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A Redshank and Other Felt

A Redshank and Other Felt

As shops, galleries and exhibitions start to reopen in England and I have quite a few sales & exhibitions coming up, I decided to make another picture based a local coastal bird.  I’ve seen quite a few redshanks recently walking along the shoreline and haven’t done a redshank before so I think that would be interesting.

I start by making some prefelt for the back and tail feathers in a muted pewter and white tone, plus some firm felt I will use for the orange/red beak and legs. (I forgot to take a photo of these.)

I have a composition in mind and I make a quick sketch to get the shape, stance and size of the bird then lay out the bird’s body using a base of white merino tops and the prefelt feather shapes.  There’s not much detail as I will needle felt this in later.  I haven’t tried this before but I needle felt in some of the feather detail part way through wet felting then finish fulling the bird.

I’m not sure what I was thinking (if at all) as I’m not happy with the loopy-ness of the needle felting or the direction of some of the feathers.  I park it for now and get on with the background. One of the many things I love about felting is that you can usually continue to work on it until you’re happy with the result.

Redshank body: wet felted with some needle felting added part-way through

Onto the background: I have bits and pieces of natural coloured prefelt that I cut into pebble shapes ready to form the beach.  The redshanks I’ve seen recently have been walking close to the water’s edge, either in the water or on the pebbles.  Thinking about the water experiments I did last year I lay out 2 layers of pewter-coloured merino for most of the picture with a white and rusty orange section where the wave and beach will sit.  I put long strands of blue tops in two colours running horizontally to represent the light reflecting off the water.  I leave a darker section near the top with some of the pewter wool laid at an angle as if there’s a small wave coming in there, though in the final picture you can’t see most of this because it’s behind the bird.

Next come the pebble pieces and finally the foreground wave, as it sits on top of both water and beach.  I haven’t tried using mohair for wave crests before so I run a wiggle of mohair tops along the water’s edge and onto small sections of the sea as if small waves are cresting there.  I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the water in my local sea / estuary so I know the colours and shapes well.  The water is often choppy like this with small waves.

Background layout, ready for wet felting

I wet felt the background then try out the bird body to see how they’re going to fit.

Background and Bird body – trying things out for size

I needle felt the redshank’s body onto the background then add the legs and beak which I’ve cut from the red/orange felt. Then I add the eye and fiddle for a while until I’m happy with the bird.

The final redshank picture ready to frame

The finished picture is about 50-55 cm square and will go into an oak veneer box frame that’s 64 x 64 cm. I took this photo in the evening, with electric light, so it’s a bit less yellow in reality.

As I didn’t take a lot of progress photos for my Redshank, I thought I’d add a few other things I’ve made recently. Like my felting friend Antje (who posted here recently) I took Judit Pocs’ milkweed pod workshop on 1 & 2 May. I direct dyed some 18 mic merino tops and some fine ponge silk for my pod.

It was a good workshop and I’m happy with the result. I got my dye ratios wrong which resulted in a lot of bleeding and dyed hands but thankfully it’s not a wearable so it shouldn’t now be a problem. I hope to use this silk pleating technique in future projects.

I realise the colours are very similar to the ‘hippy trippy’ Corriedale bag I was making when I last posted. It’s still work in progress but I’ve done some additional ink work on some of the silk patches and am part way through adding some stitching. I’m now adding some french knots in the rectangle near the top left. This combines some of the techniques I learned in Terri Berry’s bag class with some from Fiona Duthie’s Ink + Cloth workshop and my new venture into direct dyeing (using the Felting & Fiber Studio tutorial).

Previous picture on the left, current on the right.

As part of Fiona Duthie’s Paper + Fibre workshop I made a lamp shade (actually a sleeve that fits over a lamp). It’s interesting how the paper sections are barely visible when the lamp is off. I think I will make more lamps when I have time.

Finally, I’m making some smaller pictures to take the little beach hut gallery in Whitstable Harbour where I often sell my work. I’m in there from next Wednesday for 2 weeks. I’ve wet felted some mussel shells and am making backgrounds to set them into small box frames (without glass). They’re about 19 x 19 cm. Here’s one that’s nearly ready to go. The background is nuno felted with recycled silk and old curved lace. I just have to decide where to stitch the shell. What do you think?

Felt Painting – Glorious Devon by Ann B.

Felt Painting – Glorious Devon by Ann B.

This is a guest post by Ann B, one of our fabulous readers and forum members. She is planning on updating us as she makes progress on her project.

 

Having decided that I needed (and I do mean needed) to make another picture, I hunted through my design source photographs and fell in love (again) with the picture I took of a horse grazing on a hill in Devon. This was typical Devon, lots of hills and trees and (best of all in my mind) no people or buildings in sight. This is the original picture above. What appears to be sky at the top is in fact distant hills. There is no sky at all in the photograph. I was a little disappointed as I love using silk fibres and neps to produce a realistic sky, but the distant hills would be a good challenge in colour blending and matching. I also felt that the photo was a little dull, there having been plenty of clouds about on the day that I took the picture, so I decided to “photoshop” it a bit to brighten it up.

This is the result. There isn’t a whole lot of difference – I still wanted it to look natural – but you can now
see the fields on the hill right at the back, and in fact I think that there is a building on
the hill on the right. Next I decided that I needed to work on the composition a little. The horse isn’t quite in the best position for either a “Golden Ratio” or a Fibonacci spiral composition. So I took the dimensions of the picture – I would do an approximate A4 size – and I worked out the Golden Ratio figures. I had (I can’t find it now) a book on art which showed how to do this and I made myself an
Excel Spreadsheet with the formulae and formatting which would work out the proportions for me once I had input the height and width measurements.

That would be measurements A-B and A-D on the diagram above. This diagram is not to scale, it merely serves to show where the measurements that the spreadsheet throws up will be. Below is the Fibonacci spiral which largely reproduces the Golden Ratio on one side of the page only. A second, flipped, image imposed on it would produce the Golden Ratio. The Golden Ratio calculations make it easier to get
the right proportions for a non standard shaped “canvas”.

The measurements of my picture are approx. A-B 26.5 cm A-D 20cm so not far off a square. The Golden Ratio figures would then be: A-G 9.9cm; G3-G4 6.1cm; G4-B 10.5cm, across the top and A-G1 6.9cm; G1-G2 5.5cm; G2-D 7.6cm down the side (I usually work in “old money” but it is easier for this purpose to use metric).

In fact I sub-divided the left hand and right hand sections again, drew out the lines on a piece of A4 paper and then sketched in how I wanted to lay out the various parts of the picture. I moved the horse further to the right; I placed the stream on one of the vertical lines; I placed the trunks of the trees on the left onto two of the vertical lines and various other changes of level and subject on or near to intersections of the lines. (This is the composition technique used by Constable in his paintings.) Here is the sketch.

Just to see what would happen I put a tracing of a single Fibonacci spiral on top of the sketch and found that it worked too. The horse was right where the centre of interest should be. The sheets moved a bit when I tried to scan them together but I think you can see what I mean from this:

So now I will sort out my backing felt and start to lay out the picture on it. I had tried to lay out the background colours on some white commercial prefelt and wet felt it but I had overlooked the fact that the prefelt would not shrink as much as fibres from tops, so that was a failure because the size was not right for my measurements. I have therefore cut out a correctly sized backing felt, again made from white prefelt, but of a much larger size so that I’ve got some left over for the next picture(s). I have made a tracing of the sketch and will use that as a template to mark out the placement of the main features by stitching through the tracing. Then I will need to blend some colours and start “painting”. (Click on any of the photos to enlarge.)

Lyn and Annie’s first quarter challenge entries

Lyn and Annie’s first quarter challenge entries

Lyn – Neubronner’s Pigeon in the style of Delauney

I’ve taken inspiration from both Neubronner (an inventor) and Delauney (an artist) to make a picture for the first quarter challenge 2021.

Dr Julius Neubronner developed a miniature pigeon camera to photograph the earth from above and the patent for his invention was granted in 1908.

How cute does Neubronner’s pigeon look?  All dressed up and ready to go to work.

I wanted to make a picture of the pigeon but not an exact copy.

So I looked for inspiration in the works of artists during the first decade of the 20th century and I found this painting by Robert Delauney, “Portrait de Metzinger “, painted in 1906.

Robert Delauney used bold blocks of colour in oil paint to create this portrait …… hmmm …… how about making the pigeon from blocks of colourful pre-felt?  They would look like brush strokes of oil paint on canvas.

My pre-felt stock is low,  I had some colours I wanted but not all, so the first job was to make some more.  I like to make it in batches to save time and effort and I like the mix of colours where they overlap.  This is the dry layout.

Then I made the ‘canvas’ for my picture from 4 layers of white merino,  pre-felted to the same stage as my pre-felt.

I cut coloured pre-felt into small rectangles, then using a photograph as a guide, I started to ‘draw’ the pigeon.

The only things not made from rectangles were the beak, eye and feet.

I didn’t copy the camera.  It looked too complicated for me to try!  So I made up a simple one that I hoped would be recognisable as a camera.

I added yellow variegated pre-felt rectangles, to imitate broad brush strokes, for the background.

But I didn’t like it.  The background overpowered the subject.  So I removed the yellow to leave just the pigeon.  I then added a little purple pre-felt to the front of the camera because it looked too plain.

I wet felted the pigeon then when it was dry I added the background by needle-felting rectangles of ‘Noro Rainbow Roll’ pencil roving around the pigeon.  The ‘Noro’ pencil roving is so fine (see photo below) that it’s almost see-through and it made a soft, complementary background.

The purple pre-felt bled a little bit during felting giving a pale pink tinge to the white background but I can live with that!

A couple of white stitches to put a glint in his eye and he’s done – the finished picture is 30 x 23cm (12″ x 9″).

 

Annie – Imaginative Flowers inspired by Odilon Redon

I felt inspired by many of the things that happened between 1900-1910, and was having trouble choosing what to do. Then I came across Odilon Redon’s floral still life work and it caught my eye, here is an example: ‘Bouquet of Flowers’ circa 1905.

And I also found a quote from him that appealed to me:

“I have often, as an exercise and as a sustenance, painted an object down to the smallest accidents of its visual appearance; but the day left me sad and with an unsatiated thirst. The next day I let the other source run, that of imagination, through the recollection of the forms and I was then reassured and appeased.”

I had planned to do something a little less in my comfort zone and a bit more adventurous like mum did, but then I thought oh well I like making flowers from my imagination so I’ll just go for it!  It is still a work in progress but here’s what I’ve done so far….

I laid out a big square of white fibres with the intention of making several small sample pieces to start with but got carried away and just went straight for one big piece in the end.  I placed the vase right in the middle at the bottom which I wouldn’t ordinarily do as it seemed that’s how he did most of his.

 

I got a little way into laying out and although it was OK I decided it wasn’t working for me so I pulled up all the colour except for the yellow background and started again.

 

I made the flowers into a big bunch and then left some space at the bottom.  I had thought I’d leave space all round to include some “fronds” but hadn’t made my “canvas” big enough and ended up overdoing it so not enough room!

 

 

 

I haven’t finished it yet, but this is where I am so far.  I’m going to attach the vase after felting because it is very fine fabric which stretches and frays and I think too much yellow will come through because it is rather open weave too.  So I’ve ironed it on to some glue stabiliser for now and laid it on the picture temporarily. 

The fabric is a nod to Redon’s butterfly paintings and use of butterflies in his floral works.

I will undoubtedly faff about a bit more with the flowers, and possibly put some shadowy darker yellows in the background, before felting it.  It’s 52cm x 58cm (21″ x 23″).

Also, lesson learned, I didn’t check the dates properly on all of the reference pictures and only 1 of the 3 in my photo falls before 1910, but they are close enough 🙂

I’ll show the finished picture on the forum in the Challenges section.

 

A new picture: A lighthouse

A new picture: A lighthouse

I seem to be in picture mode. I wanted to do something with water but not necessarily as the main feature. I thought about a beach and that was my intention as I started but as was looking for pictures and some of the cliff-top pictures really took my eye.

I used a nice thick piece of wool prefelt that I bought at the Almont Fiberfest a few years ago. It is 4inches by 6 inches, 10cm by15cm  I think it is wet felted on a flatbed machine. It is course wool and more solid (felted) than the thin needle felted prefelt we usually get. It is much closer to being felt.  I would love to get some more but don’t know where to find it.  If you know let me know.

I start with what is farthest away, sky and water. When I do sky, it’s always cloudy and I have to do a google search to remember if the sky is darker or lighter near the horizon. The wool I used for the water has a few bits of sparkle in it. I think that’s what is making the white dots in the picture.

 

Then some land and the rocks. I used a mix of 3 grays so the rock wouldn’t be flat.

Added the lighthouse and the path

 

Then I used throwers waist to make the white water around the rocks and some whitecaps. At this point I gave it a light felting mostly to sink the silk into the felt so it didn’t look so much on the surface. . There was still more needling to do though. I added the top of the lighthouse and started the stitching.

 

And as usual when you start stitching you start unstitching. The grass stitches here were much too small. The path needed changing as well as being far too straight it was much too wide.  you can see how all the extra stabbing pulled the piece in even though I was poking up and down and not sidewise.  I stretched it out.

Back to stitching. I am using 4 colours for the grass, 2 shades of gold and 2 of green.

 

I added some small blue dots for flowers.

 

Then the foreground grass

 

Then some french knots for more flowers. I used a couple of shades darker blue for the foreground.

 

 

This is a close up of the stitching.

 

That’s a lot of pictures but I hope you enjoyed seeing the progression.  Stitching really helps a picture pop. And as I promised picture without Sheep. I can do it. LOL

So a week has gone by since I wrote up this post ready for the 4th of February. After a comment from a friend, and looking at it after a break from working on it,  I decided to fiddle with it more.  First I ripped off the path it was far too white, I remade it with some light gray. I did want it to be distinct but not a lightning bolt from Zeus. I added a tiny little dock, not easy but that’s what I get for working small.  And the sky was too much open space so I added some birds, again very fiddley. I did add some slight shading to the lighthouse but it doesn’t really show in the picture the wight really reflects.

so here it finished again. I hope you like it.

 

 

 

Who could resist , the sequel.

Who could resist , the sequel.

I simply had to develop one of the pieces from my play with multiple resist further. This particular piece intrigued me, and after we spent time together ie me staring at it for a considerable time, I knew where we were going. The centre felt like something had fractured, a cell broken apart. Having recently lost both my parents it felt like a metaphor for my grief and the feeling I was going through, emotions of pain and detachment. These became the red, pain, anger, hurt. The white, detachment, cold, an emptiness. And do our journey began.

To the original felted piece, I added some shaped prefelt which I added with a couching stitch. This gave me the raised effect. I then added beading from the centre of the “cell” out to either side. Throughout the whole piece, I chose a palette of white red black and grey ( there is a little exception to that but I will go further later ).

I wanted to use a material other than felt for the background of the piece and decided on mixed media. As a base, I used calico which I coloured with acrylic paint. As I turned out I needn’t of done this as I covered the whole piece in materials. I knew from the very beginning how the piece was going to turn out but wasn’t sure of the materials I was going to use to achieve the textures I wanted. So I had a play. I got several different materials and heat treated and used my embellishing machine to see the effects I could achieve.

For the red area, I decided upon prefelt with red satin added with the embellisher, heat treated tulle, crocheted wire and beads.

Arranging composition

In the white area, I decided upon prefelt embellished with satin I also heat treated a mixture of materials lutrador, plaid plastic bags and plastic netting (from a cheese sac) doing this gave the texture of ice which is what I wanted to achieve.

Developing the white area

For the other surrounding area, I cut up an old silk dress that had wonderful shades of grey. These were added with the embellisher around the edges. It had many shades of grey going to black so I could shade the composition. It did take the whole dress to complete it.

The base layer was now laid down so next I added the beading As part of the white area I wanted some raised beading so I beaded small clusters of beading on the net and glued the back. When dry I cut them out and arranged them on the piece.

In these little parts, I added only a couple of golden seed beads. My little sign of hope I suppose.

In the red area, I added beading in shades of deep red and dark green also many sequins which reflect light wonderfully. wire crocheted flame-shaped pieces were added radiating out into the grey area. I also embroidered with daisy chain stitch.

And so our journey ended. I have never worked on a piece that felt like a part of me more than this. Because of the lockdown here I am unable to get it framed but it will be. Then it will go on my wall

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?

Felting Beaches

Felting Beaches

In my last blog I looked at different ways I’ve tried to represent sea and water in wet felted pictures.

Felting Sea Patterns

Looking back at this link, I realise I sold the sea picture I used as the blog header this week. Happy times! A couple of people asked in the comments if I’d also show how I’ve made beaches, so here we go.

The beaches where I live are mainly pebbles, but there are sandy beaches a little to the east and I’ve used both types of beach in my pictures.

Whitstable West Beach: the pebble beach at the bottom of my road

Here’s a picture of two Sanderlings at Minnis Bay: a lovely sandy beach with chalk rocks embedded in places in the sand.  I’m starting with this as it was an early picture and the first time I thought of using a blue cobweb felt overlay to represent a wet beach reflecting the sky. It’s a technique I like and use quite a lot.

Layout for and final picture “2 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay”

There’s a pewter-coloured base for the sand and light prefelted sections and silk fabric pieces for the chalk with a bit of darker shading around them

Here’s another Sanderlings picture, also at Minnis Bay. This time I’ve used a few different sandy shades to add the idea of shade and texture in the sand.

3 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay

Pebble and shell beaches are more common in my pictures as this is what I see when I walk near home. There are quite a lot of variables in how I create them. Some choices are for ‘artistic’ reasons (how do I want this to look and feel?), some for experimental reasons (what would happen if?) and some are entirely pragmatic (what suitable bits of prefelt and felt offcuts do I have kicking around at the moment?).

This is a Big Wave picture that is now owned by a friend of mine. Here I have cut up felt and pre-felt into pebble shapes and put them on a base of several layers of sandy coloured wool tops. I then laid a bit of blue cobweb prefelt and silk over the pebbles nearest to the wave to give the impression of the remains of a previous wave over the pebbles before wet felting everything together

This is a similar picture where I’ve added more patterned silk scraps (recycled charity shop scarves) which are topped with wisps of wool to help them felt in.

Here I’ve taken a different approach. Whitstable is on the north Kent coast of the UK. It’s famous for oysters and has a very long history of oyster catching and farming. Empty oyster shells are piled up on the beach next to a local restaurant to be reused for farmed oysters. When it’s quiet, turnstones pick over the shells, ferreting out bits of left-behind oyster. I love the turnstones! You can see one in action in this video and hopefully see where they get their name from.

Turnstone picking over the oyster shells

I’ve made a few turnstone pictures. In this one I prefelted lots of oyster shells for the foreground then snipped up loads of different coloured tapestry wool for the beach as I wanted a more distant background impression rather than individual pebbles. The tapestry wool is all from charity shops: I really like recycling old and second hand materials.

It took a surprisingly long time to snip all that wool into a large plastic washing up bowl ready to mix it up and lay it out on top of sandy wool layers. It also made a bit of a mess as the felting threw up lots of loose wool strands because the fibres were very short.

“Turnstone Dining at the Royal Native Oyster Stores”

Another experimental approach was a picture I made earlier this year using pieces of recycled silk (cut from charity shop scarves, of course) on top of a couple of layers of wool tops with some wisps of wool on top for colour and to help attach the silk. This gives a different feel – more impressionistic – but still (I hope!) the impression of a pebble beach.

This penguin picture was a commission. Unusually I was working from someone else’s photo rather than my own observations and pictures. By necessity the felt picture is similar to the original photo (though I had to give the penguin on the right a proper head!). I custom made various sheets of light grey pebbly prefelt which I cut up to make this beach as there’s quite a lot of it so I couldn’t just rely on scraps.

And finally, I think this is my favourite beach so far (maybe apart from the oyster shells). It includes several of the techniques I’ve described. I pre-made some shell shapes and used prefelt pieces for pebbles. There’s lots of silk too – I think I may have put down a whole sheet of silk on top of wool layers then added the rest on top of the silk. This gorgeous ringed plover was standing on a shingle spit that juts into the sea just along from my house and I felt this was a good representation of that particular terrain.

Do you have a favourite? Or anything you don’t think really worked? I’d love to hear your views.

Felting Sea Patterns

Felting Sea Patterns

I made my first felted picture maybe 8 years ago. It’s a seascape with a curlew based on a scene I’d photographed. I realise now I haven’t ever completely moved away from the sea and the birds in my felt making.  The picture is still hanging on my living room wall, though it’s not really my favourite.  I can see too much that I’d want to change.

Looking at the dark water I see I included strips of ribbon as well as nepps, locks and some non-wool fibres – probably bamboo. A little while later I made a second curlew which I much preferred. In this one the sea is slightly more abstract with silk hankies representing sea foam.

Second Curlew

I live by the coast and seem always to return to the theme of water – specifically the sea and even more specifically the water near where I live, some of which is technically an estuary: the mouth of the river Thames.  I’ve been looking recently at how I’ve tried to represent the sea in felt, then trying out some new water experiments.

In my last guest blog I showed how I made the watery background to my dark-bellied Brent goose. Here’s a reminder

Dark-Bellied Brent Goose

Brent goose: making a felt picture

This technique of laying cobweb pre-felt on top of base layers was something I worked out for myself and often use as I really like the effect

The first picture, ‘Winter Sea’ I made entirely using this technique. For the second picture ‘Big Wave 3’ I used straightforward tufts of different coloured wool for the darker water but a cobweb strip in front of the wave to suggest water from a previous wave.

‘Wide Sea Pattern’

For ‘Wide Sea Pattern’ I’ve added some silk fibres to enhance the foamy effect.

I’ve also tried nuno felted seas using large pieces of fabric. I’ve made two pictures of a lovely little ringed plover I watched a short distance from my house.

In the left picture I used a UK charity shop wool scarf that already had a crimp. I ran pewter-coloured merino wool on the back in only one direction to enhance the crimp, which I hope gives a distant wave-like pattern. In the one on the right I used some very dense silk (from a US thrift store sarong) which I only partially felted in as I wanted to keep as much as possible of the sarong’s watery pattern (also, the silk was VERY dense!). 

Thinking about how to represent sea patterns, I have spent a little time recently looking at photos and videos of how people do this when drawing or painting the sea, and wondering if I could use some of these ways of looking at and representing sea water in wet felt making.

Experiment one: I laid out two pewter merino layers then a fine horizontal layer of blues, which I pushed apart with 2 pencils hoping to evoke a choppy sea.  Then, I suppose because I thought the darker tones may get lost, I added some more dark wool into the gaps.

I ended up with something that looked very flat – perhaps like dappled water but not what I had in mind.  I wish I was more strict in sticking to my original intentions: I think it would have been better without the dark wool I added at the end. Maybe I’ll come back to that in the future and do the experiment properly.

Experiment two: Estuary Water. Next I wanted to experiment with the dark colour of the water.  Out came the trusty drum carder and I blended pewter, beige and green wools which I laid horizontally on a vertical layer of mixed pewter and beige.  I made a single layer of mixed blue prefelt that I pulled apart and laid on the top.

I call the result ‘Estuary Water’ as there’s often a lot of muddy sediment in the estuary which gives it an opaque, brown look.  I like it but haven’t decided what to do with it yet – its dimensions don’t fit any standard canvases or frames. Maybe I’ll use it as the background to something else.

Experiment three: I decided to made some smaller felt pictures that were just sewn onto stretched painters’ canvases rather than being framed behind glass. Focussing on the sea water: this time I snipped into the prefelt blue layer with scissors after I’d laid it on the background.

I like this effect and could maybe take it a bit further in the future: make some bigger cuts or more of them.  I stitched these onto pre-stretched canvases that are slightly smaller than the felt so the canvases aren’t visible when looking head on.

Experiment four:  Harbour Water. I took a photo of the water in the harbour a few months ago that I found interesting and wanted to investigate in felt. 

‘Harbour Water’ Photograph

I’ve thought for a while I’d like to blend just two colours with each other and black and white and this seemed like a good opportunity.  I used the drum carder to blend duck egg and teal merino wool with charcoal grey and natural white in various proportions.

I then made prefelts which I cut up and placed on a background of teal (1st, vertical layer) and duck egg (2nd, horizontal layer)

Quite interesting but I liked it a lot better before I’d felted it. I had a second go, using a piece of the duck egg prefelt as the base, which I like slightly better.

I like the shimmery water better than the round sections, which are a bit too round. Again, I’ve stitched the pieces of felt onto smaller canvases so they can hang but appear to be floating. I will look at them for a while until I decide how and if to develop the ideas further.

Experiment five: Choppy Whitstable Waves.  In July a customer asked me to make her a picture similar to one I had but in a smaller size.  I tried to use some of the things I’d seen in videos of how to paint water using acrylics and adapt them to my local sea colours and patterns and the medium of wet felting.  I laid out darker ‘windows’ at the front of the waves with some water being pulled upwards by the wave (with the top fibre running upwards) then blue sky reflections made from cobweb prefelt sitting behind the wave foam.

I feel this has some potential.  I particularly like the wave second from bottom and am tempted next to make a single long wave using this technique.

At this point I had to break off to set up my harbour hut exhibition for a week.  Interestingly, the customer didn’t like the smaller picture I’d made as much as the original and decided to buy the bigger original instead.

I still find sea patterns endlessly fascinating. Each experiment seems to ask more questions than it answers and produce new avenues to investigate.  I have no doubt I’ll keep on coming back to sea patterns (and birds) again and again.

Are there any effects here that you particularly like or don’t think worked so well?

Do you have a theme, subject or colour-way you keep going back to in your work?

Slow Stitch Progress – Filling in Negative Space

Slow Stitch Progress – Filling in Negative Space

Here’s the progress on my slow stitch project. I am still stitching away about 15-30 minutes per day on this piece.

The last time I showed you, it looked like this.

First, I added some more darker values with the deep purple thread in the mid ground area. Then because I thought that I needed a little more contrast in that area, I added some deeper red orange to look like more foliage.

Then on to working on the foreground trees. Here, I was looking at negative spaces and giving some darkness and shadow to delineate the tree trunks. I am continuing to use seed stitch and used a neutralized dark green in between the tree trunks. Since the stitches are so small, this definitely is in the slow stitch category. I am still working on the right hand side. Once that’s finished, I have more tree trunks “to pull out” on the left side.

And here’s how the entire piece looks as of now. I may need to darken up the shadows between the foreground trees and I have to decide what to do on the left hand bottom corner. The foreground trees will get some stitched leaf additions too. Plus the foreground will need work in front of the trees. I am definitely enjoying this project more since I’m not trying to force working on it for longer stretches.

 

 

Felt Rope and Structure Part Three

Felt Rope and Structure Part Three

I have been continuing my experiments with felt rope and structure so here we are at part three. (Part One and Part Two, if you missed them.) I had gotten so many different suggestions that I wanted to try out a different method. This involved stitching the felt rope to prefelt so it would stay in place.

Luckily, I found some already made felt rope so I didn’t have to spend time making it. But, it wasn’t long enough to spiral around the resist but I had three pieces that would work. My resist is bigger than the last one where I made the felt “pickle”. It’s about 8″ x 15″ (20 x 38 cm). I covered the resist with two very thin layers of wool and laid all the wool perpendicular to the long side of the resist. This is the opposite direction to what I used on the the felt “pickle”. I then wet down and felted the piece to prefelt.

Here it is. If you look carefully, you will see a few holes. But I decided not to worry about it since I was adding a second layer of wool over this one. I put the felt outside and it dried in just  a few minutes. It is 96 degrees F (35+ C) here today.

Now to stitch the felt rope to the prefelt. I used a matching color machine weight thread and hand stitched the ropes in place. You can see them stitched on in the right hand photo. I stitched the ends of the rope together so it would be a continuous circle around the wool.

Now to add more wool over the top of the stitched ropes. I kept the wool running in the same direction as the first layer of wool and covered with another couple of thin layers of wool. Then to start rubbing and getting everything to hold together. I did appreciate that the ropes were held in place well and didn’t shift or move during the felting process.

Here’s the piece after felting and beginning to full. The resist is still inside at the moment. I just snipped off one end to pull the resist out.

Next up was fulling. Here is the piece after I finished fulling. The felt rope got really wavy and wasn’t staying firm enough to hold a circle. I’m not sure why but I completely forgot to stretch the felt rope as I was going along so it would stay more circular. But then I had an “Aha” moment or a “Duh” moment (whichever way you like to think about it) and I thought I would try and stretch out the rope so it would dry more round.

Here’s my felt yard art on a stick. The rope didn’t stretch out completely but it is circular enough for me. Another fun experiment completed and the stitching worked perfectly to keep the rope in place while felting. I just need to shave off the fuzzies once this has dried. What should I experiment with next? Any good ideas?

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