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Another small picture

Another small picture

I am still all packed up so decided to do another small picture. This one is 3.5 x2.5 inches. I wanted to do a sunset. Step one google sunset pictures in the public domain. Well, that was disappointing. It seems that the popular configuration is oversaturated with the blinding sun dead center and if there is anything else in the picture it is a black silhouette. I was looking for something more subdued with lots of colour in the sky but with colour still in the landscape. I tried adding qualifying words to my google search but it didn’t help. I just kept scrolling and scrolling. The further away from the top hits the better it got. Sometimes page 5 has better pictures than the first page.

 

I started with this small piece of offcut from a long-ago project. I think it was a little bag.

I decided to go with my imagination rather than an actual picture.  Drew in the horizon, the lake, the hill and an indication of trees. I knew the trees would disappear under the sky so not much point to that.

 

I added some sky using 2 shades of blue.  I used 3 shades of orange and a little white to do some nice sunset-kissed streaky clouds in the sky.

 

 

The water was next. It is a combination of Prussian blue and navy.

 

I added the grass. It is antique, olive green and a puter/brown colour. I was thinking of late in the year when the grass turns golden. I carded the colours together but not too much so I would have some nice variation.

 

Then I added the cloud reflection in the water.

I wanted some trees on the ridge. I want the ridge to be in the distance with the trees striking up a little. I don’t like them. they look too much like they belong at a Christmas tree farm, so I took them off.

 

Next, I tried mixing some shades of green and then drafting it thin. I told it in my fingers to give it some cohesion and needled 3 trees on the ridge. I like these better but am still not sure. I think I probably just need to not look at them so closely. The thumbnails that show along the bottom of my photo editing software look better than the big picture but it’s twice as big as the actual picture so it shows too much detail. I would like to add more trees but not sure it won’t just end up looking like a green blob. I may leave it and more onto the flowers in the foreground. Any suggestions for the trees.

 

 

For the next one, I hope to go bigger. I always want to add too much detail and it’s just not possible with a small picture.

And one last thing, a cute thing. This is Storm. He was born on Saturday. we have no idea who his mom is. Perhaps the storm spooked her.

We had a huge storm in Ontario it took out power to most of the south of the province. We were out for a little over a day. Many people are still out. You may not see Jan in 2 days. It hasn’t been like this since the Icestorm of 1998. At least the weather is better for this one.

here’s the outage map the darker green is the area the hydro company covers and all the dots are the numbers of outages in that area. London, Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa have separate hydro companies but they all have huge outages too. if you follow the link you can zoom in and see different areas.

https://www.hydroone.com/power-outages-and-safety/stormcentre-outage-map?bodyOnly=true/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Road Trip Inspiration

Road Trip Inspiration

The second quarter challenge is all about finding inspiration wherever you might be. We recently took a road trip across the US, spent a week in New York City and then drove home again. I hope you will indulge me and take a look at a few of the inspirations I saw on my trip.

Here’s a map of the trip which covers approximately 2,500 miles. The red bit at the end is the trip on Amtrak from my sister’s house in Richmond, VA to NYC.

This was a photo I took coming across the US. I think it might be in South Dakota but I have forgotten where exactly.

Edgar went with us and although he is supposed to stay in the back seat, he loves to look out the windshield to make sure we are going in the right direction.

It was amazing to see how many plants and trees were blooming as we got closer to the east coast. I think this photo was taken in Indiana or Illinois. The redbud trees were blooming all along the highway.

Once we got to Richmond, we took the Amtrak up to New York City. Penn Station was a real mess when we arrived, they are doing a massive construction project. We had a bit of an issue figuring out the correct subway, the one we thought we should take was blocked off due to construction. We had a great adventure walking in the rain, hauling our suitcases and bags for 20+ blocks.

One of our first adventures in NYC was to visit the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. In the past, we have been to the NYC Botanical Gardens but this one in Brooklyn is beautiful and well worth the visit. I spared you all the photos I took there and just shared the highlights.

After lunch, we decided to visit the Brooklyn Zoo since it is in the same area as the botanical gardens. It was a beautiful day to stroll outside.

If you haven’t been to NYC before, you might not know about all the wonderful mosaics in the subway stations. This is one I hadn’t seen before.

Another fun side trip was taking the ferry to Governors Island. It’s only a short 7 minute ride but it takes you right out of the city. You can even go “glamping” there!

If you were wondering about Edgar, he didn’t go to NYC with us. He stayed with my sister’s neighbor. Here’s a photo she sent of him watching out the window at her house.

Here’s Times Square where they had an installation about design. The metal structure on the lower right was an interesting addition this month. And of course, you can always entertain yourself with people watching.

Walking through Central Park is another fun source of inspiration. We always end up doing a lot of walking when we’re in the city. We also visited a couple of museums but I didn’t get any photos. I did do some research about ancient felt making patterns at the Met’s Museum Watson library. If you ever get a chance to visit the library, I highly recommend it.

We returned on the train to Richmond and then took off on the way back to Montana (another 2500 miles).

Edgar is watching me on the morning we were leaving my sister’s house to make sure that I didn’t leave without him.

The last couple of trips we took across country, we took our camper but this time we stayed in motels. I have decided taking the camper is the best way to go.

If you have been in a South Dakota rest stop, you will have seen one of these structures. There is even one of the rest stops with a statue entitled Dignity that you might want to see. I didn’t get a photo this time as there was construction around the statue. But you can click on the link above to see it.

The next step with these inspiration photos is to come up with some ideas for a sample for the second quarter challenge. Which photo inspires you?

 

 

 

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

I actually had a plan for what I would write about in May. I planned to circle back, to my crocheted hexagons; discus finishing options and show some new color fun I have had. Then Porter, our 6 month old [Bernese Mountain] puppy delivered his latest woodworking project to the patio door. It was a perfect specimen for the second quarter challenge; “look at what is right around us, and make something.” I shot a couple pictures, of Porter and his woodworking pieces.

Porter and the Original Piece
Cherry Wood Specimen

I was planning to use the “tree knot” in the first photo, but my wool selection wasn’t right. We gathered all his dropped pieces on the patio table and found the perfect replacement: a piece of cherry wood from a previously removed tree. The colors were perfect with the wools I had to work with. I got my drum carder set up, and went to work, blending shades. The batt colors came out better than I expected.

Drum Carder and Wool Batts

I hoped to wet felt a piece that resembled our patio table. First I laid out the gray batt [top left] for the backing. In the opposite direction, I laid the batt blended in the colors of the table. [bottom right] I added wisps of additional colors in areas. Last, and to my regret, I added a brown Alpaca/ CVM yarn for grout lines. I wet it all down with soapy water, covered with fine mesh, and rubbed gently. After a few minutes, I removed the mesh, and replaced it with a second piece of bubble wrap. I flipped the piece over and rubbed on the back a little. The toothy wool was already attached fairly well. I placed this bubble bundle on a bamboo mat, and began rolling 25 times in each direction. When I checked the piece…ugh! I failed to think about what shrinkage would do to those grout lines.

Wonky Lines

Straight lines when felted go wonky! I should’ve thought to needle felt them in later. I look at all these situations as learning opportunities; and I won’t forget this lesson anytime soon. Overall, I am very pleased with my background attempt. All is not lost, I will store the piece away, and cut it up for other projects. My felted cherry wood piece, on the other hand, was a happy surprise! I have done some needle felting, but none of my 3D pieces, turned out the way I hoped.

I started the wood piece, by making a very tightly rolled snake, and stabbed at it only enough to keep it together. I rolled it together between my palms, and once it meshed together, it was longer than needed. I decided cutting the wool snake in half, and placing both halves together, would get me closer to the girth required. I used my 38 star needle to felt the pieces together, then rolled that up tightly, in another piece of the batt.

Needing to create a small protruding piece, I rolled some scraps together, folding in half as before. I stabbed the little piece to the lower part of the twig. Then to hold everything together and create the inner coloring, I rolled the whole piece in a brown/tan batt, splitting the fiber when I came to the knot. This is what it looked like:

Wool wrapped twig piece prior to Felting. Shown with the real piece of wood.

At this point I turned exclusively to my felting needle: felting around, and around, up and down the entire wool twig. Every once and a while, I made a series of stabs, on either end to begin shaping. Once the piece was good and firm, I applied a nice layer of the rusty/blue gray batt I blended with my carder. (photo 1, below) I needle felted the fiber in place, concentrating my attentions on the blue gray, and rust areas. (photo 2) I was really happy with my (accidental) blending capabilities. Lol:-)

1. Blended Batt 2. Initial Felting 3. Knot Area 4. Final Result

I used some brown alpaca yarn, to enhance the area under the knot. I continued to work on either end of the twig, using some lighter bits of wool. I stabbed some deep lines, coming up from the bottom, and tried to add a bit of realness to my specimen. (photo 4) Overall, I am really pleased with my felting experience, this time. I don’t know what I will do with my felted twig, but in the meantime it will hang out with knitted gnomes and the “As You Wish” sprite creature I created before the pandemic.

Gnomes and Capi’s “As You Wish” Sprite

 

 

Using My Prefelt

Using My Prefelt

Having made the prefelt without needles or water it was time to try using it. here’s the post about doing that: trying-out-a-new-way-of-making-prefelt/ I cut a small square ( 2.25 by 3.75 inches)  and added some cut bits to the top.

Even though as a whole piece, it had been very sturdy, The cut pieces seemed fragile. I wondered if it was because they were small. I decided to try a bigger piece( 3.5 x4 inches). I folded a smaller piece to cut a flower shape and popped it onto the prefelt square

I thought I should try it on a loose wool layout.  I laid out 2 good layers of wool and added some prefelt to the top (4.5×7.5 inches).

I put them on some plastic on a rubbery rolling mat. I did some rubbing but not a lot as I prefer rolling. I had started to wet it when I remembered to take a picture.

This is after one set of rolls, you can see they already look integrated. the small piece looks like the shapes have really blurred.

 

I rolled it twice more, no more than 50 rolled back and forth each time.

I don’t think it looks very different. The prefelt defiantly incorporated into the prefelt backing and loose wool backing.

Here are the prefelt on prefelt samples after drying

 

the small pieces lost all semblance of shape. I think they were just too small. the bigger piece faired much better. There was almost no visible migration of fibres on these, even on the back.

The loos wool worked well the shapes stayed better even the smaller ones. They are visibly thicker, a little puffy. I don’t see any migration of the background up through prefelt.

On the back, you can see the outlines of the shapes. the shorter cut fibres of the edge migrating. I have noticed this with regular needled or wet felted prefelt too.

None of these pieces were properly fulled. They have just begun to shrink. The migration may have been more on both sides and with both backgrounds if they were properly fulled but I ran out of time to do that if they were going to be dry for final pictures.

All in all, I would say it’s a faster and easier way to make prefelt than needling or wet felting. I don’t think it would work for cutting intricate designs but they just maybe my bad cutting. I don’t think the commercial stuff works well for intricate things either.

I did try peeling the layers like you can with the thicker prefelt.  It worked ok in the thicker parts but wouldn’t come apart at the thinner edge. A more consistent layout might solve that problem.

Monstrous Felting Retreat

Monstrous Felting Retreat

A few weeks ago I experienced the delight that is the Auckland Fun Felter’s Retreat, 2 full days of felting bliss! 🙂

We were 13 like-minded ladies at a retreat centre, tucked away in a quiet and leafy corner of west Auckland, we had the entire centre all to ourselves and were blessed with some lovely weather.

Jenny, our organiser extraordinaire, asked if anyone would be willing to teach / lead a short workshop on Saturday morning. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to teach face to face since 2019 so jumped at the chance and then immediately panicked that I had nothing to teach this incredibly creative and experienced group (most of the members have been felting at least as long as I have!).

After several weeks mulling it over and talking to other AFF members I settled on “animal textures in felt”, I thought this would lend itself to a series of pre-prepared samples that we could discuss the potential pitfalls and then each member could incorporate one or two into their own project. This group is so experienced I couldn’t imagine any of them wanting to waste their precious felting time watching me laying out fibre over a resist.

We all arrived on Friday afternoon, settled into our rooms and started playing with our fibres in the main hall. After talking to a few members I realised not everyone would be happy for me to share some samples and tips on how to achieve different effects, they wanted a project to follow…. my heart sank, I hadn’t planned for this, how was I going to come up with a project that included, fur, scales, eyes and locks before tomorrow morning?!!

So it was that Fugly was born….

A little pod critter, with eyes, scales on his back, a lambs tail and an unfortunate ear-hair problem – for the record I would never normally recommend trying to cram so many different techniques onto one item but now he is finished I do find Fugly quite endearing 🙂

To my surprise most of the group also made pods that incorporated most or all of the techniques and we ended up with a ?gaggle, ?fright, ?laughter <insert collective noun of your choice here> of funny little monsters:

A couple of members applied to techniques to small bags with great effect…

This weekend was such a success we agreed to do it all again in just 6 months time! 🙂

Trying out a new way of making prefelt

Trying out a new way of making prefelt

I recently heard about a no water, no needle way of making prefelt. I thought I would give it a try and see how it works. It’s fairly simple. You layout your wool on a mat or plastic and roll it dry. When I teach resist felting I usually dry felt the layout by just pressing and wiggling to make it stick together well enough to pick up and move, so we can make the second side. I am sure we have all found that ball of roving in the bottom of a bag that is well on its way to bing a solid felt blob. Taking this idea further just makes sense.

On Sunday it was Library day at the guild and I knew it would be a fairly quiet one so I took my supplies with me. Here is my try at dry non-needled prefelt.

I am using a rubbery placemat and a plastic grocery bag. The Grocery bag is because I put the little piece of plastic in my coat pocket and then didn’t wear my coat. I picked 2 colours so I can see how much migration there is if any. I did jiggle the felt to stick it together, the same way I do when I want to move a layout.

 

 

I rolled it 100 rolls in each direction flipping it between as well. It came out very flat and has started to shrink.

 

 

I rolled it some more. I had intended to do another 100 rolls in each direction but we were chatting so I am sure it got much more than that, especially on the last set of rolls. It definitely shrunk in both directions but not a lot.

 

 

I cut it to see what it looked like. the edges are thicker and flatter than the middle but it’s still pretty solid.

Jan took a movie of it with her camera. It shows how sturdy the prefelt is.

I rolled it again to see how the edges would fair. There were wisps that migrated out in the direction of the rolling. I think it would have been better to just finger rub the edges. There was really no migration to the surface by the opposite layer.

 

All in all, I think it worked well with very little fuss. Next, I am going to try cutting out some shapes and felting them on their own, to prefelt and on a fresh layout. Have you ever tried this method? how did it go?

 

 

Spring and cleaning and de-stashing and rediscovery

Spring and cleaning and de-stashing and rediscovery

Spring means many things, but it always reminds me of our Ottawa Valley Weavers’ and Spinners’ Guild foray into growing our own flax, aka ‘The Flax Project’.  Its hard to believe it was over two years ago, nearly three, that a group of us tackled the happy adventure of trying to produce our own flax crop, not once, but twice.  It brought back memories of warm spring days planting and weeding, hot, hot summer days of staking and weeding (the one constant was weeding), days of harvesting, drying, retting, seeding, rippling, scutching and all those lovely bizarre words to describe specific processing of flax. Flax is grown and harvested in a community,  but it is customarily spun in the winter when there is no other more pressing work to do.  I find it very dusty and messy fiber to spin, or maybe I just don’t like doing that part without the shared company of fellow fiber lunatics.

So while I was clearing out bits and pieces of unfinished projects, I found my share of the flax and tow.

 

I also found loads of other flax that had been spun over the years.

Most have been left as singles and is ready for weaving.

Some I boiled as an experiment.  Flax will lighten in colour if you boil it.  It also softens significantly and your house will smell like hay soup.

Some came to me bleached, so I gave that a spin.  It was extremely soft.  My concern is for the durability of anything made with prebleached flax fiber.  Woven flax is renamed linen for those of you who didn’t know, and linen fabric is incredibly strong, and long wearing.

There are two down sides to linen; one is that it wrinkles.  I like the wrinkles of linen, especially jackets and trousers, but some people can’t stand that characteristic.  The other is its tendency to fade.  Linen will take colour but over time it will lose that colour and move towards white.  Again, I like this in linen, and it takes ages for this to happen.  A bright, bright blue will mute over years and acquire a vintage look that can only be seen in linen.

Covid enabled me to join a most remarkable group of flax enthusiast started by an extremely generous woman in Europe.  Her name is Christiane; she was gifted a large quantity of flax from a lady called Berta.  This was from Berta’s dowry.  Christiane decided to share it with other interested spinners and reached out on social media.  I asked for two stricks.  A strick is what the finished combed flax.  It is usually very fine, has little to no straw and is very tidy, ready for spinning.

Well!! You can imagine how this took off.  In the middle of a pandemic.  People desperate for knowledge, information, something challenging, interesting, contact with the rest of the world…this took on a life of its’ own.  Much of this flax was grown, processed and stored pre WW2.  It was of historical significance, to be part of that is pretty inspiring.  Christiane knows what she has and rose to the occasion.  She was gifted more dowry chests, documented more stories, and sent out more flax to more and more enthusiasts.  She also sent out hand woven linen, patterns, she wrote articles, held workshops, taught about the history of flax production in Europe, specifically Austria, helped flax lovers from all over the world to connect with each other. The project became massive.  She now has help to manage the administration of this mammoth undertaking.

Thanks to Christiane I now have suppliers of flax in Egypt and Canada and my treasures from Berta’s flax plus a community world wide I can go to if I run into problems and need answers.

Egyptian flax – over a meter long

But the question I’m sure many of you have is can flax be of any use to felters?  Yes, I think so.  For binding felt books, for embellishments, for stitching, linen backing on a felted image, dry felting onto a linen fabric (not sure, but the fabric is durable), there must be elements of cross compatibility.

The season for demonstrations is coming up and it looks like this year we can actually go out into the community again.  I am looking forward to taking along a fully dressed distaff with some gorgeous blond flax, blowing in the breeze, a little water bowl for dipping near at hand and inspire awe in the local population, that humans can make thread out of grass.  Okay, not awe, but maybe some curiosity, I’ll take curiosity.

Rising to the second quarter challenge (I hope)

Rising to the second quarter challenge (I hope)

Following what seemed like a never-ending period in creative limbo, the second quarter challenge has gotten me thinking again.  The photos were all amazing but one in particular set me thinking:

It’s funny, loading the photo as reference now, it is not like I remember it in my mind’s eye.  I thought the pole was further over to the left side of the photo.  (Like most people, I would make a very unreliable eye witness).  Having said that, it was the inspiration for what comes next.

It is said that a picture paints a thousand words and I thought I would add to my interpretation of the challenge by posting in photos and minimising my word count.

I thought I might post up a small project that could be completed by either new or experienced felt makers – one that could act as a ‘blank canvas’ for further development if the maker wanted to do this.  Or the project could be completed just following the photos.  It really will be in the hands of the creative.  If you decide to give it a go, why not post your results to the site.  You can do this through the following link, we would love to see them: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/community-photo-submissions/

Here is what you will need for the project:

  • Your basic felting equipment (bubble wrap, soapy water, towel, pool noodle, white vinegar (optional))
  • Pattern: 23cm square piece of cardboard.  this will act as your guide when you are laying our the fibre.
  • A little light plastic (like decorator’s plastic)
  • Smallish round shape (for example a cookie cutter 5cm diameter approximately)
  • Tops/Roving in your choice of colours.
  • Bits of fibre, silks viscose etc for embellishing your picture (optional)
  • Iron/Ironing board
  • Most of all your creativity.

So, here we go.  Just follow the photos and happy felting!

Here are some other flower pictures that I made.  I have mounted them on canvas which I covered with thermoformable felt (left over from my hat project).  The hat project was covered in one of my earlier posts  (link: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/08/19/its-good-to-bend-rules-now-and-again-part-1/ )

 

Felted Wall Hangings (in pairs)

Felted Wall Hangings (in pairs)

These wall hangings were made for a customer order. The idea was to be something modern but inspired from archaic motifs. I love the central Asian motifs, so I decided to use these curves in different ways. I used the wet felting technique, first the design with pencil roving, then the coloured wool and finally the 3 layers of wool. With lot of rolling and work I finished these wall hangings.

 

Some inspiration for the second quarter challenge.

Some inspiration for the second quarter challenge.

As most everything I have for felting is packed in boxes at the moment, I thought I would share some of the pictures I’ve taken around the farm for inspiration for the second quarter challenge. Usually, I take landscape-type pictures, most often with sheep in them or pictures of flowers, fungus or moss. I tried to be less organic this time.

These are parts of a rusty trailer. the first three are the fenders and the next ones are the decking. I particularly like the rusty bits.

These are some chairs we have the plastic ones had blown over in the wind and the undersides were quite interesting and dirty. How do they get so dirty underneath?

 

This is a stack of metal chairs waiting for warm weather.

Here are a few more metal bits I found around on a walk with the dog.

The bottom of my daughter’s canoe was good for a couple of pictures, an old label and scratched-up paint.

Many years ago we had a fenced yard. There is one small bit left that is slowly going back to nature.

 

A fence post in the field

 

And I couldn’t resist some moss and a cool rotting log.

Hopefully, I have inspired you to take some different pictures and not made you nod off. You can use one of these for inspiration if one catches your eye. We would love to see it. you can share your inspiration and your finished work in our gallery by using this form. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/community-photo-submissions/

 

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