Today our guest artist/writer is Carole Gascoigne aka Craftywoman. She also maintains a Facebook page just for fun — Bagsalicious. Here is Carole’s contribution for the Third Quarter Challenge.
I have to say this is a first all round – first time attempting nuno felting and first time writing a blog for this felting site.
It was a treat to be asked, then came the big challenge: what to write about.
We have a quarterly challenge and this one is to take a photo, take it into a colour palette site and find the colours for a project.
I half completed this challenge, in that I found myself trying to capture the image into a nuno scarf or shawl, rather than, as I had originally envisaged, creating something more abstract.
Armed with my 3mm silk chiffon and pre-dyed coloured fibres, I started to develop my scarf.
Top and bottom I used merino and silk in greens and blues. To the blue part I added white viscose fibres for sheen, and turquoise locks. The poppies (sorry about the blurred pic) were first a layer of raw silk fabric cut up into random poppy shapes in salmony pinks, with pink locks and fine red merino over laid.
All of this, the silk fabric and the fibre design was laid out on bubble wrap – bubble side up.
Then came the hard work. I hadn’t appreciated how difficult nuno was going to be. Initially, I covered my design with net and wet felted the design into place. I then rolled it all up onto a foam roller, tied it together and started rolling. I think I rolled about 400 times, 200 each way – then I removed the net.
I re-rolled about another 600 times, changing the end I started with to ensure all the fibres had a chance to be on the inside and the outside of the rolling.
When I was happy that the fibres had migrated through the silk chiffon I added more hot water and threw the piece on to a towel. I continued doing this until I felt it had been felted enough.
Here is my ‘Poppies by the Sea’ inspired nuno felted scarf.
Carole, thanks for completing the Third Quarter Challenge and sharing your first nuno felting journey with us! It was worth the effort the scarf is beautiful!
Mary Stori is a new forum member, but has extensive experience in quiltmaking and fiber art. She introduced herself to us in January as “‘ a wanna be felter living outside of Asheville, NC. For the past 25+ years I’ve traveled the national and international quilting circuit as an author, lecturer, workshop leader, cruise host…..bla, bla, bla. The focus of my work began with wearable art, fine hand quilting, whimsical and highly embellished quilts.”
She attended a class with Chad Alice Hagen a few years ago and is now “hooked.” Her focus went from quilts to felt. But one thing hasn’t changed — her love of embellishments, particularly beading which she has authored several books on. So, with her permission I have put together some of her tips from her blog on beading.
I’m often asked how I organize my beads……this method works well for me.
First of all……you won’t use them if you can’t find them, so take the time to gather them from all your hiding places, organize them, and then put them in a convenient place…no matter how many or few you have.
A location away from sunlight, heat, and excess moisture is best.
Because there are no closets in my studio, my teaching materials are stored in a large walk in closet in a guest room nearby. The bulk of my workshops in recent years have focused on beading techniques or projects that incorporate beads. Therefore, I purchase a LOT of beads in bulk from a distributor for my classes. They generally come as strung kilos, which I repackage into kits and store in boxes and plastic bins.
Above is my own personal stash…… One entire side of the closet is fitted from floor to ceiling with shelves…and almost all are used to store my embellishments. I could consolidate them if the space was needed for other things, but as it is now, I’m easily able to walk in and quickly find what I’m looking for without having to dig through dozens of items stacked on top of each other.
I like to use plastic fishing tackle boxes, or embroidery floss containers. Beads are stored by style and color in see-thru plastic tubes or small bags. Here you see some seed beads.
Besides using beads, I utilize many other embellishments, trinkets, charms, buttons, found objects into my work. This unit has plastic pull out containers with large divided sections which are more suitable for these items. It too goes on my shelves in the closet.
If tubes or small bags aren’t handy for you….try storing beads in small containers such as film canisters, pill bottles, or metal breath mint cases. If you glue a bead to the lid….you’ll always be able to quickly know what’s inside!
Another big key to beading……is making your environment comfortable during the task. A table top or floor model Ott light will save on eye strain. As will a pair of ‘cheater glasses’. I always tell my students that one of the biggest secrets to successful beading is ‘spacing’….and the ability to see the bead and to judge the placement of the needle into the fabric is vital.
Many people are unaware that beads may not necessarily be colorfast. For instance, this beautiful blue bugle bead below may appear as if it’s blue glass. Not so……it’s clear glass that has been dyed or painted blue. Often the color remains secure on the bead, other times not. So…..if you think there’s a possibility that your project will be washed, become damp, or even require high steam for pressing…..take a few minutes and test your beads for colorfastness.
Most of the time, there isn’t a problem, but for that heirloom project….you’d be devastated if during a final steam pressing, the bead color ran into your fabric. The pricier beads may be just at risk as the less expensive ones…..you can’t tell by looking.
Here’s how to test:
– Fill a shallow dish with hot sudsy water….drop in a few beads….let it sit for 15 mins.
– Remove them…rinse and let dry on a paper towel.
Note….sometimes color will be visible in the water, other times….the color will slowly eek out as it dries. As you can see….this blue bead has run…..red is another color I check carefully.
Don’t let this scare you…….we are all aware that colorfastness can be an issue with fabrics……now you know that beads carry the same risk. Even if the bead color doesn’t run….sometimes the fancy coatings……that make a bead’s surface shimmer with various affects, (like rainbow) can dissipate……and the bead will lose its luster.
I’ve tested very, very few beads that I decided not to use……or that I’ve used with caution……beading is worth any effort….hopefully with this hint….all your projects will continue to shine brightly!
I’m a stickler for good quality construction…..for me it’s not all about fast, rather…it’s about great design that has been executed to the best of my ability. If precautions aren’t taken, beading can cause fabrics to distort. Therefore, I ALWAYS secure my work in a Q-snap frame. The only exception is when I’m beading the bindings/edges of my quilts.
Q-snap frames are simply PVC tubes which come in a variety of sizes. This one is 11″ x 11″, my choice for smaller projects. The work is attached using clips that snap over the frame. Though you could use a round embroidery hoop…..I don’t because it pulls the fabric diagonally which can stretch the bias. I’ve found it’s best to keep the fabric ON GRAIN by using a square or rectangular frame when beading.
As for felt, unless the felt is super thick and sturdy, I always secure fabric (of any kind) in a Q-snap frame for beading and embroidery. However, I generally avoid using the plastic clips…….instead I attach the material using muslin sleeves or pin the fabric around the frame to avoid damage to the fabric and beads. There’s nothing more unattractive than distorted, stretched out wool!!!
However, as the beading design develops, requiring repositioning of the fabric, I avoid using the clips in places where they could damage the beads. Instead, if the piece is large enough as it is in this sample, I wrap the excess snugly around the frame, and secure the layers together using straight pins or by thread basting. This keeps the fabric on grain, and well stabilized to assure good thread and fabric tension.
My ‘artist’ inspired piece is now in the beading phase…. The piece is attached to an 11″x17″ Q-snap frame…note I used 1 clip at the top, where it didn’t interfere with the beads.
I also want to mention that I’m beading through 2 layers only…..the quilt top which has been stabilized with batting. This approach will hide and protect the threads once the backing is added later.
You can find more information on Mary’s website and blog. She’s also the author of “Beading Basics,” “All-in-One Beading Buddy,” & DVD – “Mary Stori Teaches You Beading on Fabric” & “Embellishing With Felted Wool”
Today we have a Meet the Artist post, with Leonor from Felt Buddies answering our questions.
Fibre 3,2,1 Q-3 Three types of fibre you can’t live without?
My first obvious choice would have to be sheep’s wool! It’s a lovely fibre to work with and oh so versatile – from felting to knitting, it’s wonderful for just about anything in my world. Although merino is a staple, I find coarser fibres are great for needle felting and love using them.
The second fibre would have to be alpaca hair, because the brown is just perfect for some animals I make, like horses. It’s just the perfect shade, but I have a confession to make: I don’t love working with it, it’s so fine it makes it hard to needle felt!
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
Can’t needle felt without felting needles, and I use aluminium wire a lot in my projects as well.
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
Can I say spinning wool? I know it’s not what I do for a living, but it is fibre-related and all things fibre just fascinate me.
General Questions What is your business?
I own a handmade business (of mostly) needle felted sculptures called Felt Buddies and Co. I specialise in making people’s pets, particularly dogs.
What kind of items do you sell?
My bestsellers are definitely my pet commissions, although I also make other things in felt: dryer balls, toadstools… I’d like to increase my ready mades in the future.
What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?
I can’t speak for other businesses, but I truly love what I do and care about the quality of items I produce, and that my customers are happy with my work. I try to create a more personalised relationship with them, because that’s what handmade small businesses should be about. I have also made friends along the way, so I’d say it’s a win-win situation.
I am also constantly trying to improve my technique and come up with fun things to make besides bespoke pets, which keeps my brain occupied for most of the day.
How did you get into fibre arts?
One day I was perusing a medieval fair in Portugal and happened to come across a stand that sold felting supplies. I was immediately drawn to the many colours displayed, and the items she had on display (3D fun looking animals). I just had to give it a go! It was an absolute disaster, as I didn’t quite get the hang of wet felting. I gave up.
It was when I switched to needle felting that things really started flourishing. I could picture the end result in my head, and my hands just had to follow my brain’s schematics – and the more I did it, the more I enjoyed the process.
Did you study art at college?
I did not. I have a college degree in Psychology because for some reason I got the notion it would be more “sensible” of me to pursue that than arts, but then I just went back to my lifelong passion, making things with my hands. Even my hobbies reflect that: knitting, spinning…
What are you working on at the moment?
Right now I’m between pet commissions and enjoying the hiatus by making notebooks with felted covers. I’m also in the process of working on a tutorial for needle felting, so here’s hoping that happens quite soon.
What do you like to do when you aren’t creating art?
I think my brain melted a little with that question. Can time be spent without having my hands in fibre?
Seriously, though: I love reading and can lose myself in a good book very easily. However, if you read my first reaction, this will come as no surprise – I have been trying to master the art of reading and knitting at the same time. I also love baking bread and am enjoying coming up with different types of dough each time.
My final goal is to be able to read, cook and knit at the same time. I’m joking! Or am I?
Many thanks to Leonor for taking the time to answer our questions. Don’t forget to check out Leonor’s work on her sites and etsy 🙂