I have moved forward a little on my tree limb. I decided to go with a grey sky as a background so that I had more choice with colour.
I added a branch in brown It isn’t as flat a brown as it looks in the picture but I think I need to add a different brown to it. I will work on that.
Then I sketched the branch to think about colours. I decided on an orange central vein. That is probably not the right name for it but it is what I can think of to call it. Then a purple fuzzy haze with flowers in it. and some idea of budding leaves.
So far people here like the pink ones. I am not sure. Which ones do you like?
After searching my stash for another brown to go with my branch I had nothing. So it was good timing that there was a fibre event near me called For the Love Of Fibre. This is its second year. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1167963160700589
I was looking for brown but it seems I turned the wrong way went in and ended up in Top of the Whorl Spindles https://www.facebook.com/katspindles She had no brown wool but she had these amazing sample boxes that are just the right size for me.
I wandered around and stopped at the Black Lamb https://theblacklamb.ca/ They have lots of wool but not the right brown so I got a piece of Black Felt (it’s more than prefelt but less than felt) It is thicker than the prefelt or felt you typically see. In the picture, it looks like there are lots of white hairs in it but that is just what it picked up in the stack of prefelt. I think if I run the lint roll over it, it will be good. They also gave me a size 40 spiral needle to try out.
Then after doing a full circuit of the room just to the right of the entrance, there was Farfelu Fibreworks https://farfelufibreworks.ca/ and she had the perfect brown. It is a little darker than it appears in the picture but lighter than the pencil roving in the picture with it.
It is Finnish wool so I was surprised at how soft it was. I asked her later and it is a lamb fleece. I asked people at the guild social to guess what it was I got superfine merino, alpaca and angora as guesses. I will have to see how it wet felts as well as needle felting. I think I will be wanting more so naturally she lives on the other side of the province. Oh well, maybe we can get her to come for our guild Sale and Exhibition in November.
I have been thinking about my spring tree for the 2nd quarter challenge. I have decided I will not try to make my tree a real tree but an imagined one. That will give me more scope to play. I did some thinking and the best way to show flowers will be to do a close-up of a branch. I did some sketching on my pad for that. I am not a very good drawer but I think it’s not a bad branch.
I’ve decided I want some long, hanging flowers.
Next, it was off to the internet to look at long, hanging flowers. I think I know how I want to do them.
Then I had to have a good rummage to find the felt I used last time. How do things become lost so quickly? Well, I know really, I don’t put things away. 🙂 I did find it, and some felt I had forgotten about. I will try not to lose it again. It is just a white rectangle at the moment. I am trying to decide if I leave it that way or if I felt it light blue for the sky. I am not sure.
That’s as far as I am at the moment. We are working on clearing things that don’t belong out of my studio. I need to rearrange in the house, to get another piece out. Another job for the list.
I had another wonderful day teaching some ladies to nuno felt scarves.
I was busy ( talking) and didn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked at the beginning. So no pictures of the starting silk. I dye the blanks myself using the scrunch method of low-immersion MX dying. I learned how to form Paula Burches All about hand dyeing site. It is an amazing site. Don’t go unless you have some time to explore, there is so much information. http://www.pburch.net/dyeing.shtml
If you click any of the pictures they should open up larger in a new tab.
Back to the class, here are the layouts just before we wet them down.
and then everyone got rubbing. This is the time it’s great to have a chatty group. It makes the work go faster. And I don’t have to do all the talking.
Sorry, no rolling pictures. The problem with a chatty group is I love to chat too and forget to take pictures.
But I do have some pictures of the finished scarves once all the fulling was done.
here’s a nice group shot from the end of the class.
One of the ladies went home and dried her scarf so she could wear it right away. Doesn’t Kim look great? The colours really suit her.
Denice also sent me a picture of hers when it was dry. I love the silk flowers.
It was a fun day for everyone.
I taught a short sheep class the other day. They were young people so just one picture of the finished sheep.
I picked a piece or felt I had and added the sky and snow backgrounds. I used 3 shades of natural white wool for the snow so that it wasn’t so flat. I used Merino, Corriedale and something strong and shiny. the shiny wool may have been BFL or even Mohair.
Then I started working on the tree. I worked on a separate surface so as not to disturb the background too much as it is only lightly needle felted. I decided to work in two layers for the tree so this is the darker back layer. I started by just fluffing it up and then using a knitting needle to move fibres around to get a better tree shape. then gave it a dry felting ( just flattening and wiggling it a bit so the fibres stick together) to move it onto the background.
I picked a redder brown for the second layer. I forgot to take a picture of it when it was separate. I must have been in the felting zone. I put the tree slightly off-center. I tried it in the middle and I didn’t like it.
Here’s a close-up so you can see the 2 layers
I poked the tree all over to tack it in place and started fiddling with the roots, so it won’t fall over in the wind.
and some more snow
And that was as far as I am right now. I will probably fiddle with it more before wet felting it and then fiddling more, of course. I am thinking of adding a shadow but not sure how to tackle it. I am not sure where the sun is. I may have to go out to the field and look at shadows.
Have you started your tree challenge or maybe you’re going with making something useful or both?
We would all like to see photos of challenge pieces and if you are unable to upload photos directly onto The Felting and Fiber Forum ‘studio challenges’ thread, then please use the link below.
For Christmas this year my granddaughter gave me a small bowl. Her mother says she saw it and was excited and adamant that I would love it. We have no idea why. She is right I do like it but maybe not for the reasons she thinks. I love it because it’s from her and because she is so sure I would. I do not think she knows what Lord of the Rings or Hobbits are.
I wanted to think of some way to use it that wasn’t just popping it in with the other bowls in the cupboard. I decided on a 3D scene to use as a pin cushion. And what else could I make for the scene but a hobbit house? I started with a dryer ball to save time filling it and some green/brown mixed roving to make the top and the hill.
I had to make a hill for the hobbit to live in. I made the hill with the same green brown wool. For the front of the house where the door will go, I used much more of the brown/burnt grass colour. Then at our last meeting as part of the felting machine test, which you will start to hear about in Jan’s next post, I used Jan’s needle felting machine to attach the front of the hobbit house to the hill
This is as far as I have made it. I need to make the door and attach it, then the hill is ready to attach to the wool base in the bowl. Now I have to decide if I am happy with the green “grass” I think it may need a little bit of brighter green.
I suppose I should go do some research online to see the colours that are used. So far I was just going with the picture on the bowl. It’s a slow project but it is coming along. Slow and steady wins the race….right?
Saturday, Feb 11th, 2023, was the date scheduled for the next 2D felted landscape workshop at the local guild. Before Xmas we had a lot of workshops have to reschedule. Either the weather was against us, or the instructor or the students had caught the flu going through town. (Technically that is better than covid but it still sounded awful.)
In the aftermath of the sudden arrival of winter the weekend before, I had been left fighting Glenn’s generosity (he gave me his cold). I had noticed I was feeling better each day from about Wednesday so by Saturday I was pretty optimistic that I had defeated most of it and would be able to teach. (I had been avoiding Glenn but it is a small house.) I had spent the week slowly gathering supplies, sorting out all the things the students would need and had Glenn do a run to Dollerama for the missing items.
Saturday morning started very early, Glenn loaded the supplies, samples and many bags of different fibre. When everything was in the car, there was still room in the front seats for both of us. Seeing out the back is not that important, I have side mirrors! So, off we went to the studio to set up before the workshop.
1) small grey 4-door Kea Soul with Glenn bringing in as much as he could carry each trip. The parking space is still covered in snow and the Dairy Queen on the other side of the street is not yet open.
2) clustered around or on the table outside the studio; 12 giant zip lock bags, 4 large bags, one file-holding plastic box, and Glenn placing the last 2 mid-size clear ruff totes on a round plastic-topped table. There are “caution wet floor” signs in the foreground and off to one side.
Glenn unloaded the car and set up the extra tables in the studio so I could set out the student’s supplies and set up the examples.
3) Classroom set up with each student’s notes, foam pad, frame, and needles set out at their place. To the right are examples of my work (including the Mr. and Mrs. Mer to show 3D Dry Felting). In the background, Glenn is reading and you can see a smaller table full of other supplies we will need as well as a 5-foot table overflowing with bags of wool. (There are a couple of bags sitting on my walker).
4) Close up of examples of 2D and 3D needle felting and 3 books (Art in Felt and Stitch, Jaana Mattson’s Landscapes in Wool: The Art of Needle Felting and Painting With Wool Landscapes) I had brought for the students to look at.
In the student’s notes, I gave them a list of books that may be of interest if they enjoyed 2D picture felting.
Jaana Mattson’s Landscapes in Wool: The Art of Needle Felting by Jaana Mattson
The Art of Felt Felting Book by Loumange Francoise Tellier (inspirational)
5) Three bins and a bag of other things the students might need or could try. Fake clover tools, bags of scissors, extra needles, pins, small pet brushes that work like mini carders, and a bag of permanent markers are arrayed on the table. There are also a couple more small samples of felting and using different types of backing or ground felt.
6) 13? Bags of wool on a five-foot table overflowing with one on the floor and two bags on my walker.
7) Well-padded rolling desk chair with a green and black pillow sits behind a folding table with all the students’ supplies.
I found out that one of my students had hurt her back and was not sure if she could make it or how long she would be able to felt, so had one of the comfy chairs and pillow ready for her arrival.
8) A close-up of one of the student’s workshop supplies, with various candies and chocolates for stamina (keep watching the pictures and you will see more of the candy selection).
Most of the students had chosen an image from a selection I had sent earlier in the week. We wound up with two students working on the tree in winter with a fence and two on an ocean image. Since I had not heard from all the students I thought I better bring all the colour options so I would be ready for whatever they wanted to try. We had two missing students, one was a booking error that had been corrected but was not on my list, and the other was actually missing. ( I found out when I got home that she had not felt well and had tested positive for covid that morning!)
I had set out the student’s supplies; Name tag (rectangle thick wool felt): (safety pin & sew-on pin, sock yarn, piece of scrap paper and Marker). Foam Kneeling pad, 1 sheet of 100% wool felt (enough for two 5×7 pictures), 1 sheet of acrylic craft felt, I sheet of card stock (to make a window mat), a Plastic ruler, a Wooden Frame with a mat from Dollarama, XXL Project bag, bag for the needle, 21 pages notes and Felting needles.
2x T36-333 needles (Blue)
2x T38-333 needles (PINK)
2x T42-222 needles (Turquoise)
1x Crown 40-111 needles (Orange)
1x Reverse 40-222 needles (Green)
We started with a name tag; making your name in yarn to practice eye-hand coordination and get used to the needles. I usually review what’s in the notes, the basics of history of landscape, mentioning the golden mean and the rule of 3’s for photography, a review of perspective, some of the techniques that apply to pastels, acrylics and watercolours that can be used with wool. As well as blending fibres by hand or by hand cards to get the colours you want. I also chatted briefly about ways to transfer images to the felt.
I didn’t go into as much detail as I usually do since I was starting to feel a bit more brain-stuffed up than I had been when I arrived and started to set up. I was sure I was feeling better, but this cold seems to keep trying to sneak back and hit you again. Even so, the students did very well. Maybe not overloading them with info helped.
This time everyone wanted to use the “lightbox” (or window) method so I reminded them that the template version, which is good for thicker felt bases or dark-coloured base felt, was in their note if they needed to use it in the future.
9) Student with ocean view with lots of blues teals light teals, grey and white wool strewn around. There are is also a package of rockets candy rolls in the foreground
For each image I had two copies of the original image (in case they chose the template method), a colour blocked version and a colour saturation image to show hidden colours they may want to consider. I can do this with Microsoft Word 2010. (Sometimes things work and upgrade then lose the effects you want.)
10) The second Ocean image again has fibre strewn around it. In the foreground, my male cardinal on a branch, using the template method for transfer. Like Watercolour painting, layers of thin colour for the background and a thicker more like acrylic approach to the bird.
Normally each student has chosen a different image, this time one of the ocean images was popular and the tree in winter with a fence and hill had found favour with the other 2 students.
11) Student working on their background behind the tree first. This time the fibre is a mix of white, grey, green-grey, light blue and brown with gray. In the foreground there is the green handle of the clover tool rake (originally designed to clean a clover brush) but works very well to hold down the wool as you felt, it keeps your fingers away from the pointy end and less bloodshed.
12) The second tree image is having its fence added. in the foreground are works in progress of a night winter tree and on the cheap Dollar Tree craft felt a pair of sheep (you can just see the eye) and a pair of hand carders sitting on a copy of the student’s 21 pages of notes. Next to that is a brass nautical calliper, a wooden frame with an XXL project bag and a box of mini boxes of smarties (candy-coated chocolates).
Winter trees were also popular. I reminded the class that they could play God and move, remove or change trees, clouds or anything else that offended them. It was their landscape and they could adjust it so it would suit their liking.
I talked about how to think like a watercolour painting with washes and layers of thin wisps of fibre building up to a final image (not the fastest way to work but it can be very effective as in the fox who still needs to have whiskers added and I’m at about 30 hours). I also mentioned that after laying in the trunk and main branches, wisps of fibre worked well to create a hallow of tiny branches for the winter tree.
13) The first tree picture, Using a 5×7 opening to check the framing of the image. Behind the image and card stock mat is the foam kneeling pad that we were using as a felting surface.
Using a mat or just a card stock stand-in for a mat will give your eye and brain another view of the image you have been working on.
14) The second tree picture, held up to get a quick check for position in the mat.
Both trees look great and are their own tree, even having used the same inspiration to start with. The same individual personality happened with the stormy sky ocean picture.
15) a very active roiling sky with sea and beach underneath, there is a seagull added to the right side.
16) a turbulent sky and sea with a beach in the foreground.
Both have great movement in their pictures, again when using the same image each saw and focused on different aspects of the image.
I have found sometimes after working on an image for a while I need to take a break. I will put it aside and come back to consider it again later. I may decide “yes I am happy” and the picture is done or I may decide it needs a bit of fibre added here or there to complete it. Sometimes using a card stalk mat will help me consider the image, looking at the picture in a mirror or turning the image and the felt picture upside down will help you see what you are looking at, rather than what your brain says it thinks it is looking at. (It makes it easier to see the negative space and compare the image with the picture you are making).
I hope they had fun and I hope that this opened up a new expression of creativity with wool.
The class finished up early but they also took a much shorter lunch than the last class. I had given each student a project bag (giant XXL zip lock bag) to store their extra wool, felt samples and needles in. They had the leftover fibre from their first picture and a couple selected a second image to try. A different water picture and a sheep in a field of snow. it was impressive how far along they got in an hour on their second images.
17) An hour in on a second image of a sheep in a snowfield and snowy sky, sitting in a card stalk mat
I seem to have missed getting a shot of the other ocean image! I was really only working at about 90% efficiency. It took me about an hour to pack up the workshop supplies and Glenn loaded them back into the car. Then put away the extra tables (I think tomorrow is a spinning workshop and they will need the space).
There is a very good restaurant across the street from the building the guild is in, I think I get a happy Sherpa by making sure I linger in the parking lot while he runs over and orders dinner. It was very good, the car smelt like hot pizza all the way home.
I’m always up for getting two things done with one piece. So I decided to create a winter themed tree picture that I could prepare to take to the gallery which has sold three of my pieces. (Yay!)
I found a piece of nuno felt in my pile of felted stuff that seemed perfect for a wintry background. Since I had just finished framing The First Leaf, I immediately thought of birch trees again since the years challenge is to create the same trees in different seasons. So birch trees it is.
I cut the birch trees from my remaining silk paper and got the placement how I wanted it. I need to make more silk paper for my spring and summer birch trees. But this seemed a little ho hum. The plan is to add branches with free motion machining but I still thought it needed more. The left background felt like perhaps there were some pine/evergreens in the distance. Perhaps I could enhance that?
So I added some layers of tulle in vague tree shapes on that side. But it wasn’t enough contrast and the tree shapes were getting lost. What to do?
Here’s the start of the next idea. Burn the tulle into tree shapes with a wood burning tool. This is just one of the colors of tulle I am planning on using. I will still be layering the tulle but hopefully, this will give a bit more emphasis to the shapes of the trees in the background without overwhelming the foreground trees. Once I have the evergreens worked out, then it’s on to some stitching.
It was a half day class. the biggest challenge with the lantern covers is laying out the wool thin enough to let the light through but with enough wool to hang together. They don’t need to be strong because the lantern will give them structure. For this class, I provided a glass vase so everyone would be working to the same resist size. You can use a large pop bottle with the top cut off but I would add some weight to it to make it more stable.
I had 5 ladies for this class. I showed them two examples of covers I made.
Everyone wanted the longer one so they could add wrinkles
I only just realized we ended up with just 2 colour palettes. the largest part of this class is taken up with layout and decoration. We discussed how you can add things to the inside of the cover that won’t show when it’s not lit up but will show as silhouettes blocking more light. A couple of people decided to give that a try.
It is hard to see on the last one but she is adding white and blue silk hanky pieces to the wool. they disappear as soon as they get wet. They will show up again later. You can see them a little in the pictures below. I think everyone had a great afternoon.
Two of my students sent me pictures of their covers dry and lit.
I hope the others will send me pictures as well. One was very thin and delicate and I think it will look amazing lit up. If they send them I will add them here.
I did have someone ask why I like to make covers rather than making them with a bottom. There are 4 reasons, first making a nice flat bottom that will allow the vase to stand properly can be tricky. A cover that is self-supporting needs to be felted much more or be thicker to be stiff enough. Having an internal structure gives you something to put the lights in and attach the controller to. And lastly, the container inside allows you to add water if you would like to use it for flowers.
The last couple of weekends I have been teaching some workshops. Last Sunday was Nunofelt Scarves. This was originally scheduled for December. But I caught whatever nasty head cold was going around, it came with a very annoying cough. I did a test for Covid and it was negative.
Anyway, after a couple of years of no workshops and a delay, it was good to be able to teach people in person again. I am still rusty when it comes to taking pictures during class, so there are not very many of this one.
Yesterday I taught Wet Felt Birdfeeder/house.
This is the picture we use to advertise it.
Everyone in the class chose to do a feeder( larger opening) in a gourd shape.
I remembered to take a few more pictures but I still had a hard time remembering.
Laying out the base wool.
The finished birdfeeders. I think some of the holes may need to be enlarged. They have balloons in them to hold the shape while they dry.
All in all, we had a great time on both days. It was so nice to teach again to interact and answer questions and see people be amazed when it really does work.
I am continuing with my slow(very slow) stitching. I have accidentally done part of the first-quarter challenge. Last time I showed you my tree trunk. Next, I got some of my handspun to make the evergreen part.
I pulled a lighter green first. it was much too light. I switched to t a much darker green that works much better. it is a thicker yarn too, which I think works better.
The practice one worked out well so onto the good ones.
The trunk on this one ended up a bit fat but I don’t mind
And the third one
And this is how it looks now
I like it so far but I am not sure what to put in the blank corner. I thought maybe a branch so I did a test one. I may try to add some cones or snow. I am not sure what kind of tree it looks like. What do you think? what would you put there?