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Throw back Thursday Christmas Tree.

Throw back Thursday Christmas Tree.

There is a throwback Thursday post for you. These are the Christmas trees I made in 2014. This is my last week of crazy baking for the Christmas Farmers’ Market. I hope to have something new for my next post.

We have been trying to decide where we can put our Christmas tree this year. Even if we use only half of it and put it on a table it is still too big to put anywhere. So time to make one that will fit on the small table available.

I carded several greens together

green wool green wool blended

Then I made a template. It is 4 feet tall, the width of the table. I had a really hard time getting a picture of it. I made a smaller one too about 2 feet tall.

tree layout

This is rubbing on the plastic cover.

tree rubbing

Then it was roll and roll and roll some more. I kneaded and dropped and threw and heated it and did it some more. This is the shrinkage on the smaller one. The tip I made solid out past the tip of the template.

small tree shrinkage

While I was making the trees I was trying to figure out what I would use as a structure for the inside. For the smaller one, I was thinking a countertop paper towel holder would work. It was too short but while at the dollar store I saw a tinsel tree on a frame. I bought it and removed the tinsel garland that was wrapped around it. It was a little too tall but a son with some bolt cutters fixed that.

small tree on stand

It looks like a green witch’s hat. For the large one, I ended up using an upside-down tomato cage. The tree looks like a Whoville tree. I ran out of light to take a picture of the big one so you will have to wait for my next blog post to see it. It will be decorated by then too. What have you used for a tree?

Here is a link to the post with the finished trees, I hope you like them.  https://wp.me/p1WEqk-2GH

Happy Turkey Day to all our American readers

Don’t forget to enter to win on Tuesday’s Post.

An International Project by Line Dufour

An International Project by Line Dufour

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.

A Little Spinning for My Felt

A Little Spinning for My Felt

I managed this week to get one set of rolags spun and plyed.  I decided to do wildflower sari silk first. It’s the mostly yellow one. Here’s the link to making the rolags if you missed it. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/10/26/sari-silk-and-spinning/

I spun a single first, naturally. It took a little bit to get used to the silk. The silk is much harder to draft but mixed with the wool it wasn’t too bad. You have to accept you are not going to get a really smooth yarn. You are going to get a great texture.

Next, I did what is the most meditative part of spinning for me. I made a center-pull ball by hand. If you are in a hurry or you have lots to do then a ball winder is the way to go. But I really do enjoy this part. I use a little piece of painter’s tape to make sure I don’t lose the center yarn, while I am winding. Do you enjoy doing something that other people seem to dread doing?

 

Then the fastest part, plying.

It’s interesting that when it was a single I thought it was a bit dull and muddy but after plying it seems to be brighter and shinier. I really like it. It has lots of colour and so much texture. it will be great as an embellishment on my felt.

 

I haven’t decided if I will make it into a center-pull ball or a skein for storage.

Moving along a bit.

Moving along a bit.

I did finish the felting part of the 3 pieces I started last time.

First the lantern cover. I am not entirely happy with the way it felted. I was hoping it would be more solid. However, there was so much non-wool fibre it ended up very soft and holey.

It will still work for this application but it wouldn’t stand up to being a scarf.  It looks cool just not what I planned. Sometimes that is the way it goes.

The first one is just on the vase the second is the lights turned on and the last is with the lights on in the dark.

 

The first picture felted up nicely. I used the thicker mostly felted prefelt I have and it is nice and firm after felting. It shrank a little but I was able to pull it back out to 5×7. I am not sure which way up it should go is it land and sea/stormy sky?

 

Or is it land and sunset sky? what do you think? I haven’t decided on what I will add to the picture now. Maybe some needle felting or some stitching or both.

 

 

The next one that wasn’t wet yet in the last blog also worked out very well. I felted it onto a piece from a fulled, woven wool coat. The fabric didn’t shink but the wool attached pretty well.

The embellishments are attached but look to be floating rather than part of it.   I think I may rewet it and felt it some more. The embellishment fibres are not very well attached. I like it though.

 

After writing this I decided the wool was well felted so I would needle felt the embellishments in rather than rewetting it. They lost some of the brightness but I still like it.

 

I have an experiment to show you next time and maybe if I figure it out, some idea of what I will do with these pieces.

 

Which Cane is Which? Prototype and Concept Testing!

Which Cane is Which? Prototype and Concept Testing!

It’s been another couple of busy weeks in Ottawa and Oakville, but in between fighting with errant grapevines, trying to start to prep my garden for fall, long drives to southern Ontario and eldercare, I did get a bit of felting done.

While in Oakville I noticed that my Mother in law and I both have the same quad cane. (it’s a cool type of cane when you have any balance issues.) They are identical, except for the height they are set at. I need a way to make my cane more, well, mine.

 

1) Quad canes

If my mother-in-law does go to a seniors building she will also need something to distinguish hers from other similar canes. I could do this by adding a piece of tape with our names on our respective canes but that seems rather unimaginative!  I should do better. I think I should do a Morning glory for her and I will see if I can figure out how to have a dragon on mine. (Glenn says I need more Ice Flame wings like the last cute little dragon I did). This one will have to be much longer, or would that be taller? I didn’t bring down any appropriate flower colours so I think I better start with mine.

I had brought with me an IKEA bag of white core wool to card into usable fluffiness with one of my sets of hand carders. I had sampled the core wool with combs but found the carders gave greater loft as you would expect in a woollen (carder) vs worsted (combs) fibre preparation. I tried very hard not to leave little fluffs of wool all over the basement carpet or anywhere else in the house! That will give me fibre to try out my ideas.

I borrowed a pen and a piece of paper and started to work on a design. I looked at my cane and my super helpful walker.  Both are stylishly black, so they go with anything as a fashion accessory. Unfortunately, they are also identical with every other black quad cane and walker of the same make.  I looked at the curvature of the cane near the handle, then started sketching.

2) walker and helpful grippe-thing.

 3 )Sketch of ideas for cane identification dragon.

Ok, this looks interesting. I have core wool with me, why did I not pack wire? I have to go to Walmart to get a few things so let us see if I can find another package of floral wire (20 and 25 ga coated steel).  After a lot of looking, I had success! This 20ga wire comes in pieces 18 inches / 45.7 cm long.

I looked over my original designs now that I had the wire. I think the easiest way to get a dragon to stay on the cane would be to have the neck, body, tail, or appendages hold on to it. So, I should consider a longer neck and long tows would help too. How about adding a bifurcated tail that should be twice as grippe as a mere single tail!!

Like the sketching, I started to play with the wire I wanted to see if I could get the dragon a size I could wrap around or cling to the cane.

 4) Extending neck?

5) Adding body and back legs

 I folded the first piece for the upper skull, neck and forearms. I folded and used the second piece interlaced with the shoulders/upper arms to create the spine and back legs.

 6) Adding the tail

 I used a third piece folded and attached to the hips /back legs. This one I twisted about two-thirds of the length and left the rest to create the bifurcation.

7-8) Tail extensions and long tows

 I used the 25ga (the wire I have at home I am sure was 26ga) to create extra-long tows, lower jaw, and bifurcation extensions. This amused my mother-in-law who sat watching my twisting, flipping, bending and attaching bits of wire together.

9) Checking on the cane

10) last part to add

 I folded and used a final piece to create the leading edge of the wings. (4 pieces for the total dragon)

11)  I started to add the wool over the armature deciding to add stubby ears to his head before building up the upper and lower jaw.

At this point, I took a break and went for a walk around the block with the walker. It is good to get outside and take a break. It allows for an increase in circulation and time for inspiration to strike. I was hoping to find a horse Chestnut tree since the squirrel-planted ones in my pots had died and I would like to have one in my portable forest. (I have a bunch of trees I keep as pets in pots on my driveway…. It is not as strange as it sounds.)

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12-16) Views from Oakville

17) This is the leaf structure of my little tree that died. I would like to grow another.

18 ) is this a black walnut? It was dropping fruit and making a mess of the sidewalk!

Oakville is about 2 weeks different from us in weather since Ottawa is farther north. The trees in the south have just the hint of colour and the nut trees have not dumped their nuts yet. I did find 2 trees nearby but only one nut was on the ground. I will try to check next trip and hope for better pickings. I think I found black walnuts, which I will try to plant and see if I can expand my forest!

Upon my return, I continued to add wool to flesh out my dragon until it was ready to try on the cane for scale. AH Ha!! I think that works.  I need to add a bit more flesh to his bones and maybe a longer tail would help but the basic concept is a success.

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19-22) testing out the dragon on the cane

So, this is proof of concept, yes this will work. Analyzing the little guy suggests making the toes out of a stiffer gauge of wire than a 25/26ga steel. I will look through my sample appendages and see if I have something that would suit better. ( I do suggest making samples of the gauges you have access to, in single, double and if you don’t have too many options, then how the flexibility of one gauge is affected when wrapped in a different gauge. It’s a lot easier than discovering part way through a project “I wish those tows were stronger” and considering a tow-ectomy with the upgrade reattachment surgery to consider after the extraction. I will likely finish this little guy off and he may be a walker basket dragon if he’s not a cane dragon.

This morning I woke up early to drive back to Ottawa and miss as much of the Toronto area traffic as I could. (The alarm went off a bit earlier than I had anticipated and I started in full darkness but it was quiet.) While still on my in-law’s street I spotted 2 of the infamous Ninja-stealth skunks of Oakville! They do not have a white stripe down their back or sides. One had a white puff at the tip of his very puffy tail. I did not stop to try to get a picture of a black skunk crossing a dark street. Oh! You find out where the strip is if it lifts its tail, the white stripe is on the underside!

Pre-dawn occurred as I passed Darlington (I hope that was pre-dawn and not a nuclear problem!) dawn occurred at my first rest stop. Since I was now stopped I finally got to take a picture, there had been fabulous pinks earlier, now the colour was shifting to the yellows and blue sky.

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23-24) true sunrise at my first rest stop

A bit later in the morning, I drove past a field with a group of deer. Then spotted in two marsh areas near Kingston Ontario, groups of very big white swans! When did we get loose swans? Sorry, no pictures I was driving!  I had given up on radio and switched to an audiobook about werewolves and dragons.  Traffic was great at these ungodly hours and I cruised into the farmers market for a cookie purchase from Ann about 2 hours ahead of when I thought I was likely to get there (remember about the enthusiastic alarm clock sending me out over an hour before I had anticipated. Maybe I need to get a watch again.)

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 25-31) shots from the Farmer’s Market Ann sells at (and the chipmunk she was trying to take pictures of)

Ann still had the Cookies I was looking for so it is time to head home and write up the blog post of my prototyping a cane identifier. However, since I started with a quick nap in front of the computer maybe a lot of caffeinated Mountain Dew to wake me up long enough to finish this for your amusement is necessary. I am sorry I did not get you pictures of the ninja skunks and swans.

So in conclusion remember to pack your felting wire, make samples to see if a concept will work, assess the sample, make augmentations or adjustments then either finish the sample or create your fabulous extra impressive piece now that you know more about how it will all work from your investigation. Maybe skip the part with the skunks and the long drive.  but the scenery had lots of rocks and trees and even some water and wildlife! I would suggest keeping the part with Ann’s excellent cookies. Now I think I may have another little nap since the caffeine is starting to wear off. (Oh no, I left my spell checker in Oakville so I will try not to break your spelling by fixing mine)

Have lots of fun and keep felting!

 

PS, my cane dragon is now hanging out on my hat brim (it’s my driving hat so I’m not wearing it now!), I wonder if I can convince him to go back to the cane? or the basket of the walker?

Started but not Finished

Started but not Finished

At the moment I seem to be really squeezed for time. I have managed to start 3 small things

First I wanted to do another vase cover. I used a bat that was made on a blending board. I pealed a thin layer and then filled in the holes. I like the autumn colours.

 

That is as far as that got.

Next, I wanted a little bigger landscape I could needle felt and stitch on, so cut a 5×7 inch piece of the soft thick prefelt to use.

 

 

I wrapped the wool around the piece so there won’t be grey edges.

And that’s as far as that one got. I have it rolled up with the vase cover so they can be rolled at the same time.

Then, oh my I still have a few min. I had some well-fulled wool fabric a friend gave to me. I think it used to be a coat. I cut out a small piece and brushed up one side with my wire dog brush to see if it will stick together well with wet felting.  Then added some fibre

The difference is hard to see. the left is the unbrushed side and the right is the brushed side.

I had intended to just add 2 colours and felt it to use for trying out stitching on the new water-soluble stabilizer I ordered. But before I realized it I had made another landscape. Oh well, that’s ok, I will have to try again to make some practice pieces.

That is as far as I got with that one. I will probably wet it and add it to the other roll and then do them all at once. Maybe next week I will have them felted. With this time of year being very busy for me, it makes it hard to get some felting in. I try to get some in every week so I can share with all our friends and followers.

Do you take commissions?

Do you take commissions?

This question sends a chilled shiver through my heart. 

 

My first felt picture commission was about 4 years ago for a friend who wanted a view of a mountain in France for her husband’s 60th birthday. They have a house there and love the views. I really didn’t know what to do. It was very different from the pictures I had made to date and not somewhere I know or have ever been. After some soul searching I agreed to do it. I think I let the flattery get the better of me. 

 

        

The request was to do something similar to this but ‘a bit snowier’.   

Things really did not go at all as I’d hoped. Firstly, the time I’d set aside to do it was taken up when my parents, who were staying with me, both became ill. Fortunately everyone recovered but I had to do lots of hospital visiting and home caring so wasn’t able to do any work on the commission. 

 

Then I realised as I was working on it that I really didn’t understand the mountain from the photographs I had. Which bits were shadows and which bits ravines? Normally I felt local birds and seascapes that I know and love.  I struggled. To cut a long story short I delivered the picture but so close to the deadline I don’t even have a final photo of it. This was it nearing completion ……

I really didn’t enjoy the process & I wasn’t that happy with the result. Fortunately my friend liked it & her husband loved it but I vowed never, ever again to take a commission…….I had learned my lesson…. hadn’t  I?, 

 

A little while later another friend who was travelling sent me a photo she’d taken of a pair of African penguins and asked if I could make a felt picture as a birthday gift for her partner. “OK”, I thought, “birds and a beach, I should be ok with this.” 

 

 

Learning from my first experience, I allowed loads of time. I made samples and did lots of planning. I looked at a lot of penguin pictures online as the penguin on the right was at an odd angle and I felt it needed a clearer head. I made lots of prefelt. It took a long time but I enjoyed it and was pleased with the result: I thought it was true to the photograph.  I was there when the gift was presented. There were happy tears; probably some of them were mine. 

 

 

Then came an email. My friend’s husband, who’d been so happy with the French mountain he’d been given: it’s now her birthday one year on and he’d like to commission a companion picture for her of the local valley view in France. “Noooo” I thought. “I vowed never, ever to do another commission after that one”.  I tried diplomatically to explain that I wasn’t sure I could do it justice but agreed to look at the photos and let him know. 

 

 

More soul searching and much wringing of hands. I really didn’t want to refuse, but I really didn’t want to go through the same thing again. On balance, I decided I probably could and should do it, so I said yes.  

 

 

 

I was happy with the outcome and my friend, and her husband, loved it. So, maybe commissions were ok. 

 

Next, someone locally saw a picture of a little egret I’d made for my mother’s 80th birthday and wanted something ‘similar’. 

 

 

My Mum’s picture was based on a bird she and I had enjoyed watching together at a Yorkshire nature reserve. I didn’t want to copy it. The commission would be based on another little egret I’d seen just up the coast from where we live. I quizzed the woman in great detail about what she liked about my Mum’s picture and what she wanted her picture to include. I described what I was going to do. But it made me realise how difficult it is to understand what someone else sees in a picture and whether I can understand it enough to translate into something I can make. Previously I at least had reference photos but there was no photo for this one. 

 

I decided to give this client the option of not buying the picture if she didn’t like the finished image. It was, after all, a picture I would readily have done anyway. It was the best way I could think of of getting round the struggle of making what I can and want to do and meeting someone else’s expectations. 

 

 

The client seemed very happy with it and did buy it though I’ve really no idea if it’s what she had in mind. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another local woman saw at an exhibition a more abstract sea picture I’d made.  She’d like something similar but smaller. Surely I could do that? 

 

 

Well, you would have thought so but I guess I took my eye off the ball. I’d been thinking a lot about how small waves break and although I used similar materials, it really didn’t come out very similar at all: the original being semi-abstract, the second being more realistic.  I’d allowed my own interests to take over and really hadn’t met the brief. I decided to show her the second picture anyway, explaining it wasn’t that similar to the first one, but I’d be happy have another go if she wanted. 

 

She thought the new picture was ok but preferred the original and decided just to buy that one instead. A fortunate outcome and I’ve since sold the waves one but it all felt a bit precarious. For me, commissions are tricky. I’m flattered by the request but not necessarily comfortable in the execution! 

 

I’ve asked three painters if they take commissions.  One absolutely does not on the grounds that she wants to pursue her own creativity and doesn’t want to be influenced by others’ ideas. She does give the potential client an early view of her new work but that’s as far as she will go.  Fair enough.

 

The second  said, “I do, but I don’t really like it. It’s so difficult to understand what’s in someone else’s head.”  I’m with her on that.

The third does take commissions but he charges more for the work, to reflect the fact that he’s working to their brief. He takes a deposit and, when pressed, said if someone decided they didn’t like the outcome he’d keep the deposit but not insist they buy the picture. Fortunately that has never happened. 

 

For me commissions raise a lot of issues. Does the client have to buy what they’ve commissioned? Would I want anyone to buy a picture they’re not happy with? How do I know what they are imagining? Do I enjoy making them? Does it matter? 

 

So, do I take commissions? Um, sort of. I’m still not sure. I’ve realised that when I watch my local sea birds and look at the sea, water and beaches there’s a lot going on. I look at where the birds are, how they stand and move, what they’re doing.  I try to capture the colour, light and movement of sea water and waves.  As I create the felt I have images, sounds, smells and feelings about the scene that I hope in some way influence the picture. I do work from photographs but I rarely copy them. So, if someone wants a particular view, location or bird that I know and can experience then probably, yes. Otherwise, I’d like to think I’d say no.  But then I don’t have a very good track record of saying no, do I?! 

 

What do you think? Would or do you take commissions? If so, how do or would you manage them?

Some Lantern Covers

Some Lantern Covers

A while ago on Facebook someone posted they had made felt covers for lanterns. they had ordered a workshop in a box with everything in it but I like to figure things out myself. They didn’t look too hard to do. I think someone here might have done something similar here too but I don’t remember properly.

I started out thinking I wanted a clear plastic cylinder to use as the base. I couldn’t find anything, except, of course, I could find them with other things inside them. But then I went to the dollar store and found a tall glass vase for only $4. Available trumps ideal every time.

I started out working out the size.

then I made a resist to those numbers and one that was taller.

 

For the tall one, I was going for a landscape feel, grass, sand, water, sky. The layout is very thin so later the light will show well.

 

The second one was my granddaughter, Autumn’s choices of colour and sparkle.

 

The felting was easy and fast as there wasn’t much wool involved.

Here is Autumn’s cover

And with a string of battery-operated LED lights inside.

This is mine. The darker blue of the deeper ocean looks very green now. I think the scrunching of the water area adds some interest for when it doesn’t have the lights on.

 

And with the lights inside

Although they both look interesting with the lit up even in the daytime.

 

There are lots of interesting things you could do by adding a hidden design that only shows up when lit. You could create a scene on the outside and hide things inside that change the scene when lit. I wonder if you could write a message that would show up when lit. that would be a challenge.  I would like to try a thicker cover and see how it works with the lights. I may work this into a short workshop. A fun afternoon or evening making lantern covers.

OVWSG Fibre Poker Felting Challenge

OVWSG Fibre Poker Felting Challenge

You’ve seen the piece I was working on for this.

I still have not decided what I what to do. It was suggested that using some stabilizer on top might help keep the stitches on the surface and not have them sink in and look quilted. so I thought I would make a new background and give the stabilizer a try.

I picked some colours and carded up a little bat to use to felt a new background.

When it was finished I thought it looked like the water in Monet’s pond. I decided to add a waterlily. I looked up some google and traced the outline onto some was away stabilizer.

For thread, I decided to use some maybe real and maybe artificial silk. some of it says silk on it and some Artsyl rope. I got this thread in a barely started embroidery kit at a garage sale. I don’t know how old it is but the company that made it stopped manufacturing silk in 1911. It does seem to have continued to sell thread and ribbon but I don’t know if they also sold artificial silk. I haven’t burn tested it.  I don’t mind if it’s artificial, it’s pretty.

 

The thread is “2 ply” in appearance but each ply is made up of 5 individual threads. I used one ply for the outline and 3 of the smaller threads for leaf definition.

Onto the petals

As you can see my stabilizer started to fall apart. I am sure it’s because the underlying piece is so soft and squishy, it tears. I had the reference picture so it all worked out.  I pulled most of the tattered bits away. the last thing was the yellow center.

 

And after washing away the rest of the stabilizer. Not too bad if you don’t look too close. that should be just about the actual size of the piece.

I was happy with it even if it was a little plane. than after sowing it to some friends on Zoom, they suggested a dragonfly or some bead water drops. I didn’t feel like making a dragonfly so I decided on fish.

I added 3 koi fish around the lily. I think it worked well. I decided against the water drops because it’s an outline. Seeing it as a picture I can see I need to rub out the needle marks.

 

I enjoyed making this piece and the stabilizer did help keep the stitches on the surface so that was a good idea. I want to try the other kind of stabilizer. The stuff that looks more like plastic wrap. After chatting with a friend we think perhaps a layer of the plastic stuff and a layer of my stuff might work best. Now I just have to find some of the plastic stuff.

Theatre Textiles Part 1

Theatre Textiles Part 1

After I had retired from full time work in 2006 I was finally able to join SNADS – our local amateur dramatic society. I live in a small market town in Dorset and SNADS was the main source of entertainment for our area at that time (as it had been since 1930, although newspaper archives indicate that it was around at least as early as 1883). I had seen most of the productions which they had put on since we moved there in 1999 and longed to join in, not only on stage, but behind the scenes. During any one year there are at least 4 productions – Pantomime in February, Spring Play in May, a Variety Show/Revue in the summer and the Autumn play in early October, and as soon as that was over, the round started again with preparations for the following year’s Panto.

We had a fantastic wardrobe mistress, but she needed help with costumes, especially at Panto time as there was so much to do.

My first foray into costume was to make a full head cat mask for the summer review. Two of our members were to sing Rossini’s Cat Duet and the director decided that it would be fun to have a disreputable tom cat watching them from the side-lines. I had recently learned to wet felt 3D items using a resist, so I made the mask from wet felted pieces and needle felted details. I didn’t want the actor’s eyes to show through and anyway, I needed to give the cat it’s proper “slit” irises. So I stitched into the eye holes a piece of doubled yellow organza and just painted the vertical slit. (It is quite possible to see what’s going on through organza if it is held close to your face.) How to give him a proper nose? I needled the correct shaped nose on the mask, then I painted on some artist’s gesso, let it dry and added some more. Gesso is textured so it was necessary to file the nose to make it a bit smoother, also the gesso is white, so I painted the nose with black enamel paint which I nicked from my husband’s paint store (he’s a model maker). After a couple of coats of that, Tom had a shiny(ish) black nose. Add some “bitten” ears and “wonky” whiskers and he was nearly done. The cat’s mouth was open – it allowed the actor to breathe and gave Tom naughty grin. Finally I gave him a pink tongue and white tips to his ears.

Disreputable Tom Cat

The next production that I was involved in was the pantomime Cinderella, written and directed by one of our members. I was asked by the wardrobe mistress if I would dress both the Fairy (“Fairy Nuff”) and Buttons’ dog, Beau. The director wasn’t quite clear about what kind of dog Beau should be, except that he was to be comic. So I did a sort of 3D needle felt sketch of the dog’s head as I saw it – black and white with one ear cocked.

“Sketch” for Buttons’ Dog

However I’d got it wrong – Beau was to be a black poodle. 

After some discussion with the wardrobe mistress, we decided that the actor would wear a black polo necked top, thick black tights and black gloves. I managed to find a piece of curly black faux fur to make a short jacket, with enough left over to make pompon for the top of the head and the end of the tail, the long dangly ears and wrist and ankle rings to simulate the correct style poodle cut. I was to make a full head mask. For this I made a wet felt hood using a resist and a further piece of flat felt incorporating some of the curly faux fur trimmed from the bought fabric. A lot of that moulted out though because it was nylon or polyester and very slippery. Enough was fixed in however to give the right effect.

I made a needle felted muzzle – again with the mouth open to reveal the red tongue and white teeth, and to allow the actor to breathe.  The nose I made in the same way as for the tom cat – shaped with the felting needle, gessoed and painted.  The muzzle was attached to the hood/face with stitching and felting needles.  Some of the flat felt was cut to represent the dog’s lips and attached by stitching and needle felting to the muzzle.  The “Disney-esque” eyes were again painted organza and were stitched on the inside of the mask. 

The ears and head pompon were also stitched on.  I added a piece of brown fabric and a belt buckle around the dog’s throat to simulate a collar and allow the mask to be firmly secured over the actor’s polo necked top.  I have worn this costume myself a couple of times in subsequent Carnival processions – great fun.

Beau

Since the actress cast for the part of Fairy Nuff had a figure which could easily cope with a glamourous costume, for the base I was given a basque that fitted her. She was to appear out of a compost heap at the edge of the stage, so I set to and made lots of autumn coloured leaf shapes – mainly oak – out of different brown bronze and gold metallic organzas. I sandwiched sparkly bits between layers of organza. I machined stitched around the edges and along the veins of each leaf and then cut out the shapes with a soldering iron. This sealed the edges and prevented fraying. Then, with the basque on a dressmaker’s dummy I attached large pieces of bronze organza for the tail, and then added the strategically placed leaves.

The wings were made from two lengths of flat wire (originally from a pop-up fabric laundry container) covered with more organza, this time creamy white but with sparkles and sequins added. These were attached to the back of the costume by stitching the wire to the shoulder straps of the basque and covering the join with some dark bronze/gold chiffon.

The crown was made from bronze Christmas decorations (that year bronze was in fashion over here – UK). I used bronze plastic icicles, some foil stars and some more organza leaves attached to a head band. I can’t remember what the wand tip was made from – possibly a bunch of tinsel.

I actually got a speaking part in this Panto – only a couple of lines but a step up from what I’d had before.
I don’t have a proper photo, this was before my husband had a digital camera, however I’ve managed to extract a clip from the video we had made of the show. It’s a bit fuzzy if enlarged but I think you can get the gist. I’m in the gold dress with my exclusive “Toilet Duck” perfume, and my punchline? “It drives the men Quackers!”

Guests at the Ball with “perfume”!

After this show, we had one final “adult” Revue and then we moved to where we are now based. Try this link it should show you the hall we left, Sturminster Hall, and eventually the Community and Arts building, The Exchange, which is now our home. https://stur-exchange.co.uk/about/
Unfortunately it seems that a second link, on the above page, may not yet be working – this is a new website in the process of being fully set up so here’s the brochure which was produced the year after it opened.

The Exchange Brochure 2008

The staircase balustrade is wrought iron made by a local craftsman and represents the river Stour which runs through our town. All the Rooms in The Exchange are named after rivers and streams running close by, and it is just beginning to open again to live theatre as well as community groups.

We at SNADS started off our return with an Adult Cabaret a couple of weeks ago, for once without a male Balloon Dance or a ladies Fan Dance, but there was a Pole Dance!

More about my exploits with SNADS (including an explanation of the picture of the wicked queen) later. Watch this space.

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