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Category: Experiments

Coffee pod experiment +

Coffee pod experiment +

Hi, It’s me again, out of sync. We had a scheduling problem so I have jumped back in and Ruth will be me later.

A while ago I collected some used coffee pods to try doing some felting with. This was inspired by Judit Pócs. She is an incredible felter and has an amazing imagination. https://pocsjuditstudio.hu/home I believe she used them in a felted ring, free workshop for people that are members of the International Felt makers Association when they had their online conference. I am not a member. Anyway, there were all over Facebook and I wanted to try them out. This is the first attempt.

These are metal pods for a Nespresso machine. I got them by asking on my local buy/sell/give group on Facebook. People with these machines do not throw the pods out they collect them in a supplied bag and then send them back to the company postage paid for recycling. At least that seems less wasteful.

They are pretty and come in two sizes

 

I had to flatten the pods first. The large domes are much easier to flatten nicely.

I laid out a thickish base and then added to the 2 kinds of pods.

 

Then another double layer of wool on top.

 

I felted in the usual way and then cut holes over the disk. I cut the wrong side first, naturally

 

 

This is where it starts to go downhill. The texture of the disks makes it hard to rub and heal the cuts. I am not the most patient with this step normally so this was frustrating and didn’t work well.

 

As a first experiment, this was a good learning experience.

Next time I will mark the top and put a piece of underlay over the pods to make a smoother surface to work on after I cut the holes. That should make it easier to make a better edge. I also think I needed a thicker layer of wool over the pods to get a nicer deeper edge.  Maybe just over the pods and not the whole piece. This piece is a good thickness for bag/pouch. Also, as usual, I need to slow down and be patient.

I also made a piece of felt to try out some stitching with the Solvy water-soluble stabilizer. It’s not very exciting to look at and I will probably iron it a little smoother and flatter. I think I will add some needle felting to part of it before using it so I have the 2 textures to try on.

I like figuring out how things are done. I enjoy making samples/experiments much more than I used to. I think it’s all the covid lockdowns and there being no shows.  There is not much point in making 20 hats and scarves if you have nowhere to sell them. Have you successfully figured out how to do something you’ve seen online?

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.

 

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!

Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.

Sound familiar?

Hand dyed yarn by Eleanor Shadow
This hand dyed yarn looks great at first glance, but in reality it’s “muddy” – the colours have somehow blended into each other in a not-so flattering way.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.

The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.

The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?

(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)

 


 

Silk cocoons

 

A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).

I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.

Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.

The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.

The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.

I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.

It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.

 


 

Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?

While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!

I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).

One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.

The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!

The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.

The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.

Detail of Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated as sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.

I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.

My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…

 


 

That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?

 

Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.

Enjoy your weekend!

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.

Annual Art Retreat

Annual Art Retreat

In my last post, I showed you how I was creating some mark making tools for our annual art retreat. We had the retreat and had so much fun creating abstract artworks. I apologize for the poor quality of the photos as the light is very bad at the lodge where we stay and I was in a bit of a hurry.

The process involved each of us starting with the same size piece of painter’s canvas and then ‘changing’ the canvas with a variety of media and techniques. Some of the steps were timed and some not. It took us nearly a full day to ‘complete’ our pieces. Some of us are still working on them, some may tear them up to use in a different way and other’s may keep the end result as is.

Here are some of the supplies that we used and you can see the piece of folded canvas at the front of the table.

We did construct a few more mark making tools, mine are on the left, Paula’s in the middle and Louise’s gelli printed feather brush is on the right.

I thought it would be interesting to see the pieces as they progressed so I will show each person’s piece separately.

This is Deb’s piece from start to finish.

Here is Louise’s piece. I think she is still working on it.

Here is Paula’s piece. You can see the light shining through the picnic table in these photos. We usually forget that the picnic tables have spaces in between and this always causes issues with such things as printing or marking over the surface. I think Paula is planning on cutting/tearing this into smaller pieces to use in some manner.

And here’s Sally’s. You can’t see this in the last photo but she has added hand stitching and beading. She was not sure if she is finished with it or not.

And lastly, this one is mine. I think I am finished with it and actually happy with the result. Usually, I don’t tend to like my attempts at abstraction. I didn’t add much color so maybe that’s why I like this one better.

We had a great time and I am always amazed at the different styles that come from each person. We know each other well enough that it would be easy to recognize who’s piece is whose.

An Accidental Army of Chickadees

An Accidental Army of Chickadees

It’s been another busy week heading into the September long weekend. We are back again in Oakville which should have been about 5.5 hours drive from Ottawa. Instead, the traffic was heavy and slow. (we saw unsuccessful car sex in three locations, once involving multiple vehicles! I told my car not to look as we drove past “avert your headlights!!” I was driving so I didn’t get any naughty car pictures to show you.) we are traveling because two of my brothers-in-law will be there. One departing and another arriving.

This past week I have been continuing the fleece washing. I had a strainer basket of wool ready to put out on the drying rack on Friday morning but restrained myself (since the weather is sentient and has a poor sense of humour, it would rain if I left it out to dry. It’s the long weekend.  We don’t want it to rain!

1) the last of ram #2 soaking.

2) don’t tempt the weather by putting out fleece to dry.

we also cleared the path to the back of the garage from errantly growing raspberry canes. this will make it a bit easier to finish raccoon-proofing the garage.

3) the extracted errant raspberry

My other quest for the week was to make presents for my brothers-in-law. There Are 5 brothers, and I have made one for brother number 4 and one for Glenn’s Mom last trip. So four more to go! I have tried variations on the theme and so far I am pleased with them.

The reason i am making a small invasion or maybe an infestation, of chickadees is they remind me both of my parents cottage and also of my in-laws home in Oakville. His brothers have been taking turns staying with his mom and i had hoped the chickadees would bring them good thoughts of Oakville and watching the birds and squirrel fight over the bird feeders (they are not squirrel feeders so we know is in the wrong in that war!) We were down this time as brother #3 was leaving and brother # 2 was arriving. We hope to see brother #1 before we leave.

4 & 4.1) Mega-Chickadee (Arnold) with his in-progress smaller cousin (for brother #4)

I had wanted to tell you about the first two I made. I had brought the wrong thread with me, pant mending thread not eye attaching thread (really they’re totally different thread!), when I was making the first two guys so devised a way to attach eye without the thread. This would not be strong enough if your creature was to be played with but if it’s just sitting around the eyes are secure and won’t fall off. (how embarrassing to have eye drop sounds terrible)

Without appropriate thread, I needed a way to get the bead (I had brought small black glass seed beads) to sit in the location I had wanted and to stay in place.

I used the felting needle to work some of the wool through the bead, arranging it so that there were wisps on both sides of the bead.

5) bead and a bit of fibre

5.1) Bead with a small amount of fibre through the centre

6) both eyes ready to attach

I chose the spot and used the awl and felting needle to make a dent in the felt head. good thing the little guys seem a bit soft in the brain, more room to inset half an eye bead.

7) using the awl

8) marking the other side and checking it’s in the correct location.

9) making the hole a bit deeper with the felting needle

First try; I found it was not as secure with a finer amount of fibre and need to have more added to it. With a bit more added lateral to each eye, the attachment was a success.

10) first one done, on to the next armature.

Second try; This time I tried using more fibre. (as much as would fit through the opening in the bead seemed the correct amount.)

I continued to work with wisps of colour to give a chickadee a bit of suggestion of feathers.

Once I had the little guy to my liking it was time to trim off some of the fuzzy halo. As I mentioned in a previous post the core wool from World of Wool has a bit of kemp which occasionally sticks out at an odd spot. The Corriedale is also showing a bit of halo which is more noticeable where the black is adjacent to the white. I used the scissors carefully removing the fuzzy bits of wool.

11) Hair cutting started.

12) a good trim

13) Two handsome chickadees ready for their new homes.

the Chickadees were given to their new owners before we departed back to Ottawa. Both were surprised and seemed happy with their new pets.

The next step is to make a few more. Unfortunately, I was working in front of the computer and had been distracted from my audiobooks by impending Hurricane Ida. I got so distracted with the Horrors of the storm I lost track of the number of armatures I was making, 4 or was it 5 more. Looking away from the nightmare water and wind event on the computer I realized I am overrun by chickadee armatures. There seem to be 6 of them now staring at me! I have a production line of leg wrapping ahead of me! That’s 36 toes to practice on! I seem to be making a small flock of chickadees!

14) 26ga steel toes wrapped around 20ga steel floral wire armature (both wires are coated so the steel is not exposed)

15) all lined up with legs and beaks done, still have to try toes with wax. (the fleece i chose has some lanolin left in it after washing and has a lot of very fine crimp)

16) now with a bit more body

the eyes for the last two worked well out so well I used the same technique again.

17) supervision!!!

17.1) time to add the second eye

18) one of the two I have finished and brought with us to give to brothers #2 and #3 this weekend.

19) here he is in a jaunty pose before retiring to his travel facility complete with bagged lunch for his travel pleasure.

20) upon our arrival here in Oakville, we found that Glenn’s mom’s bird had discovered the bole of nuts on the coffee table!! He seems to be very happy in his new home but is reluctant to let the rest of us nibble on the nuts. I may have to leave some sunflower seeds for him too!!

I have been doing variations on wing attachments, separate wings, wings constructed on the body, separate wired wings,  wing tips added to built-in wings….. who know what else I will try?

I promise I will do something other than chickadees in the near future! Have fun and keep felting

Surface Control – looking at Hair Spray and styling gel, initial investigation.

Surface Control – looking at Hair Spray and styling gel, initial investigation.

Like Ann, I have been having a  busy time since the last post. I was all set to head to Oakville then my trip was postponed to next week. So I am packed, but still need to find the camping cots we bought years ago to sleep on. They are nowhere to be found so we went out to Canadian Tire and bought a new one. I have been refining my notes on the chickadee as I made another armature. (well you just saw that so I don’t think you will be much interested in seeing a second bird so much like the one Mom got and liked! But I fear Ann’s Cookies may have been more appreciated!) The bird is now living in her living room by the window. I did have something I wanted to investigate further and now might be the right time to get part one started. This will have a time component so I will not make a full report now.

Surface Control – looking at Hair Spray and styling gel, initial investigation.

Last week I was wondering about how to reduce the flyaway fuzziness of Mom’s Chickadee. I eventually took matters in hand with a pair of fine sharp pointed scissors. This did quite a respectable job, but I had considered other options. Spray fixatives were used with pastels at school and being cheap art students we often bot inexpensive hair spray rather than proper artist fixative.  Will hair spray work on wool? Let’s Investigate!!

When considering fixatives/ hair spray there are a number of factors to investigate.

  • Does it hold the fuzz in check when initially applied (I was using the product instruction for distance for spraying.)
  • Dose the hold lasts more than a few hours or days?
  • Does it discolour the wool?
  • Are there any other changes in the wool that is noticeable at the time of spraying, or over time?

Off to the Dollerama to find cheap hairspray!  On previous visits, I had seen hair spray and hair gel (Glenn uses it to keep his hair neatly in a ponytail for work.) I found two hairsprays that looked interesting.

 1 the subjects of investigation.

 The “Blue sample” was Finesse – Superior hold Firm Unscented Hairspray, it boasted a weightless, dry finish.  The instructions are shake can then hold 20-30 cm away from hair (in my case wool)

The “Pink Sample” Was Salon Selective all day Volumizing Stay Put, Extreme Hold, enriched with argan oil from Morocco. ( I have no idea what that is but it sounds impressive!) The instructions are to shake the can and hold 20 to 25 cm away from hair/wool.

The “Black Sample” was AXE Styling Adrenaline Spiked-Up Look Extreme Hold Gel. Instructions, use a fingertip amount mix vigorously then style through hair.

The “None Sample” was Core wool from World of Wool in the UK,  just the wool covered by a piece of card stock to keep the sun off.

What I have learned so far: hairsprays have long names and seem slightly pompous in their extremeness. (No Hair products were harmed in this experiment and all hairspray will go to Glenn at the completion of this investigation.)

 

Next, I made the test felt pieces using the World of wool Core wool that I had hand carded. I made a sample 7 inches long and about 3 inches wide. I used a bit of light blue merino yarn to mark off the sections.

 2 making the needle felted wool sample

3 dividing the sample into sections for each application and a control or None section.

I masked off the sections that were not getting the spray treatment to reduce cross-contamination of the samples.

 4 Prep to spray the blue sample

 5 Blue spay applied

 6 parted off the excess and tried to compress the wool. Wax paper may have been a better choice, next time!

The Blue sample is unscented (mostly) and it gave a good light coverage at 30cm.

Next cover that sample and on the pink spray.

 7 pink sample was much wetter than the blue spray.

This gave a lot more wetness both on the surface and into the wool but it was also held at the suggested 20-25cm for this product.

Next up was the black sample

 8 I borrowed Glenn’s hair gel from the bathroom.

For this one, since I had to apply it to the surface I made little finger circles on the top half and stroked the felt in one direction on the bottom. It took a couple of fingers’ worth of gel to get the surfaced covered. The circular motions loosened up a few strands of wool but seemed to have stuck the surface down. It remained damp long after both Blue and Pink were dry.

 9 On the back of each sample I sewed on a tag saying which sample it was.

Then I covered the thin “None” sample on the right so it would not be in the sun.

10 the sample

Hum, maybe I should change that to half in the sun half out of the sun so we can see if the plain wool will change colour in the light…. Give me a moment I will fix that.

11 the upgraded sample

OK, now we can check if wool left in a window will change colour in the sun. (It may lighten I suspect, but let’s see if my hypothesis is correct.)

12  L to R; Pink, Blue and Black

Sample fuzz check at application Will the  hold last Is there any discolouration  at the application Is there any discolouration  over time other changes noticeable when applied or over time
None 4th fuzziest N/A N/A N/A N/A
Black Least fuzzy * see other Slightly shiny or more reflective Surface is compacted more than other samples also has the firmest surface
Blue Second least fuzzy Not noticeable Closest to None sample
Pink 3rd fuzziest Not noticeable 2nd firmest surface

13 table

Now we have gathered all the data to begin this experiment. We will have to return to this in a few weeks or a couple of months and see if we can see a change. By then I may have finally cleaned up my desk again, how does it get so messy?

Next week I will be off in Oakville likely working on the project I have started for Glenn. He has had only had one picture felted for him so far so I think he needs a sculpture. Here is the fabric that I hope will be part of his accessories (the sculpture, not Glenn).

14 it’s not the plaid I was looking for but it may work.

Have fun and keep felting!

 

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