My next step in finishing the driftwood piece was to create lichen. I had made lichen before from Tyvek but alas, I had none in my stash. So I looked for other materials that could be shaped with a wood burning tool and that would shrink and make interesting shapes with a heat gun.
What I found was a fusible lightweight Pellon interfacing and nylon organza. The interfacing does not need to be fusible to work, it’s just what I had on hand. I can’t remember why I bought it but hopefully, it would work so I wouldn’t have to buy anything else.
I painted the small pieces of interfacing and organza with a light layer of acrylic paint. As you can see here, the paint was not heavy and the shade of blue green was very light in value.
Next, I got out my wood burning tool and a piece of glass to burn on. I made random lichen shapes in the interfacing. I also did the same with the nylon organza. Once they were cut out, I held the small pieces with a pair of tweezers and used the heat gun to make them shrink up and get curly. I also added a bit of brown marker to the edges of the lichen as there are definitely brown bits on the real stuff.
Here’s the result. Yay, it looks like I wanted it to. Success. Now to add it and the dead teabag leaves to the mossy driftwood. I glued the lichen in place as it was mainly on the wood itself. I stitched the leaves down to the felt in a couple of places.
Here’s the result. You can click on the photo to enlarge it.
And the close up views. I’m happy with how it turned out and it was a really fun project.
Last week I spent a lot of time looking through my fibre stash, rereading my notes and finding all the supplies in preparation for Saturday’s needle felting workshop. I sorted out and made sure the supper wash was labelled and in a separate bag, yes I do have superwash merino, it’s just too tempting in all sorts of fabulous hand-dyed colours. Most of which has come from the black lamb. She has been selling small balls of fibre at various fibre fests, such temptations of colours! I admit I have caved and purchased supper wash!! Luckily with a bit of extra poking or a bit of blending, we can needle felt with it.
I found the box with the supplies I would need. Hum, I had this ready to go for 2020 so that makes the markers only…..2 years old… better get new ones just in case.
Six sets of 21 pages of note, and 4 versions of each picture chosen by each student, oh no the printer finally actually means it’s out of ink….it has been almost a year of saying it was going to run out at any second. Ouch! The price of new toner has gone up and needing to replace all the colours at once is painful!
Early Saturday morning arrived and Glenn loaded up multiple bags of wool, the box of supplies, a bag of frames and notes and finally the important bottle of Mountain due and off we went to set up the Ottawa Guild studio for the workshop. He was able to extract three six foot long folding tables from behind the looms one of which wound up covered in bags of wool.
1 large clear bag of little bags of wool, separated sort of by colour. There are also small dog brushes, scissors for paper and mettle rulers ready to use in the workshop.
It took me a while to get all the parts of the student’s kits organized on the table. Last I set out 2 packages of the mini chocolate bars. I got half of a cheese and cream cheese bagel eaten and I was ready for the students to arrive.
2 student supplies pile sitting on the table; foam pad, picture frame, notes and photos, needles, name tag stuff, project bag, cheap craft felt, 100% wool felt and thick 100% wool felt for name tag.
3 the tables, with the supplies, sitting in a C shape so I could sit in the center and see what each student was working on.
I had purchased foam kneeling pads from Dollerama but had brought a few other work surfaces to show the students.
4 Samples of different types of works surfaces; wool pads, wool ironing pad, cellulose sponge, foam cushion
When I first did needle felting a cellulose sponge was the surface suggested. (WARNING; Do not leave needles in a cellulose sponge, it will absorb moisture and humidity and rust the needles). The foam cushion (this one is 18”x18”) worked very well for pictures and later sculptures. I also brought the thicker soft wool felt mats (Grey and white) and the thinner ironing 100% wool pad. In a previous post, we chatted about some of these felting surfaces.
In the week before the workshop, I had emailed a selection of photo options to the students most let me know which one they wanted to try. I had four photos for them printed off in approximately 5”x7”; two with no alteration, one version that was colour blocked and the final version was done in extreme colour saturation. The colour blocking gives suggestions of colour value and the extreme saturation gives suggestions of hidden colours. Both can be helpful when looking at and assessing the original image.
The students arrived and we started on time.
Some of the students had felted before while others had not. To get them started I had them make a name tag using a thicker 100% wool felt made by the black lamb and a fine sock yarn. I had a scrap piece of paper for them to get the correct size of name to fit the tag. This is a good way to practice eye-hand coordination and fewer Band-Aids are needed later in the workshop.
In the notes, I covered multiple ways to transfer images to the felt base. A couple used the template method (good for thinkers or darker felt ground) and a couple used the window or lightbox method (easy if you have thin or light-coloured felt ground).
5 Two of the students getting started, cutting a window in cardstock, used to check the size of your image so it will fit in the mat when you’re done felting. The table is cluttered with their supplies including photo references and tiny chocolate bars.
6 three of the students started their pictures. There were 2 students per 6-foot table.
7 two of the students, now a bit further along, working on their pictures
A couple had combined images or added elements from one picture to another. So we had a quick chat about light sources (but there was more about light sources in the notes).
8 using the original photo of 3 sheep and a round hay bale in snow and replacing the sheep with her own goats. She had emailed me the goat photos and I had shrunk them to a size similar to the sheep. I also made mirror copies so she could rotate them if she wanted in the composition.
9 The sheep are gone and the goats are almost done!
Goats were replacing sheep and a few others made changes to their landscape. I had told them they are the God of their landscape! If a tree offends you then you can banish it from the picture, “Be gone Tree”!! If you would rather it was a different kind of tree or if you would like your tree to gain or lose weight that was up to you too!! (The power is Heady!!! < Maniacal chuckling in the background! >)
As I mentioned before I had brought in a number of different types of working surfaces to show them or let them try. There was a bit of interest in the wool felting pad, this is the one from amazon that has gone up to exorbitant prices (wait for the price to drop since it was about $13.00 when I got it and it was $53.00 when I checked last week). There is a similar but much cheaper version out of china too.
10 students’ hands trying out the 100% wool felting mat with her picture. She Liked the darker grey mat better.
The sheep and hay bales were popular, both in their original form and also used with other photo parts of landscapes. Even with the same picture, the interpretation was quite different but definitely the same image.
11-12 another interpretation of the sheep and hay bales picture.
I chatted about approaching wool painting like a watercolour, washes of thin layers of fibre or like an acrylic, blending to match the image then affixing the colour to the ground. They worked from the background to the foreground.
13 one student holds up her picture and she and two other students look at her progress.
By late in the afternoon most were to the point that they were ready to put their pictures into their frames. This is the first time I did not have any of the students stay a bit late to finish the last bit of their picture. It took me a while to finish packing up and cleaning up the studio so it would have been ok. There was a threat of more snow so with a few having a long drive home everyone made a break for it at the end of class.
14 close-up of the tree with fence felt picture now in a black frame.
Working from the back to the front is particularly helpful in this image. Having the background done behind the tree and then adding the tree on top is much easier than trying to fill in all the background between the many little branches.
15 matted pictures of sheep with hay bales held by the artist and admired by a fellow student. She used small locks to create curls on the sheep. It was very cute!
16 the finished framed hay bale with goats! Also very cute!
17 one student framing her picture while one keeps working on hers.
18 the picture of sheep and hay bales framed
The students seem to have enjoyed the experience. there was a bit more work to finish for two of the students but I made sure they all had enough fibre to finish and get them started on their next picture. I hope they will drop into one of the guild socials or post on the guild’s Facebook page so I can see what they are up to.
Tomorrow I am off to the basement to find some of my inkle looms because next weekend I switch gears and I’m teaching introduction to inkle weaving. That workshop involves boxes of smarties candies (but you have to take the workshop to find out why!!)
I want to thank my students for a wonderful workshop, I was very impressed with what they accomplished in just a few hours of happy stabbing of wool! (and only one finger) I hope they will continue felting (Dry or Wet or Both) and find images to inspire them. I hope the photos from this workshop inspire you to think about small landscapes, they make excellent Christmas presents!!
The Other Ann had posted about a challenge in a magazine she gets. Inspiration Magazine. https://www.inspirationsstudios.com/product/inspirations-issue-116/ it’s a needlework magazine. It looks really cool. So, I thought it might be an idea to ask people what magazines they read for knowledge and inspiration. Everyone seems to really love the Christmas beetle brooch. So I thought I would edit in the price for the kit, $129.00. I am assuming that is Australian dollars.
I would love to see Felt Matters but can’t bring myself to pay $65 for a digital and $81 for a printed ( 4 per year) magazine.
I like to leaf through unrelated magazines too when I see them. art quilt magazines are inspiring. They are good at showing you how to break down and simplify a picture. Nature magazines of course are great for inspiration. I have an old National Geographic magazine that talks about wool. It’s packed away but I found a picture
So tell us which magazines do you read to learn, and/or get inspired.
I had showed you this background a couple of post ago and was planning on free motion machine stitching a meadow scene.
I started with some background grasses in a couple of rows. If I do this again, I think I would stitch only one row and make the grasses longer.
Then I began couching down some different yarns with machine stitching.
I decided I should go ahead and stitch in the main focal flowers now so I wouldn’t fill up their space with grass. I couched down the green yarn for stems and then stitched heavily over a piece of purple felt for the flowers.
I decided the piece needed some more skinnier lines and some darker values. So I stitched the weedy bits in dark brown. These would have been easier if they were stitched before the larger grasses.
I then added some dark green weedy bits to the left hand side and couched some lighter green yarn down across the foreground. As you can see, I started looking at the piece in a “frame” since that was how it would be presented. What else did I need?
I decided the flowers needed some leaves so I used more of the same green yarn and pulled it apart a bit to get more width for the leaves. Was it finished? There was something bothering me on the right hand side. Do you see the brown grasses forming an ellipse? It seemed to draw my eye too much. So a bit of unstitching was necessary.
Now here it is after a bit of grass removal. Is it finished? I will leave it hanging on my design board for a few days to decide. I think I will add a bit of darkness to a couple of stems just right of center. Probably with a marker or a bit of paint.
I had a few weeks of sales / exhibitions coming up and was rather low on felt pictures so I decided to go on a little picture-making binge.
First an oystercatcher. I’m particularly keen on square pictures but I know some people prefer rectangles, so last time I had a batch of box frames made for me by my friendly local framer, I ordered four large rectangular frames – two finished in oak & two white wood. (Frame size 84 x 64cm / 33 x 25”)
I’m afraid I didn’t take many ‘in progress’ shots of the oystercatcher. I’d wet felted the bird’s body a little while ago. I then wet felted the background to fit the frame using a variety of pebble-coloured prefelts for the foreground, some incorporating bits of recycled silk scarves. The waves are merino wool with lots of small locks and some sort of tube of knitted yarn designed for scarf-making that I’d picked up in a charity shop. The patches of sea foam are bits of cobweb prefelt and I also included some blue cobweb prefelt to suggest light reflected from the sky. These were added to two base layers of pewter-coloured merino with additions in green and mink.
I needle felted the bird into place then needle felted in the eye, beak and legs, using orange prefelt and hand-dyed fine merino wool.
I wasn’t sure what I’d put on the right-hand side of the picture. I’d considered a second oystercatcher with its back to the sea but there wasn’t really enough room. I live in Whitstable, in south east England – a town famous since Roman Empire times for its oysters – so thought oyster shells might work well for an oystercatcher. I wet felted a pair of 3D oyster shells using bits of different recycled wool and silk yarn on the outside and some pearl fibre from World of Wool on the inside. I like the pearl fibre as it adds a sheen and is presumably made from the insides of shells (i.e. mother-of-pearl) so it seemed appropriate.
I thought it needed another shell so cast about in my stock and found a wet felted mussel shell to add to the collection. I messed around with the composition a little then needle felted them into place before framing. I now use sticky backed hook strips (like the hook half of Velcro) when framing felt – the hook strip attaches to the mount board and the felt is held in place by the little hooks. The felt can easily be removed without damage or residue if I need to move it or someone decides to reframe it.
Next up I made a very lightly felted cobweb prefelt to use in the next three pictures.
When making cobweb felt I tease out a piece of wool roving rather than laying out separate tufts of wool in a single direction. This is part way through the teasing-out process. I prefelt it very lightly – in fact it’s scarcely more than wet wool – so I can stretch it out as I apply it to a picture.
I then started on Summer Sea. Again a pewter-coloured merino base but with lots of other colours applied in wisps on the surface.
Then a layer of blue cobweb prefelt topped with some white cobweb.
Here’s the final picture ready for framing. I’m happy with this, even though the wisps of colour aren’t quite as visible as I’d have liked. (64cm / 25” square)
Next picture is a single wave. I start with 4 layers of pewter merino for the sea area and two layers of natural white for the wave and beach. In the past I’ve forgotten to take into account how much extra material goes onto the wave and beach. If I have 2 layers for the whole of the base, the sea part shrinks a lot more than the rest.
First I added some lighter grey/blue merino on the sea alongside some strips of darker blue cobweb prefelt. Then some cobweb prefelt in front of the wave to suggest water from a previous wave. Next I layered on broken baby alpaca top, mohair, silk hankies, wool locks and wool burrs to create the wave itself. I’ve also put a few strands of silk on top of some of the background waves and the wet-look front area to create sea foam.
Here it is from the side so you can see how high that wave is piled!
And here is the final picture. I spent a while when it was dry picking up some of the wave elements with a broken felting needle to enhance the 3 dimensionality of the wave before framing it. (64cm / 25” square.)
4th and final picture was a smaller one (framed size 43cm / 17” square) called ‘Choppy Sea’. Base layout is pewter with highlights in green and mink, with sections of blue cobweb prefelt and silk hankies for wave tops.
Here it’s felted and dry, sitting on top of its frame waiting to go in.
Again, I’ve used a broken felting needle to tease up the silk hankies that make the wave edges to enhance the depth. And here is a view from a low angle to show the 3D.
So, that’s how I’ve been keeping myself busy recently.
To end with, a few shots of these pictures in situ in a gallery.
These pieces didn’t sell in this week-long exhibition but some older work did – which is a great result for me. I like to live a while with the new pictures so we get to know each other but prefer older things not to hang around for too long! However, the last week and a half I’ve been in the beach hut gallery in my local harbour and yesterday both the oystercatcher and the single wave found new homes, which made me do a couple of very happy ‘shop small’ dances.
If you sell your work do you also get that ‘I’m not ready to let it go’ versus – ‘ok, you need to find somewhere else to live’ feeling?
I have been thinking about creating a meadow themed landscape for a while so I decided to do a smaller piece (about 8″ x 10″) to try out some different ideas.
I found a nice background from my stash, that is nuno felted and has an upper plain felt portion. The only problem was it wasn’t 8″ wide. I want to be able to frame this piece with a standard frame so that it doesn’t have to have a custom frame. Looking through my boxes of felt pieces, I found the upper darker blue piece that would add enough to the total to get to 8″ in height. I think it is a screen printed piece but I really can’t remember. Some of the stuff in my stash is really old and needs to be used up.
Now to connect them together. The simplest plan was to needle felt them together. I made the light blue felt uneven by cutting it as I didn’t want to see a straight line working it’s way through. Then I needle felted the two together and this is the result.
Next, I looked through my many boxes of yarn bits. These are the ones that I decided to try. I want the scene to look like autumn grasses and seed heads. Some of the choices didn’t get used but now I needed to sample them and see how I wanted the stitching to look.
Luckily, I have more of the nuno background to use as a sample. This piece is about 3″ x 6″ as I only wanted to try out the different colors and practice a little free motion machine embroidery before I started on the main piece. I did put a thin interfacing on the back to stabilize the felt. I like most of these ideas for grasses and seed heads except for the one that looks almost white. I think I will skip using that one. The purple one on the far end is a small piece of purple felt that I stitched down with a lighter thread color. I’m only going to have a few flowers that are still blooming in this piece. The tentative name at this point is “Late Bloomers”. Hopefully, I will finish this before my next post.
More work on the ocean sunset. I got a few orange locks from Bernadette. I believe they are mohair, but she can correct me in the comments if I am wrong. They were nice and shiny so they went with the silk well
The next thing to do was to wet felt it. I popped it into a large freezer bag and added a little water. I have never done this method before. Well, a little is relative, right? After getting it all wet I drained out the water so it wasn’t swimming. Then I pressed it and it was still floating so I squished more water out and drained it.
The silk kept moving, no matter how gentle I was, so it ended up a bit stringy and not all in the right place. I still like it but it needs some fiddling.
I got out a fine felting needle and started lifting and moving the silk and flattening the horizon. Horizons are not wavy except in high seas.
This is how far it is now.
I was thinking of a boat silhouette but I may go with a whale tail this time. maybe a bird floating nearby. I am not sure. It also needs some colours reflected in the water. I may add bits of silk or maybe some of the coloured sparkle powder. I may not wait for them. I am wondering if I should spray the picture with something if I use the powder. Maybe a spritz of hair spray? Has anyone done anything similar?
More waiting now. I did do another small fast project I will tell you about next time to give you a break and build suspense.
This is what it looked like on the last post. I had a comment from Ann B. that it lacked shadows. I had hemmed and hawed about adding shadows. I had convinced myself that the marks on the background could serve as shadows as it was a bit abstract. But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with Ann that it was lacking something. So I decided I would audition shadows with sheer fabric. And once I saw it, I knew the shadows were necessary. How could I call it First Light if I ignored the shadows?
And here it is after adding shadows. What do you think? Better or worse? I would suggest that you don’t rush whether a piece is finished or not. It was a bit of a challenge stitching the shadows down after the piece was already laced to backing board 😉
Now on to this piece. It definitely had beautiful autumn colors, so I decided I would add some silver birch trees with their fall leaf color. You will notice that I turned this around so the darker area was closer to the top of the piece.
I cut out some tree trunks from silk paper that I had made a while ago in preparation for trees. I hand stitched these in place.
Then I added some branches so the leaves would have somewhere to live.
Next up, I needed some background foliage. I didn’t want it to be too dominant but just needed some texture. I decided to use nylon organza and then burn it back with a wood burning tool to give it a leafy feel. Then I stitched it in place. You can click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the details better.
Next up was to cut out a bunch of leaf shapes in two colors of silk organza. I hand stitched these in place but the leaves were still too transparent and weren’t giving the effect I wanted to achieve.
I looked through my stash and had this bright yellow in silk habotai. That would perfect from a more opaque leaf. Once cut out, these leaves were stitched down. The photos above show the progression from left to right. Then, I put the piece up on the wall and studied it. That leaning tree trunk on the far left was bugging me. I didn’t like that it took your eye off the edge and it matched the same lean as the tree towards the middle. So I did a bit of unstitching and removed it.
So here is The First Leaf. I haven’t found the correct background fabric for it yet so I will have to go shopping for that. But that gives me a bit more time for it to hang in the studio and make sure that it is really finished!
Now hopefully, you’re not sick of them yet, another ocean picture. I plan on adding a sunset. The sky’s progress looks very similar to the progress of the other ones. I could probably just pick one and use the same picture over and over. This one is a bit darker as I am thinking it’s starting to get late with the sun going down.
For the ocean this time I wanted darker water and not so much sparkle so I peeled the top layer with the sparkle off and used the darker inside and back.
I have a nice pinky batt I think I can use to add the sunset to the sky and water. I think I am going to do it as the sun already being below the horizon but I am not sure. But I was back to a baking day so it will have to wait.
Now I’ve pulled the batt out to take a picture for you I am not liking it as much its got a lot of black and some blue in it. I think I need to look at what else I have.
That didn’t work well at all. What else do I have, Who knows, It’s all in boxes all stacked at the back of the storage area. so I must make do. I pulled a bit of corral pink and 2 shades of red silk ( probably but shiny anyway) out of the above batt and spread it out to be the sky.
I laid it on top and left a little spot for some orange sun.
Now as I said my stash is all in boxes and most of that is at the back. I did reach a small box or multicoloured silks in small bags. I found the right one I pulled a blob( technical fibre term) of dark purple from it. I don’t need much.
I pulled some fine bits ( another specialized fibre term)out and laid them across the top of the sunset sky.
Now I just need the shiny orange curl I have begged from Bernadette Monday night for the sun and that part should be done…….Except it’s not needled down and so it’s not really stuck. I look at it and it’s so wispy I think that if I try to needle it, it will end up pulling and being a mess.
I think I am going to have to wet felt it. I am planning to dig out some wet felting supplies. I think I can reach enough things for a small piece and some plastic wrap from the kitchen will work fine. That’s tomorrow’s job. Now if this ends here you will know I was unsuccessful at finding my supplies and taking them to the guild social to work on. Or possibly making tourtiere pie filling and waiting for and dealing with the livestock viewer took too long and I just ran out the door to do some spinning with friends. Hopefully, you won’t have to wait until my next post to find out how it goes.
I am still enjoying working with my water-themed bat to create ocean pictures. I finished the one that I was working on last time. I added some birds I mixed light grey and some white with so the seagulls wouldn’t look too bright. the 2 smaller ones looked ok but I tried to add black tips to the larger one’s wing tips and after some fiddling, and then more fiddling it ended up looking like a demented bat ( no picture of it at its worst) so I removed it and tried again. All the birds are going left. maybe into the wind? I tried to make the larger one go right just to be different but it started going left. I pulled it off and flipped it over and by the time I tacked it down properly, it was going left again. But at least it doesn’t look like a demented batt.
And a sailboat. Not the best boat but one of those little dingy boats with only one sale.
It was kind of boring so I added a red flag and 2 stripes for the sale and boat.
Better but I added another strip and I like it much better. I guess the rule of three works.
Then I decided I wanted to use some of the sparkly section. and started this one. I started it on my standard needle felting pad a foam kneeling pad. then my tendentious reminded me why I don’t use 6 needles at once and why I don’t do a lot of needle felting. Normally I would lightly tack these down and wet felt them. Jan gave me a small wool felting pad last Monday and I didn’t have time to try it properly so I tried it here. Wow, what a difference in how jarring the jabbing is. I also took apart my tool and removed 3 of the needles. I’ve ordered one of the 10×10 pads. I have this one to this stage. All well felted down but not sure what to put in the picture to give more visual interest. Maybe some whale tails? Rocks? a bluff and some birds? Sorry to say I didn’t take any in-progress pictures of this. Though adding the blue sky looks pretty much the same on all of them.
I fiddled with this a bit to try to show you how much sparkle there is. I used a flash and then turned down the brightness. Turning down the brightness was counterintuitive.
Now I started another but that’s my next blog post.