeterminazione
Written by Line Dufour.
Fate is defined as a force, energy, principle, element or power that prescribes to each person a set of limits, boundaries and confines. In Islam it is called Kismet. The Greeks called Fate, Moira. Greek Mythology speaks of the three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos who supposedly controlled each person’s fate. The youngest, Clotho, is a spinner and she determines the time of birth and spins the thread of life on her distaff. Lachesis measures the length of the thread to determine the length of one’s life; the time of death is decided by Atropos, who cuts the thread. Inherent in the idea of Fate, is that one has no influence over events and outcomes. Mythology and psychology distinguish between Fate and Destiny. Destiny is considered an expanding field of possibilities alluding to our potential to influence our Fate. This makes Destiny kinetic. “The lives we construct are an inextricably woven fabric of influences, possibilities and accumulated consequences of choices made.” (James Hollis)
The development of the COVID-19 has made all of us more aware of the impact of isolation on our well being. This sense of isolation forms the underpinnings of this installation launched in 2016. Fate, Destiny and Self Determination was created as social media driven initiative to reduce the isolation artists experienced in their artistic process through co-creating the installation, providing planned hands-on events and gathering them together to exhibit their collective efforts. Inclusiveness is the weft that weaves the installation together.
Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is composed of three sections. The main tapestry woven panel (on the left) was created by Line Dufour, referencing the contemporary practice of tapestry where artist and weaver are one. The second panel on the right, was woven by visiting participants ranging from the inexperienced and amateur to the professional. This referenced traditional tapestry conventions in that many weavers work(ed) on the tapestry at the same time or at various stages and did not contribute to creating the tapestry designs.
The final section is composed of irregular shapes positioned at varying heights, between the 2 main panels, floating freely in space, as though the tapestry is pulling apart or coming together. As each shape arrives, Dufour photographs/documents it, posts it to the Facebook page for the project https://www.facebook.com/Fate-Destiny-and-Self-Determination-An-international-tapestry-project-194385150700425 as well as on Instagram@tapestryline and Twitter@tapestry_line. She also includes information about the participants such as their website if they have one, and other comments they have made about the project or about their work and/or life. Thus far, 864 shapes have been received from 43 countries, and a total of about 519 people have participated. The installation continues to expand as it accepts shapes on an ongoing basis. Part of the exhibition includes a list of all participant names. If a label cannot be displayed in the gallery, a QR code label is available so that the gallery viewer can access the web page with the names of all participants.
Each time Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is installed the shapes are never placed in the same positions, making it interactive and spontaneous, and permits the curator(s) to be part of its creation. Conversely, the curator could also invite the gallery guest to position shapes on the wall between the two panels, having them re-create the installation.
The installation welcomes invitations to be exhibited around the world, and to that effect has been exhibited in the following venues:
Craft Ontario in Toronto, Canada
The Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
The Doyle and Margaret Hartman Gallery, Regis University, Denver, Colorado USA
Craft Council of British Columbia, Canada
The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles as part of the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial 11
Guan Shan Yue Art Museum, Shenzen, China. 9th From Lausanne To Beijing
The Centre D’Action Culturelle de la MLC de Papineau in Québec
World Textile Art Biennial at the Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry in Punta del Este Uruguay
World of Threads, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Rosccommon County Council, Roscommon Ireland
Tuchmacher Museum, Bramsche, Germany
Tuch & Technik Textilmuseum, Neumunster, Germany
Anyone who wishes to do so, can create a shape using a textile/fibre related technique (tapestry, rug, weaving, felt, basketry, etc) or create a piece that references textiles with whatever materials they like. Any hue from the colour wheel is suggested. You can use more than one colour. There is no minimum or maximum size, but the average size is 10cm (4”) . There is no maximum on the number of pieces you can submit. A person can also weave (create) a shape of their country, state or province or any shape except not a square or rectangle. You can look at the Instagram @tapestryline page for the project to see how other people have created their shapes.
It doesn’t seem all that long ago when life was simple and the only decisions we needed to make regarding our daily fix of caffeine were “instant or percolated”, “black or white”, “with or without sugar”?
How times have changed! Nowadays we have a dazzling array of flavours and styles to chose from when visiting our favourite Barista. I did once try a cinnamon and syrup latte in M&S and have never forgotten how vile that was…..give me a straight forward, simple latte every time! On the other hand, if you like your coffee more exotic, there are plenty of rather weird (and probably not so wonderful?) tastes to explore. The Farm Girl Cafe in Portobello Road could be the place to visit if you fancy a black charcoal latte made with activated charcoal, date syrup and cashew milk. Or how about their blue Butterfly Matcha made with organic blue matcha powder (now there’s an interesting ingredient to look up) with almond milk or their most famous creation, the rose latte (a double shot with rose water infused milk and petals)….there is obviously a market for it but personally I think I’ll pass!
Of course we no longer have to go out to get our fix of posh coffee thanks to the popularity of the domestic barista machines and the single use coffee capsule. Although many of these are said to be recyclable, according to Nestle, only around one third of their capsules (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo) were being returned to the manufacturer for recycling in 2020. The rest were ending up in landfill where it’s predicted they will take 500 years to breakdown!
A “not for profit” organisation in the UK called Podback are now working with local councils and other organisations to make it easier and more convenient to recycle our capsules with roadside collections alongside other household recycling. Consumers also have the option of leaving them at over 6,500 Yodel drop off points and we should soon (if it’s not happening already) have them collected by supermarkets when they drop off our online shopping.
That’s all sounding good but many of us are finding more creative ways to recycle our coffee pods, albeit on a far smaller scale. One use is to add them as interesting, textural ‘inclusions’ to a felting project. The first time I saw this done was in 2018 when I attended a Felted jewellery workshop with the wonderful German tutor Ricarda Assmann. Although we were working with fabrics, not capsules, three of the necklaces Ricarda brought as workshop samples had the aluminium crushed pods in them. At that time I didn’t have any capsules but the contrast between the hard texture of the metal and the soft feel of the fibres really appealed to me.
Another fabulous feltmaker, Judit Pocs, created this enormous “Gate” wallhanging in response to a commission from the Feltmakers Association. It is something like 2mtrs tall and studded with crushed capsules in a multitude of colours. Judit also makes beautiful rings with them and teaches the technique for making these in her online workshop.
The year before I attended Ricarda’s jewellery workshop I had the idea to recycle my collection of Tektura acrylic wallpaper samples as inclusions in my pendants (I never throw away anything that might have a use in the future!) It’s a simple process but very effective, wet felting the “waterproof” paper discs between pieces of prefelt. Four years on, and with those papers almost depleted, I’m now starting to use coffee capsules instead. Being thin aluminium they can be crushed by hand (that’s how I did the gold one in the ring) or they will flatten more easily with a little persuasion from a hammer, in which case I find it best to cover them with fabric first to avoid the hammer scratching off the colour. I’ve also started using them in some of my brooches.
I’m sure some of our readers will have tried Felting with capsules and I know Ann did some experimenting with them which you can see here, has anyone else tried this? They could look great in 3D pieces such as bags, sculptures, etc. I did a google search and didn’t find any other images of felt with capsules but I’m sure there’s lots out there somewhere. I did find zillions of “non felted” ideas for recycling on Pinterest, Etsy, YouTube, etc and websites including ecogreenlove.com, these are just a few…..
There are so many inventive ways to create with coffee capsules and with Christmas fast approaching they could be used for decorations or even nativity scenes like these found on Pinterest…….
I will leave you with one of the most impressive uses I came across which was the stunning 2017 catwalk collection by Birmingham designer Rhys Ellis. Rhys studied Fashion Design at Birmingham University and, as part of his course, he spent a year in Italy studying at the Politecnico di Milano design school alongside world-renowned tailor, Guiltiero Fornetti.
“It was while I was in one of the markets that I saw a lady making very simple jewellery from these coffee pods and something just clicked and I knew that I could create dresses this way.“ “I also liked the idea of using material that would otherwise be thrown away.”
I won’t be making anything that dramatic but I am planning to make lots more pendants and brooches. I might just add some capsules to my next felted bag too. If you’ve done anything with them we would love to hear about your projects in the “comments” and you could always post them on the Forum.
Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!
Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.
I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.
The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.
The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?
(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)
A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).
I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.
Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.
The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.
The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.
The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…
Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.
I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.
It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.
Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?
While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!
I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)
I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).
One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.
The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!
The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.
The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.
The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.
I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.
I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.
My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…
That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?
Finally, the random photo of the day:
My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.