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First Quarter Challenge

First Quarter Challenge

Lyn and Annie have set us a challenge for this quarter to make something inspired by the decade 1900 – 1909. The challenge is here If you would like to see it and maybe you could join in. first-quarter-challenge

They gave us examples of what was going on and what caught my eye was the aerial photography.  It made me think of some wonderful works by the fibre artist Chris Cullen of As theCrow Flies. https://www.facebook.com/cbdasthecrowflies/.  She uses mostly recycled knits and yarn in her amazing pieces. she sells mostly through galleries but does commissions through her Facebook page. for sale at https://www.facebook.com/Blue-Bramble-Gallery- in St Ives, and https://www.facebook.com/a2gallery.wells Also from Spring, Baxters Gallery in Dartmouth.

These are 2 of Chris’s recent pieces

 

I have in the past thought about doing a piece inspired by her amazing work. Lyn and Annie have given me the push I need. I thought I could do something similar in felt for my own farm. First a prototype. This is a flat piece and not of my farm but just a farm. I used an old sweater that I ran through the washer then dismantled and ran through a couple more times. I wanted a nice sturdy base.

I did this picture by needle felting into a square cut out of the sweater.  I have one of the little 6 needle holders that I used for most of it. Then switched to a single needle to put in the details. It is done in a very minimalist way with

The sweater piece.

The background and the road and the start of a field.

Added the fields and the house and barn.

Then some sheep of course.

I folded all the wool

Lastly used some green curls to make the trees.

It was a lot of stabbing, too much stabbing.  I think I will try to do all the main features like roads and the fields by lightly needling them into place and then wet felting them. Just adding the detail and features with needle felting. The next one will be more 3D. I have some ideas for the house and barns. Have you started thinking about his challenge? We would love to hear about it on the felting and Fiber studio Forum. Here’s the link to the place to post pictures. https://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com/thread/4247/2021-first-quarter-challenge. or use the Forum button on the left to get there.

Finding Focus

Finding Focus

It’s the new year and here we are in England with what I’m calling the ‘new abnormal’: all non-essential shops closed; travel only if necessary; people working from home wherever possible and, for many of us, very limited direct contact with people outside our household.

If you’d asked me a year ago if I’d have liked a long stretch of time with few commitments that I could dedicate to felt-making, I’d have jumped at the chance.  Be careful what you wish for. 

Towards the end of 2020 I had several events to aim for so was able to focus on making things for those. Here are a few of my favourites: a succulent holder, nuno felt vase (with glass interior) and needle felted mince pie.

I have plenty of sales and exhibitions booked throughout 2021 but no way of knowing whether and when they will take place. I have notebooks full of ideas but feel I need to find some focus to direct my efforts and get the creative energy flowing. 

I really enjoy learning new skills and developing my felt-making in different directions. So, I decided at the turn of the year to sign up for some online workshops. I’m mostly self-taught as a felt maker but now I’m asking myself ‘why do I want to reinvent so many wheels?’.  I’ve long wanted to take Fiona Duthie’s workshop ‘Fibre + Paper’ so when I saw she was running the workshop in March 2021, I eagerly signed up.  I then find myself tapping my toes impatiently and thinking ‘I don’t want to wait ‘till March!’.

Fortunately, in February Fiona is offering another class I’d like to take ‘Ink on Cloth’.  Yep, I’m in for that too.  Still the toe-tapping: ‘what about January?’. 

The Felting and Fiber Studio to the rescue: Teri Berry was offering her bag making class starting 7 January.  Perfect! I’m in for another class.  Well, you can’t say I lack enthusiasm!

While I’m waiting for the class to begin (yep, still with the toe-tapping) I decide now is the time to retire an old friend.  One of the first things I felted for myself about 9 years ago is an iPad cover. I carry my iPad mini with me everywhere and the cover is worn out.  It has done a great job – it even outlasted the first iPad – but the corners have rubbed away and it’s looking very shabby.

I may have mentioned before (more than once) that I’m an avid charity / thrift / op shop enthusiast and have built up an impressive collection of second-hand fabric, mostly scarves and mostly silk. I have a dig around and fish out a very fine small silk chiffon scarf with leaf prints. Left – front, right – back, middle – action shot! I’ve carefully controlled the shrinkage so it fits snugly: it slides out when I want it to and not when I don’t.

I enjoyed working with the silk so decide to make some more samples.  One issue with fabric of unknown origin (and often even with fabric of know origin) is that you can’t be sure how it will felt. Here’s the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of each sample.

Some kind of velvet devore?

A woven cotton or linen?

A silk and cotton mix – I assume the background is silk and the slub lines are cotton

Definitely 100% silk (it still had the label in)

All are interesting. I chose a similar wool colour to the background silk colour as I want to focus on texture and print.  I particularly like the leaf print one and will definitely use that at some point. 

Next, my patience (!) has been rewarded and the bag class is starting.  First is an animal theme phone or glasses case.  I consult the interweb for animals that have big tongues and decide on a gecko.  I’m rather fond of geckos, though I’m not sure I’ve ever met one. 

I’m pleased with the result, although admit it looks rather more like a frog or an alien.  I was going to trim the tongue but decided to leave it as it is. I’ve taken to calling it my alien frog bag.  I made it to fit my phone but it’s actually a bit big so I’ve now added a thin green leather strap with some Chicago screws. Next time I’m invited to a ‘BYO alien frog bag’ event, I will be all prepared. 

On to the next, bigger bag, with integrated straps and internal pockets.  I have a fair quantity of nice natural grey Corriedale top and decide I’ll use that for the outside.  I’m on a roll with recycling the silk scarves so select a few with similar colours.  I’m not sure grey will be the best background so, in an unusual fit of sensibleness, decide to make some samples. 

I prefer the lighter colour behind them. The bag will be fulled very hard and I think I may completely lose the silk.  Little lightbulb moment: why not prefelt the silks with a light colour wool to help preserve some of their colour?

I prefelted some pieces of silk.  I even got a bit jazzy with the one with large spots, with fawn Corriedale and charcoal Merino.

On the left: the bag laid out with (nearly) all the surface decoration ready for wetting down. I did move things around a little afterwards but forgot to take a photo. On the right: the flap detail of the final bag

Finished bag

It’s not perfect (eg I put 2 pockets inside but they are on the front wall of the bag instead of the back and it’s a bit wider than I intended) but I do like it and will enjoy using it.

So, what next? The third bag is a backpack.  I’m wrestling with myself over whether to use wool I already have or wait for some I’ve ordered to arrive.  I have a studio full of wool but want to use a medium or coarse wool for durability and don’t have much of any colour or breed in sufficient quantity.  I made a sample yesterday of potential wool candidates but am a bit underwhelmed. There’s a black dyed Perendale batt, grey/brown Finnish top, light grey Swaledale top and natural white batt (can’t remember the breed) but I’d have to mix them and that’s a lot to have going on.

I decided too to make a paper template of the finished bag to help me work out the resist and stop making bags bigger than I intend. Ha, ha, I do hope I don’t start calling this my toilet seat backpack.  And that brings me right up to date.

All being well, I will have the backpack done to show you in my next blog spot in March, along with some makes from the Ink on Cloth workshop.

I’m enjoying the learning and Teri’s class is excellent.  The instructions are clear and detailed. She has been positive and encouraging and very quick and generous in responding to my extensive questions about clasps, straps, bag design, wool breeds….

Are you struggling to find focus, or maybe finding new ways to learn and different things to try?  I hope you’re able to do a little fibre work and I wish everyone a peaceful, happy and creative 2021.

Interesting New to Me Scarf Type

Interesting New to Me Scarf Type

These last couple of weeks in the Wet Felt Makers group on Facebook people have been making in interesting and new to me type of scarf. It’s called a french scarf.

Arlene Toth shared it with the group and shared the youtube video.  It is part of a video from a fibre festival a year ago. The teacher is Elena Nayemova. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho5B-bOHKwE The instructions start at 28:58 in the video. It is in Rusian. You can probably figure it out by just watching her make it but If you want to and you are on a computer not using the Youtube app you can use a translation future on Youtube. It’s nowhere near perfect but it helps. I will explain that at the bottom.

The scarf in the video is very lacy and mostly yarn, very decorative. I wanted something warmer so used much more wool. After seeing how small the ones using the dimensions from the video were turning out  I sorted out my own sizing that I thought would work and had a go. If you are petite then the smaller dimensions would probably work for you but I am Rubenesque so that isn’t going to work for me. I picked purple and orange, my go-to colours. I used orange and gold silk lap bits on one side and some yarns for decoration on the other.

You can wear it in different ways.

 

The part that goes behind the neck is a bit short I think and maybe the rectangular part too. I added some to both parts and had another go in red this time, using silk hankies and silk top

 

For this one, I used silk hankies on one side and silk top on the other. I like this one better. I pulled the piece through farther so it hangs down to wear it out. I am not much for big bows. If you want to fold it into a triangle and poke the corner though I wouldn’t add the extra length to the rectangle part. Here are different ways to wear it

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The other thing I realized while taking pictures is that you can give the large piece a twist in the loop so you have both sides showing

 I wanted a winter scarf inside my coat. It worked wonderfully even though it’s not really cold here yet. I hope you give it a try.

Translation on Youtube.  You have to be watching Youtube in a browser and not on the app for this to work. Rather than write it all out, I will give you the link to Pat Spark’s blog post about it, as she explained it very well. https://sparkfiberarts.blogspot.com/2020/05/blog-post.html

A picture with some metal in it.

A picture with some metal in it.

It’s after the Christmas crazy and I feel all out of sorts. There is nothing I need to be doing.  Nothing to shop for, nothing to bake for. I do have some nice new teas to try but although they are delicious, that is not really doing anything. I want to yell I’m bored, but my mom wouldn’t hear me at her house and what’s the point of that. So, like many of you, I must kick my own butt and just get on with something. Start with housework, if that doesn’t start you thinking of things to do in the studio, nothing will. After several loads of laundry and digging out the corner of the bedroom where we toss things to deal with later, I had had enough and I grabbed a tea and my sketchbook and headed for the studio.

I know you are thinking but what about your hat aren’t you supposed to be sewing the flower into place and making leaves. Yes, I am but I don’t feel like it. I had a poke through some recent sketches I did. I can’t really draw but I can get the idea down and use it to work from.

 

I dug out some felt pieces I did as starter pieces. Picked one and started.

First I defined the house. It was just a roof and walls when I picked it. I forgot to take a picture, sorry. I added some windows and the roofline and the corner of the house.  Then, strangely I started at the front of the picture with some fence posts. Usually, you start in the back and layer to the front.

 

With the magic of felt, I just took a picture and then pulled them off and put them aside.

 

I added some sheep, I bet you didn’t see that coming…..LOL. You can see I decided the house looked more like a barn and changed the windows into a large door. I also by this time decided the blue was water and added a path along the cliff edge.

I defined the sticky out piece of coastline to help with the water effect and check the placement of the fence posts. I decided to keep them straight because the right-hand one is going to be short anyway. I added some different blue to define the sky and some white with a bit of sparkle for waves. There was lots of wool sticking out past the picture edge so I just folded it around the back.

Then it was what to do to finish the fence. This is where the metal comes in.  Originally I was going to use thread to be the wire but then I was chatting with Jan about wire and remembered I had this spool of wire.  It is a very old spool and I don’t know what kind of wire it is or what it was meant for. It is thin but strong and flexible. It is old, as you can see from the wooden spool but there is no rust. It has a 58 stamped into the top but it’s not the gauge.

 

I decided to make a real wire fence. I twisted two lengths together and cut 4 of them to stick out past the ends of the picture.  I folded them around the edges to hold them in place. I then couched them down with 6 strands of grey embroidery floss to be the fence staples.  I think it really works. The whole picture is only 5.5inches (14cm)by 4 inches(10cm).

 

I did think about making at least one strand of my fence barbed wire. I made one barb, to try it but you couldn’t really see it against the wool so wasn’t worth the fiddling.

My New Years’ Resolution is to do more felt pictures and to try to do them a little bigger. Do you have a Fibery New Years’ Resolution?

Finished the Hat

Finished the Hat

I got my ha finished…Yay…  So naturally, it is raining. Oh well, I know the cold will come.

Rub, rub, roll, roll. You know the drill. once it shrank enough I popped it onto a hat form to see how it was doing size-wise. It is very hard to photograph because it is so dark and the silk by and large disappears once it is wet.

Top view, it looks a bit raggy around the brim but it isn’t. It has silk wrapped around it and it has shrunk up making wrinkles.  Except for one spot at about 11:00. I will have to sew or needle it down.

Side-ish view, You can just see the silk colour.

It is on my high dome block. It is much too tall but I like the slope of the crown on this one better. the height I want is the block in the back but it is much flatter on top. It is loose on the block too. So more rolling. It didn’t take much rolling to get the right size around but quite a bit to get it short enough.

and then it was time to roll the flower

I pinned it in place so it will dry rolled up nicely.

…..two days later and it’s dry. I am taking pictures quickly because I need my table to wrap presents. I have tried to brighten them on the computer so you can see them better.

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It looks good but trying it on it’s a bit tight. Then I realize why, my high dome is a 22 and my other one is a 23. I need the 23 to allow for my braid. So I turned on the steamer and got it hot and stretched it out to 23 using the right size block. Now it fits properly.

here’s the inside or underside however you look at it. again the dark colour is hard to see but I think you can see the texture of the silk with the Nuno felt.

the felting is finished but I think I will shave it to see if I can bring up the colour of the silk more.  I still need to make a couple of leaves out of this felt and sew the flower so it stays rolled up.

I hope that for the next post I will have something else to show you but also the hat with the leaves and maybe even on my head.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday. It has been great to be able to stay connected to you all through the internet. It has really helped keep me sane through this stressful year of the pandemic.   I will see you in the New Year.

Ann

 

 

 

 

I Got My Hat Started.

I Got My Hat Started.

I finally started my new hat.  first I had to make the template. I started with one I had then changed one side.

I was down to the last of my purple so I decided to use black for the middle layer. the purple is so dark black seemed the best choice. Now I will have enough of the purple to make some mitts after the hats done.

For some reason, I decided to fiddle with the silk for the inside next. It would have made more sense to do it after laying out the wool. the silk sticks out past the bottom. this is sow I can fold it back over the edge of the wool along the bottom. so the bottom will remain open.

Having done this first I had to leave it on because it wouldn’t go back on properly If I took it off. If I had wet it, it would stay without the clothes pins but I don’t like layout out on top of wet stuff.

So onto the laying out of the wool.

All done and ready to assemble.

After wetting it down and wrapping the sides around I added the silk lap.

That’s it for now. I am hoping the open bottom works. I haven’t made a hat that way in years. I should be able to tell you next week in my next post.

 

4th Quarter Challenge: the Making of Elf Boots.

4th Quarter Challenge: the Making of Elf Boots.

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

I thought the elf boots she made were so cute I would have a go at making some for our tree too.

I drew one out the size I wanted then scaled it up.

I traced it. I like this underlay. You can see through it to trace things out. I have some blue stuff that’s opake and I have to cut things out to trace around or work it out, right on the underlay with a marker.

Then I have some “sheep” wool in a batt that was a nice gree so I laid it out wet it and started the rubbing.

I did some rolling with a mini pool noodle and some shelf liner. when it was ready I cut them apart.

I worked them one at a time. you can see the difference between the start and finished.

I have some gold Beada tinsel, non-tarnishing that was probably bought in 1960. It is a thin cord. I used it to make the laces.

having success I decided to make some more. Now, you would think after all this time and the fact that I warn my students about directional shrinkage, I would have known better than to lay the wool (merino top) across the boots because it would be easier to wrap it around. Needless to say, the foot part is much thinner. So perhaps they belong to some clown elves.

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I think I will try it again. They are fiddly to finish but I enjoy having something to do with my hands watching BritBox shows in the evening.

Have you done anything for the 4th quarter challenge? We would love to see them. You can post them over on the forum. https://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com/thread/4214/2020-fourth-quarter-challenge

Fingerless Mitts or maybe they are Gauntlets or Wrist warmers

Fingerless Mitts or maybe they are Gauntlets or Wrist warmers

I am super busy getting ready for our last farmers market of the year. We sold so many meat pies I will be frantically trying to make as many as possible for this Saturday. I thought you might like this fingerless mitts post I did a few years ago.

 

I decided I want to sell some fingerless mitts this fall. Or maybe they are gauntlets or wrist warmers? Does anyone know what the difference is?

First I have to make a pair of resists. I traced my arm from knuckles to almost my elbow.  then measured around my arm to see how much I had to add for depth. then I figured on 30% shrinkage.

fingerless mitt resist

Naturally, I picked purple wool. I used about 60 grams for the pair. mostly because that is what was in the ball of wool I grabbed.

100_7131

 

 

fingerless mitts ready to felt

Here they are finished

fingerless mitt finnished

They turned out fine and they fit me and my much thinner daughter so sizing is good.  I may add some stitching and beading.  I think they are a little heavy or thick. I was going to put a thumb hole in but I think it would be uncomfortable with the thickness. Next time I think I will use 40 grams of wool and see how that goes.  I may try making the part over the hand pointed too. I think it would look nice.

 

The cowl is finished

The cowl is finished

I did finally get the cowl finished. It turned out just as I had hoped.  I took it up to a flax processing day to show everyone and Jan took some nice pictures of it for me I think they show it off very well.

If you remember this was the inspiration for this cowl. I liked the way the two points overlap.

This is the silk lap side out.

This is the filk fabric side out.

And finally, this is me wearing it. It’s not a great shot of me but it does show how the cowl fits. I plan to use it this winter. My neck is always cold but this will not be bulky under my coat.

I hope you like it and it was worth the wait to finaly see it done.

Who could resist

Who could resist

My name is Janet Bayar, I’m 60 years young and live in the lake District Cumbria. 2018 January I attended a day felting course,a Christmas present from me to my daughter, with my daughter and now I am hooked. I have created art all my life but feel that now I have found “the one”. I am excited for the journey ahead. Apart from the day course I am self taught and live by the “what if” mantra.

When taking part in the beginner wet felting day like many I couldn’t get my head around how you could make this fibre and flat felt into a 3 d item. With patient guidance from my daughter , who has a degree in art , I mastered the craft of felt vessels. My mind then went to , well if you can have one resist why not more and thus the journey began.

I am often asked , what do I mean by a resist. A resist is something that stops wool fibres from felting together. In vessels it could be a simple piece of plastic sheet , in shobori it could be a button or marble. Something that stops the fibres of the wool knitting. Recently I began thinking about using the same techniques I have used in vessels but adapting them to 2 d pictures. I first laid down a base of Marino topps then used herdwick in various shades sandwiching between three different sizes of circular plastic. After wet rubbing until I knew the fibres were well felted I cut out the plastic

Shaping the piece was next. I have mainly used the ever forgiving Marino in the past and wasn’t ready for the harsh corse herdwick and must admit ended up skinning the side of my hand rubbing the fibres into shape. In the end I put on disposable gloves and used bubble wrap to creat the shape.

I loved the process so much I then went on to experiment more.

This shows the piece with only one resist cut out. You can see where the other resists are positioned.

I will now develop these. I always treat the felting pieces as the base of my canvas. Sometimes I go into a project with a concept of where I am going it sometimes the piece takes me by the hand and leads.

In this case my sample piece is developing. It’s early stages yet but I know where I am going but will post how it develops to the final outcome.

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