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Another experiment with long wools

Another experiment with long wools

There is an innovative indie-dyer who to supplements my addiction from time to time. She has access to some lovely long wools such as Teeswater and Masham, great blends, and exotics that don’t come my way very often. She is superlative at using colour and just great fun in her experimentation. This past winter I decided to take the plunge and buy some of her less expensive offerings of a mixed bag of long wools. These bags can have any kind of breed. They generally are a little felted or cotted but not impossible to work with for spinning.

Because the locks were slightly felted I decided to use small dog combs as flick carders to open the wool. That was a surprise! A lock that was five inches long ended up 14 or more inches after being carded. The dog combs are very fine and do a good job on the locks if used gently.

The colours in the grab bag were mouth watering and spoke of spring.

Each lock was kept separate and spun individually. The singles were plied using the chain ply method to let the colours remain in blocks.

The bag was primarily long wool, but had a great variety of lengths, so I think it was more a grab bag of breeds.

The residual wool caught in the carders was short and had some neps. This was carded as for wool spinning, some was run through wool combs to see if that would yield any decent results, but the wastage was very high, so I gave up on that as a processing method and went back to using carders.

The wool caught in the dog combs was slightly blended and the colours were muted.
The dog combs pulled out short bits and neps that will add texture to this woollen spin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I haven’t spun the wool waste yet, but it should be fairly quick to do and easy to finish if I do long draw.  The colours will be more heather than the crisp colours that I’m trying to maintain by carding the individual locks, but they will have a muted heather look and will be attractive in their own way.

Each lock was spun individually into singles, which were then cable plied as a three ply.  This is the only way I know to protect the individuality of the colours.

Singles of different “long wool”

The final result is interesting, but a little bit “all over the place” and frankly a little disappointing. It had no clear purpose, no underlying colour theme, no direction and it shows.  If this is used in weaving I will use a monochrome warp and complimentary weft to help pull it together and make one or two specific colours pop.  Right now, none of the colours really stand out.  The yarn itself is actually surprisingly soft for long wool.  It’s lusterous, silky and smooth.

Three ply cable yarn that is lustrous and surprisingly soft.

I’ll keep trying different kinds of long wool, I enjoy them, but I think I’ll try finding my own fleece supplier if possible and see what I can do with my own cleaning and dyeing. I need to find out what the fleece are like right from the animal.  So the learning curve continues.

Makings, Musings and Mathematics

Makings, Musings and Mathematics

 

A recent post from on spinning by Shepherdess Ann reminded me of a wonderful trip to Finland back in 2013.  This weeklong trip brought together representatives from many European Union countries. We spent the time together in an Artists’ commune in Järvenpää experimenting with various fibre media.  It was an incredible experience; there was lots of learning and some great friendships were formed during our time together.  Participants were each given a drop spindle and a lesson in how to use it.  My spindle has taken pride of place (gathering dust) in among the Tunisian crochet hooks.  That was until I saw Shepherdess Ann’s beautifully spun fibre.  I had to try my hand at it again.

A dear friend had gifted me some tops which came in 25 gram packs so I decided I would use these for my experiments.  As my previous lesson was long forgotten, I consulted YouTube tutorials and marvelled at the near balletic elegance of the teacher’s movement. I soon discovered that like ballet, ease does not mean easy.

During my first attempt I endeavoured to copy the tutor, pulling on the tops so that a uniform amount of fibre was spun.  I will not even refer to what I produced as ply – it was thick in places and perhaps less thick in other spots.  A friend introduced me to a new language when she asked me if I was using the ‘park and draft’ method.  I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about (back to Google again!)  Here is the result of my first attempt:

I thought I would play a bit and use it to crochet.  Using my 15mm (US size P) hook I made a magic circle (ring) with the aim of starting some hyperbolic crochet after the first few rounds.  There was so little yarn that the end result was flat (except for the risen centre) (4 rounds).

For my next attempt I decided to pay more attention to the division of the fibre so this time, using my eye as a guide, I separated strands of the tops and started spinning.  The result was a bit better but there were still areas of thickness when the yarn was spinning.  Two possible causes identified; the fibre was thicker where I joined ends and I got distracted and at times used too much fibre in the process.  Still this was an improvement from the point of view of the length of yarn I had produced.

In order that I could compare my samples, I used the same methods making my hyperbolic piece.  I was happier with the result as I started to see curling at the outermost edge.  (7 rounds)

My third sample was made using the orange/purple fibre.  On this occasion I decided to use my scales to weigh out the fibre, rather than relying on my eye. I know it’s not the correct way to do this but I just had to see if I could find a more even way to divide the fibre.  So, I ended up with 25 lots at 1 gram each.  It produced a more even width on the yarn.  Now I was aware of another issue, tension.  I had no control over it so it was back to YouTube.  From this I surmised that I should be pushing the twist up through the fibre as I spun but I found this tricky.  Despite the still imperfect result and the problems with tension I managed to get more yardage and it was a lot more even than the previous samples.

Notwithstanding the dreadful tension I was quite pleased with the shape of the hyperbolic crochet.  In fact I felt that the tightness (tension issues) of the yarn gave quite an attractive finish to the stitches. Also, I was delighted that I managed 8 rounds before the yarn ran out.

 

I don’t know if I was feeling frustrated by my efforts while making this third sample but I started thinking of how spinning was second nature to females throughout the millennia. The Tarkhan dress, excavated in Egypt in the 1900’s was subsequently carbon dated and found to be at least 5,000 years old.  In fact according to the Harvard Gazette (2009) a team of archaeologists and paleobiologists discovered flax fibres that are more than 34,000 years old, during excavations in a cave in the Republic of Georgia.  They surmised that the flax collected from the wild could have been used to make linen and thread quite possibly to make clothing. In early Ireland (I’m Irish), spinning and weaving skills were so important that the Brehon Laws, written about 600-800 A.D. lay down as part of a wife’s entitlement in case of divorce, that she should keep her spindles, wool bags, weaver’s reeds and a share of the yarn she had spun and the cloth she had woven (https://weavespindye.ie/history/). Spinning was still carried out by females prior to the arrival of the Spinning Jenny just over 250 years ago. In essence, a skill which was once learnt by girls on their mother’s knee was lost to many with the arrival of the Industrial Revolution.  I could deduce from this that what once came naturally to the female line of my ancestors is now the cause of much personal frustration. I am resolved to find somebody once the world reopens who will be prepared to sit beside me and guide me through this process so that I can gain this lost skill.

Back to Finland:  One of the other skills I learnt while with the group was how to crochet. I have since found it very meditative, especially when I just crochet for the fun of it (no pattern).  So, some years ago, in this frame of mind and with a pile of pink spare yarn on my hands, I decided to crochet a hyperbolic plane.  I had no pattern, I just wanted to see what would happen if I started with 6 stitches on a magic circle (round) and doubled my number of stitches in each row.  By Row 10 my round had 6,144 stitches.  I committed to one more round (12,288 stitches) and decided to change my colour to green so that I could monitor the row’s completion.  Let’s just say it took a while to complete.  Although it is a number of years since I completed it, I still love to pick it up and run my fingers through the ruffles.  It’s actually quite soothing.  My adult comfort blanket!

 

Wet felted wallhanging

Wet felted wallhanging

This is a wet felted wall hanging, it was made for a customer order. She wanted something modern but with not too many colours.

So I started with wool yarn to make the design.

As I started the process, I was inspired and I knew it will look great.

Than I filled with wet coloured wool and than covered with layers of wool.

The felting process take about 3 days of hard work for me.

The customer was very pleased. I hope you enjoy my work!

Rainbow Baby Mobile

Rainbow Baby Mobile

We have a new grand baby in the family, so we thought it would be nice to make a gift for her.  So Alex and I had a think, and came up with the plan to make a baby’s mobile.  Now we don’t know about you, but we absolutely love rainbows.  Their colourful display are enough to brighten anyone’s day.  As the baby’s Dad is from Wales but they live in Yorkshire, we also thought it might be nice to also incorporate some Welsh driftwood into the project to represent the baby’s Welsh roots.

When thinking of the design, we also thought we would add some clouds, to give context to our rainbow, but being quite novice felters, we opted to do needle felted clouds, so they would appear light and fluffy.  We started by making a template to represent the base of the clouds, as when we look up into the sky, clouds often appear to have a flat base, with plumes of fluffy clouds above.

 

 

We wanted a rough design to follow, so that we ended up with a cloud the size we wanted.  We needle felted some cloud shapes out of an off-white wool.  Unfortunately, it didn’t have a label for us to identify the type of wool!!  Once we had a layer of cloud, we could then start to build upwards…

Cloud base

We continued to make small clouds, which we then added to our base…

Building up the cloud

Alex had a go at needle felting once it was assembled.  There was less risk of him stabbing his fingers by this stage!!

Alex having a go

We decided that it would be lovely to have some lights inside our cloud.  We bought some battery operated LED lights, which were small enough to fit inside.  We bought off white, warm white and multicoloured, but in the end decided on the multicoloured lights to reflect the rainbow colour scheme!

Battery operated LED string lights

We pushed some of the lights down into the base layer of cloud, and hid the rest in amongst the top layers of cloud.

We have lights!!!

But we needed to have access to them in order to operate the light switch and be able to change the batteries.  So we left an access hole in the top of the clouds…

Access point

The next step was to make the felted balls.  We used 3 grammes of wool per ball and tried a few different methods.  Firstly Alex had a go at hand felting them, but as he doesn’t know his own strength, it was difficult to keep them circular!

Hand felting the rainbow balls

So we then tried using a salad spinner to gently tumble them…

Alex enjoyed this bit!!!

But although this worked quite well, they still looked like they needed some more felting so we tried bubble wrap to cushion the pressure of hand felting…

This worked well!

Success!! We ended up with some really well felted balls that were fairly round and even…

Raindrops!!

Having finished both the clouds and the rainbow, it was time to start assembling our mobile…BUT….disaster struck!!!  When we went to pick up our rainbow of balls, we were missing a green one.  Now where could it have gone to?? Two minutes before, it was right beside us and now it had vanished.  We started to look everywhere and after about 20 minutes of moving furniture and searching three rooms, we found it…..

Our beautiful little green ball was now a jumbled mass of scarecrow-looking mess!!!

How could one little ball end up so big and fluffy?  I even weighed it to check it was the same ball but yes, it weighed 3 grammes, the same weight as the original.  There was only one explanation…..

Here is the culprit!!!!!  Elliot!!!

Not content with the numerous homemade felted mice he has been given, Elliot was determined to get his claws into the rainbow.  We should have known, as he spotted them in the making!!!  So – we then had to make another one to replace it, which set us back a few hours while we waited for it to dry!  But in the end, we were able to assemble our felted rainbow mobile and Alex is very happy!!!

The finished mobile

And the lights look amazing!!!

Our rainbow cloud

We would like to try this project again, but using wet felting for the cloud.  It will be good to compare the two.  It was a fiddly project to make, including trying to balance everything to ensure that it hung straight!! But all in all, we are very pleased with how it finally turned out.  But I think next time, we will be hiding the raindrops from Elliot!!!

 

Colour to dye for

Colour to dye for

When getting my materials together I was often frustrated that I could not get the colours I wanted. This was especially true of silk materials and you had to buy a large quantity to get only a small amount which could be expensive. It was not until my past time of trawling through Youtube videos that a came across the “colour your life, Rae Wollnough” episode. What a revelation. With a very simple process, I could dye not only silks but fibres too.

So I set about getting the materials I needed. Firstly the dyes themselves. I use EasiFix all-in-one protein dye. These dyes work on natural materials like silk and wool etc (I get these from Etsy). These dyes are fixed by heat so no need for a fixing agent. I use a mixture of silk but here I have used a ponge which has a lovely lustre.

Ponge 5 silk

The process is so simple. Cover your table in cling film and wet it with a spray bottle. Place your silk on top, here I have flattened the material out but you can get some nice effects if it’s scrunched too. Your silk must be wet as the colour spreads better and it will burn when heated if it is dry.

Next the fun bit. I use pipettes, brushes or simply pour the dye onto the silk.

Silk wrapped

Once I am happy with the dyeing I wrap the cling around the piece gently patting out as much air as possible. Once wrapped I pop it in the microwave. Only a couple of minutes does a small piece like this. Be mindful to follow the safety instructions of the dyes and only use equipment that is specific for dyeing and nothing you will use domestically.

Once heated I leave the piece to cool completely and it’s this that sets the dyes as well as the heat. This is the worst part of the whole process as I cannot wait to see the outcome. It is not an exact process but the results can be magical.

The piece is rinsed until the water runs clear and it’s done. You can re-dye if you are not happy or think it needs more.

The colour you can achieve are wonderful, the weaker the dye the paler the colour and you can achieve your own colours by mixing also.

Here is a mix of materials I have dyed, silk, silk hankies, throwsters waste. It works equally well on nepps also.
A couple of scarves.

The possibilities are endless and results are well worth the effort as little as it is.

ReConnect – The Online Exhibition of the International Feltmakers Association March 2021

ReConnect – The Online Exhibition of the International Feltmakers Association March 2021

This is a guest post from Ann B.  Thanks for the post, Ann!

 

After reading Karen’s post on how she found her inspiration for her entry for the International Feltmakers Association proposed online Exhibition, I was encouraged to have a crack at it.

I had found it extremely difficult to find inspiration from the theme of their previous exhibition, which was “Kaleidoscope”. I have a very literal mind and could not think of how to portray that idea – I don’t/can’t do non-representational, but I must try to think “outside the box”.

At first I found it impossible to think what to do. First I looked up “reconnect” in a good dictionary – the Cambridge dictionary said:

1. “to join or be joined with something else again after becoming separated”

2. “to improve a relationship that has become less good or less close”

3. “to make you feel or understand something that you had stopped feeling or understanding”

4. “to create a relationship with someone again after a period of time”

as well as the obvious of reconnecting a disconnected phone call or internet link.

How on earth was I going to depict any of that? Initial thoughts ran along the lines of the connecting stitches in garment construction, and the more obvious stitches connecting inserted lace and tapes and how to use this in a felted piece. All this was going round in my head, when I happened to notice one of my husband’s photographs of the Scissor Arch holding up the tower in Wells Cathedral pop up on my laptop screen saver and this brought my attention to connections with the past and the future.

I started to mull over the idea of a piece of felt with the scissor arch as cut open channels on a piece of felt, which were then sewn together again, i.e. reconnected.

I cropped the image and printed a grey scale picture so that I could more easily gauge the colour values, and I subsequently decided to stick with the grey scale as it seemed to add to the drama of the image.

I then made a tracing of the main features, leaving out a lot of the detailed glimpses of the crucifix, the Jesse Window, the organ and the vaulted ceilings behind the arches. I used this to plan the piece: what prefelts I would need; what resists I would use; the order of placing resists and layers of prefelts. I wanted to start dark and come forward into the light, so that the arch itself would be white. I decided originally that there would be a minor variation from the greyscale palette – I would use the fact that the vaulting of the ceilings was picked out in gold paint and I added pale yellow to the list of prefelts.

This picture shows the prefelts I made, but in the end I did not use the mid grey, nor the yellow.

I made a couple of photocopies of the tracing so that I could cut out templates for the resists and the prefelts, and then I cut them out. I made a “crib sheet” setting out the order in which I needed to work – I have been known to forget what I was supposed to be doing halfway through a project, and I didn’t want to do that this time. I have not attached a copy of this as you probably wouldn’t be able to read my scrawl.

This picture shows the resists and templates after use. In fact there should be a resist in the shape of the little curly topped bit shown centre bottom. Unfortunately it’s still in the piece somewhere I couldn’t find it so left well alone. It was supposed to reveal the white base of the picture being lit from the Jesse Window shining through above the organ.

Once I had finished the initial fulling, I cut out the resists, (those that I could find) the resist for the scissors was cut at the cross so that I could pull it all the way out, as I did not want to cut the channel just above the cross. The top of the arch and the lower “legs” section I did cut all the way so that the darkest grey would show behind the white. I then inserted a piece of metallic grey fibre inside the top channel so that when the stitching reconnected the cut edges it would resemble the slashed and pinked work in Tudor costumes. I then finished the fulling, sealing the cut edges. I then set it to dry, but unfortunately I did not pay sufficient attention to where I laid it to dry as it has a distinct lean to one side at the top, and I didn’t notice this until I came to photograph the finished piece.

Although I had abandoned the idea of adding the pale yellow prefelt inside the top of the scissors arch to try to echo the gold paint on the arches there, I decided to pick out the nearer arches in gold thread and used a back stitch. I decided to stick with gold as the only colour in the picture and reconnected the cut channels with two goldwork yarns using sorbello stitch, which is an embroidery stitch used for insertion work. Using some silk yarn which I had hand dyed variegated grey many moons ago, I emphasized the edges of the scissor legs and the circles connecting them to the walls of the cathedral.

Having abandoned the yellow prefelt, I wondered what I should do with the blank space that left me with. I’m not sure why I decided to add the masked face instead. It just seemed the thing to do as we have to wear the things so often at the moment.

By this time, I was heartily sick of the piece anyway, so I took the required photographs, filled in the application form and sent it all off; and lo and behold I eventually received an email confirming that it had been accepted for the Exhibition.

This is the finished piece and the close-up of the Sorbello stitched lower arch.

This is the link to the Exhibition on the IFA’s website . If you click on an image it takes you first to the part of the submission form with a description of inspiration etc, and then to more photos of the work. If you click on those images you can see the complete photograph – in some cases they had to be cropped to thumbnails for the general exhibition page.

https://www.feltmakers.com/online-exhibitions/

Mistakes, and how to fix them (or not)…

Mistakes, and how to fix them (or not)…

Usually, when we share work with others, we tend to show the things that we’re proud of, or very happy with. Seldom do we talk about what didn’t go well. Today I’m doing just that (again! Remember my waistcoat? It’s still lingering in my Unfinished pile). Get ready for a couple of mistakes and some possible solutions, maybe…

One: The mannequin

A few months ago, I stumbled upon a website that creates a personalised sewing pattern to make a mannequin after your own body measurements. Since the one I had at the time wasn’t true to my figure, I went ahead and splurged on this.

I sewed the thing and followed the instructions. I was very excited! A true-to-form mannequin would mean I could make sure my patterns would fit me perfectly. In theory, at least.
Well… I stuffed it. Literally and figuratively! I had to add stuffing to the thing, and discovered there’s an art to adding fluff and moulding a 3D object in order for it to conform to what you want. Let’s just say my efforts were less than stellar. Attest for yourself!

Not to put a too fine point over the issue, but I’m really not that er, wavy? I think I made a couple of sewing mistakes (note the lower belly, there’s definitely a stitch or two that’s bunched up), but my capital crime was definitely not stuffing the mannequin as instructed, which was to add little bits of fluff at a time. I should know better.
Also, there’s another *ahem* area that definitely didn’t get stuffed as needed, don’t ask me why. That pair would not get a job in a Las Vegas show…

The solution

I can either remove all the stuffing and do it all over again, or I can admit defeat and start another mannequin and also correct the sewing mistakes. Removing the stuffing will be an interesting feat, I have this nightmarish idea that it’ll all bounce back in my face and I’ll drown in fluff.

Which one do you vote for: redoing it or re-stuffing it?

Two: The knitted jumper

Remember the cardigan I knit a while back, and hand dyed afterwards? (Sorry for the lack of link, I couldn’t find it). I had liked the pattern so much, I made a few more, then decided to adapt it to create a jumper (that’s a “sweater” for you American folk, although I promise I don’t intend to do much sweating in it! Then again, I don’t intend to do much jumping either.)

Well… I’m a huge proponent of test swatching everything beforehand to make sure it fit, but I’d knit this before in another format, how much different could this new version be? Turns out, quite a bit.

Even though we know the mannequin didn’t quite come out as expected, the measurements are quite correct. See all that extra “fabric” in the chest area? It’s like that on both sides. Argh.

The solution

I can’t really take this apart and re-knit it. Let me rephrase that: because I don’t want to lose the will to live, I’m not going to take this apart and re-knit it. What I can do, however, is take the excess volume away by either steeking (a technique that involves cutting the yarn and putting it back together, it’s very nerve racking!) or I can go the easier way and, using the sewing machine, simply sew it tighter on both sides.

Steeking would afford me the opportunity to learn a new-to-me technique, but it could go horribly wrong and I’d end up with no jumper and a lot of grief. Sewing it would definitely work, but you’d see a line on the upper sides that might look a bit terrible.
Which would you choose?

Three: the shawl

Finally, my favourite. This shawl was hand knit during a couple of weeks and I love it. This was a commission, so it’ll be heading off to its new home soon.

If you think beading a shawl is hard work, you’re absolutely right! The edging you see here, with those cute little scallops, was also a very time-consuming affair. The end result is glorious, though.

The problem and the solution

The problem I had with it was, I dropped a stitch and didn’t notice until I was all done binding off, washing and blocking it! Facepalm moment.
I immediately put a stitch marker to stop it unravelling and promptly went to work to fix this mistake.

I put the stitch marker over the stitches the dropped one should have connected with so I didn’t lose my place. I then took out my crochet hook and went to work.

After I got the stitches together correctly, I added a tiny string of the same yarn to close it off. I’m sure there are “better” ways to do this out there, but this worked for me. Once I was done, I don’t think you can see where the dropped stitch was. Correct me if I’m wrong.

Here is this beauty in all its glory, ready to become an heirloom in another country very soon.

There you have it, the ups and downs of a maker. I hope you enjoyed going through these with me, and thank you in advance for your suggestions on what to do with the first two.

As ever, here’s a photo of a cute feline to finish the post. Marshmallow was looking all regal and dainty whilst enjoying the sun, but of course once I pointed the camera this happened…

“The paparazzi never leave me alone!”

Enjoy your weekend, and “see” you in my next blog post!

Getting organized and the 2nd quarter challenge

Getting organized and the 2nd quarter challenge

This last week I decided the scarf I use to line my basket needed a wash and my basket could use a hose down. It is quite an old apple and is pretty dry. The basket masters say either dunk it in a bucket of water or hose it down every once and a while.  It is an old apple picking basket and I love it for taking it everywhere with my stuff in it.

 

And this is all the stuff that was in it and will go back in it plus the 3 more spindles. It’s like a purse or backpack you just keep adding more stuff until you have to clean it out.  The bag of yarn may go to the studio and a new one started.

There was more in it, that is just what is going back in it. You can see why I need it more organized. I thought I would make a roll-up pouch, like an artist uses for brushes. This also gives me an opportunity to do the 2nd quarter challenge. Art deco was often a repeating simple pattern. So I can do that on this piece and maybe be the first to complete the challenge. (insert maniacal laughter here)

I had to figure out how big I wanted the finished piece. the blue roller mat is 12×18 inches so I tried folding it like the finished piece. This is too short but  think the length is good

Here is the layout.  this layer is on the bottom but will end up inside the pouch. Some Bambino wool from World of wool. It is quite shiny. I can’t figure out which one. The picture of the mixed bag is pretty accurate but I can’t match it to the individual pictures.

The blue background seems to have turned it orange.

I then added 2 layers of white merino and a final layer of this lovely blue-green merino called Malard, for the outside.

 

I wet this down and cut out some prefelt pieces for the decorations but that’s it for today because it’s time to take the puppy out, feed the lambs again and make some raspberry scones. More to come. I hope I can get more done tomorrow morning. I will show you more next time.

 

Creativity in Isolation

Creativity in Isolation

After months of planning, panicking and packing we finally landed in Auckland on Saturday 20 March 2021. This post is about my experience of Managed Isolation and Quarantine in New Zealand, on the surface a very specific situation but thinking about it, our 2 weeks in isolation has many correlations with the shielding so many people in the higher risk groups have been doing for the past year.

Before we left I knew I would need some supplies to keep me occupied in Managed Isolation and Quarantine (MIQ), I packed a selection of watercolour paints, paper, and a sack of wool tops and some pencil roving to crochet with on the 26+ hour plane journey.

Having such minimal supplies with me, I felt challenged to use / reuse what we had in the room. I saw this limitation as a good thing, sometimes having too much choice can be overwhelming and to be honest I still enjoy the quizzical looks and eye-rolling from Chris as I gleefully retrieved what he thinks is rubbish from the bin.

For my first piece of felt in New Zealand I thought I would experiment with adding a hole to a book resist. I started with a simple, 3 page, egg shape cut from a plastic chocolate bar wrapper.

Laying out wool on such a small resist was very fiddly but with patience I achieved this shape (apologies for the very poor quality photo).

I probably should not have been, but was surprised that I could not persuade the top of the egg (around the aperture) to expand more, the act of adding a hole to the resist, severely restricted the space inside the egg around it.

Taking influence from Maori symbols and tattoos I added a spiral motif which symbolises new beginnings, growth and harmony; an appropriate sentiment at this juncture in my life. When I cut it, I had intended the spiral to sit on the base of the sculpture but now it is finished, I see a bird with a flamboyant plume of feathers on its head and it makes a small pot.

The meals here have been very good and interspersed with pastries, cakes and fruit salads making it hard to go more than 2-3 hours without eating something, not good for the waistline but with every meal delivered in a paper bag we were accumulating rather a lot of bags so I set about trying to up-cycle some of them with mixed results!

A pencil box designed to fit our narrow windowsill
This woven “platter” defeated me in the end, I just wasn’t happy with how the edges folded.
My favourite use for the paper bags… 😉

After some fiddling I discovered the “string” handles on the paper bags could be unravelled and they contained some really lovely textured paper strips in a surprising range of colours.

I haven’t made anything with the twining techniques I learned from Mary Crabb for a few years so set out to see how much I could remember….

I was pretty happy with this little pot (I am sure the weavers will be able to spot the mistakes).

As it turned out, I could not have timed my incarceration better, there have been a host of free tutorials and videos posted over the last couple of weeks to keep me entertained. Too many in fact, I haven’t been able to find time to engage with the textile.org stitch-along.

The IFA had their AGM last weekend and published a series of videos from 4 renowned makers for their members (these will be available for another 6 months if you are dithering about joining). I was a bit limited with my colour choices and did not have half the materials suggested for Fiona Duthie’s tutorial but am still really pleased with how my interpretation is coming along. I plan to work on it some more once our shipping container arrives in May and I can see myself rearranging the tiles ad infinitum, these are 2 of my favourite arrangements (so far!).

I have been watching some of the Sketchbook Revival videos too. This is a free annual event were approx 20 different artists give a 30-60 min presentation. Most are “how to’s” or sketch / paint-alongs, I find some of them can be a bit hit and miss but am sure there is something in there for everyone! It is still running for another week or two this year, you can sign up here.

It has been nice to have the space and time to draw and paint mandalas too, not something I do very often as I doubt any of them will make it beyond the pages of my sketchbook but they are very meditative to do and a good option if you have lost your creative mojo.

While I didn’t manage to crochet on the plane, after a dubious first attempt I did manage to complete this crochet pot from Corriedale pencil roving. I will felt it, dye it and add a face (fox?) before using it as a planter.

The hotel we are staying in have gone out of their way to make our stay as bearable as possible, each meal was delivered with a little inspirational quote (apologies if I have duplicated any), if you click on the photo it should enlarge for you to be able to read them.

As I write this we are in the final 24 hours of our stay, the sun is shining and we have just received my final covid test results (negative), 1 more sleep to freedom! See you on the other side!

Heoi anō tāku mō nāianei (that’s all for now) folks 🙂

2021 Second Quarter Challenge

2021 Second Quarter Challenge

We’ve chosen 4 decades from the 20th century upon which to base the challenges for 2021, and the second challenge to all felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists is …

… to make something inspired by the decade 1920 – 1930.

The ‘Roaring Twenties’ is well worth investigating for inspiration – here are a few photos to whet your appetite.

The ART DECO movement originated in the 1920’s – a style featuring clean, simple shapes – and it influenced design in arts, architecture, fashion and homewares.

Clarice Cliff was a ceramicist and is best known for her colour rich, Art Deco designs. This ‘Crocus’ cream jug was made in 1928.

photo courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/art-deco-clarice-cliff

 

The sunray, or sunburst, was a popular Deco motif, which often featured in stained glass windows.

Clarice Cliff’s ‘Sunray’ vase was made in 1929.

photo courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/art-deco-clarice-cliff

 

In the 1920’s Rene Jules Lalique made glasswork in the Art Deco style.

Lalique’s ‘Oranges’ vase.

photo courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/art-deco-ren%C3%A9-jules-lalique

 

Lalique’s glass window panels ‘Blackbirds and Grapes’, 1928, were made for the Côte d’Azur Pullman Express train carriages.

photo courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/art-deco-ren%C3%A9-jules-lalique

 

Natalia Gonchorova designed this evening dress in 1923.

photo courtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/art-deco-fashion

 

The Chrysler Building in New York was designed by William Van Alen in the Art Deco style and building work started in 1929.

Chrysler Building (commons wikimedia)

Chrysler Building Lobby (commons wikimedia)

 

FLAPPERS

Quote from Wikipedia “Flappers were a generation of young Western women in the 1920s who wore short skirts (just at the knee was short for that time period), bobbed their hair, listened to jazz, and flaunted their disdain for what was then considered acceptable behavior.” Unquote

The dresses were flamboyant.

left: 1924 Charleston dress / right: Alice Joyce 1926  (commons wikimedia)

Who hasn’t tried to dance ‘The Charleston’?  This is Josephine Baker dancing at The Folies Bergere, Paris, in 1926.

Josephine Baker (commons wikimedia)

 

HATS

Cloche hats were fashionable in the twenties and today people still felt, knit, crochet and stitch them.

left to right: Actress Aileen Pringle 1926 / Actress Vilma Blanky 1927 / Actress Joan Crawford 1927 (commons wikimedia)

 

PAINTINGS

The 1920’s saw many different styles of art.

‘Wisteria (right half)’ by Claude Monet 1920 (commons wikimedia)

‘Menin Gate at Midnight’ by Will Longstaff 1927 (commons wikimedia)

‘New York, Early Twenties’ by Thomas Benton, 1920/24 (commons wikimedia)

‘The Bridge of the Tug Boat’ by Fernand Leger 1920 (public domain)

We hope you feel inspired to take part in this challenge – please post your photos in the Studio Challenges section on The Felting and Fiber Forum, we’d love to see them.

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