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Category: Experiments

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

The last time I posted here (in January) I described my plan to take various online felting classes. With all my sales and exhibitions cancelled or on hold I thought this would be a good way to keep me focused and motivated during our 3rd pandemic lockdown. Here’s the link in case you want to look back to January’s post.

https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/01/21/finding-focus/

This time I’m talking about my online learning since then, including how it has led me in some unexpected directions.

I was part-way through Teri Berry’s bag making class, which was great. I made my third bag, a backpack, and am very pleased with it. I’d definitely recommend Teri’s class. The instructions were clear and comprehensive and Teri was very responsive to my many questions, thoughts and comments. I learned a lot about bag making techniques, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Corriedale Backpack with Canvas Straps

Because two of the bags I made are large, relatively thick, and have to be fulled very hard, I admit bag-making was rather harder work than I’d anticipated. I rent a studio in an old industrial building that is largely unheated so maybe mid-winter isn’t the best time to be working so much heavy, cold, wet wool, but it’s a minor point. I had to use plastic gloves for the first time as my hands became so shredded and I often went home with sleeves wet to the armpit!

I’d planned to take 3 classes over January to March but was irresistibly drawn to a 4th: a 2-session live international felt-along by Aniko Boros (Baribon.Hu) learning to make her beautiful felted tulip pendant with pebble inclusions. Having signed up I realised it was going to be difficult to find the colourful 14 micron merino wool I needed. I only had white. I’ve never dyed my own wool before but I thought, why not have a go?

I already had some acid dyes so I started off with some 21 micron merino before going on to the finer and more expensive 14 micron. Then I tried silk hankies, Corriedale tops, mohair tops, silk fabric, alpaca & nylon …. nothing was safe. I had a blast. I had no idea how much fun dying would be.

Then it snowed and I thought ‘ooh, I could try snow dying’. That turned out to be great fun too. On the right are just a few of the snow dyed fabrics.

I had several colour choices of dyed 14 micron merino by the time Aniko’s workshop came around. The workshop itself was really interesting. A clear and detailed PDF was sent in advance and turned out to be very helpful on the first day when the sound or picture dropped out occasionally. It meant I could see what I needed to do next so was able to keep up. I’m pleased with my pendant (although I still have to add a fastener) including how the dyed wool worked, and feel I’ve learned techniques I will be able to use to make my own designs. Also, it led me into the entirely unexpected joy of dyeing.

Hand dyed 14 micron merino pendant with pebbles: Aniko Boros’ workshop

In the meantime I’d started Fiona Duthie’s online class Ink + Cloth. We practiced adding ink at various stages of feltmaking with loads of potential for using these techniques in future projects.

Above are samples of adding dye / ink before felting (on silk fabric) and on prefelt

These are samples of ink added in different ways to finished nuno felt with cotton and two types of silk. I’d found an image in the V&A museum online catalogue (a fantastic resource) of an early 20th century furnishing fabric with this style of lollipop trees that I was thinking of using for the 1st quarter challenge …but that’s a story for another time.

At the end of this I decided to combine various things I’d learned: to dye my own Corriedale wool tops for a bag and maybe to decorate it with inked or dyed pieces. This is still work in progress as I am not completely happy with it. I decided to let it dry and have a think before doing the last bit of fulling. After I’d laid out the wool I dithered over whether to add silk and prefelt pieces or not as I quite liked the wool as it was. At the last minute I added all sorts of bits and pieces without properly thinking through the design. I fear it betrays its history. A colleague who saw me rinsing it at the studio casually commented it was very ‘hippie, trippy summer-of-love’ which is absolutely not the look I was going for! I will come back to it soon. I included the strap in the photo to give an idea of what it will look like finished.

Now I’m part way through another class with Fiona Duthie: Fibre + Paper. It’s a fascinating process of combining specialist paper with wool. We started by making lots of samples: paper and felt, paper relief, extreme paper relief and paper with prefelt.

Above are samples showing different amounts of paper felted into 21 micron merino wool and bottom right combines prefelt and paper. They feel lovely and there seems to be so much potential to use paper with felt in different ways.

This week I made a vessel with paper embedded into the surface. It’s not perfect: I got a bit over-confident near the end and tore some of the surface (you can just see it bottom left, between the two ribs). I’ve been interested in shell shapes for a couple of years so I shall enjoy making more 3D paper & felt shell-inspired objects.

Paper felt shell-inspired vessel

In the coming week I will be trying out adding colour and surface designs with ink and paint plus making samples with some different papers. Fiona’s classes have been really enjoyable with excellent PDFs, photos and videos and lots of class interaction.

All the online classes I’ve taken have been great fun and very inspiring. They have given me lots of new skills and techniques that I will be able to use in my work. And they have definitely achieved my other objective: they have been really helpful in keeping me learning, focussed and motivated during what could otherwise have been quite a bleak time.

Distractions while working on the Armature Wire Study group homework!

Distractions while working on the Armature Wire Study group homework!

As I mentioned earlier, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners guild had decided to try 3 study groups starting in February. One on weaving, one on spinning and I had the Felt study group looking at armature wire. We were going to look at different types of wire, in different gauges and in different combinations. To see how flexible they were and what size of sculpture might be appropriate to use them with.

We started on Feb 24, 2021, at  07:30 PM and ran for 4 weeks till Mar 17, 2021.  I had ordered a lot of different aluminum wire online and had found quite a bit of non-braided wire at the hardware store and Dollarama.  I was doing quite well until last week!

As we came out of lockdown, we had the opportunity to do fun stuff in a limited way again like have a guild library day!! Ayah!!! Getting out of the house, pulling and bagging books to ready for pick up, the Anticipation!!! Then the horrible realization that the car still wants to quarantine in the driveway, watching the buses go by. After a quick consultation from the nice CAA man who said he has seen a lot of this problem, suggested we wait for the next warm snap and see if she will start. Unfortunately, that would be after Library day!!

0.5 This is the Sunday of Library day (Masked Librarian receives book return). Saturday Elizabeth, not pictured but also masked, helped with book pulling and bagging while I dealt with the circulation database and added new items to the library.

I was very grateful for 2 of my very wonderful friends who gave me lifts down and back to the guild library while my Kea Soul sat in the driveway refusing to stop self-isolating. I rather overdid it even with their help, well I do not get out much now and wound up back laying down how frustrating. As the 3 days of warm weather arrived, on day 3 she started!! 2 trips to the car doctor and a rather hefty bill and she is now fine.

Besides library and car surgery excitement, I have been organizing and participating in the “Armature Wire Study Group” through our local guild. We were making samples of various gauges of wire, single, twisted, and then felted over. We had a number of different kinds of wire, copper, steel, rubber coated steel, stainless and aluminum. We had gauges from 6 aluminum to 26 steel floral wire.

For my samples I have been making appendages, well, 15 twisted wire and 15 wool covered legs with feet, 4 wire arms with different gauges of fingers on hands and 22 samples of each wire I was able to get. (there are a few that still have not arrived yet!) All the appendages are hanging up beside the desk in little baggies, with labels, notes and wire samples. I had wanted to do samples of two different gauges of wire as well, but am running a few days behind where I thought I would be. I still have a day so I may get a couple of the options done but without a wool covering.

 

1-3 all the samples (This is part of tonight’s zoom meeting for the study group)

The EXPERIMENTATION –Loop joint Samples

One of the participants had wondered about increasing articulation at the joint. I decided to try a simple loop to loop connection and a loop to loop with lateral support. The idea was to keep the “bone” sections from bending when it’s not appropriate. I sampled 2 connecting loop options in 9ga aluminum which is quite heavy. The first was two loops set perpendicular, at a 90 deg. angle to each other. The second was the same configuration but with 18ga aluminum secured above and below the joint and acting as the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL) to this mettle joint.

– to try to give articulation in one plane of movement. Using 9-gauge Aluminum wire.

8 the bare armature with the first joint attached. Joint 1

Joint 1

2 loops locking together, the lower turned so the main articulation swing will be front to back. This will give hyper-extension but may be reduced by wool over layer.  Wool does provide increased support but still allows more lateral shift than wanted.

– Freely swings to the front and back (anterior/posterior movement).

-it also swings freely from side to side (Medial / lateral movement).

-the joint can not be positioned to stay in one location other than what little support the wool is giving it. (This joint needs emergency surgery to correct for the lack of both the lateral and medial support ligaments!!!!

Joint 2

Loop at joints – with double twisted wire of the same gauge creating a loop for superior articulation. Augmented by 20 gauge aluminum wire (at sides of joint for adding grater lateral support).

-lateral support from wire greatly reduces lateral shift in the joint almost all the movement is front /back, anterior/posterior.

-again positioning is not an option other than the restriction from the wool covering the joint it can be moved but will not stay if released. moves more freely than just a single or twisted wire.

Conclusions: will not work for posing a figure but may be of use if you need a flexible joint that returns to its resting positions. This may be an option for some other project, but not for the project I want to do next.

We will have one more meeting in a month to report after we finish all our samples and exchange information. So I may be able to give you an update on a bit more of our findings. This looks like it was a good felting question to investigate

18 Articulating swing arms for webcam and tablet

I bought some new equipment to help with my zooming and after much surcharging for improved lighting. Eventually, I remembered the box with the magnifying lamp picture on it was not empty. (I had moved it when I was trying to sort out the office so should have remembered more quickly that I had it.) I got out my light for de-hairing Qiviut fibre to augment by poor office lighting. Of the new stands, one is designed to hold a phone, (if only mine would let the zoom app lode and open) but also how has the attachment to hold a webcam pointing at the desk and the other is holding Glenn’s older small tablet. I got Miaka’s email to log in through the tablet, so it could take a picture of me. It’s all been very exciting and a bit of a steep slope on the learning curve!!

It’s now getting quite late, which is why my spellchecker is not available (I think sleep spellchecking may be no better than me believing Microsoft word when they tell me “that is defiantly the word you meant”!!! I will hope that it doesn’t lead me too far astray.)

There are rumours it is getting warmer and there may be spring soon. I saw strawberry leaves poking through the fall leaves on Friday (car doctor assessment day) but by Monday (day surgery car day) they were all dead again. they always seem to be a bit overenthusiastic. I know that soon we will all be out Felting Alfresco again!!!

Making felt ball in bulk

Making felt ball in bulk

This exercise started with me wanting to make some felt cubes and triangular prisms to make a more 3D version of a sky view landscape. the first thing I thought of doing to get the shapes was to felt around some small wooden blocks. I spit some into roof shapes and some in half for shorter cubes. Although this seemed like a good idea it was not very successful. the pointy corners proved to be a problem and adding more wool would just start rounding them too much.

Then I was talking to the group and Lyn said to try squishing them into squares when you making them. Well of course why didn’t I think of that. Now I need to make balls and I had been thinking I should try making a bunch of them, why make 4 if you can make more. I had seen a video of them making large numbers all at once in Nepal. So off to google how to do that. There are several videos on how to do this. Living felt has the best one.

Step one roll up some wool for the beads. I wrapped the wool around a chopstick and poked it a few times with a felting needle to hold it while I make more.

Once I had a bunch ready I added some soapy water. Just ad a little then roll them around the container to absorb it. Then add a

little more until they are wet but not soggy.

Then I popped the lid on and started rolling them around and shaking them until they were felted. This works really well and doesn’t take long at all. I rinsed them and couldn’t believe how dirty the water was.

Now I need to full them, I put them on a towel and used the starburst lid of my container to roll them around. adding pressure as I went.

 

On to a drying wrack.

I squished a few into the right shapes for my picture

I haven’t started the picture yet. I did make a sheep glasses holder for my granddaughter who just got glasses. I flattened the bottom so it wouldn’t roll. You rest the glasses on the lamb’s nose. His nose I a bit piggish but he was gone to her bedroom to find the best place for him before I could fix it.

And just to throw another spanner( or 2 )  in the works we started having lambs ( early, rams are very sneaky and quick when they want to be) got our new puppy. not sure how much felting will be going on but I usually do best when I have no time. Always seems to motivate me and create ideas.

Ava: 8 weeks

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 2

Day 2

After leaving the hedgehog overnight to dry on the air filter, he had successfully completed his mission to dry.  

I could now begin to add a bit more width to his cheeks. Next, add his coat. I chose an Icelandic fleece using the outer guard hair part of the dual coat as the bristles and bits of the inner coat to help space and increase adhesion of the guard hairs.

27 time to consider the face and coat

I separated the tog (outer coat of guard hairs), which is less inclined to felt when wet, from the undercoat which is soft and crimpy. To separate the two types of coats, hold the tips and base firmly and gently pull away from each other. Sometimes it takes a bit of a rhythmic tugging to free the tog. Once separated, I could use the tog to start building the outer prickles for the hedgehog.

I used a 38 star needle for most of the felting (except the ears which I also use the fake clover tool with T40’s loaded). I lay the guard hairs down, attaching across the locks then laid in a bit of the under coat to increase adherence. I worked the needles at low angles to almost parallel to the fibers catching a few fibers in the barbs at a time and pushing them into the layer of felt over the soap bar.

I added a bit of the under coat to give extra adhesion.

I then folded up the tips which had been pointing away from the fibers I was adding to.  Again securing them into the under layer of felt above the soap.

Occasionally I would add a bit of the under coat to the folded tip side too.

The order of addition was backwards to the layering I usually do when I want a coat to lie naturally. Since I wanted this to stand up, I needed to increase the density of the coat so it would not lie down. This time I starting from around the face (in white) then switching to the darker part of the coat, worked back towards the butt. I left the butt ends a bit shorter than the tips as I laid them in.

Once I got his coat on, I brushed and lifted the ends with the mini carder (dog brush). This fluffed him up nicely.

He is a cute little hedgehog! Here is a shot of the underside so you can see the bar of soap which is the base.

45 the soap base

Laying in the coat which is quite tightly packed took most of the day. I finished him after dinner and did the fluffing. So this would not be a economically viable option for mass production. There are a couple other options that may work faster such as using a section of the washed fleece and attaching it to the underfelt more as a blanket rather than a few locks at a time. I suspect it would not give the density that adding locks as I did allowed.

Finishing touches

Poor little guy, doesn’t suspect his life will be full of wetness then getting dry just in time for the next wetness to set in. I bet he would drip dry quicker if he could hang up.  I should add a “rope” for this soap.  I looked first at a piece of Kumohimo but the cotton fiber seemed wrong.

46 kumohimo option

So, I took the brush waste from the mini carder and added some of the washed locks and drafted it out. By adding a good deal of over twist with one of my spindles, I quickly had a two-ply yarn that could be mistaken for a rope.

I added the rope with a bit of needle felting along the edges of the underside of the soap-hedgehog using a bit of the under coat and pulled apart bits of the extra yarn to help secure it.

50 adding the rope to the soap

Ah, that’s better a way to dry faster and a loop handle so you don’t have to pick him up by his nose!

51 “please don’t pick me up by my nose!”

Last thing left to do. It is Valentine ’s Day after all, so He needs a Heart! I hunted around, found my bag of various red coriadales, choosing Nutmeg, and hand blending it with some of the reddish brown undercoat from the Icelandic fleece. (Colour should never be flat! Unless you are doing something graphic)

A few quick stabs and I had the shape. Now to add it to the right spot. Hmm, there is not much wool on the underbelly of this hedgehog! So, I was very careful in the angle of felting. The needle does sink into the soap fine but leaves a stinky soap smell on the needle and a bit on the wool as it emerges. (Just a warning – make sure you keep the angle of entrance and exit the same or the soap will want to break your needle)

55 “the Hedgehog is in the bag!!”

Now I just have to wait to find out if Glenn likes his new shower time friend.

56 “Glenn, can you meet me in the bathroom to unwrap your valentine’s day present please?”

      57- 62  the unwrapping, he found the Heart!

Yes Success!! I will try to get a shot after his first shower experience and see how he holds up!

63 First Shower! one bedraggled hedgehog

Epilogue

There seems to be a strange moose in my bed but he does have a bag of chocolate Easter eggs so I guess he can stay! (This is Canada, you do find moose in odd places here, often in swimming pools)

E-1 What is that in my bed?

 It is normal to see the triceratops, Cthulhu (who is somewhere else today) and the Balrog in bed. The moose was a surprise so was the chocolate, he can stay.

the last word from Hedgehog:

“Oh the Humanity!!! i give you my soap so you are clean!! Now i drip!!! Oh the wetness!! Oh the horror!!!”

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Wet Felting for Valentine’s Day!! Day 1

Oh NO! I got distracted! I will get back to work shortly but I was so inspired by Alex’s Ladybug or Bird and was wondering if a hedgehog would work with a bar of soap? There was also a suggestion of a heart of soap for valentine’s day…… hmmmm. I wonder if I can combine that?

Bad Brain!!! Stop thinking and wondering where the soap stockpile is stored! No! It’s wet felting! It involves getting wet!! NOOOOOO! Remember brain we like needle felting partly for its DRYNESS! Even if there is occasionally a bit of blood, it’s not as wet as wet felting! ….hmmmm.

I think Glenn would like a hedgehog soap for Valentine’s day, it will last longer than chocolate or flowers!, (the flowers without roots that is.)  Oh well, I guess it must be done, I will get wet! Step one, I will need to clean the bathroom sink (yes there is almost no counter space in the bathroom so it was messier before I neatened it up a bit).

Let me think, what will I need? Fibre, soap bar, a container to work in (the drain is problematic so let’s use a plastic box to work in), I need to find some bubble wrap and maybe a zip lock bag would help contain the wetness? I blended up a bit of white and beige for the nose and over felting fibre.

I discovered that the soap hoard is woefully low at least of my glycerin soap (remember to add that to the shopping list). Luckily, Glenn’s giant package of smelly soap from Costco was only half gone! He probably won’t notice one is missing until after Valentine’s Day right? (he didn’t)

Day One:

I quickly noticed that the sink is not a comfortable work high. I wonder if I flip over the storage box and use that as a table surface. Yep, much more comfortable. Remembering the instructions from Alex and his Mom, the fibre must encompass the soap. Then the fibre and soap are secured by putting it all in a nylon and felted. I don’t have nylon. I also want to have more fibre on the back than the belly as well as having a nose and face at one end.

Layout

I alternated thin layers making a shape that would wrap around the soap and then added more in the middle and towards one end.

 

A bit more in in the butt I think then wrap and a bit of needling to hold everything together.

 

He needs a nose; a bit more poking will fix that. Better check photo reference! I watched (listened to) a few YouTube videos as I continued to needle felt until the general shape was achieved.

I found a small piece of bubble wrap (I spotted the larger piece after I was done) and an extra-large sandwich bags.

10 ready for his bath!

Now the hard part, I have to get the wool wet so that soap (Liquid Lavender and cucumber you can see in the photos) and agitation can do their work. Hedgehogs’ first bath!

I got a flash of a brilliant idea! If I put the wet soapy hedgehog and the bubble wrap in the extra-large sandwich baggie I could sit and watch the impeachment of the neighbour’s ex-president. Rather depressing, but it will keep my mind off the possibility of impending wetness. (I will work in the plastic bin in case that happens).  The seal was stressed but as much as the soapy bubbles tried, only a few escaped.

I started softly, gently, caressing the fibres. Slowly increasing my pressure until I was massaging with some enthusiasm (I have a license for that!). Unlike work, I used bubble-wrap on this patient, focusing on the nose and the general body shape. I built up so much soapy lather that it became hard to see the hedgehog! After a few impeachment presentations, I felt I had achieved Felt!! I also had not sprung a leak and got wet!

Time to rinse out the suds and make sure the felting worked! (really I can’t see much in all this soap!)

I brought the Hedgehog back to the office so he could dry and finish watching YouTube, maybe I will have to give him eyes so he can better see what is happening. In the meantime, he is practicing some form of Yoga nose stand. I wonder what that pose is called. (Balanced nose drying?)

While I know watching a naked, eyeless, hedgehog dry is absolutely fascinating, and is worthy of hundreds of photos, at every stage of wet to dampness to ultimately dryness. I can see that you may have other things to do so I will resume once he has accomplished his mission to dry. So I will pause today and resume to see if I can add spines and other important parts.

To be continued on Day 2!

 

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

Learn Something New in 2021

Learn Something New in 2021

Teri’s online classes are open for registration now. The classes will begin on January 6th so you will need to register quickly to participate. Teri teaches two great classes, one on how to felt concertina style hats and the other one on how to create felt bags. Both of these classes will teach you methods of improving your felting techniques so if you have felted around a resist before such as to make a felt pod, you should consider taking the next step on your felting journey.

For more information and to register for the felt hat class, click here. 

Have you taken a look at other student’s hats that have taken Teri’s class? There are some really fun hats and the variations are quite creative. Take a look at the student hat gallery here.

Teri’s felt bag class is an excellent way to learn how to create a variety of shapes of bags, as well as features such as straps, multiple compartments and pockets. You can find more information and register here.

And the student gallery for felted bags is here.

So what are you waiting for? Jump in and learn some new felting techniques in 2021.

Or if you’re just starting out and want to learn the basics, try our Wet Felting for Beginners class. This class can be taken at any time with unlimited access. For more information and registration, click here. 

We will be offering more online classes in the spring and will make the announcement here when registration opens.

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

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