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Framing; To Glass or not to Glass is that confusing?

Framing; To Glass or not to Glass is that confusing?

Many years ago, almost forgotten in the mists of time…. Ok, when I was 16. I realized I could not possibly get an office or secretarial type summer job as many of my friends were getting (you have seen my spelling.  Even now with the helpful suggestions from the computer I really cannot spell.) Working as a cashier was out because of the dyscalculia (Numbers are almost as bad as letters). So that left jobs the boys would not take at student manpower (shovel jobs) and finally I wound up working as a picture framer. Even with moving crates of glass (which are not light) it was better than shovel jobs. I wound up picture framing for 13 years until i damaged my ulnar nerve and switched careers but that is another story.

I was very lucky when I started to work.  I was taught by a picture framer who was trained as a conservator.  Acid free matting, backing and making rice paper glue with proper T hinges were part of my training. Mounting textiles on a ground was also something I did from small textile pieces to large quilts.

I even got to explain to people why their incredibly wrinkled Diploma could not be dry mounted because it was made of real parchment. I got that job because I would get so excited by real parchment I would explain how it was made and point out where the hair follicles had been.  I would tell them how impressive it was to have parchment (made from stretched and prepared skins; usually calf, sheep or goat) rather than boring paper, so it was worth considering a conservator to get rid of the wrinkles. I would also explain not to hang it in the bathroom or direct sunlight. By the time I was done they were usually requesting the expensive restoration and very pleased with their masters or even sometimes a B.A. degree.

I framed small Tapestries in Theo Moormen technique with double glass and double mats on the front and single mat on the back. This allowed viewing of both sides of the piece but protected it from dust and handling.

Why would we want to frame a 2D felt picture?

  1. Framed work gives it more gravitas (something framed will be looked at differently than something not framed. A framed piece (or one finished to hang in another way) suggest more value than one that is not framed. This is why presentation or hanging is important for display in a gallery.)
  2. Protects the work from dust and unwanted handling/ fingering. (it also protects from possible vacuuming by over enthusiastic persons)
  3. Protects the fiber from the evils of wool moths or other horrors! (Such as a wooden frame with a paper backing or sandwiching your work between matts then add glass to the front and back. For further protection from dust or moths, the layers can be sealed with AF cloth tape along the edges.)

Why do some suggest Felt should not be framed with glass?

  1. Water damage when behind glass from wicking when washing the glass (this happens when Windex or other cleaning liquids are sprayed directly on the glass and drip down into the frame.) This wetness can wick around the glass and onto the work. If it is a photo it can actually become stuck to the glass, damaging the photo when the glass is removed. When cleaning framed pictures with glass, it is preferable to spray the cloth lightly with Windex or other cleaner then use the dampened cloth on the glass. Never spray the glass because of the possibility the liquid may leak into the frame and wick behind the glass or into the matt.
  2. Glass distorts the image. Using the wrong glass can distort the image. As non-glare glass is designed to work directly against the image but when elevated off an image it will blur and distort the image below.  Choose Glass that is appropriate to your intended use. If you are using a shadow box, a filler strip under your matt or even sometimes just a double matt, consider either plain glass or one of the new glasses with a museum coating. Check if there is distortion at the height you will be placing the glass before final framing.
  3. Humidity forming behind the glass due to sunlight on it. (a lot of dyes,  like paint, are fugitive.  They fade in prolonged exposure to direct light.) Due to fugitive pigment, artwork should not be hung in direct sunlight, with or without glass. There are very expensive glass types that can reduce the UV damage but it’s better to just not put it there. Do not put artwork (or real parchment) in a very humid environment. You can damage the artwork and warp or distort the matt and backing. Sculptures with pipe cleaner armatures can also have trouble in places of high humidity too.
  4. Glass can flatten the felt. There are ways to elevate the glass off the pictures to allow for textural elements. If you have some 3-D elements in your picture you may require a shadow box (a frame with a very deep inside that your picture can expand into) if you only have a bit of texture or fluffiness you want to maintain you may only need to use a double mat (acid free). If you need a bit more height you can make a support to raise the matt up by adding foam core supports ether under the matt or between the layers of the double matt. (Under is more common). As you create a deeper collection of backing art, spacers, matts and glass.  You may want to look more at a deeper wood frame although there were a couple options for deeper metal frames too. (There are some fiber artist that are laying out there wool in a picture and not felting it. Instead they are compressing it with the glass to hold it in position.)
  5. Glass is expensive and heavy. (Some of the specialty glass can be expensive, and in large sizes, it can be quite heavy. Plexi can be lighter but is not necessarily cheaper in larger sizes.)

Other considerations.

Framing is expensive. One way to reduce the expense is making sure your work is a standard finished size.  This will allow you to pick up a stock frame matt and Glass.  You can do this by making a matt template out of cheap cardstock or out of a cereal box type cardboard. Make templates with common matt opening sizes; 5×7, 8×10 and 11×14. You saw examples of this when I was working on my Christmas cards and the cardinal in previous posts.

If you are working from a photograph, try to scale your image to one of the standard sizes. Before you print it out to work with.

1 Tulip scaled to fit in a 5×7 matt opening

Use a template (so you don’t get the matt dirty) to check as you work that you are keeping the image to the size you intended.  I do often expand over the border just a bit so I have the option to shift my picture or elevate the matt without showing the underfelt.

 2 Tulip Framed

This is a Dollerama wooden frame, mat and glass I used from my mother’s day post Happy Mother’s Day 2021;   May 17, 2021   https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/05/17/happy-mothers-day-2021/

You can see the same technique of using a template used with the cardinal I was working on at the farm show demo.

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 3-7 Cardinals with matt template

The cardinals were from this blog post; So much time.  So much to do!  March 23, 2020  https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2020/03/23/so-much-time-so-much-to-do/

Repurpose Frames you have or find

From the same blog, I showed you a different kind of frame I had found at a second hand store. They are called memory boxes or memory frames. There was a fabric backing over cork in the back of the frame and the front face with glass was hinged so you could change out what you put in there. Magnets hold the face and glass closed creating a shallow shadow box. The glass will protect the felt from dust but can be opened to clearly show that the picture is made of wool and not paint or pastels.

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8-10 Memory Frames (decorative pins to hold the felt would work well)

These frames are fantastic for demos or felting displays so if you trip over one secondhand please consider buying it. I have the arctic landscape which was a water based challenge pinned in with sewing pins temporarily (I really should get a matt or felt to the edge but it shows that the piece is felt quite well.) Unfortunately they are a bit dinged up but still work well to protect and show the felt picture.

My final example of working with a mat template is from Sneaky Presents;  January 10, 2019 blog post https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2019/01/10/sneaky-presents/

The inside of an empty cereal box was my template. I again used the wooden frame mat and glass from Dollerama.

11-12 Snowman

I wound up making three 5×7 pictures for that x-mass trip; The snowman, the cardinal and the bunny. All were expressing parts of Oakville (ok, the snowman was a bit optimistic considering the number of green Christmases we have had while visiting!)

 12-13 Christmas pictures

Ok I think we have the concept of using a template to make a standard size image to frame, fully explored. Now that you have the matt in front, what should you consider putting behind the pieces?

A few last things about Matts

Matts are available in both acid free and non acid free stock. Both types usually have an interior bevel of 45deg or a reverse bevel of the same angle but in the opposite direction. You can have a black or coloured core to the matt. Matts come in a huge array of colours, surfaces and textures. Some matts are hand made wrapped in silk, others some have lines or patterns drawn on them or powdered colour added (french matting).  You can even add a wooden lip to the edge of the matt. All these options have a cost. Ideally try to get an Acid Free matt and backing that enhances your work.

Matts are cut on a matt cutter. If you are going to be framing a lot of your work you may consider an introductory course on matt cutting and framing.  The price of a matt cutter for semi-professional use has come down so it may be worth investigating. A good quality matt cutter will save you a lot of frustration and wasted mattboard so don’t skimp on this tool.

Behind your artwork;

Ideally, a 2ply acid free matt board but since my days in framing this seems to have fallen out of favour. So let’s consider why we used to use one and what options there are now.

The 2ply was a barrier between the artwork (usually paper) and the cardboard backing. It was there to keep the piece from reacting with the cardboard and becoming either brittle or discoloured. This is not as much of a problem since the felt is not as sensitive to acidic cardboard but ideally a good acid free backing would be best for it.  So let’s consider, if we can’t get 2 ply, what can we use instead?  We can buy a sheet of 4ply  to cut down for a backing (it’s a bit pricey to buy it by the small size you need since the backing you need for the 8×10 piece is almost the cost of a full uncut sheet. Since the cost is so close  it is more economical to buy a full sheet and cut it carefully for what you need and save the rest for other picture backings.

Another option is acid free foamcore or even regular foamcore. Both make a good backing but they will start to add thickness so if you are working with a limited amount of depth in your frame this may not be as feasible.

Thinking a bit outside the frame you can find acid free paper in most reasonable quality sketchbooks. I have even spotted some available at Dollerama although they do cost $4.00 not $1.00! So, if you don’t want to sacrifice a sheet of your arches watercolor paper this may work as a separator from any acidic cardboard.

if you want to float your work on the backing, i would suggest using a fine pointed awl or heavy gauge sewing needle to punch 2 or more sets of small double holes through your backing and then you can carefully sew into the back of your work and down into the mounting board. With two holes you can tie a not on the back of the mounting board which will not be seen from the front.

There is a product called Coroplast, which is a fancy name for cardboard made from plastic. It can be used as backing without fear of acidity. You can see coroplast in a lot of yard signs (often a thinner quality but also cost less) or a thicker version is available at hardware stores like Home Depot. If you have a very thin felt picture (pre-felt with a light wool covering you may be able to sew or lace the felt around the foamcore or coroplast. Coroplast is stronger in one direction than the other. it is stronger with the holes running vertically with your work, (i hope this is clear). The felt can than be framed, but i would suggest a spacer to lift the glass. spacers can be made from foam core or you can buy clear acrylic strips which were available in my day for this purpose.

A non traditional approach to framing

 14 Farm show demo display with 3D felt pictures

The framing/hanging for the last guild art show required I start with a standardized 12×12 canvas. The rule was I could not exceed three inches in height so I removed the canvas and used the stretcher bars. I wrapped my felt to the lower level giving me almost an extra inch in height! The way I attached them is a combination of sewing (button hole thread) and lacing with a bit of needle felting to keep the center depressed. I had to felt the base quite firmly to keep the base recessed.  You can see more here; Polar bear for the 150th Anniversary Art show February 12, 2018 https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2018/02/12/polar-bear-for-the-150th-anniversary-art-show/

How odd!  I do not seem to have a picture of the back to show you… oh time for another photo shoot! Muskox has volunteered.

15 Sewing, lacing and felting to secure the picture to the stretcher bars

You can see the combination of lacing( with button hole thread) and then needle felting to give a solid base around the stretcher bars. (Something similar can be done over one or more layers of coroplast). This gave a finished ready to hang edge. Due to the depth of the figures, if I decide to frame this with glass I will need a deep shadow box or a bespoke (custom order) plexi box.  Since the felt envelopes the back and front of the frame I may need a more complex way to keep the back moth proof.  As it is, today we used screw eyes to the back of the frame as a way to hang it. We were using, I think, a #3 wire so I am not sure why I have a bit of spun yarn on the back of this one?

16 -17 Musox picture Back and Side

You can see how much depth I have in the head which is wired so it can adjust a bit.

18 Muskox Front

Now let’s get back to more normal framing considerations. We have made the piece, discussed the matt and the backing.  let’s consider how do we attach the piece to these parts. ( you can just pay for custom framing and not worry about how things are attached but if you want to make sure it is done to your specification or you want to save money you can do this yourself)

With paper items; rice paper T-hinges or there were also acid free tapes available to hold the artwork to the backing. With wool; most of these option will not stick well unless the felt is very thin and light. For most textiles a bit of careful sewing to attach it to the backing was usually the best option. It was removable and usually would do the least damage.  A few fine textiles owners would insist their piece needed to be dry mounted but there was acid free dry mount tissue available. This might work for very light thin felt (like nuno felt) but I would not suggest it for anything thicker or heavier.  You may also have problems with adhesion to the backing. (I would suggest a small separate test sample if you are sure this is the way you want to attach it.)

Another option for a base to mount on is a matt board with a bit of batting on top.  Then wrap silk fabric over the batting. The felt picture can be pinned or sewn in place on the silk.  Because the felt is floated on the silk an uneven or random edge can show as a feature of the piece. I would still put ether a matt or a spacer to elevate the glass off the felt.

With some felt pieces you may be able to pressure fit the felt between the matt and backing. This means no sewing, just carefully position the picture between the matt and backing, clean and add the glass, then place the frame over top. Turn everything over to show the back carefully and add the nails or bend over the tabs to keep everything in place.  This does not always work as in the case of a shadow box so a few careful stiches hidden under the matt or into the back of the piece may be needed.

What are our options for Glass?

Now let’s consider glass options and I use the term loosely since Ikea’s “glass” is now Plexi. I have framed with very large sheets of plexi for commercial purposes (they were for the real estate industry; large floor plans and drawing of what the houses would look like) The plexi, especially at that size, was a pain. It tended to scratch easily, it distorted the image if the plexi was not very close to the image and it built up a static charge when you took off the protective coating (which would not be good for lightly felted wool). Its’ good point is that it did not cut you like glass occasionally tried to do. It looks like plexi has also improved over time so you may want to ask more questions at your local framing store. Do inquire about the static problem we use to encounter.

Most pre-made frames will come with standard regular glass. There are more options if you want to upgrade the glass. Since my time as a picture framer there are many more options for glass ranging from the cheapest, regular glass, to various types of coatings to reduce glare or UV damage to the artwork (some are quite expensive). Some of the new coatings look very effective but also advise not to use regular glass cleaners on them or you will destroy their coatings effectiveness. (Always apply any dampness to the cloth, not the glass when you are cleaning – remember about wicking and damaging your artwork)

Some of the “non-Glare” glasses are not suitable for shadow box applications since their pebbled surface distorts the image when not adjacent to it. You may want to consult your local framing store if you want to investigate the various glass options.

One other option when considering glass is you can show both sides of your felt by having glass at the front and back of the piece.  When I framed some of my own parchment I showed both the front and back so you could see it was parchment and not paper. Oh no, I better grab the camera and show you what I mean.

 19 parchment with acid free suede matt and Museum glass

This was very expensive museum quality glass when I framed this about 30 years ago. (The piece has not been in direct sunlight and there has been no noticeable colour change over time. so i would say the price was worth it.) The glass on the back is regular glass since it would not be visible most of the time and not exposed to excessive light. I painted and framed it for my mother in law who was always very fond of angels.  She sent it home with us last year. It now sits beside my husband’s computer. it is not in direct sunlight but is near a window.

 20 light showing through the parchment

I held the picture in front of the window so you can see the sun light coming through the parchment with the begonia shadows.

21-22 framed in double glass and matts showing the front and back

There are matts on both sides of the parchment, covered by glass. There is tape over the edge of the glass and frame.  The turnbuckles were screwed in through the tape on the frame. The tape is sealing the back so no dust can get in. If you noticed, the ripple in the top of the parchment is not due to humidity.  This piece is from the outer edge of the skin  and the ripple is showing where one of the tie points on the deer skin edge was.

 

A profile view of some types of framing

23- 25 Different parts of frames:

The Frame

Finally, let’s look at the frame. For traditional framing (with glass), you will need ether a wooden or metal frame. Wooden (or if you are looking at the dollar store versions some “wood” is actually plastic) Real wood is the direction I would tend to suggest for a strong frame and the ability to seal the back in brown paper. Once your have your piece assembled but before you put the hangers on, if you are not using double glass, you can add a paper dust cover to the back of a wooden frame. Stick the paper to the back edge of the frame with double sided tape. You can get rid of the excess paper around the edges of the frame by using a sanding block on a slight angle to cut off the extra paper. This gives a nice neat finished look to the back and keeps out dust and wool moths. Consider the profile (shape) of the frame for the positioning of the hanging wire. If you have used double glass you may need to elevate the wire position and keep the wire snug so it will not stretch above the frame when hung.

With wooden frames the glass/matt/felt/ backing are usually secured in place with finishing nails, brad points or turnbuckles if you are flush with the frame. There are a few options for hanging devices but most common were screw eyes and wire which are usually placed in the top 1/3 or the frame. An Awl makes a handy measuring device to make sure your positioning them at the same level!

Metal frames are available and are often a cheaper option. They go together with a screwdriver and usually use clips to hold the glass securely to the front of the frame.  As long as you use a strong well-fitting backing and lots of metal spring clips, you should be able to keep the wool moths from being able to get to the wool. (As well as keep the dust out and protect from anyone wanting to vacuum the felt.)

As i showed you with the Guild Art Show, there are other ways to present a felt picture or hang a tapestry which does not involve traditional framing (with or without glass). Some of my examples; frog/ lily pad, polar bear and muskox are finished and ready to hang but are not formally framed.  Ruth has had a number of posts with effective ideas to create a neat hanging presentation but without the traditional look. Depending on the piece you have created and the aesthetic you are creating you may want to try a less formal presentation. If you want to look at a more formal one, I hope I have given you a few frugal ideas and a starting point to work from.

Have Fun and Keep Felting!!!

Finishing Nuno Landscapes

Finishing Nuno Landscapes

I am feverishly working away trying to finish up some landscapes and get them to the framer. I suddenly realized that it’s November and I needed more work to sell for the holiday season. I have always had good intentions of finishing pieces, getting them sewn to the backing fabric and laced to a board when I complete the piece. But somehow, those good intentions are paving the road to procrastination. Here I am again, finishing all the landscapes at once.

I went to the fabric store and found some fat quarters that worked with the various colors. I then hand stitch the nuno piece down to the fabric and lace it around a piece of matte board. Here is “Twilight” on it’s backing board ready to be framed.

This one I chose black fabric for the matting and laced it on to the matte board with a very minimal edge. I only want a tiny bit of black to show. This one is called “Serviceberry” at the moment unless I come up with a better name.

Believe it or not, I have finally decided that my slow stitch project is complete. I stitched it down to some brown fabric but I haven’t gotten this one laced on to the matte board yet. This one is called Autumn Impressions.

For those of you who wanted to see what the original fabric looked like, here it is.  Definitely a bit of a change!

The last one is the green nuno felt that I showed you recently. I finished stitching and decided it was complete. I have it on a dark green fabric background but haven’t stitched it down yet. Hopefully, I will get these finished up this week and get them to the framers by Friday. That’s the plan, anyways.

And here’s a close up of the bottom so you can see the stitching around the poppies. I still haven’t decided what to call this one yet. Several suggestions were made last time and I decided I had to research whether the plant I was thinking of was really Queen Anne’s Lace or whether it was Hemlock. It could be either. So then I kept thinking of titles such as Lethal Serenity, Poisonous or Peaceful?, Deadly Tranquility etc. So I will keep thinking on what it should be called as I finish stitching it down and lacing it.

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

Silk cocoons

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

 

Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

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

Enjoy your weekend!

Happy Mother’s Day 2021

Happy Mother’s Day 2021

Last year I made Mom a felted picture of tulips for Mother’s Day. She is very fond of tulips but not so much taking care of plants. Thus, the felted tulips seemed the best option. I told you about them last year (https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2020/05/10/a-bouquet-for-mothers-day/) so I hoped you might be curious if I gave her another tulip.

This year we have been having a long slow spring. Spring flowers started early and have lasted for weeks! It is a big improvement over some springs. We occasionally go from snowbanks and snow mould to crocuses to 20c+ weather in the space of a couple of days to a week (there is a lot of flooding those years). Ottawa is a wonderful place to experience weather in one year you can live through +40c to -40c. (I am glad there is a lot less of the -40c than when I was a kid)

this year with such a slow spring we got to enjoy the flowers for much longer! While we were working on the sinking garage sort and clear, I snuck out to the front garden to take a few pictures to see what would inspire me for this year’s Mother’s Day Felt picture.

The violets are out as well as the lungwort but mom really does like tulips

1-3 Harratige Violets and Lungwort

It’s still a bit early and there are more daffodils out than tulips in full bloom so let’s see what we have for inspiration options.

 

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4-11 2021 Early Spring Garden

After much deliberation, I chose the lighter of the peachy pink and orange tulips.

 12  The photo was taken May 2nd, 2021. The needle felted picture is based on this tulip and was started the evening of May 6th and then worked on over the next 2 days while Glenn still puttered on the garage clearing.

The base layer is an inexpensive commercial felt in antique white. I have shifted the grey background to a more blue tone. The wool is a combination of superwash merino, Corriedale and a small amount of BFL.  The background was worked with both a single T36 as well as the fake clover tool with T40’s.

13    I used the template method of transfer, although the felt was thin and light so if we had a sunny day I could have done the window or lightbox method. I did not want to use the black permanent black markers and could not remember where I had put the coloured permanent markers so I used coloured pens instead. (the lost markers could have been replaced at Dollerama but are not considered essential!!!)  I measured out the 5×7 box and since my cardboard mat has also disappeared after I cleaned my desk I just kept checking with the ruler to make sure I was staying in the correct size for framing. (It is a lot cheaper to work in a standard size so you don’t need to cut a custom mat later.)

Looking at the picture, I have the Red Maple tree out of focus as the background. This is very gray/brown out of focus bark and is not really as appealing in the felt version. Well, we can fix that, if you need to move a tree, go ahead and move the tree! If the sun is not shining, just turn on the sun In your painting if you would like it to be there! you are God in your creative world! So I used the Magic of Tree-be-gone and switched it out for the amorphous sky and nondescript foliage.

 14-15 I laid in the background first and used both the single needle and fake clover multi-tool to get the background blocked in.

Yes, that is more what I was wanting.

16 Messy desk yet again

Next, let’s look at the colours. I ransacked my wool to find Pinks, purple, navy, greens, yellow, white and a scarlet red I could blend with the pink. The red was from a bit of superwash merino I had bought from the Black lamb and used on last years’ tulips. Unfortunately, I got quite absorbed in the colour blending and layering before I remembered to take another picture.

17-19 thin wisps building up the colour

I had started with the yellows and peach colours at the back part of the flower and worked forward. I found the tulip needed more contrast at the intersection between the edge of the leaf and the background. So working with the fibres generally parallel to the base of the picture  I added wisps of a slightly darker blue to the edge, then folded the fibre back into the blue. In a few spots, I used my fingernail to pull back the tulip so I could work in the blue(if you don’t have scary talons an awl would have worked too).

20-22 getting a stronger contrast along the edge of the tulip

 

I decided after adding the contrast I needed to add bits of lighter wisps to keep the sky from looking too grey. I cut up and blended bits of white and blue. If you are doing a lot of cutting little bits of wool you may want to wear a mask (I know we are still doing a lot of that, but in this case, we are avoiding wool lung, not covid)

 23

I was finally pleased and decided it was time to see what it looked like framed. I had bot extra frames from Dollerama for my felted picture workshop. I use to have Ikea picture frames but they now are using Plexiglass which isn’t as nice with wool pictures. (plexi is not as clear as glass and can get quite a static build-up, not the best if it’s only lightly felted). So I went with the Dollerama black wooden frame, I may get a precut mat upgrade later since the frames now come with a thin paper mat. Unfortunately, we are still in lockdown so no upgraded mat is possible at this time.

24-26

Yes, I think Mom will like that!

When I was done I printed out the info (Happy Mother’s Day 2021 and the photo that inspired the picture.)

 

I also collected the pieces I had used for the template, the reference picture and a bit of the wool I had used. I put them in an extra-large sandwich bag to keep as a reference. I will eventually get around to organizing my work into a binder showing photos and references used on each project.

 27-28

 

I hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day and Maybe even received a mother’s day present. (Possibly tulips or some very nice wool? Or the whole sheep?) Even many years after having expired from old age, my furry kids sent me a spectacular felting book; “Landscapes in Wool, the art of needle felting” by Jaana Mattson. I am looking forward to reading more of it. The back part of the book has paintings in felt she has made while the front half has step-by-step instructions on how she has made some of her pieces. I’m always intrigued to see how other felters work and see if there is something they are doing that I could incorporate to improve how I work.

 

It’s going to be 23c today so I guess spring is over and it’s time to get the 2 pails with dahlias out to their planters. After a call to Canadian Tier, I found out the garden center is open and the lines were much shorter in the evening (do not tell anyone, I still have a couple more plants to find).  Glenn came with me. he pushed the cart I pushed the walker and selected plants. I was successful and got most of the herbs and vegetables as well as a purple Raspberry and an exotic-looking honeysuckle! We put all the pots tucked between the planter boxes in the driveway.

29-30 No felting for me until I get most of this planted.

I also checked out the front garden the tulips are trying their best but are not going to like this weather.

  31-33 The later spring garden

 

 34  This is the same tulip I was felting. Now it is almost finished blooming and will soon drop its petals. What an amazing colour change!

I hope you have been inspired by spring. If your own garden has not inspired you this year then I hope you will find inspiration here and borrow mine! (Maybe just ignore the construction sign, though it is colourful!)

 

 

 

So much time.  So much to do!

So much time.  So much to do!

So much time.  So much to do!

Almost all the exciting things I was going to tell you about today were cancelled. The first was the Drive to Peterborough for the first big fibre festival of the year. Last year, due to unpleasant weather in Ottawa, we seemed to be the only ones from there to make it. Not only does the Peterborough Weavers and Spinners guild put on a good sized fibre festival they also get Spring before we do! So it’s nice to see it may arrive in our area in a couple weeks more.

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1-14  From last year at the Peterborough Fibre festival,  a good mix of fibre, yarn, supplies and finished goods.

We also missed the yearly Demo at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show. In the last 2 years, I have felted at the demo, making the polar bear face and then a cardinal. This year it was cancelled but it is better to be safe than sick.

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15-27  The Farm show demo 2019. this is a demo for excellent questions, talking to hemp growers, and trappers with fur. I am going to miss the sheep shaped car air freshener that one booth was giving away!

Well this stay home/work from home idea may not be all bad (as long as we do not get sick!) So far I have read (yes books with words not available in an audible form), watched felting videos I had not yet watched, also videos on restructuring a Victorian style coat, making a pair of combinations (historical fancy underwear), making an 1887 corset and a video on pad stitching. I also am going through and sorting some of the project boxes I have around the house.

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28-30   This was hiding in a box between the dining room and the living room. I wondered where that had got. Originally it was going to be a 5×7 but quickly turned into an 8×10 as I grew more interested In the branch. I should keep looking and find its frame.

Best of all I found one of my missing pairs of old glasses that are just the right focal depth to read, type and felt easily!!! (Oh, maybe not being able to see the keys was better, I think I need to dust the keyboard more often)

3131  Hmm, maybe it’s time to clean up my desk too.

I have been spending a bit more time in the kitchen making interesting Dinners since Glenn is still working. In addition, I have a Grocery run for my mom. Last week was milk, which is a bit heavy for me. So the trundle box, that has been sitting abandoned in the kitchen had to be emptied so I can put her groceries in it.  When I emptied the trundle box I found my missing Other pictures for the landscape workshop!!! I have to remember to unpack and put things away!

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32-34    These are frames I picked up second hand at Value village. The larger one is a memory box, it has a fold down glass front. The second is a shadow box so it has a deeper space between the glass and the artwork. Both are lined with linen fabric so the felt has been pinned to the backing fabric.

Well, now I will have a bit more time since the Guild is closed and I haven’t been working on the guild library projects. Who knows, if I keep puttering on the house I may find that place where I keep putting things so they will be safe!!! (So safe I cannot find them again!)I have done a bit of online shopping some of which will be shared with Ann when it eventually arrives.  I even have felting projects I want to get started before the fleece washing season is back upon us. I hope you are all healthy and since we are instructed to stick our hands in soapy water frequently, at least the wet felters should have a great chance of avoiding the flu! Maybe I will have to wet felt a few backgrounds to needle felt over later. Have lots of fun and use up lots of soap!

 

Holiday Card

Holiday Card

Now that my partner has finally received her card I can tell you about it.

First I made a background using some prefelt and added some northern lights. I then wet felted it all together. they are not felted hard because it is small and is an art piece.

Next, I added the trees along the far hill and a nice big evergreen and a barn using prefelt again.

I added some snow to the tree and added some definition to the barn. I also added the fence wire using perspective so I could add the posts along the right line.

Then came the fence posts and some shading for the snow-covered ground.

and finally I added the sheep( I bet you are not surprised that I added sheep) and trimmed the northern lights so I could turn it into a card. I always do my card as a postcard so they can easily be framed if someone wants to. I just print off a postcard back from the internet and iron it onto the back with a fusible web. I was in a hurry to get it in the mail at that point and didn’t get a picture.

I made a second one at the same time. I like to have 2 to choose from when sending a card. This one I kept. I will frame it. I haven’t decided if I will keep the northern lights projecting over the mat board or trim them off as I did in the one I sent.

I wish I had a better picture for you but I have put it someplace safe and now I can’t find it. I am sure I will come across it when I am looking for something else.

Halloween for Christmas 2019

Halloween for Christmas 2019

As you may remember, my Halloween Ghost Girl was lonely and I created Werewolf boy to keep her company. I was thinking of my niece and nephew while I was creating them, which may be why they seem to be wearing Kamiks,  a northern boot.  Def- Mukluks or Kamik (Inuktitut: ᑲᒥᒃ [kaˈmik]) (singular: ᑲᒪᒃ kamak, plural: ᑲᒦᑦ kamiit) are a soft boot, traditionally made of reindeer (caribou) skin or sealskin, and worn by Arctic aboriginal people, including the Inuit, Iñupiat, and Yupik.).  Since I had the kids in mind as I made them, I hoped that my sister in law would enjoy them.  I was sure they would have a good home there.

 

1              1 Kamik

 

I had a problem on how to present them.  In this case, lucky for me, I have dyslexia and was unable to do any of the normal jobs my friends had, (since no one is dumb enough to hire me as a secretary or receptionist, although the guild kept electing me as librarian).  Instead, I wound up being a picture framer as my first career. Lots of archival work, French matting,  shadow and plexi boxes. So I know how to present a 2 or 3 dimensional piece.

But a plexi box is not always the solution. Sometimes it’s good to think outside of the box even if you are thinking of a box.

Solution 1 Michael’s Art store carries shadow boxes and plexi display boxes, that would be perfect! So I’m off to Michaels.  No, they don’t carry that size of plexy display box anymore, would I  like the one for basket balls or there is this lovely one that holds base ball cards that lights up?  They did have an “open”  Shadow box (ok, it is just a deep plain molding without glass that hangs on the wall. Only barely deep enough for the figures, and a bit high. …..but that would work for those trees I want to try later, …….. and its on sale …… ok, I cave. On to Ikea which for me is in the same mall.

 

Ikea has a large table top miniature green house that might work and it would keep plants or Halloween figures safe from cats. But it’s a bit too large a foot print for just the two figures. But it would be a good back up plan.  It’s still sitting in the back of the car.

2 2 Ikea; Width: 17 ¾ ” (45 cm) Depth:  8 ¾ ” (22 cm) Height: 13 ¾ ” (35 cm)

 

Over at Walmart I spotted a tall, glass and black metal pillar candle lantern.  The base might be a bit squishy but it’s worth a try. Oh look, no price but it has a bar code. No, scanner is broken at the self-scanning spot…. again…. (Mutter) it’s a bit pricier than I had hoped but it’s worth a try. I got it home and realized the width was not adequate for both figures.  However, the lantern concept was excellent! Just what I sort of envisioned for presentation.

 

33 Walmart; 5″ x 7″ x 19

Back to Ikea for their big white lantern (much cheaper in price than Walmart’s), return the lantern to Walmart and drive over to pick up Glenn from work. Just in time to Drive to Oakville for the weekend. (That was the trip that the last post about the Mouse Angel happened on)

 

44 Ikea; 17 1/4″ (44 cm)

 

Along with Xmas presents and necessary visiting stuff, I had packed Ghost Girl and Werewolf boy, more of the Shetland fleece from last summer (Dark and light sections), the Bee combs and an assortment of needles still stuck in my garden kneeling pad I use as a work surface. I did not pack a ruler. I wanted to do a bit of finishing touches on both figures before they ended up in the candle lantern and off to their new home.

 

I wanted to add a bit more firmness to the Kamik like boots and give Ghost Girl her Mitts (she did not hold her Ghost Balloons quite as well but I bet her fingers are warmer now!)

565-6 Mitts to keep her hands warm

7 7 Boots to keep her toes warm

 

My plan was to use the foam pad to anchor the figures in  then cut the foam to fit the inside of the lantern. (that’s where the missing ruler might have helped) but due to my skills with non-math solutions to measuring I had a piece of yarn and pins to solve this dilemma. Dyscalculia is not all bad really! The foam cut easily and with a tiny bit of trimming fit into the bottom of the lantern.

88 Ikea Solution in Oakville (there are more angels in the background!)

9109- 11 foam base and using the sting to measure and the pins to mark

11

Time to drive back to Ottawa and continue work on the base

 

On Dec 23rd the Guild had a Potluck and Social for those still in town and needing a fibre related escape. I continued with the base. I started with laying out wisps as when wet felting. Then started to use the needles to create adhesion. I layered in a darker path and then added a bit of undulation to the landscape.  I kept to the same colour scheme easily by using the same fleece. This time I deliberately felted into the foam as I worked around the edges to keep the blue from being visible.

  12- 14 Covering the base with felt

 

Yes! that is sort of what I was wanting. I wish the lantern had been just a bit bigger.

Wrapping – I failed utterly at wrapping since I didn’t want to put the lantern on its side and possibly have unwanted movement occur. So basically unwrapped presentation I will just have to focus next year’s attention all on the wrapping and not on the content to make up! (Maybe a spectacularly wrapped but empty box? Dante the cat would like that.  Maybe I will try that for him next year!)

15-17 the delivery My Niece with the ghosts on stings. i will have to make her bigger ghosts!!

(These pictures were off Glenn’s camera.  Sorry, they’re a very grainy.)

1818

1919 The bell jar I used with the Angel Mouse was also from Ikea. It was called a  BEGÅVNING Glass dome with base, 10 ” (26 cm) high.

 

Having the felt figures under glass decreases the need to dust and keeps cats from trying to play with the mouse!  Framing felted pictures is a bit more problematic not for the dust protection which can be excellent. The problem can be the same as photos against glass. If the owner used an excessive amount of glass cleaner, the liquid can wick in behind the glass and affect the photo making it stick to the glass or wetting the felt. The use of a mat or a spacer gives a space between the Glass and the art which will reduce the effects of wicking wetness (the best idea is spray the cloth to light dampness and then wipe the glass so no liquid runs behind the glass) but we can chat about framing some other day.   For now I have glass-less shadow box, an extra BEGÅVNING and a SOCKER Greenhouse to fill……another weasel dragon or maybe a small hippogriff? That’s what I love about felt you can make anything!!!

Recreating a Still Life Failure

Recreating a Still Life Failure

I originally created this still life of a vase of flowers in 2016 for a quarterly challenge. The plan was to create dimensional flowers in a still life but I didn’t pay enough attention to the overall design/composition and the vase didn’t turn out very well.

Here’s the original. The vase was dead center and the surrounding negative space feels the same and uninteresting. The black vase is too stark. I did go ahead and frame the piece and try to sell it but no luck. The piece was really big at 24″ x 30″ so I had plenty of room to cut it down and recreate the piece.

What I did first was to create a different vase. I used some upholstery fabric that I had on hand and cut out a new shape that filled more of the space on the bottom. I then cropped it down with some paper croppers so that I could find the best composition. I had a canvas that I could use so I knew the size that I needed. The new canvas is 16″ x 20″.

I then decided that the vase would look better with some dimension added. So I stuffed it and hand stitched it to the surface. I had to be careful not too over stuff the bottom or left side since they would be stretched around the canvas.

I needed some shadowing on the bottom and left side of the vase. I originally thought I would use black tulle to create the shadows but it was way too dark and had too much contrast. I didn’t have any gray tulle so I decided to use a combination of purple and yellow tulle to give a lighter shadow which tended toward purple. I used matte medium to glue down the tulle to the vase. My original plan was to fuse it down to the vase but when I attempted to iron the upholstery fabric I found that it was some type of polyester and it melted. Oops. I cut out a second vase and used matte medium.

After I stretched the piece around the canvas and stapled it in place. I trimmed off the excess felt. I then decided the piece had “holes” that needed filling. I forgot to take a photo before I started adding other elements. I needed some darker values and luckily had some really dark maroon/purple felt that I was able to fashion into flowers. I hand stitched the flowers together and ended up adding a few more flower buds as well that aren’t shown in these photos. Then I wanted to add some more leaves. I tried some yellow green felt leaves (left photo) but I thought that it needed something darker. I didn’t have any darker green felt so I decided to use some green tulle. The torn tulle gave a different texture too. In the right photo, I was trying the tulle out and just pinned it in place in bunches. I felt the bunches were too over the top so I ended up tearing the tulle into “leaves” and then stitching them down in layers. I also added a few lighter green pieces of tulle under the dark tulle to give a bit more contrast.

I am much happier with the final result compared to the original. The negative spaces (background) are different sizes and give more interest. The center of interest is not right in the dead center of the piece. So the overall composition has definitely been improved.

And the piece has lots of fun texture and dimension. I plan on putting this piece into an exhibition in October. Hopefully, with these changes, it will find a new home. I think that I will just add a backing but not frame it. I like being able to see the colors go around the canvas and the flowers/greenery that reaches off the edge of the piece.

Have you recreated a piece that you weren’t happy with? We would love to hear your story about it over on the forum.

 

No felting this week

No felting this week

This week has not been a felting week or even a thinking about felting week. This week has been finishing and tagging week. I will be at Fibrefest this coming weekend.

The first part of tagging is creating tags. It always takes longer than expected to do. I needed tags for the batts, the scissor pouches and new ones for the little cardholders.

 

I had to weigh the batts and fill in the tags. This one and its twin are already sold and put aside for a friend who can’t make it to the sale.

I had to add the grommets to the scissor cases and tag them with the new tags. I started by adding the grommets to the left side through both layers. It makes it tight for the scissors. So I switched to adding them to the right side through the backside. I think I like this better. I like the way it looks better too.

They are all tagged now.

The other thing I need to do yet is put the spinning kits together.  I have to sand the holes of the whorls because they are to tight and I can’t get them on the dowels. Last year they were to loose and I had to glue them. The wool is in the bags at least. Now I have to print the instructions and finish the drop spindles. I am out of ink and today is a holiday so it will have to wait

Lastly, I need to figure out what I am taking as display items.

 

 

Framing Complete

Framing Complete

I had several requests from readers to show my finished pieces once they were framed. I framed 8 pieces. Three are for an exhibition in September and the rest are for sale in the shop. (If you’re interested in purchasing, let me know in the comments and I will contact you by email.)

Tokyo Sakuru 13″ x 13″

Orthoceras 16.5″ x 13.5″

Lavender Jade 14.25″ x 17.5″

Trail of the Cedars 18.5″ x 15.25″

Sanctuary 16″ x 21″

Evening on the Range 10.25″ x 16.25″

From Tiny Acorns 11.5″ x 18.5″

Overlook 18.25″ x 24.25″

I have my work professionally framed with a simple black wood frame. I do all the prep work of attaching the felt to a background fabric and then stretching and lacing on to a background board. I like to show the organic edges of the felt so this is the best method I have come up with. How do you frame your pieces?

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