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When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

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

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

Sound familiar?

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

Silk cocoons

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

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

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

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

 


 

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

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

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

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 


 

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

 

Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

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

Enjoy your weekend!

Theatre Textiles Part 1

Theatre Textiles Part 1

After I had retired from full time work in 2006 I was finally able to join SNADS – our local amateur dramatic society. I live in a small market town in Dorset and SNADS was the main source of entertainment for our area at that time (as it had been since 1930, although newspaper archives indicate that it was around at least as early as 1883). I had seen most of the productions which they had put on since we moved there in 1999 and longed to join in, not only on stage, but behind the scenes. During any one year there are at least 4 productions – Pantomime in February, Spring Play in May, a Variety Show/Revue in the summer and the Autumn play in early October, and as soon as that was over, the round started again with preparations for the following year’s Panto.

We had a fantastic wardrobe mistress, but she needed help with costumes, especially at Panto time as there was so much to do.

My first foray into costume was to make a full head cat mask for the summer review. Two of our members were to sing Rossini’s Cat Duet and the director decided that it would be fun to have a disreputable tom cat watching them from the side-lines. I had recently learned to wet felt 3D items using a resist, so I made the mask from wet felted pieces and needle felted details. I didn’t want the actor’s eyes to show through and anyway, I needed to give the cat it’s proper “slit” irises. So I stitched into the eye holes a piece of doubled yellow organza and just painted the vertical slit. (It is quite possible to see what’s going on through organza if it is held close to your face.) How to give him a proper nose? I needled the correct shaped nose on the mask, then I painted on some artist’s gesso, let it dry and added some more. Gesso is textured so it was necessary to file the nose to make it a bit smoother, also the gesso is white, so I painted the nose with black enamel paint which I nicked from my husband’s paint store (he’s a model maker). After a couple of coats of that, Tom had a shiny(ish) black nose. Add some “bitten” ears and “wonky” whiskers and he was nearly done. The cat’s mouth was open – it allowed the actor to breathe and gave Tom naughty grin. Finally I gave him a pink tongue and white tips to his ears.

Disreputable Tom Cat

The next production that I was involved in was the pantomime Cinderella, written and directed by one of our members. I was asked by the wardrobe mistress if I would dress both the Fairy (“Fairy Nuff”) and Buttons’ dog, Beau. The director wasn’t quite clear about what kind of dog Beau should be, except that he was to be comic. So I did a sort of 3D needle felt sketch of the dog’s head as I saw it – black and white with one ear cocked.

“Sketch” for Buttons’ Dog

However I’d got it wrong – Beau was to be a black poodle. 

After some discussion with the wardrobe mistress, we decided that the actor would wear a black polo necked top, thick black tights and black gloves. I managed to find a piece of curly black faux fur to make a short jacket, with enough left over to make pompon for the top of the head and the end of the tail, the long dangly ears and wrist and ankle rings to simulate the correct style poodle cut. I was to make a full head mask. For this I made a wet felt hood using a resist and a further piece of flat felt incorporating some of the curly faux fur trimmed from the bought fabric. A lot of that moulted out though because it was nylon or polyester and very slippery. Enough was fixed in however to give the right effect.

I made a needle felted muzzle – again with the mouth open to reveal the red tongue and white teeth, and to allow the actor to breathe.  The nose I made in the same way as for the tom cat – shaped with the felting needle, gessoed and painted.  The muzzle was attached to the hood/face with stitching and felting needles.  Some of the flat felt was cut to represent the dog’s lips and attached by stitching and needle felting to the muzzle.  The “Disney-esque” eyes were again painted organza and were stitched on the inside of the mask. 

The ears and head pompon were also stitched on.  I added a piece of brown fabric and a belt buckle around the dog’s throat to simulate a collar and allow the mask to be firmly secured over the actor’s polo necked top.  I have worn this costume myself a couple of times in subsequent Carnival processions – great fun.

Beau

Since the actress cast for the part of Fairy Nuff had a figure which could easily cope with a glamourous costume, for the base I was given a basque that fitted her. She was to appear out of a compost heap at the edge of the stage, so I set to and made lots of autumn coloured leaf shapes – mainly oak – out of different brown bronze and gold metallic organzas. I sandwiched sparkly bits between layers of organza. I machined stitched around the edges and along the veins of each leaf and then cut out the shapes with a soldering iron. This sealed the edges and prevented fraying. Then, with the basque on a dressmaker’s dummy I attached large pieces of bronze organza for the tail, and then added the strategically placed leaves.

The wings were made from two lengths of flat wire (originally from a pop-up fabric laundry container) covered with more organza, this time creamy white but with sparkles and sequins added. These were attached to the back of the costume by stitching the wire to the shoulder straps of the basque and covering the join with some dark bronze/gold chiffon.

The crown was made from bronze Christmas decorations (that year bronze was in fashion over here – UK). I used bronze plastic icicles, some foil stars and some more organza leaves attached to a head band. I can’t remember what the wand tip was made from – possibly a bunch of tinsel.

I actually got a speaking part in this Panto – only a couple of lines but a step up from what I’d had before.
I don’t have a proper photo, this was before my husband had a digital camera, however I’ve managed to extract a clip from the video we had made of the show. It’s a bit fuzzy if enlarged but I think you can get the gist. I’m in the gold dress with my exclusive “Toilet Duck” perfume, and my punchline? “It drives the men Quackers!”

Guests at the Ball with “perfume”!

After this show, we had one final “adult” Revue and then we moved to where we are now based. Try this link it should show you the hall we left, Sturminster Hall, and eventually the Community and Arts building, The Exchange, which is now our home. https://stur-exchange.co.uk/about/
Unfortunately it seems that a second link, on the above page, may not yet be working – this is a new website in the process of being fully set up so here’s the brochure which was produced the year after it opened.

The Exchange Brochure 2008

The staircase balustrade is wrought iron made by a local craftsman and represents the river Stour which runs through our town. All the Rooms in The Exchange are named after rivers and streams running close by, and it is just beginning to open again to live theatre as well as community groups.

We at SNADS started off our return with an Adult Cabaret a couple of weeks ago, for once without a male Balloon Dance or a ladies Fan Dance, but there was a Pole Dance!

More about my exploits with SNADS (including an explanation of the picture of the wicked queen) later. Watch this space.

Finally Finished and Playing with Rocks

Finally Finished and Playing with Rocks

I have finally finished my pouch. Yay! I am not sure how big I want the individual spaces in the bag to be so I have just basted the divisions for now. If they are working fine I will sew them in permanently.

 

Here it is full of things. and some things that didn’t make it in. As you can see it’s not dedicated to one kind of thing. It’s a way to keep all the smallish stuff from filtering down to the bottom of the basket where they are hard to find.

 

 

and all rolled up.

 

Here is the basket. First I put the liner in. It’s a thick, fairly stiff fake silk scarf. I can’t imagine it was nice to wear which is probably why it was in the secondhand clothing store in the first place. It’s great for this job.

 

Adding everything into and onto the basket.

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There was even room left to add my guild library books when I got back to the house.

I am sure you are all as tired f hearing about the basket organizer as I am so it is now time for something new and more colourful. I have been seeing felted rocks popping up on Facebook a lot. I figured they looked like a pretty obvious and easy thing to make, so I will give it ago. The first one I did use floor underlay resists.  I started with a pebble. I covered it completely in wool.

 

 

I cut out a resist a bit bigger than the wool covered pebble and then added the top put the resist on the top of the rock and folded the wool around. then I cut a bigger resist and did it again and marked the top. It was a bit awkward. I should have worked the other way up but where’s the challenge in that. LOL.

 

It fulled down quite fast.

time to start cutting, I rubbed each cut to heal it before doing the next cuts. I don’t think you can see it but the bottom of each layer is fully attached to the one below it.

 

I sat it on a green lid to dry, looks really striking there.

 

 

That worked quite well. Now for a different way.

For this one, I used plastic wrap to keep the layers separate. I cut a small hole in the underside so the layer would be attached to each other.

 

wool wrapped pebble

 

first layer wrapped in plastic

 

3rd layer

I wrapped the last layer in plastic I just rubbed it and rolled it around in my hands as if I was making a felt ball. I did it longer to make sure the inside layers were felted as well. While wrapping I lost track of the top and bottom. Naturally, I picked the wrong side to mark. I cut the first hole and it was attached to the one below so I kept cutting down to the pebble. I planned to stretch each layer, but with it being quite small there wasn’t much stretch or even room to get anything in between the layers to try and stretch.  so In the end I just fulled it tight around the rock.

 

Here is how they compared in size before felting

 

And how they compare with my hand to show the sizes

 

See Lyn, not felted rocks but felted rocks. Ha Ha Ha :O)

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Annie (rosiepink)

For the 4th quarter challenge I made a few different things because once I started thinking about it I came up with lots of ideas and I couldn’t decide which to make!  I ended up making:

a stars themed table mat

a Christmas pudding decoration

some stars on sticks to poke into my houseplant pots

and a wreath of holly & stars

I needed a mat for the side table in my hallway because people always put keys etc on there and it gets scratched.  I was going to make one in the summer but didn’t get round to it and now that it’s winter I went for a theme of dark inky blue sky with white stars for a festive feel. I had a disaster with it when it wouldn’t felt, but that turned into a triumph when I rescued it with the embellisher because the mat not only felted but also became reversible where the pattern migrated through to the back 🙂

There is more detail about it over on our blog if you are interested: https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2020/12/starry-night-hand-felted-table-runner.html

When trying the mat on the table I saw my simple felt “flower” on a stick that is poked into one of my flower pots, and it gave me another idea.  I thought some stars on sticks would look nice and festive scattered in my plant pots. The flower is just a circle sample of felt from the odds box that I stuck on a wire one day and pushed into the soil.  A friend commented that she really liked it so I left it there.  Also, I had promised my plants I would make them some name tags this year and I didn’t, so they can have a star each instead 🙂

Since making the Christmas Podding a few years back …

https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2014/12/christmas-podding-and-the-chocolate-thief.html

… I kept thinking I’d like to make some more wired twisty holly leaves, possibly made into a wreath.  After some experimentation I made 3 sheets of colourful felt to cut the leaves from…

…but then decided it would take too much time to make all the leaves, so I decided to make a flat Christmas Pudding instead that could stand as a decoration and then I’d only need to make a few leaves!  The pudding is stood on a plate but leaning against a hidden glass jar.

To make the holly leaves I pinned some fabric to the back of the felt for stiffness then free motion stitched a few holly leaf shapes round 3 times in black thread and twice with white.  I also used some old felt to make some other leaves to mix up the colours.

To make the pudding I raided the scraps box. From scrap felt I cut out two main shapes – a 20cm diameter circle for the pudding and a wavy “topping” for the custard. I backed both pieces with fabric then stitched them together.

I cut some little “raisins” from orange felt and stitched them on then free motion stitched a pattern around them on the main pudding.

I attached the holly leaves and added some felt balls for berries. I had already made these a long time ago but they were perfect for this project.  Lastly I added a few little yellow stars for extra sparkle.

I had originally planned on making holly leaves using a base of green fibres plus a lot of other unusual colours to make it a bit quirky. I made a big sheet of felt to cut them from, but found I had used too many dark greens and not enough of the other colours so it wasn’t quite right. I decided I wanted to go more colourful, resulting in the felt I made above.  However, it is a lovely piece of felt and has some interesting passages in it.  For example, I can see lots of little landscapes in it and I will revisit it at some point because I think it has potential.  For now it’s one for my pile of “Ideas & Projects in Progress”.   Again, there is more detail on our blog about this if you are interested because this post is way too long as it is!

https://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/2020/12/from-felted-holly-leaves-to-landscapes.html

Then in a sudden swirl of enthusiasm I decided to make a big bunch of holly leaves after all to see if I could cobble together a wreath of sorts.  Here are some in progress photos:

After making lots of holly leaves (but sadly no wire, no time!) I hit a problem in that I couldn’t get the leaves to attach nicely to the metal wreath ring I had. I didn’t want to glue gun it in case I want to take it apart and repurpose the bits at some point.  What to do? I had a look around and rediscovered a narrow felted “scarf” that I had made in the summer.  I had been far to impatient when making the scarf and it turned out nothing like I had hoped (basically lovely colours but a complete disaster!). I kept it in the hope that it would come in handy one day, and it did.  I wrapped the ring in the scarf which gave me something to stitch the leaves to:

I mixed in some felted stars and some yellow glass beads as berries (yellow, red, who cares?!)  The stitching is appalling as it was done in record time, but it’s on the back so it won’t be seen.  My patience has limits especially on something fiddly like this when I’m running out of time!  But I think the overall appearance is fun and a bit different and if I ever make another wreath I have learnt a lot along the way for next time!

Here is everything together on the table in the hallway:

 

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Do I have a finished vest? (Spoiler: I don’t)

Hello! I hope everyone is doing well, or at least managing not to randomly yell at walls.

If you remember, the last time I wrote I was working on a Victorian-style waistcoat mockup, and I was determined to have the real thing ready soon. Famous last words!

Once lockdown happened, my energy levels plummeted, lots of food was eaten with no exercise (in which my waistline might have increased ever so slightly, making the waistcoat a bit more er, snug) and my creative mojo went out the window.

So… this is where I am now:

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After two mockups, I thought I was ready for the real deal. However… see the puckering on the armpit area? It’s driving me mental and I don’t know how to sort it. I’ve tried pinning and tucking but so far, nothing has helped. Argh. Suggestions?

The good bit is, I definitely did practice my tailoring techniques. Using horse hair canvas and a special type of tailor stitch, I partially lined the inside of the waistcoat to make it sturdier. This also helps with shaping – see how the lapel is bending in the right direction? That’s the horse hair canvas and the stitching doing its magic. Behold, my tailoring efforts below.

 

Another issue I’m having is the fabric itself: since the wool is on the thick side, each bit I add (such as the inner lapel) adds bulk, for which the pattern doesn’t account. That, plus my recent indulgence in delicious comestibles, and I’m in trouble… Next Winter should be interesting.

Another thing I’ve done so far is to topstitch the lapel by hand, so the fabric doesn’t pucker when the waistcoat is buttoned up. I think you can tell the slight difference between the topstitched right half and the left, yet to be worked on:

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And that’s pretty much me done for the moment. For those who might complain that I’m not showing any felting, look! I’ve needle felted a couple of little balls to see if they look good with a bead, for knitting stitch markers. What do you think? I’m not in love so far.

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Finally… I need a distraction from all my recent mask making, so I’ve decided to work on a miniature felt jacket for a lady rabbit I sewed a while ago. Naturally, Quality Control Kitty was there to make sure I didn’t make any mistakes.

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Hopefully in my next post I’ll have a finished waistcoat and a mini jacket to show you…

Oh, and one last thing: I’ve been having trouble commenting on everyone else’s posts, which makes me very sad. Tech is annoying. Please know I’ve been reading them. I really, really hope the tech issue doesn’t impede my being able to reply to your comments, fingers crossed!

Have your lovely selves a great day 🙂

Resht Applique Complete

Resht Applique Complete

Last week I showed you the beginnings of an applique sample. I guess I wasn’t the only one that had never heard of Resht work. Always good to learn something new, isn’t it?

So I started with chain stitching the central flower parts down. I didn’t follow the example exactly but it is similar to the inspiration photo. I had drawn the stitch lines on the background out in advance but didn’t adhere to the drawing exactly. This actually stitches pretty quickly as the chain stitch is easy and stitching through handmade felt is wonderful. I’m not sure why I’m surprised each time I stitch a lot on a piece of felt. It is so nice to hand stitch. I have a tendency to be a bit minimalist so I might have stopped here but the sample was pretty heavily stitched so I decided I would add more.

So on to what I’m calling the drop shadow stitching. I added the dark blue violet chain stitch using a Sulky #12 machine thread. It worked great. Slightly lighter weight than the perle cotton #12. I was really surprised at the impact the dark thread made. Again, I shouldn’t have been surprised because it did need some darker values in the composition. I also added a regular blanket stitch around the leaves with a red violet thread. This pulled the red violet from the central flower out into more of the background.

Then I decided that I needed some yellow orange in the flower. So I added just a little bit of that and decided it was complete. I actually could keep adding more stitching but I didn’t want to overdo it.

I will definitely be cropping off the edges so here’s how it will look cropped. And I thought you’d like to see the surface from a side view. It was a fun piece to try and again reminded me why I like to stitch on felt.

 

 

 

Studio Space -“Final” Layout

Studio Space -“Final” Layout

On my last post, I showed you my new studio space. I had just moved in and my beloved fibre was still very much scattered around, and I felt a little at a loss as to where I should place my furniture.

It’s been 3 months, so how have things progressed?

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The quick answer is, very much as I’d expect – there’s still work to be done! For good reason, however: I’ve been busy working on a new collection and have been concentrating my energy on that instead of changing things around.

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I did manage to add a little touch of whimsy to this corner. A few of my for-dyeing fibres are tucked in those cubicles, and I managed a way to show off a few o my hand spun art yarns, as well as some commercial ones I have plans for very soon.

Holes in the walls are a no-no, so I’m buying some MDF, placing it behind the shelves and  drilling that instead to keep my vertical storage organised. Having it propped against the walls as is isn’t agreeing with me.

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My little reading corner, currently filled with work stuff. When I’m sewing I feel I never have enough space to place my finished items.
I managed to add a little artwork to the walls, to liven the place up. My ceiling is very high and the bare walls looked a little sad. Wish me luck when it’s time to remove them…

IMG_5109

Placing the sewing table in front of my window was both smart and silly. I get plenty of light (my initial reasoning) but when it’s windy I can feel the draft from the window ventilation slots. For now, it stays where it is, but I might change it later.

Have I told you I named the sewing machine Marge?

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My former dining table can be completely stretched now, which is lovely. It might look chaotic but every item is in use for my current project! Ok, most items are.
Spot the Christmas wreath in the background… it’s needle felted.

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I made this wreath for my husband, who had to spend the holidays by himself in Scotland. I wanted him to enjoy a little seasonal joy and made this in a couple of hours. What do you think?

That’s my tour of the studio space. I’m still going to add more artwork to the walls, and might change the big table’s orientation. Other than that, I’m very happy with my work area and have found my energy is higher here, especially now that the days are growing longer. I’m looking forward to working in my corner during Summer.

Thank You from Zed and the Holiday Card Exchange

Thank You from Zed and the Holiday Card Exchange

Zed wanted me to include her thanks to all of you for your generous support. Here’s what she had to say:

Ruth,
Please could you pass on my sincere gratitude to everyone who made a donation or bought an e-book or tutorial to support me at this difficult time. I was absolutely blown away by the kindness and generosity of so many people.

I’ve had very little motivation to felt or be creative at all for many months, and whenever I did try, it felt ‘forced’ so wasn’t really enjoyable. As well as the generous donations, I also received many comments and messages which have made me feel very appreciated and cared for. In fact, they made such an impact that I felt like a huge weight was lifted from my shoulders. I’ve been feeling so much more positive. And although I haven’t had chance to do any felting yet, (but who has over the holidays!?) I feel like I have a renewed love for it, and have had lots of ideas for things to make and write about. I hope everyone enjoyed the holidays, and I hope the new year brings great things for everyone. Thank you so much 🙂

Now on to my regularly scheduled post!

Every year on the forum, we do a holiday card exchange where members make fiber art cards to send to their assigned partner. It’s a lot of fun and you get a great small artwork from another member of your “tribe”. It’s always fun to see what everyone creates and the cards are always so different. You can see some of them here. You have to scroll down and go through all the pages to see all the cards that have been posted so far.

My partner this year was Antje. She is one of our regular contributors here and I correspond with her frequently so it was fun to send each other a card. Since I was working on the concept of using stuff up, I searched in my studio for felt that would work for a holiday card. I found some screen printed red and green felt.

The red pieces had almost berry like shapes and the green had pine needle shapes. Perfect! I just had small pieces so I cut and stitched them into strips and then sewed them all together. I butted up the edges and zigzag stitched them together. They were a bit wonky but I didn’t need perfection. Once I had a post card shaped red and green felt, I needed to add an element. So how about a tree? I found a piece of white felt and cut a fairly wonky tree shape.

Here’s the card after stitching around the edge of the tree to attach it to the background. I then found some star sequins and did a little French knot to hold each one down. I then fused the felt down to a regular white card blank.

Then I found a nice font on the computer, printed it in “matching” color and added a holiday greeting. I did add a little surprise inside but forgot to take a photo of that before I sent it off to Antje. It was a bit nerve racking because it took over three weeks to arrive. I sent a package of wool to Lyn on the same day and that was received in less than a week. But a card in a standard envelope took what seemed like forever. Just when I was thinking I would need to make another card to send, Antje received it. Yay!

Then, just after Christmas, I received a package from Antje, much bigger than a standard card. What could be in there?

She did send this lovely card which is gorgeous. Such an innovative way to depict a tree.

But then, I also got these three items. The birch bark piece on the left is wonderful and since I love trees, it is going to find a prominent place in my home. I love everything that Antje sent me and it was such fun finding these extra surprises. Thank you Antje!

We would love to have you join us next year with our holiday card exchange. Join our free forum so you’ll know when to sign up.

 

 

Recreating a Still Life Failure

Recreating a Still Life Failure

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Another prefelt seedpod

Another prefelt seedpod

This is a guest post by Kim Winter of Flextiles.

A few weeks ago, Ruth posted about how the shape of a seedpod she made using prefelt was influenced by differential shrinkage. I thought I would try out this technique with a couple of variations. 🙂

This is the seedpod I was inspired by. I found it on a beach in Thailand, but I have no idea what plant it is from!

thai seedpod

Unlike Ruth, I didn’t make “fresh” prefelt. I have a box (or three!) of old felt experiments and pieces I don’t like very much, which I am happy to cut up and reuse in new pieces. Technically this is not prefelt but actual felt. However, roughing up the surface with a wire brush usually loosens up enough fibres to allow it to attach to fresh fibre.

For this experiment I decided to use a felt tablet cover that I didn’t like, as it was very thick (I think it was two layers of merino sandwiching a layer of Gotland).

I worked inside out on this piece, partly because I wanted some spikes protruding from inside the pod and partly because I have found that it is easier to attach the prefelt or fabric this way.

First I made some spikes.

felt spikes

Then I cut out some vaguely diamond shapes from the tablet cover and roughed up the inside surface (which was white) with the wire brush. I laid these upside down (that is, purple side down) on the circular resist.

seed pod resist

Then I covered them with a thin layer of orange merino. I laid it in a circular pattern because I wanted the piece to shrink more around the circumference than along its height.

seed pod orange layer

After wetting down and a bit of gentle rubbing, I turned the piece over, folding the felt diamonds over and covering them with more orange merino. After wetting down and minimal rubbing, I added the spikes in the centre with more merino, rubbing very thoroughly to ensure they were properly attached.

seed blog spikes

Once I was sure that the spikes would not detach, I rolled the piece, rearranging the position of the spikes every time I changed direction.

When the felt passed the pinch test and I could see the darker outlines of the prefelt coming through, I cut a hole in the opposite side to the spikes and removed the resist.

removing the resist

I continued to roll the piece to start the shrinkage and firm up the cut edges and then turned it inside out so that the spikes were now on the inside.

seed pod right way out

To help with the fulling I immersed it in hot water and continued to rub and roll, sometimes turning it back inside out to continue the shrinkage and shaping process.

final seed pod

The spikes were actually a little bit short, so I curled the top edges of the vessel down and pushed up the bottom a bit to ensure they protruded properly. Also, I wish I had made them a different colour – maybe red.

And quite a lot of the Gotland has migrated through, so the final piece is a bit hairy. I might shave it.

seed pod

Thanks to Ruth for the inspiration!

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