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Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

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

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

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

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

Corriedale Backpack with Canvas Straps

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Paper felt shell-inspired vessel

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

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

Finding Focus

Finding Focus

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some kind of velvet devore?

A woven cotton or linen?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finished bag

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

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

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

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

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

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

Terry Berries Felted Bag Online Class

Terry Berries Felted Bag Online Class

Registration for Teri Berry’s Felted Bags online class is now open! This is a great course and was well received, so it’s exciting it’s being run again. There are limited spaces available so if you want to register, click on this link and fill out the registration form.

During this 5 week course, you will have the opportunity to make at least 3 bags/purses.

In week 1, you will make an animal themed spectacles/phone/pencil case, this could be in the image of your favourite pet or a friend’s pet (they make very thoughtful gifts) or a mythical beast of your own imagination! You will use multiple resists, introduce some nuno felting and make a closure entirely from wool.

In week 2 you will learn to make a small to medium shoulder/handbag (purse to our US friends), this tutorial will demonstrate how to add internal pockets, a magnetic clasp, adjustable shoulder straps and take shaping the felt to the next level so the bag has a flat bottom and stands up on its own.

The week 3 tutorial is a little more ambitious, you will learn to make a backpack with adjustable straps, multiple internal compartments and internal pockets.

Weeks 4 and 5 will be for catch up / further development, you might like to apply your own design to a bag, Teri will be on hand to answer any questions and talk through any challenges your design might create.

As with all the online courses, there will be lots of opportunity to share your work with the rest of the group and share ideas.

The content of this workshop is suitable for felters with some experience, you do not need to have made a bag before but if you are confident making felt pods, bowls etc. over a resist you will be able to make these bags.

The class begins on February 13th. The price for this five-week course is £60 GBP (approx. $79 US, $105 Canadian, €70, $112 AUD, $119 NZ) and the number of places will be limited to 30 students.

Sign up here.

A show and Picture Progress

A show and Picture Progress

I had a show on the weekend. It was quite good. We put a big push on advertising on Facebook and Instagram and it looks like it paid off. There were more customers this year. It’s nice that everyone’s efforts paid off.

This is what my booth looked like.

I sat in the back near the mirror and worked on my Moy MacKay class picture. You can see it on the left of the table.  People were very interested and it helped to start conversations.

On the second day, I changed the table around a little to see if the little bags would go better.  It might have been a little better. people look at them a lot but they are not selling. Maybe the price is a bit high. I need to get my webpage set up to sell or get my Etsy page up and working.

This is what it looked like at the beginning of the day.

I added some more to the fences and some shadows for the ones on the left as the sun is on that side. added some purple to the left backfield to tone it down as it farther away.  The big thing I worked on mountains. The wool colours were running across, So they really didn’t look like trees. I added a thin layer of wool going the other way to make it look more like it is covered in trees. I used a greyer green so they will reseed more.

 

Now I need to add some shading to give the mountains some definition and mountainy shape. It’s coming along. At the moment I am working on the holiday card exchange. What are you working on?

 

Small Felt Pouches

Small Felt Pouches

First I wanted to let people know the discount code for lables is now up, it is at the bottom of the post. sew-on-labels

I am almost finished the sewing of the small felt pouches. I still have to add the hardware. You can click on any of the pictures to get a larger view.

These are finished except for the grommet and carabiner. I may add some flowers to the 3 without but I am not sure if I will have time.

These ones are done but now I am thinking maybe the pink and blue ones should maybe have somthing on the back.

I haven’t washed the stabiliser away on these. I thought I would use 2 small black seed beads for the cats eyes. and when I was taking the picture I noticed I hadn’t put the x for the fishes eye on the green one. I am not sure if the red one need somthing at the bottom front or not. I like the motif on the red one, the weaver and spinner were on a bronze age pot someone posted in the Evangelical Church of Distaff Spinning  group on Facebook.

 

These last ones I like quite a bit. The bright colours on the black felt look particularly good to me. The bee and thistle pouch still needs its stabiliser washed away. The 3D flowers I think need something on the lower half but it’s tricky with the tail and I don’t know what to put.

The first few pouches I sewed on some snaps. For the others I ordered a plastic snap kit. The snaps come in lots of different colours so I should be able to match them pretty well.

I forgot to take a picture so here is the one form Amazon, where I bought it. I paid the shipping and I ordered it on Saterday and it was here on Tuesday. That is fast delivery.

 

 

 

Next Steps Putting Together the Bags.

Next Steps Putting Together the Bags.

Last time I showed you the parts of the bags ready to be put together.   https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2018/06/04/making-some-more-little-bags/ Now I will show you how I do it.

First I wet one side. I use the resist to press the wool down and make sure it will be wet where I need it to be.

Next I add one of the pieces of silk.

Then I add the resist and the 2 pieces used to close the bag.

Next I add the second piece of silk and wrap the wool around everything

I add the second side of wool and wrap that around too.

After I’ve done that to all the pieces I add some embellishments. I am using a multicoloured top for grass on the blue one and the pink one got a rolled up ball of silk scraps. I covered the ball with more pink wool and will cut the top off near the end.

This is after several rollings. you can see they are curling as they shrink.

I cut the slit for the bag and rub it with well soaped fingers to heal the cut edges.

Next will be more rolling and some throwing to get the fulling done. I will show you the finished bags next time and some I finished with some embroidery.

Ann

 

 

Making Some More Little Bags

Making Some More Little Bags

I haven’t had much time to felt and today I finally got some time to start some new little bags.

The last time I made little bags I forgot to add the spikes that end up as the closures so I made a bunch of spikes to be ready this time. Now to remember to make the rings for the bottom.

I make these bas self lining by putting fabric next to the resist. This creates a nuno felt lining and I don’t have to do it later. I licked this silk scarf a friend gave me for it’s nice bright colours and interesting dye pattern.

The other thing adding the nuno lining dies is add strength allowing me to make a thinner, less bulky bag. I set up 4 resists because if you are going to rub and roll some felt you might as well do make it worth while.

Here are the 4 bags ready to be put together. I try not to match the linings to the bag colour to much so it doesn’t disappear when I am done.  I may have to switch the 2 middle ones.

At this point I had to stop and switch the laundry and got distracted with other things so I haven’t made it past this point today. You will notice that I have forgotten the rings at this point but I have a chance to fix this when I get back to them. It is not to late …..yet. Next time I will hopefully have some progress to show you.

Ann

 

A Sweater Story…..Can You Help?

A Sweater Story…..Can You Help?

At the start of February last year I posted that I had had a go at felting a sweater with designs on turning it into a bag.  I had purchased it in a charity shop for the princely sum of £1.  It had a lovely cable pattern to it, and it reminded me of the sweaters my Mom used to knit for people for some extra money.  I remember being in awe that she could complete a sweater within a week,  not being a knitter I assume now that this is not really an awe inspiring thing after all……..the wonderful innocence of youth!  When they were finished she would put them under the seat cushions on the sofa for us to sit on and ‘press’.  She tried to teach me to knit but I don’t know whether it just didn’t sink in or I was too young to be bothered, I think it was probably the latter…….

The sweater went in on a 40 degree wash, just to be cautious, and it didn’t felt enough, so I did a second wash at 60, still not good enough, so it went in again at 90, luckily it had felted sufficiently at that point as I didn’t really have anywhere to go from there!

So then I had a felted sweater and I couldn’t figure out how to re-figure it into a bag shape.  Luckily I have a friend who is more of a sewer than me and she helped at this point, by cutting it in the correct places to maintain the pattern in a symmetrical way, and sewing it up using un-ravelled wool from the arms.  She also made a clever deep internal pocket by utilising one of the cuffs.  I am sure I would have just hacked at it randomly, she thinks deeper and in a more practical way than me.

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I wanted the bag to be an over the shoulder, sitting on your hip type of length and unfortunately the arms were of no use for this.  I came up with the idea of a bead/felted ball type of handle and sourced these lovely wooden beads online, and made forty felted balls, I think I used Corriedale wool.

BEADS AND BALLS

I had made the balls pretty tight, so it was a bit of a struggle to push a long, strong needle through them all, using wool salvaged from the sweater.  I didn’t line it as I wanted to see the cable pattern on the inside too.  Here is the outcome.

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Or I should say, it was the outcome for a short while…………I used it a couple of times then one day I had just arrived at a car park, I put the bag over my shoulder and SNAP! one of the lengths of wool sewing all the beads and balls together broke, and there I was scuttling around the car park trying to retrieve my wooden beads that were rolling in every direction! laugh? nearly!!

Now this is a sweater that has felted beautifully and I do want it to live life as a bag so Plan B is necessary.

I did like the felted balls with the addition of the beads.  However, if I am being really honest, the design didn’t sit the best on my shoulder……I really wanted a handle to compliment the soft, natural colour and pattern of the bag.

I thought maybe of producing a length of felt and encasing it in a pretty fabric, as I did here for my flower meadow bag that I made a while back.

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Or perhaps I could use a twisted cord such as these but in a much better colour.  These examples are white with a blue fleck, black and a nice cobalt blue.  Or maybe two twisted together for thickness ?

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If I could knit, one solution would be to buy more wool and create some handles that way,  but this is not an option unfortunately as I do not have the desire to learn.

Those are the only ideas that I have come up with this far, so it’s over to you please, do you have any bright ideas to make my ex-bag into a loved bag again?

What would you do?

A Couple of Felted Pouches

A Couple of Felted Pouches

This week I decided to make a new pouch for my business cards. The one I am using now is getting  a little ratty looking from being in my purse for several years.

I didn’t take any in progress photos. I wasn’t really thinking about it, just enjoying the process of making something.

This is the first one, front and back and closed. It turned out well but I tiny bit smaller than I wanted.  Not bad considering I didn’t do any measuring I just cut out a resist and started.

Here it is on the resist so you can see the shrinkage

And a pictures of the nuno felt designs.

I made the second pouch bigger. I wanted some ruffles along the sides so added extra fiber there sticking out from the side. I didn’t make the extra wide enough and it almost disappeared. It is a tiny bit ruffled but not great.

and on the resist.

And a close up of the silk roses, I think I will shave them, they are a bit fuzzy.

Finally both of them with a ruler to give you an idea of size. one is about 6 and the other about 8 inches

I have a thought of making them to sell. I thought maybe I would put a grommet in the back with a carabineer clip in it. I am just not sure they will sell at a decent price. Do you like the idea? What do you think people would pay for them?

 

 

 

Another Bag and More Unfinished Projects

Another Bag and More Unfinished Projects

If you’re anything like me, when you get the sewing machine and felt and/or fabric scraps out, you end up with stuff absolutely everywhere and a huge mess to tidy away afterwards which takes so long you start to consider whether you really need to use that room again or if you can get away with shutting the door on the mess forever. I usually try to make the most of it and do as many sewing projects as I can all in one go and live with the mess in the mean time. After making the satchel type bag, I had some good sized off cuts left over so thought I’d make myself another bag. This one is ‘passport bag’ size. This is what it looks like from the front with the flap closed:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is what it looks like with the flap open – I used magnetic closures again:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is what it looks like on the back:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used quite a few of my recent nuno felt pieces, but also a few from ‘the box’ including the piece I used inside the flap which was a piece I made years ago with lots of different pieces of silk. I’ve got a few more half finished projects too, this next one will also be a piece for Ann’s 2nd quarter challenge, because I’m changing a piece of soft scruffy felt I made a while ago:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd this is a bird pod I started at the well being centre a few weeks ago. I need to shape it and full it:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABack:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaybe when I get my new spinning wheel (oh, yes I am!) I’ll make a matching cord to hang it 🙂

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