I have been felting and stitching a little picture again. And of course, my favourite sheep will make an appearance.
I did a sketch of the idea I wanted, I don’t think I have the patience for proper drawing. I do a quick general idea. I used a thick piece of “almost felt” and made the blue sky and snow base, wet felting them together. Next, I used Blue Faced Lester lock to make some evergreen trees.
I added some paths for the sheep. Sheep like to walk the same path other and over, one after the other, even in a green pasture. Once they are where they generally want to go, they wander off. I have no idea why they like to stand out in a snow covered field, but they do.
I added all my trees and tucked the edges around to make it neater. I added some blobs for the sheep so when I add the stitching they will stand out a little more. I also lightened up the paths a bit.
I used french knots to make the woolly coats and some embroidery for the heads and legs.
I fiddled with trees a bit and added trails into where the sheep are standing. I tried t add some shadow under the trees but it didn’t look right so I pulled it off. The trees still need some snow. I usually do that last, I am not sure why.
My problem is the bottom right. It seems very bare. I don’t know if I want another sheep or something else. I thought of some little birds on the snow but think as this is a small picture (about 5″x6″, 12×15 cm) they might end up looking like sheep droppings. I don’t want a fence. Does anyone have any ideas? It may end up being another sheep.
Covid has had a negative impact on so many areas of our lives but the joy of human ingenuity means that the solutions we find to these unwelcome problems can lead to some unanticipated benefits.
Normally the International Feltmakers Association (IFA) holds their AGM as an “in person” meeting in the second quarter of the year. This year I was very much looking forward to spending a few days with lovely, like-minded fibre enthusiasts at Felletin in France, the workshops organised by the IFA are always excellent and you are guaranteed to make new friends at the social events.
Then Covid raised its ugly head and a plan B was needed….
This year, for the first time, the IFA has commissioned a series of free videos, for their members’ exclusive viewing, from four internationally renowned feltmakers. We will have opportunity to “meet” them live during the AGM weekend in advance of the video launch on YouTube.
If you are not already a member I can thoroughly recommend taking out membership, especially if you are based in the UK, as membership includes free Public Liability Insurance among other benefits. This link will take you a page detailing more of the benefits of membership and at the bottom is a button where you can sign up.
Below is an outline of the 4 tutors taking part, their bios and what they plan to share. The AGM will be over the weekend of 27/28th March 2021.
Nancy lives in Australia and is artistic director and founder of Treetops Colour Harmonies. For over thirty years she has immersed herself in the science and study of wool, felting and colour theory. As an international tutor, she specialises in Nuno felt techniques and her recent focus is applying Fibonacci’s Design principles to feltmaking.
How Fibonacci’s Design Principals can help Reconnect your Creativity
There is a Natural Rhythm in things we consider beautiful. Leonardo Fibonacci, a 13th century Mathematician wrote about it, Leonardo Da Vinci used it when he painted Mona Lisa. The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci’s numbers… how could this help your creativity?
Nancy’s video will explore simple, practical ways to apply this powerful design principle to your felting and no maths is required!
Three words describe my textile practice: simple, natural, crafted.
Since my introduction to felt and eco printing I’ve been on an exciting journey of discovery. Over time the sustainability of my work and teaching has deepened leading to new connections online and in person with like-minded individuals. The advent of Covid-19 means that keeping safe, staying local and living in harmony with the environment has never been more important.
For ReConnect I will share a series of 3 videos: where this journey began, an introduction to eco printing and an eco print/natural dye tutorial using locally sourced vegetation.
Fiona Duthie is a Canadian feltmaker recognised for her dynamic, sculptural clothing and artwork. Fiona strives for excellence in design and technique, while furthering the medium of felt through the use of new material combinations.
Creative Sparks looks at reconnecting with simple techniques and familiar materials in a playful and exploratory way. Perfect for uplifting us out of a creative slump, or to refresh our existing design process. We explore sixteen creative prompts while making a beautiful, harmonious set of felt tiles. Each prompt can be taken beyond this project and used to add creative sparks to any felt project.
I’m a Hungarian felt artist, who experiments a lot to develop felt in 3D and to achieve new, interesting surfaces.
It has always been a challenge for me to see how felt can be transcendent, whether stone-like or metallic. I find it very exciting when a particular substance goes beyond itself. When designing a surface, I usually push these boundaries.
Recycling is also a feature of my work, I often cut old, used clothes and incorporate the pieces into my wall hangings and other creations and more recently I also recycle coffee capsules into my works.
It’s been a long winter. In between the COVID isolation and the cold and rainy weather I have managed to stay somewhat sane by being in my studio on a fairly regular basis. I’ve had my first COVID Pfizer vaccine and am due for my second within the coming week. I’m thankful to the world of ZOOM that lets me see and hear from other creative people.
I have spent most of my time creating things OTHER than art quilts since my last blogpost. Comfort quilts and clothing mainly. Busy work.
In January I made the decision to restart the Art Quilt group in my local quilt guild. We had quit meeting because of the pandemic and because of some health issues that began for me in early 2020. We are meeting now via ZOOM once a month and started off playing with Derwent Inktense pencils or other watercolor pencils. I tried out several design ideas found from using a variety of inspirations. One inspiration came from my rather expansive library of Native American books that I’ve collected over the years.
Most of the books I have give permission to use the designs in “craft” work so I’m not infringing on copyright rules by using them in a quilt.
I live in the Pacific Northwest and the Native American culture is very present here. I admire their art and have always wanted to make a quilt using their designs. So, I started making some quilt blocks using my Inktense pencils and proceeded to show 3 of the blocks during one of my Surface Design ZOOM meetings.
An interesting question came up…” Should Native American art be made by non-Native Americans?” Never did this thought cross my mind although I am aware that their art is sacred and spiritual to their culture. That is what draws me to their work.
I thought about this conversation for several days and it was really bothering me. I was trying to justify the okayness of making Native American art to myself. Then my white privilege (non)thoughts slapped me right in the face! That initial question was quite eye opening and I am still working through all that this has brought up for me. How can I, a white person, think I can even begin to understand Native American art or their heritage? No possible way!
I think I might be able to give myself permission to create my own vision of these beautiful and spiritual designs for my own growth and learning and viewing enjoyment. If I do continue, I don’t feel that I will ever be able to display this work anywhere but my own home. I don’t think I have that right or privilege.
I’m still struggling with it though and need to do more journaling around it. Journaling got me to another question, “Who do I make my art quilts for?” which has also been an eye-opening inner conversation based on people pleasing. Pretty heavy conversations going on within my head! I still have lots to learn and understand, in art and in life.
As one person I follow on Facebook (Beau of the fifth column) says when he signs off, “It’s just a thought. Ya’ll have a good day!”
Lyn – Neubronner’s Pigeon in the style of Delauney
I’ve taken inspiration from both Neubronner (an inventor) and Delauney (an artist) to make a picture for the first quarter challenge 2021.
Dr Julius Neubronner developed a miniature pigeon camera to photograph the earth from above and the patent for his invention was granted in 1908.
How cute does Neubronner’s pigeon look? All dressed up and ready to go to work.
I wanted to make a picture of the pigeon but not an exact copy.
So I looked for inspiration in the works of artists during the first decade of the 20th century and I found this painting by Robert Delauney, “Portrait de Metzinger “, painted in 1906.
Robert Delauney used bold blocks of colour in oil paint to create this portrait …… hmmm …… how about making the pigeon from blocks of colourful pre-felt? They would look like brush strokes of oil paint on canvas.
My pre-felt stock is low, I had some colours I wanted but not all, so the first job was to make some more. I like to make it in batches to save time and effort and I like the mix of colours where they overlap. This is the dry layout.
Then I made the ‘canvas’ for my picture from 4 layers of white merino, pre-felted to the same stage as my pre-felt.
I cut coloured pre-felt into small rectangles, then using a photograph as a guide, I started to ‘draw’ the pigeon.
The only things not made from rectangles were the beak, eye and feet.
I didn’t copy the camera. It looked too complicated for me to try! So I made up a simple one that I hoped would be recognisable as a camera.
I added yellow variegated pre-felt rectangles, to imitate broad brush strokes, for the background.
But I didn’t like it. The background overpowered the subject. So I removed the yellow to leave just the pigeon. I then added a little purple pre-felt to the front of the camera because it looked too plain.
I wet felted the pigeon then when it was dry I added the background by needle-felting rectangles of ‘Noro Rainbow Roll’ pencil roving around the pigeon. The ‘Noro’ pencil roving is so fine (see photo below) that it’s almost see-through and it made a soft, complementary background.
The purple pre-felt bled a little bit during felting giving a pale pink tinge to the white background but I can live with that!
A couple of white stitches to put a glint in his eye and he’s done – the finished picture is 30 x 23cm (12″ x 9″).
Annie – Imaginative Flowers inspired by Odilon Redon
I felt inspired by many of the things that happened between 1900-1910, and was having trouble choosing what to do. Then I came across Odilon Redon’s floral still life work and it caught my eye, here is an example: ‘Bouquet of Flowers’ circa 1905.
And I also found a quote from him that appealed to me:
“I have often, as an exercise and as a sustenance, painted an object down to the smallest accidents of its visual appearance; but the day left me sad and with an unsatiated thirst. The next day I let the other source run, that of imagination, through the recollection of the forms and I was then reassured and appeased.”
I had planned to do something a little less in my comfort zone and a bit more adventurous like mum did, but then I thought oh well I like making flowers from my imagination so I’ll just go for it! It is still a work in progress but here’s what I’ve done so far….
I laid out a big square of white fibres with the intention of making several small sample pieces to start with but got carried away and just went straight for one big piece in the end. I placed the vase right in the middle at the bottom which I wouldn’t ordinarily do as it seemed that’s how he did most of his.
I got a little way into laying out and although it was OK I decided it wasn’t working for me so I pulled up all the colour except for the yellow background and started again.
I made the flowers into a big bunch and then left some space at the bottom. I had thought I’d leave space all round to include some “fronds” but hadn’t made my “canvas” big enough and ended up overdoing it so not enough room!
I haven’t finished it yet, but this is where I am so far. I’m going to attach the vase after felting because it is very fine fabric which stretches and frays and I think too much yellow will come through because it is rather open weave too. So I’ve ironed it on to some glue stabiliser for now and laid it on the picture temporarily.
The fabric is a nod to Redon’s butterfly paintings and use of butterflies in his floral works.
I will undoubtedly faff about a bit more with the flowers, and possibly put some shadowy darker yellows in the background, before felting it. It’s 52cm x 58cm (21″ x 23″).
Also, lesson learned, I didn’t check the dates properly on all of the reference pictures and only 1 of the 3 in my photo falls before 1910, but they are close enough 🙂
I’ll show the finished picture on the forum in the Challenges section.
It seems a few of us have had the dying bug. I couldn’t find my green curls and I needed some for another little picture I wanted to do, so I decided to do 3 colours of green to give me some variety. I did them in large freezer bags so I would only need one pot. I know I could have done them in the microwave in the bags but I am not really fussy about microwave dying.
The curls I have already separated are small Blue Faced Leister curls, my favourites. I divided the curls into three bags and added some vinegar water and three different greens to them. I used Dharma acid dye 461 Avocado, Prochem 716 Moss, and Prochem 735 Shamrock.
I forgot to take a picture of the curls but you can see these bags haven’t been cooked because they look like white locks in a green liquid. The colours don’t look very different at this point. Makes you wonder if you have gone to a lot of fuss to make three bags of the same colour. Time will tell.
I didn’t want them to be sitting on the bottom of the pot because they might melt. To prevent that catastrophe I put some ramekins in the bottom of the pot to keep them up. Empty tuna cans would have worked too.
I cooked them at a low simmer for 30 min then checked them.
Two of them definitely needed more cooking so I popped them all back in for 15 min( I think, or maybe it was 30 min) and checked again.
The third one was clear. I decided to let them cool in the bags and only one had any colour left in it by then but it wasn’t much.
I rinsed them, spun them out in the salad spinner and put them out onto a wire rack to dry. and this is the final result; three different greens.
So had to get a good picture of the true colour. The top right and bottom left are the same curls but look so different as the sun came out from behind a cloud and the room brightened. Their true colour is between the two. I like the way the locks are not solid colours. It gives them more life and depth of colour.
Using bags in a pot of water is a great way to dye lots of different colours at once. It’s especially useful when you don’t want huge amounts of any one thing. Who hasn’t been tempted by those little bags of colour at a sale or in a store? They are usually expensive. This way you can make your own. It’s a great way to try making your own colours by mixing your dyes and you don’t have to commit to having a huge amount until you know you like the outcome. Use a permanent marker to write down your proportions of dye right on the bag so you can replicate the colour later.
Generally, when I wash a fleece I skirt it heavily. (The one exception is for suint cleaning, everything must go into that bath.) I am of the opinion in my senior years, that I have less time than money, and sheep will grow more wool next year; on the other hand, I may not be here. This year I was fortunate enough to buy from a friend who is brilliant at spotting excellent fleece and equally brilliant at cleaning them. I trust her implicitly and with reason.
Once the heavy lifting of selecting, skirting, and washing is done the wool is ready for processing. It can be spun from locks, dyed, carded either on the drum or hand carders, combed, or left to be stroked endlessly if it’s a particularly nice specimen.
This year I was going gang busters with dyeing. I had so much lovely wool to play with, so many different types, it was glorious, but every once in a while I’ll spend too much time with a fleece. I was processing lots of lovely locks and grabbed a bag just brimming full of the little lovelies. So much of the wool was amazing, just shimmering with light and reflecting the colours like petals on flowers.
In the bottom of the larger bag was a small sealed bag that I did not check for quality. This was dyed alone and produced a lovely orange/red. The locks are soft and lusterous, compact and have a great texture. The experiment for this dye bath was to treat the final rinse with a hair conditioner. I could feel that the wool had been stripped and would produce static during processing. I laid the wool in the sink, rubbed hair conditioner on my hands and patted it all over the wool, pushed this down in the water and watched in shock and awe as sand, debris, vegetable matter fell out of the fleece. However, it’s full of second cuts, and cotted spots and these also started to separate from the longer locks. I suspect this was a gifted bag. My pride is saying I can salvage this…but what a sorry site, so many second cuts, so much wastage.
In a saner moment I would have set it aside, or thrown it out, but ego took over and I needed to prove to myself that I could make something out of this mess. So I started teasing out the waste material, carded the results and did a test spin.
The waste is significant, approximately 20% of the original product, including VM and sand. The fiber is half as long as the other locks from the original dye baths.
When carded, the staple length of the fiber was too short and too lofty to shape into rolags without fighting the fiber, so I left them as small batts and stacked them for woollen spinning. They are holding together extremely well and spin like a dream using long draw.
The test spin is a perfectly gorgeous, fluffy, strong woolen yarn. I couldn’t be more pleased with the final result, I would use this as a weft, or for knitting something that needs a lot of warmth. I’m not sure it could withstand abrasion. I have no idea what the breed is, so wouldn’t know if felting is an option. The staple on these batts is only 1.5 – 2 inches. The crimp is very large, hence the loft. It does shed so that might be a problem down the road.
So, I learned a few things from this. Hair conditioner is great stuff for spinners. There is now a bottle in my tool kit, cheap stuff, but it works. And maybe I should slow down on judging a fleece as not worth the effort. This one really was worth the little bit of extra work. It’s a pleasure to card, so easy to spin and the final result is wonderful. I would have missed that. My friend knew what she was doing keeping this little bit of wool aside for special care.
Okay! I will admit it! I have a big thing about shapes. Sometimes it keeps me up at night. Over the Christmas between planning what to do with all the leftover turkey the dog hadn’t managed to steal (I had no idea he could jump THAT high) my mind got to thinking about book resists and how introducing a hole in the resist would totally transform the shape of the piece. Then in the New Year I came across this felting challenge on social media (thank you Mia Hartgroves) which involved producing a wet felted interpretation of this watering can, created by the US Sculptor Rogan Gregory. In my mind it ticked all the boxes. I love the shaping around the handle and I reckoned the overall shape could be achieved with an asymmetrical book resist. Plus I got to put a hole in the resist!
First was the sketching. Not my strongest point but this year it’s on my to do list to practice more. Normally I just do my calculations in my head and visualise (no wonder I’m awake half the night). From a practical viewpoint I knew that I needed to get out the pad so I started small and grew the piece over a number of iterations. Soon I had my pattern as the drawing had grown sufficiently to fit on an A3 page. I reckoned when designing the resist that it was important that a line could be drawn through the pattern so that each page would have sufficient area to accommodate the laying down of the fibre. This was going to be especially important at the spout end of the design. Also, the placement of the hole for the handle was important as I wanted to capture some of the curvature on the sculpture. Once adjustments were made to accommodate these factors, I finalised the pattern and cut out the resist. The resist has three pages; two to accommodate the bulk at the bottom and one at the top. Therefore I cut the pattern twice, sewed along the centre of the resist and then stuck the two layers (where the handle was) together. At that point I was ready to felt. I chose Corriedale (grey) and I planned to embellish the piece with grey viscose. Viscose has a beautiful sheen so I reckoned I could capture some of the shine of the original piece with this fibre.
I started with the bottom page of the resist as this was the one part of the project which could remain undisturbed once it was laid down. First layer was laid north/south and second east/west as I wanted the top direction of the fibre to flow with the direction of the piece. Viscose was then added and it was wetted down. Once a skin had formed on the fibre I covered it with some light plastic (decorator’s plastic) and folded over the page, making sure that the plastic remained next to the fibre.
Turning my attention to the top (handle) side of the resist, I set about folding in the excess fibre from the underside. To avoid build-ups I trimmed back some of the excess by pulling away and discarding the fibre. I paid particular attention to the spout. As the Corriedale fibres were long there was a danger that I would end up with a build up of layers at the top of the spout. I did the unthinkable and cut back some of the excess with my scissors. Then it was time to lay down the first layer of fibres. Again in a north/south direction, I paid particular attention to two areas; I broke the long fibres in half so that I did not crowd (too many layers) the spout; I also took care when placing the fibres around the handle area – I laid the fibre on the bottom part of the handle and then tucked it into the other side of the resist. Once that was safely tucked away I was able to continue to cover the rest of the side tucking in the fibre about the remaining section of the hole. I laid down only one layer and repeated the process on the other side of the resist.
Once both sides were covered with one layer of fibre I wet them down, tucked it in and set about working a skin on it. Then it was time to decide where to place my fishing line into the felt so I scoped it out with pins, measured and added extra for the ‘overflow’ from the can. I cut 6 lengths of fishing line (3 for each side) then tacked them down onto the fibre. I made sure that they were symmetrical on each side of the resist. I threaded the ends of the fishing line through a straw so that I had some control over them when I was tacking them down.
Once secured, I put the second layer on the top two sides of the resist. I was once again mindful of the hole and the spout. I checked to make sure that the spout end of the resist was still visible as I did not want this end to felt together. I applied the viscose fibre to the two top sections of the resist. After that I felted the whole piece (placing decorator’s plastic on both sides of the top to stop the fibres being disturbed as I worked on each of the pages) and rolled it until it started to shrink. Then I removed the resist. I cut into the bottom section of the hole. I did not remove any of the felt just sliced through this section and then sealed it. Once these were sealed I started the fulling process until I was happy with the size.
I wanted more definition on the curvature around the handle so I decided to stiffen the piece. I soaked the can in a dilution (Golden GAC Medium-800) stuffed it and left it to dry.
I’m pretty pleased with the end result. If I was making it again I think I would use more fishing line in the piece, perhaps including it in the bottom section. That way it might not look as if the line is flowing through the top section only. At the moment the line (representing water) seems to be defying gravity.
I thoroughly enjoyed planning and making this piece. Next time I may try a hole in a symmetrical book resist just to check out the overall alteration in the shape of the structure.
I have a guest post for you today. Alisa McClain is a pretty new felter, she is in my local Facebook group. When she posted her piece for the first quarter challenge I asked her to do a post about it and she stepped right up. Thank You, Alisa
Hello! I started felting in the early pandemic, and I’ve fallen hardcore in love. It’s blooming and it keeps me grounded and joyous, and I am slowly developing more skills that allow me greater control, too. I’m an experiential learner, for the most part, so I just keep doing and figuring things out. I make art playfully, usually without a plan.
When I first saw these blogs about a first-quarter challenge, I didn’t intend to participate. You see, my brain is pretty much an open browser with 1,000 tabs open at all times, and I always have a plethora of ideas vying for my attention and screaming, “Pick me! Pick me!”
And, then one day I took a look at all the photos suggested in the original challenge blog from the decade. The suffragette posters caught my eye. Maybe I should make something feminist in petticoats? That old Disney song starts up in my head: We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats and dauntless crusaders for women’s votes. But, I haven’t done human forms and probably can’t pull that off. That skill is in the not yet pile.
The next time I looked through the photos, I thought about finding an aerial view of the area I live in and got lost in the history of my little corner of suburbia. No aerial view though from 1900ish though.
And, then the third time I looked through the photos, I thought about nature through a microscope. In the lounge of the ski hill I frequented in the before-pandemic times, there was an entire heavy book full of breathtaking pictures in a microscope. Sometimes the wonder of nature just awes me anew. While I was still thinking of those micro photos, I walked by this piece of art in my home by Wendy Feldberg that I had purchased the previous summer.
Wendy told me that she’d been quite intrigued by the history of the Ottawa River and that many of the labourers had died of malaria versus physical accidents that occurred on the river. She had done a series of fibre arts featuring the cells of malaria; this one was malaria cells in a placenta.
Overall, I give the pandemic a solid thumbs down, but there has been beauty within it. The blooming of my felt, yes, but also there has been a cementing of several of my friendships into a deeper, lifelong kind of bond. I’ve had more time with my children. I have had a chance (and been forced to, at times) to slow down and think through things. There is a kind of beauty in this moment, in the midst of the horrors. I thought about people that I’ve loved that have developed serious medical issues and how, sometimes, those issues forced them to consider what mattered in life, to prioritize, and also to notice a community of love and support around them.
So maybe that’s my theme: disease and the beauty within it. I wondered what was happening in the 1900s in the way of endemics or pandemics, and Google brought me to microscopic pictures of typhoid fever (apparently on the rise in Texas, an antibiotic resistant strain? Enough already this weird time!)
So here are a few pics of the jellyfish-like bacteria responsible for typhoid fever. I’ve made a jellyfish before that I like and feel proud of so I was pretty confident I could do it.
Of course, along with having a thousand tabs open at all times, I also sometimes fall down rabbit holes in which I refuse to sleep and, instead, decide to read extensively about subjects that will be pretty much superfluous to any conversational moment. Did you know that Typhoid Mary was pretty much the original superspreader and that she was quarantined for over two decades after she ignored public health advice? I mean, they did tell her not to cook but failed to provide any kind of alternative income stream for her, a woman in a time where women weren’t supposed to financially support themselves so maybe there is a structural issue with the collective safety net there. I digress. Moral of the story: I guess wearing my mask really isn’t so bad.
I also got lost in the world of microphotography. See, I already had ideas in my head, but now I feel like I need to felt a few of these, too. There will be more noisy arguments between ideas about whose turn it is. But, also, what a great problem to have!
Oh yes, my typhus. It hits the decade both on the microphotography front as well as a time when typhus was raging. When it was almost done, I posted a picture for my friends and said that if they could guess what it was, I’d send it to them. They guessed (before the legs) that it was a paddleboard, a kayak, a UFO and a comet. Someone guessed it was a jellyfish, and that was the closest someone came.
And, now, I pretty much HAVE to felt covid, don’t I? As I said, there is a certain kind of beauty in this moment… if we can’t escape this pandemic or fast forward through to the end of it, we might as well look hard for the beauty that is blooming here. Neighbours helping neighbours. Pods looking out for each other. The recognition that working from home can be a good option for many workers. I know it’s not universal and I don’t mean to silver line the devastation that is occurring. If I focus on the kindness, I get through this moment just a bit easier. That said, you best believe I will be hugging the crap out of my friends just as soon as this over… the kind of hug you just melt into. I look forward to locking arms together instead of fibres on a way more regular basis, but for now… I guess it’s time to pick the next loud-mouth idea.
Thanks, Alicia, microphotography is a really great place to be inspired. Has anyone else been working on the first quarter challenge? you can share it on the forum or if you would like to be a guest blogger just contact us. we love guests.
Don’t we all wish we could be children sometimes? The freedom to be creative, taking inspiration from anything we see. Maybe that’s what is so appealing with an art such as wet felting. It gives us all the opportunity to create!
Alex and I were talking about nature, and reflecting on a project we did in the summer when we turned golf balls into ladybirds (or ladybugs as you may call them). It was then that I got thinking about how many children love ladybirds! We had been thinking about our next felting project and we thought it would be fun to incorporate ladybirds into the mix! Felted soaps are really easy for children to make, there are so many different ways you can be creative. So – we thought about combining felted soaps with our favourite little creatures….ladybirds!
In order to prepare the soap, I trimmed the hard edges using a potato peeler. I find these really good for this job, as you can cut a thin slither of soap without digging into it too much. We like to collect the soap chippings, which we then add to our bowl of hot water. We use this for the felting, and the scented water adds to the scent of the felted soap.
We chose to use wool batt to make our felted ladybirds as we already had this at home. I would also like to try making them with Merino wool, to see if they come out softer. We used 3oz of red wool first, which we wrapped around the soap to make the ladybird’s body. The black wool was put aside for later, when we came to needle felt the spots!
Once we had wrapped the soap in the red wool, we put it inside a cut off pair of tights to keep the wool in place when we started to felt it. You might notice our two soaps are different sizes. That’s because one contains a baby soap, which although it was the same make as the larger soap, it was slightly smaller.
And then the fun starts! We begin wet felting our soaps.
You can see by Alex’s face, he really enjoys this activity! The only thing I had to watch is that he got a little overzealous and I had to watch we didn’t end up with a squished ladybird!!
We felted away for about 10 or 15 minutes. After a while, we removed the tights and felted direct with our hands. We also tried using some mesh and also some bubble wrap to help things along.
After the soaps had dried, we needed to add the spots and faces. We used the black wool batt for this. We think they came out pretty well!
For time constraints, we only managed to decorate two ladybirds in time for the blog. But we are looking forward to making some more. We also plan to make lots of other soaps, both for adults and children. They make lovely gifts for friends and family!!
I seem to be in picture mode. I wanted to do something with water but not necessarily as the main feature. I thought about a beach and that was my intention as I started but as was looking for pictures and some of the cliff-top pictures really took my eye.
I used a nice thick piece of wool prefelt that I bought at the Almont Fiberfest a few years ago. It is 4inches by 6 inches, 10cm by15cm I think it is wet felted on a flatbed machine. It is course wool and more solid (felted) than the thin needle felted prefelt we usually get. It is much closer to being felt. I would love to get some more but don’t know where to find it. If you know let me know.
I start with what is farthest away, sky and water. When I do sky, it’s always cloudy and I have to do a google search to remember if the sky is darker or lighter near the horizon. The wool I used for the water has a few bits of sparkle in it. I think that’s what is making the white dots in the picture.
Then some land and the rocks. I used a mix of 3 grays so the rock wouldn’t be flat.
Added the lighthouse and the path
Then I used throwers waist to make the white water around the rocks and some whitecaps. At this point I gave it a light felting mostly to sink the silk into the felt so it didn’t look so much on the surface. . There was still more needling to do though. I added the top of the lighthouse and started the stitching.
And as usual when you start stitching you start unstitching. The grass stitches here were much too small. The path needed changing as well as being far too straight it was much too wide. you can see how all the extra stabbing pulled the piece in even though I was poking up and down and not sidewise. I stretched it out.
Back to stitching. I am using 4 colours for the grass, 2 shades of gold and 2 of green.
I added some small blue dots for flowers.
Then the foreground grass
Then some french knots for more flowers. I used a couple of shades darker blue for the foreground.
This is a close up of the stitching.
That’s a lot of pictures but I hope you enjoyed seeing the progression. Stitching really helps a picture pop. And as I promised picture without Sheep. I can do it. LOL
So a week has gone by since I wrote up this post ready for the 4th of February. After a comment from a friend, and looking at it after a break from working on it, I decided to fiddle with it more. First I ripped off the path it was far too white, I remade it with some light gray. I did want it to be distinct but not a lightning bolt from Zeus. I added a tiny little dock, not easy but that’s what I get for working small. And the sky was too much open space so I added some birds, again very fiddley. I did add some slight shading to the lighthouse but it doesn’t really show in the picture the wight really reflects.