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First Tests of Ann’s and Jan’s New Felting Machines Part 2

First Tests of Ann’s and Jan’s New Felting Machines Part 2

Part 1 can be found here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2023/03/06/first-tests-of-anns-and-jans-new-felting-machines-part-1/

Electric felting tool from Ukraine (Orange Fly felting machine)

 1) Ann found it on Etsy.  

We knew Glenn had found it on Etsy and had a long chat with the inventor.  He said that there had been illegal copies of his design, but they had not worked well having descriptions of falling apart and breaking quickly. His original design has been well-tested and had good reviews online.  Ann and I wanted to try it out and compare it to the Chinese design.

2) The orange Fly from Ukraine.  

Orange Fly from Ukraine came with Instructions.3) came with Instructions.

Like the Chinese machine, the price is fluctuating due to the changing value of the Canadian Dollar.

There are a couple of safety instructions with this machine which should be noted.

  • Do not run without a needle in the machine
  • Oil the bushing and inspect to make sure the needle is not heating (you need to add another drop of oil) also running at high speed will wear out the bushing and it will require replacement when the needle feels loose when sitting in it.
  • I would add keeping hair away from moving parts of the machine (I was one of the first 3 girls in shop class in my high school, and I remember long hair and power tools don’t mix well. It was one of the reasons the shop teacher would not let the girls use power tools in shop class.)

Material that makes up the machine

The first thing you will notice is that The Ukrainian machine is made of a plastic for the majority of its body, unlike the Chinese one whose body is made of metal.  I am not sure about the type or projected longevity of this plastic but as with most plastics it should last longer if a few precautions are taken:

  • Kept out of direct sunlight (can degrade some plastics)
  • Keep it at room temperature, and do not let it freeze or leave it in places of high heat (the dashboard of a car or in a sunny window.) being an electronic device it likely will not appreciate being left or used in high humidity. If in doubt it would be best to contact the manufacturer.

2 pictures of Ann holding the Ukrainian felting gun like machine, and 2 pictures of Ann holding the cylindrical mettle Chinese machine 4) Hand grips for both machines

Ergonomics/ comfortable grip:

The handle shapes and thus how you grip them are also different. You may find one more comfortable than the other. I found the grip on the Orange one comfortable and it was easy to see where I was pointing the needle.

Switch and switch placement: the switch or small on-off button are both located in the area where the hand will be near. (i did not test the orange fly with the left hand but may add that to the final tests). For the Ukrainian machine, I found the switch to be well located for the Right hand and easy to turn on and off.  The tiny black button on the Chinese machine was very sensitive and I inadvertently kept turning it back on as I tried to turn it off. This may just be me being too aggressive with my button-pushing. Ann seemed to be able to turn it off and on with less fumbling. You can see the Ukrainian switch in picture 2 of this post and in picture 7 from the last post, you can see the little black button from the Chinese machine. (https://i0.wp.com/feltingandfiberstudio.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/7.jpg?w=600&ssl=1)

Noise: the Orange Fly is slightly quieter than the Silver Chinese machine.

Needle penetration /Vibration/kickback;  very little resistance to any of the surfaces or work pads with this one needle machine. (the exception was a fulled bulky knit sweater which gave a bit of kickback but this was fixed by increasing the speed.)  This could be partly due to the decrease in resistance when working with one needle when compared to more needles working in close proximity. We were also not sure of the exact gauge the silver machine was using. Ann has some of the Crown 40-111 needles I sent over to her. These may improve the operation of the Chinese Silver machine and make the test more even. We will report back after her husband has a chance to de-crank the needles so they will work in the machine.

The second thing to mention about vibration is to further Ann’s finding or more correctly losing of a small screw from the Chinese machine. I found that one of mine (not one holding a needle) had loosened off when I was running a test comparing it with the Orange one. I spotted the black screw on the silver machine before it had a chance to fall out.

5) working on wool felt pad and wool felting base  /Needle penetration from the back5) working on wool felt pad and wool felting base  /Needle penetration from the back

 6) pre-felt on medium felt pad 6) pre-felt on medium felt pad

 7) pre-felt on bristle brush 7) pre-felt on a bristle brush

Changing needles

While using the tiny allen key with the Chinese machine was fiddly but reasonably easy, getting the needle into the Orange machine was a bit more complicated. The instructions definitely had English words but seeing a video of putting the needle in fixed the confusion. Not having to have the pre-step of cutting off the crank (which is required for the silver machine)  is an added incentive to look favourably on this one.

Overall, I liked this machine even more than I expected and Ann liked it too.  Next Ann and I will expand our investigation just a bit more and look at 3 thicknesses of wet felt bases. We will look at both the Ukrainian and Chinese machines. Ann may have a third machine, this one is coming from Georgia, and has multiple needles. if it arrives soon enough we will add it to the wet felt base info and let you know what it is like to work with too. I will try to give a synopsis of the machines.

We will also see if our suspicion that the crown needles with their shallow working depth will improve the interaction between the felting surface/wool, brush or foam pad and the Chines machine.

Ukraine felting machine: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/768372661/1-year-warranty-pro-level-felting?click_key=1b08e81e365eb8f181543dde3538da5ff5989e86%3A768372661&click_sum=b89a4923&ref=internal_similar_listing_bot-2&listing_id=768372661&listing_slug=1-year-warranty-pro-level-felting

 

PS: I have spent the last 2 days at the Ottawa Valley Farm Show, demoing felting with Mr. and Mrs. Mer as well as doing a bit of spinning on one of my travel wheels. I do want to show you some of the fun we got up to but wanted to tell you about the second felting machine before getting distracted again. I am hoping the spelling is ok and I haven’t forgotten anything! I am about to face-plant the keyboard so I think it’s time for bed!

First Quarter Tree Challenge well on its way.

First Quarter Tree Challenge well on its way.

After doing my tree experiments( here if you missed it Tree Experiment ) and being happy with the results I am moving on to doing the first quarter challenge. If you haven’t seen the challenge it is here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2023/01/01/2023-first-quarter-challenges/

I picked a piece or felt I had and added the sky and snow backgrounds. I used 3 shades of natural white wool for the snow so that it wasn’t so flat. I used Merino, Corriedale and something strong and shiny. the shiny wool may have been BFL or even Mohair.

 

Then I started working on the tree. I worked on a separate surface so as not to disturb the background too much as it is only lightly needle felted. I decided to work in two layers for the tree so this is the darker back layer. I started by just fluffing it up and then using a knitting needle to move fibres around to get a better tree shape. then gave it a dry felting ( just flattening and wiggling it a bit so the fibres stick together) to move it onto the background.

I picked a redder brown for the second layer. I forgot to take a picture of it when it was separate. I must have been in the felting zone. I put the tree slightly off-center. I tried it in the middle and I didn’t like it.

Here’s a close-up so you can see the 2 layers

 

I poked the tree all over to tack it in place and started fiddling with the roots, so it won’t fall over in the wind.

and some more  snow

And that was as far as I am right now.  I will probably fiddle with it more before wet felting it and then fiddling more, of course. I am thinking of adding a shadow but not sure how to tackle it. I am not sure where the sun is.  I may have to go out to the field and look at shadows.

Have you started your tree challenge or maybe you’re going with making something useful or both?

We would all like to see photos of challenge pieces and if you are unable to upload photos directly onto The Felting and Fiber Forum ‘studio challenges’ thread, then please use the link below.

https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/community-photo-submissions/

A Turnstone Picture: Step by Step

A Turnstone Picture: Step by Step

I’ve recently finished a felted picture – mostly wet felted but with needle felted elements.  ‘How long did it take to make that?’ I’m often asked when people see my work.  I find it difficult to answer precisely. ‘Quite a long time’ isn’t very helpful so I usually say something like ‘About four days’.  I don’t really know if that’s true. It’s my best guess. As the felt-makers among you will know, most people have no idea how much work can go into making felt, so as I was making my latest picture I thought I’d try to document the stages and see how long it all takes. That’s what I’m going to show you here, plus take you on a little visit to the town where I work.

I’ve already decided to make a picture of a turnstone feeding at the water’s edge so I set about making prefelt sheets for the pebbles.  I live on the North Kent coast and love watching the local water birds: how they look, move and interact with their environment. It’s mostly pebble beach on the stretch of coast nearest to my home so pebbles are a good place to start.

First a piece of natural grey merino prefelt. Then a piece of mixed browns

It takes a surprisingly long time to cut all the pebble shapes

Here’s the grey cut up and an offcut of nuno prefelt which I’m gong to add into the mix.

And finally a sort of orange / yellow piece. 

I use prefelts as they give the pebbles more definition than if I just add blobs of wool. I’d guess all of the above is about a day’s work.

Now I can start the layout. This is going to be quite a big picture so will take up pretty all the space on my standing work desk. Here’s the first layer – natural white merino.

The second layer starts off with pewter for the water. While I’m working on the water section I add some dark blue low lights.

After I complete the second layer with more natural white merino, I lay out different coloured wool on top of the pewter and dark blue. I’ve previously carded pewter wool with a variety of light blues and greens using large hand carders.  I haven’t even thought about adding that time to my calculations.  I use this for the top layer of the water, mostly covering the dark blue which I want to add depth without being too prominent.

Here you can see that I’ve also added all the cut up pebble shapes to the bottom of the picture, plus some scraps of silk cut from old scarves, leaving a white section where I will add the wave.

For the wave I’ve chosen mohair because it has a slight shine and I hope it will be wiggly when felted. Along with the mohair I add lots of silk hankies and wool locks: I’m trying to get lots of texture into this section.

There’s also a piece of sort of knitted yarn that I picked up in a charity shop a while age.  It’s meant to be knitted into a scarf (according to the label) but I lay a line of it under the wave, hoping it will look like the foam from a previous wave. I also pop some offcuts into the wave for more texture. I finish by adding a few locks to the water to look like small cresting waves and I’m at the end of day 2.

A couple of days later I start the wetting down.  Because it’s large, I decide to work in three sections, starting with the pebbles. I like to use voile netting over and under the wool – which you can see in this photo.

I spend a couple of hours prefelting the picture, working both sides.  Here’s the back. I can see the pebble outlines pushing through the white so can be confident the layers are starting to felt together.  At this point I decide to take a break and go for a wander outside.

I work in a small rented studio in the historic town of Faversham, about 8 miles from where I live, in Whitstable.  The studio is in a former industrial building (originally a late-Victorian brewery bottling plant) which is now a lovely not-for-profit gallery, café and shop called Creek Creative Studios. It also includes 32 small studios filled with a good variety of busy individuals including painters, jewellers, potters and glass workers on the ground and lower ground floors; writers, illustrators, stringed instrument specialists, web designers and other small businesses on the upper floor.

Faversham is a gorgeous medieval market town so wandering about at lunchtime (and of course checking out the charity shops) is one of my favourite pastimes.  It’s a lovely sunny day so I thought I’d share a few photos with you.

Top left is the historic market place with its stilted guildhall. Top right is the Shepherd Neame shop: there’s a long history of brewing here and Shepherd Neame is Britain’s oldest brewery. Some days it does mean the town is rather ‘aromatic’. Second right is the lovely Yarn Dispensary. Originally an apothecary, the building dates back to 1240 and has a beautiful, separately listed wooden apothecary interior. It also sells a delicious selection of yarns. Bottom left is an old pub; next is the old water pump in the marketplace and a couple of the other buildings that surround the market place. There’s still a market here 3 days a week plus regular monthly ‘best of Faversham’ and antiques markets at the weekends.

Back at the studio I spend the rest of the day rubbing and rolling the felt until it’s fairly firm.  Because it’s a picture and going behind glass it won’t endure much wear and tear but I still like to ensure it’s properly fulled.  End of day 3.

I leave the background to dry and return to it about 6 days later, as I start to think about the turnstone or turnstones.  Working from my own photos, I roughly sketch a couple of birds and cut them out so I can see how they might look.

Although I like the 2 birds they are a bit small (the waves round here aren’t that big) so I decide to go for one pecking bird but bigger than the sketched one.  First step is to make some prefelt for the feathers.

Here it is as I’m starting to wet it down (left) and as a light prefelt (right – apologies for the poor quality of the second photo)

I cut up the feather prefelt and lay out a general bird shape.  At this stage I am leaving the head large and a bit vague.  I’ve learned that it’s better to make it too big and cut it to size later rather than trying to get the exact size and shape and risk having to add more wool or felt.

Here’s the bird felted and with a lightly trimmed head.  Sorry it’s not a great photo as it’s electric light and I’m casting a shadow but I hope you can see it well enough to get the overall idea.

From layout decisions to the felted bird has taken most of day 4.

The next stage is to needle felt the bird into the background and needle in the eye and legs as well as refining the beak. For the legs I used some of the orange-ish prefelt I made for pebbles, adding strands of wool on top.

Using a broken needle I pick at the wave to raise some of the texture from the silk hankies and wool locks.  I’m not sure whether it’s visible in this photo but it does make a difference in the actual picture.

I didn’t take progress shots of the needle felting but I’d say it took a good half day.  It’s difficult to know when to stop fiddling around with it and declare it finished.

So, here is the final picture before framing.

And a shot in its frame. 

Frame size is 63 x 86 cm (approximately 25 x 34 inches)

I used an adhesive hook tape – like the hook side of Velcro – which I stick to the mount board. The hooks hold the felt in place without impacting the fabric.

So, it looks like my 4 day estimate was a bit low.  Next time someone asks how long it took me to make this picture I could say ‘About 4 ½ days, oh, plus the carding, the nuno prefelt and the framing….’ .  Maybe I’ll just settle for ‘About 5 days’.

Do you try to work out how long you spend making things or just go with the flow?

First Tests of Ann’s and Jan’s New Felting Machines Part 1

First Tests of Ann’s and Jan’s New Felting Machines Part 1

This past Christmas I received an electric needle-felting tool. This one was made in Ukraine using 3D printing. It had a small motor driving a single needle. Glenn found it on Etsy after he notice I had been having long online chats with a representative, (Amy), of the brand XianDafu, sold by William Wool Felting Supplies Store. Who manufactures a different style of hand-held electric Felting machine from China.

Poor Amy, I spent a long time asking questions, mostly about their needles, what gauge, shape, and how many barbs per side. They are using needles with the crank and part of the shaft cut off (there are a couple of hand-held needle holders that require that the crank be removed too, but they’re not common). Ann’s very kind husband has cut needles for her before but I thought it sounded a bit intimidating so had been hesitant to buy one.  Amy was excellent to chat with, being quite familiar with the machine but didn’t have as much background with commercial felting needles.  So I went into teaching mode and likely overwhelmed her with details and info on needle shapes, gauges, barb placement…… and finally manufacturers I suggested checking out both the Chinese manufacturer Doer and the German Gross-Brecket. I passed on her information to Ann who decided it sounded interesting and placed an order.

By the time Ann’s order arrived and I got the chance to check it out, I decided it might be useful to have a second style of machine) the price had gone up! (Stupid fluctuating dollar value). The positive was that now there were a few options for accessories; I could order extra needles and/or extra screws. (They are tiny screws, so I thought it might be a good idea to get extras)

Ann’s Unboxing of the Chinese needle felting machine. opening the box, the parts are well packed in foam, vile of cut needles, the speed control with adapter for the plug1) Ann’s Unboxing 1

Ann’s unboxing 2 retractable guard. the guard retracted and extended.  2) Ann’s unboxing 2 retractable guard     

You can see my unboxing here https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2023/02/04/felting-machines-from-ukraine-and-china/  The synopsis, in case you don’t want to go back and read the post, for the packaging from China it was amazing in its use of extreme layers of skid wrap, over Bubble wrap,  over shrink wrap and inside the box, lots of good foam. I suspect the Ukrainian machine was also well packed for shipping, but it was not wrapped for shipping when I was given it, in Christmas wrapping. (I am pretty sure it did not arrive through the mail covered only in Christmas wrapping paper)

The concepts of having an electric needle-felting machine are:

  • reduce strain on your body (reduce repetitive strain injuries or tendinitis irritation)
  • increase the speed you felt at (the machine can poke holes into wool far faster than I can.) you can also adjust the speed of the needle in both the Ukrainian and Chinese machines that we looked at)

other things to think of, Mechanical considerations:

  • Ergonomics: Is it comfortable to hold and use?
  • How difficult is it to change the needles?
  • Both have a limited run time for the motor then it will have to rest and cool down. We seemed to work for up to 5 minutes then pause to adjust or add wool. The suggested run time is 10 minutes for the Chinese version, so well over what we had been doing. It would be important to adhere to the run times so you don’t burn out the motor which would not let you enjoy the benefits of the machine
  • Vibration, noise and Kick back should be considered.
  • How many needles can the machine hold and effectively work?

Ann and I have been trying to meet on a Monday before a social at the local guild to try out your new felting tool.  We had a few things we wanted to test with both machines. My pre-test suspicion was that the Chinese machine would be best for pictures and the single-needle Ukrainian machine best for sculpture. Let us see if I am correct and what you think from our initial test runs.

Let’s start by looking at the Silver Metal Electric Needle felting tool from China first. (The script on the box seems to say “Zendaifuku fibre moulding machine”)

Let’s start with how to add needles, since if it is not reasonably easy to change needles then you will be less likely to use the machine.

Ann Adding needles to the machine using a small allen key and inserting the needles that have had the crank removed.3) Ann adding needles to her China-made machine

This machine requires that the top of the needle (the crank and part of the upper shaft) needs to be removed. This can be done with needles you already have or you can purchase precut needles from the manufacturer of this machine. This is an extra step that the Ukrainian machine does not have. On the other hand, being able to use up to 4 needles gives you more options than a single-needle machine.

We both found that adding or changing needles to this machine was not difficult. Because the screws are tiny, those with reduced eye acuity or essential tremors in their hands may find this a bit more challenging but it should still be achievable. Caution: if you want to run this one with less than 4 needles, I would suggest taking out the empty place screws and storing them in the little screw topped vile holding your needles. I would also suggest ordering extra screws they are so tiny and likely to disappear if you don’t keep your eye on them while changing needles. (Sneaky screws!!)

4) Needle holding vile with screw top (these are Ann’s, mine has extra screws in the vile)4) Needle-holding vile with a screw top (these are Ann’s, mine has extra screws in the vile)

Ann lost one of her screws while running the tests for this machine. She took out two of the four needles to see if fewer needles would create less resistance and less kickback. She had left the two screws in the machine without the needles. She noticed one of the screws without a needle was missing and we used a tool I have shown you before to look for it. (Princess Auto has these, extendible-handled-magnet-with-light. Very handy for picking up needles, screws or pins from your weaving)

Using the extendable magnet with light tool to look for the missing screw under the table and close up of tool 5) Extendable magnetic with light

We started with the different felting surfaces we had with us; Firm foam pad (yellow), pool-noodle-type garden kneeling foam pad (green), and medium firmness wool pad (charcoal).

pool-noodle-type garden kneeling foam pad (green)

   6) My accessories and felting machine on the green foam with extra needle cases, Allen keys and tiny screws. Back of 100% wool felt base with Ann’s machine with only 2 needles.   6) My accessories and felting machine on the green foam with extra needle cases, Allen keys and tiny screws. Back of 100% wool felt base with Ann’s machine with only 2 needles.  

The green kneeling pad produced some kickback, but the Chinese machine did embed the fibre into the green wool felt base. Though it did work better with Ann’s machine with 2 needles rather than mine with 4 needles.

Firm foam base (a piece of the kneeling pad) yellow

    7) Firm foam base (a piece of kneeling pad) yellow7) Firm foam base (a piece of the kneeling pad) yellow

The yellow firm foam had the most resistance to the needles and had the most kickback. Holding the machine on an angle helped the needle barbs engage the fibre.

Wool mat (medium softness) (I have one that is thinner and firmer and one that is thicker and softer)

8) 2D and 3D on wool mat with Chinese machine8) 2D and 3D on a wool mat with the Chinese machine

On first impressions with this tool and this wool mat, Ann liked the 3d more than the 2d felting.

 9) Increasing Speed using dile on cord 9) Increasing Speed

Increasing the speed improved felting in both 2 and 3 D but she is still having some kickback with 4 needles.  She also found that working on an angle worked better than vertically. We again suspected that the lower angle might be engaging more of the barbs with the fibre, than when held vertically. With the amount of resistance felt with this surface, we may not have the speed, gauge and number of needles set up to optimize for this machine. We will investigate further.

Ann held the tool at an angle and found it worked better. We think that the surface may be too resistant to the needles in use. We suspected finer gauge needles or fewer needles might improve the felting.  For a second try, Ann switched to two needles instead of four this reduced the kickback but didn’t remove it.

10) Ann reduced to two needles and tried the wool mat again. it was more effective.10) Ann reduced to two needles and tried the wool mat again. it was more effective.

11) We also tried a 3-D object, using 2 needles and without an armature.11) We also tried a 3-D object, using 2 needles and without an armature.

This caught and entangled fibres into the felt successfully. As you can see, Ann was running it with the guard locked in the retracted position.

After checking the mats we had with us, we came to the conclusion that there may be too much resistance and maybe we needed something more like the clover brush pad to allow the machine to work to its best potential. Neither Ann nor I have one and they are so small a work surface. We needed to come up with an alternative. I found my red kitchen scrub brush and Ann went to a hardware store and found a bristle scrub brush and a driveway brush. So we now had 3 brushes of different stiffness, height of bristles and bristle density to try next.

  12) 3 brushes to try (since we dont own clover brushes)12) 3 brushes to try

 13) Princess Auto red scrub brush; tightly packed, stiff plastic bristles. 13) Princess Auto red scrub brush; tightly packed, stiff plastic bristles.

14) Whisk brush with handle from Home Hardware longer and softer bristles that are tightly packed.14) Whisk brush with handle from Home Hardware, longer and softer bristles that are tightly packed.

15)  Driveway brush without its pole handle also from the hardware store; firm bristles more dispersed than the other two brushes.15)  Driveway brush without its pole handle also from the hardware store; firm bristles more dispersed than the other two brushes.

16) Prefelt over the driveway brush 16) Prefelt over the driveway brush

Using the driveway brush as you would a clover brush seemed to be the most effective of the options we have tried. The other two brushes were found to be too stiff (Red) and on the other, the bristles seemed too close (Black). The driveway brush created less resistance than even the pool noodle-type garden kneeling pad foam, which was better than the wool or hard foam with this machine.

I suspect that if changed to finer needles, with the barbs located closer to the tip we would again see an improvement in fibre engagement.

If this company makes a new version I would suggest it would be nice to have the guard able to lock at a couple of spots so you could set the depth the needles would penetrate. Secondly add “Extra Fine” needles to their options, with barb placement close to the tip. (a shallow working depth but maybe not as shallow as the crown needles)

The machine itself felt comfortable in the hand, it felt safe and solid to work with. The adjustable speed worked well and we remembered not to get too excited and overwork the machine, so no more than 10 minutes on. We probably were working more in the 5-minute run times, then letting it rest as we set up the next bit of wool to work on.

Next, we will look at the “orange Fly” electric needle felting machine from Ukraine. We can then compare the two.

Ann and I would be interested to hear if you have tried the metal electric needle-felting machine from China. How did you find it?

This is the link to the Chinese Needle felting Machine. The price has fluctuated quite a bit due to the strength of the Canadian dollar. https://www.aliexpress.com/item/1005004984061419.html?spm=a2g0o.detail.1000014.4.64382604aj7QsK&gps-id=pcDetailBottomMoreOtherSeller&scm=1007.40050.281175.0&scm_id=1007.40050.281175.0&scm-url=1007.40050.281175.0&pvid=c33f93e0-5aac-4884-bd34-54c5fe444a00&_t=gps-id:pcDetailBottomMoreOtherSeller,scm-url:1007.40050.281175.0,pvid:c33f93e0-5aac-4884-bd34-54c5fe444a00,tpp_buckets:668%232846%238114%231999&pdp_ext_f=%7B%22sku_id%22%3A%2212000031240835199%22%2C%22sceneId%22%3A%2230050%22%7D&pdp_npi=3%40dis%21CAD%21206.27%21206.27%21%21%21%21%21%402101d1b516779458756708517ed103%2112000031240835199%21rec%21CA%211912286868

Making a Pin Cushion

Making a Pin Cushion

For Christmas this year my granddaughter gave me a small bowl. Her mother says she saw it and was excited and adamant that I would love it. We have no idea why. She is right I do like it but maybe not for the reasons she thinks. I love it because it’s from her and because she is so sure I would. I do not think she knows what Lord of the Rings or Hobbits are.

I wanted to think of some way to use it that wasn’t just popping it in with the other bowls in the cupboard. I decided on a 3D scene to use as a pin cushion. And what else could I make for the scene but a hobbit house?  I started with a dryer ball to save time filling it and some green/brown mixed roving to make the top and the hill.

I had to make a hill for the hobbit to live in. I made the hill with the same green brown wool. For the front of the house where the door will go, I used much more of the brown/burnt grass colour. Then at our last meeting as part of the felting machine test, which you will start to hear about in Jan’s next post, I used Jan’s needle felting machine to attach the front of the hobbit house to the hill

This is as far as I have made it. I need to make the door and attach it, then the hill is ready to attach to the wool base in the bowl. Now I have to decide if I am happy with the green “grass” I think it may need a little bit of brighter green.

I suppose I should go do some research online to see the colours that are used. So far I was just going with the picture on the bowl. It’s a slow project but it is coming along. Slow and steady wins the race….right?

2D felted landscape workshop

2D felted landscape workshop

Saturday, Feb 11th, 2023, was the date scheduled for the next 2D felted landscape workshop at the local guild. Before Xmas we had a lot of workshops have to reschedule. Either the weather was against us, or the instructor or the students had caught the flu going through town. (Technically that is better than covid but it still sounded awful.)

In the aftermath of the sudden arrival of winter the weekend before, I had been left fighting Glenn’s generosity (he gave me his cold). I had noticed I was feeling better each day from about Wednesday so by Saturday I was pretty optimistic that I had defeated most of it and would be able to teach. (I had been avoiding Glenn but it is a small house.) I had spent the week slowly gathering supplies, sorting out all the things the students would need and had Glenn do a run to Dollerama for the missing items.

Saturday morning started very early, Glenn loaded the supplies, samples and many bags of different fibre. When everything was in the car, there was still room in the front seats for both of us.  Seeing out the back is not that important, I have side mirrors! So, off we went to the studio to set up before the workshop.

 1) small grey 4 door Kea Soul with Glenn bringing in as much as he could carry each trip. The parking space is still covered in snow and the Dairy Queen on the other side of the street is not yet open. 1) small grey 4-door Kea Soul with Glenn bringing in as much as he could carry each trip. The parking space is still covered in snow and the Dairy Queen on the other side of the street is not yet open.

2)  clustered around or on the table outside the studio; 12 giant zip lock bags, 4 large bags, one file holding plastic box, and Glenn placing the last 2 mid-size clear ruff totes on round plastic topped table. There are “caution wet floor” signs in the foreground and off to one side.2)  clustered around or on the table outside the studio; 12 giant zip lock bags, 4 large bags, one file-holding plastic box, and Glenn placing the last 2 mid-size clear ruff totes on a round plastic-topped table. There are “caution wet floor” signs in the foreground and off to one side.

Glenn unloaded the car and set up the extra tables in the studio so I could set out the student’s supplies and set up the examples.

3) Class room set up with each students notes, foam pad, frame, needles set out at there place. To the right are examples of my work (including the Mr. and Mrs. Mer to show 3D Dry Felting). In the background, Glenn is reading and you can see a smaller table full of other supplies we will need as well as a 5 foot table overflowing with bags of wool. (There are a couple bags sitting on my walker).3) Classroom set up with each student’s notes, foam pad, frame, and needles set out at their place. To the right are examples of my work (including the Mr. and Mrs. Mer to show 3D Dry Felting). In the background, Glenn is reading and you can see a smaller table full of other supplies we will need as well as a 5-foot table overflowing with bags of wool. (There are a couple of bags sitting on my walker).

4) Close up of examples of 2D and 3D needle felting and 3 books (Art in Felt and Stitch, Jaana Mattson's Landscapes in Wool: The Art of Needle Felting and Painting With Wool Landscapes) I had brought for the students to look at.4) Close up of examples of 2D and 3D needle felting and 3 books (Art in Felt and Stitch, Jaana Mattson’s Landscapes in Wool: The Art of Needle Felting and Painting With Wool Landscapes) I had brought for the students to look at.

In the student’s notes, I gave them a list of books that may be of interest if they enjoyed 2D picture felting.

  • Painting With Wool Landscapes by Bethany Harris
  • Creating Felt Pictures by Andrea Hunter
  • The Art of Moy Mackay by Moy MacKay
  • Art in Felt and Stitch Felting Book by Moy MacKay
  • Jaana Mattson’s Landscapes in Wool: The Art of Needle Felting  by Jaana Mattson
  • The Art of Felt Felting Book by Loumange Francoise Tellier (inspirational)

5) Three bins and a bag of other things the students might need or could try. Fake clover tools, bags of scissors, extra needles, pins, small pet brushes that work like mini carders, and a bag of permanent markers are arrayed on the table. There are also a couple more small samples of felting and using different types of backing or ground felt.5) Three bins and a bag of other things the students might need or could try. Fake clover tools, bags of scissors, extra needles, pins, small pet brushes that work like mini carders, and a bag of permanent markers are arrayed on the table. There are also a couple more small samples of felting and using different types of backing or ground felt.

6) 13? Bags of wool on a five foot table over flowing with one on the floor and two bags on my walker.6) 13? Bags of wool on a five-foot table overflowing with one on the floor and two bags on my walker.

7) Well-padded rolling desk chair with green and black pillow sits behind a folding table with all the students’ supplies.7) Well-padded rolling desk chair with a green and black pillow sits behind a folding table with all the students’ supplies.

I found out that one of my students had hurt her back and was not sure if she could make it or how long she would be able to felt, so had one of the comfy chairs and pillow ready for her arrival.

8) A close up of one of the students workshop supplies, with various candy and chocolates for stamina (keep watching the pictures and you will see more of the candy selection).8) A close-up of one of the student’s workshop supplies, with various candies and chocolates for stamina (keep watching the pictures and you will see more of the candy selection).

Most of the students had chosen an image from a selection I had sent earlier in the week. We wound up with two students working on the tree in winter with a fence and two on an ocean image. Since I had not heard from all the students I thought I better bring all the colour options so I would be ready for whatever they wanted to try. We had two missing students, one was a booking error that had been corrected but was not on my list, and the other was actually missing. ( I found out when I got home that she had not felt well and had tested positive for covid that morning!)

I had set out the student’s supplies; Name tag (rectangle thick wool felt): (safety pin & sew-on pin, sock yarn, piece of scrap paper and Marker).  Foam Kneeling pad, 1 sheet of 100% wool felt (enough for two 5×7 pictures), 1 sheet of acrylic craft felt, I sheet of card stock (to make a window mat), a Plastic ruler, a Wooden Frame with a mat from Dollarama, XXL Project bag, bag for the needle, 21 pages notes and Felting needles.

  • 2x  T36-333 needles (Blue)
  • 2x  T38-333 needles (PINK)
  • 2x  T42-222 needles (Turquoise)
  • 1x Crown 40-111 needles (Orange)
  • 1x Reverse 40-222  needles (Green)

We started with a name tag; making your name in yarn to practice eye-hand coordination and get used to the needles.   I usually review what’s in the notes, the basics of history of landscape, mentioning the golden mean and the rule of 3’s for photography,  a review of perspective, some of the techniques that apply to pastels, acrylics and watercolours that can be used with wool.  As well as blending fibres by hand or by hand cards to get the colours you want. I also chatted briefly about ways to transfer images to the felt.

I didn’t go into as much detail as I usually do since I was starting to feel a bit more brain-stuffed up than I had been when I arrived and started to set up.  I was sure I was feeling better, but this cold seems to keep trying to sneak back and hit you again. Even so, the students did very well. Maybe not overloading them with info helped.

This time everyone wanted to use the “lightbox” (or window) method so I reminded them that the template version, which is good for thicker felt bases or dark-coloured base felt, was in their note if they needed to use it in the future.

9) Student with ocean view with lots of blues teals light teals, grey and white wool strewn around. There are is also a package of rockets candy rolls in the foreground9) Student with ocean view with lots of blues teals light teals, grey and white wool strewn around. There are is also a package of rockets candy rolls in the foreground

For each image I had two copies of the original image (in case they chose the template method), a colour blocked version and a colour saturation image to show hidden colours they may want to consider.  I can do this with Microsoft Word 2010. (Sometimes things work and upgrade then lose the effects you want.)

10) The second Ocean image again has fiber strewn around it. In the foreground, my male cardinal on a branch, using the template method for transfer. Like Watercolour painting, layers of thin colour for the back ground and a thicker more like acrylic approach to the bird.10) The second Ocean image again has fibre strewn around it. In the foreground, my male cardinal on a branch, using the template method for transfer. Like Watercolour painting, layers of thin colour for the background and a thicker more like acrylic approach to the bird.

Normally each student has chosen a different image, this time one of the ocean images was popular and the tree in winter with a fence and hill had found favour with the other 2 students.

11)student working on background behind the tree first. This time the fiber is a mix of white, grey, green-grey, light blue and brown with gray. In the foreground there is the green handle of the clover tool rake (originally designed to clean a clover brush) but works very well to hold down the wool as you felt, it keeps your fingers away from the pointy end and less bloodshed.11) Student working on their background behind the tree first. This time the fibre is a mix of white, grey, green-grey, light blue and brown with gray. In the foreground there is the green handle of the clover tool rake (originally designed to clean a clover brush) but works very well to hold down the wool as you felt, it keeps your fingers away from the pointy end and less bloodshed.

12) The second tree image is having its fence added. in the foreground are a works in progress of a night winter tree and on the cheap Dollar Tree craft felt a pair of sheep (you can just see the eye) a pair of hand carders sitting on a copy of the students 21 pages of notes. Next to that is a brass nautical caliper, a wooden frame with an XXL project bag and a box of mini boxes of smarties (candy coated chocolates).12) The second tree image is having its fence added. in the foreground are works in progress of a night winter tree and on the cheap Dollar Tree craft felt a pair of sheep (you can just see the eye) and a pair of hand carders sitting on a copy of the student’s 21 pages of notes. Next to that is a brass nautical calliper, a wooden frame with an XXL project bag and a box of mini boxes of smarties (candy-coated chocolates).

Winter trees were also popular.  I reminded the class that they could play God and move, remove or change trees, clouds or anything else that offended them. It was their landscape and they could adjust it so it would suit their liking.

I talked about how to think like a watercolour painting with washes and layers of thin wisps of fibre building up to a final image (not the fastest way to work but it can be very effective as in the fox who still needs to have whiskers added and I’m at about 30 hours). I also mentioned that after laying in the trunk and main branches, wisps of fibre worked well to create a hallow of tiny branches for the winter tree.

13) The first tree picture, Using a 5x7 opening to check the framing of the image. Behind the image and card stock mat is the foam kneeling pad that we were using as a felting surface.13) The first tree picture, Using a 5×7 opening to check the framing of the image. Behind the image and card stock mat is the foam kneeling pad that we were using as a felting surface.

Using a mat or just a card stock stand-in for a mat will give your eye and brain another view of the image you have been working on.

14) The second tree picture, held up to getting a quick check for position in the mat.14) The second tree picture, held up to get a quick check for position in the mat.

Both trees look great and are their own tree, even having used the same inspiration to start with. The same individual personality happened with the stormy sky ocean picture.

15) a vary active roiling sky with sea and beach underneath, there is a seagull added to the right side. 15) a very active roiling sky with sea and beach underneath, there is a seagull added to the right side.

16) a turbulent sky and sea with a beach in the foreground.16) a turbulent sky and sea with a beach in the foreground.

Both have great movement in their pictures, again when using the same image each saw and focused on different aspects of the image.

I have found sometimes after working on an image for a while I need to take a break. I will put it aside and come back to consider it again later. I may decide “yes I am happy” and the picture is done or I may decide it needs a bit of fibre added here or there to complete it. Sometimes using a card stalk mat will help me consider the image, looking at the picture in a mirror or turning the image and the felt picture upside down will help you see what you are looking at, rather than what your brain says it thinks it is looking at. (It makes it easier to see the negative space and compare the image with the picture you are making).

I hope they had fun and I hope that this opened up a new expression of creativity with wool.

The class finished up early but they also took a much shorter lunch than the last class. I had given each student a project bag (giant XXL zip lock bag) to store their extra wool, felt samples and needles in. They had the leftover fibre from their first picture and a couple selected a second image to try. A different water picture and a sheep in a field of snow.  it was impressive how far along they got in an hour on their second images.

17) An hour in on a second image of a sheep in a snowfield and snowy sky, sitting in a card stalk mat17) An hour in on a second image of a sheep in a snowfield and snowy sky, sitting in a card stalk mat

I seem to have missed getting a shot of the other ocean image! I was really only working at about 90% efficiency. It took me about an hour to pack up the workshop supplies and Glenn loaded them back into the car. Then put away the extra tables (I think tomorrow is a spinning workshop and they will need the space).

There is a very good restaurant across the street from the building the guild is in, I think I get a happy Sherpa by making sure I linger in the parking lot while he runs over and orders dinner. It was very good, the car smelt like hot pizza all the way home.

Super cold morning for a spin-in, in Chesterville Ont. Canada

Super cold morning for a spin-in, in Chesterville Ont. Canada

February 04, 2023, around 6:30am-ish, it was -33c this morning and the car was not inclined to leave the driveway. It probably was afraid I would want to drive further north! It took a while to get Glenn’s car started but with a boost, she was persuaded that it would be good to go to the Chesterville Spin-in today, (not tomorrow). Chesterville is a small town almost an hour south of Ottawa and might be warmer! We should not complain, this is the first cold snap we have had and it is February.

Glenn still has his cold so he was not up to going. (It was just a really bad cold, the un-rapid test confirmed it is not covid).  Ann McElroy volunteered to be Glenn who was going to do the adding up of prices and figuring out change. I always avoid self-checkouts.  Since I was not deemed worthy (OK I also have dyscalculia) to be a cashier when I was young, so why would I want to be one without getting paid now that I am old? Ann offered to do the math parts, which I appreciated immensely.  With the car delaying me, she got there well before I did and had explained to the organizers and other vendors she would be playing the part of “Glenn” today. She said she was asked if this meant she would be sitting in the corner reading a book and then falling asleep possibly snoring. She just laughed. (This is a common event at fibre activities, Glenn is very supportive of my interests, but tends to nap at most of them, I do have many pictures to prove it.)

1) 2018 Wheels on Fire Spin-in (with a small bag of patato chips)1) 2018 Wheels on Fire Spin-in

2018 Peterborough Fiber festival2) 2018 Peterborough Fiber festival

Handmade Sign for the Chesterville spin in with drawing of fiber baring animals.3) Handmade Sign for the Chesterville spin-in with a drawing of fiber bearing animals.

A few of the vendors and some of the participants could not make it this year. There were lots of non-starting cars, and frozen pipes due to the sudden cold snap. Considering this is February, it is a bit of a late start to winter cold so we should not complain too much!  By the time I arrived, there was a bit of reorganizing the vender spots and we had been upgraded to a prime location! We were the first booth you saw as you walked past the organizer’s table.

looking from the back of the table towards the front door.4) looking from the back of the table towards the front door.

This is the first time I have been a vendor. We got the table set up (it’s sort of like doing a demo set up but Ann has more experience at selling setups.) there were a few things I either forgot (business cards) or could not find (my sharpie for last-minute price signs).

table of felting needles and suply with samples of needle felting Felting needle holders, 1 needle, 3 needle and 7 needle holders Glenn's oriface hooks and slaying hooks sheep head magnet pins with sample of 2D felting of a Ram and Friend5-8) my first felting supply table with blacksmith-made hooks.

I had examples of 2D felting (the ram with a friend), sheep broaches, felting needles and holders, a spot to try out the needles and Glenn’s blacksmith-made orifice (for spinning) and Slaying (for weaving) Hooks.

Mr. Mer from the back, Mrs. Mer under body and fins (Mer people) Mr. Mer from the side Mr Mer From the front at spin in.9-11) Mr. and Mrs. Mer were there as examples of 3D needle felting.

I was pretty sure there would only be a limited number of people interested in felting supplies at a spin-in but it would be fun and there was more interest than I had expected. I sold some needles, a couple of holders, a sheep magnet broach and an orifice hook.

We were beside Wendo Van Essen, a local felter with a hilarious sense of humour.

Ann spent a lot of the time chatting with her.

Wendo and her pincushions Wendo having a good chat.12-13) Wendo and her pincushions and Ann and Wendo having a good chat.

Chesterville legion Hall overview shot of the event (composite of 3 photos)14) Chesterville Legion Hall overview shot of the event (composite of 3 photos)

The event was held at the local legion hall. The space was divided into about 2/3 vendors and 1/3 spinners this year. The weather defiantly put a damper on some of the spinners travelling but it was still a busy event. The organizers had arranged for Coffee, tea and a selection of homemade cakes and cookies! The Cranberry cake was particularly good and I was sorely tempted to go back for a second piece. I did find the last molasses cookie too.

the legion bar had 2 bunt cakes and a few plates of cookies on it.15) the legion bar had 2 bunt cakes and a few plates of cookies on it.

  This is a Lendrum folding wheel, made by Gord Lendum, in Odesa Ont. Canadian16) This is a Lendrum folding wheel, made by Gord Lendum, in Odesa Ont. Canadian  There were even a couple wheels for sale as well as Angora. There were even a couple wheels for sale as well as Angora.17-18) There were even a couple of wheels for sale, as well as Angora.

There was a good selection of yarn and fibre to add to our fibre hordes. Let me show you some of the other shopping opportunities.

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19 -34) Slide show of Various booths at the spin-in selling yarn, baskets, fibre, weaving and spinning tools, felting, needles, and blacksmith-made tools.

At the end of the day, Ann helped me pack up and get everything back into the car.  It had warmed up to a balmy -19c, I had the heat blasting in the car but just could not get warmed through. I went to bed early and woke up with Glenn’s cold! (There are better things to share, I was glad I had worn a mask all day at the spin-in I don’t want to share this stupid cold with anyone.)

I hope you have enjoyed a trip to the Chesterville spin-in. it’s a wonderful opportunity to expand your fibre hoard, as well as chat with lots of fibre friends. Visiting vicariously is also cheaper than attending in person!

I hope you will have the opportunity to attend a fibre festival or local Spin-In or Felt-In soon, both are wonderful ways to have something to look forward to, and then enjoy, which will hopefully make winter feel a little shorter.

Have a wonderful Valentine’s day I hope it brings chocolate and time to felt, spin, weave or enjoy some fibre prep!

 

PS. The computer ate my homework and I had to re-rite my post so I hope I didn’t forget anything the second time! (stupid computer)

 

 

 

 

Felting Machines, from Ukraine and China

Felting Machines, from Ukraine and China

I was surprised at Christmas with a single needle hand-held felting machine from Ukraine.  (Glenn said he had been told by the seller on Etsy that there is a Russian rip-off, which had horrible reviews. It either seized or flings parts of itself off as you try to use it.) The Ukrainian one he gave me, seems to want to keep all its parts together.

1) Ukrainian made single needle felting machine. Speed control is on the power supply.1) Ukrainian-made single needle felting machine. Speed control is on the power supply.

2) Ann liked it and suspects it will work with sculptural projects.2) Ann liked it and suspects it will work with sculptural projects.

3) It came with a thank you card from the maker3) It came with a thank you card from the maker

  4-5) and instructions.4-5) and instructions.

 Glenn had seen me waffling about a 4-needle hand-held felting machine out of china. That one required the needles to have the crank end cut off. I was not too excited by the idea of cutting needles, so was waffling. I spent a long time chatting with different customer representatives asking lots of questions about needle gauges and shapes. They listed 3 unspecified sizes. I put on my teacher hat and went into education mode and explanations of needles (you may remember my meandering through the topic of needles in a previous blog.)  I passed all the info I had gleaned from them to Ann, who did order one which arrived in early January. She will, I am sure, tell you more about how she is finding it. We will also likely do a comparison of the two types we have acquired.  After seeing Ann’s I decided it looked like it will probably work well for Picture Felting.

Today a mysterious package arrived from China, well a few little parcels also arrived including the metal thimbles I was waiting for. It was covered in a layer of clear tape with layers of skid rap under that! (Skid wrap is like cling wrap but extra clingy!! It holds boxes or other things on a shipping skid.)

6) tape over skid wrapped cardboard box sitting on a clear box of tiny colourful elastics.6) tape over skid wrapped cardboard box sitting on a clear box of tiny colourful elastics.

7) protective waterproofing covering removed from small cardboard box7) protective waterproofing covering removed from a small cardboard box

I carefully extracted the box from the wrapping with the help of some scissors.  There were multiple layers of Skid wrap so the scissors were the best solution.

Now to get into the box without damaging the contents….

8) Bring on the Norway pewter Heilag Olav letter opener!! (small cardboard box balancing on small clear plastic box of tiny elastics balancing on a mettle box that use to hold quality street candy8) Bring on the Norway pewter Heilag Olav letter opener!! (small cardboard box balancing on a small clear plastic box of tiny elastics balancing on a mettle box that use to hold quality street candy

Hum what is this? Wow, this is well-wrapped!! There is something loose underneath it!

9) Surprise! A bubble wrapped object 3 small canisters and cloth rose.9) Surprise! A bubble-wrapped object, 3 small canisters and a cloth rose.

9) Surprise! A bubble wrapped object 3 small canisters and cloth rose. 9-10)  Surprise! OH MY!!! That was unexpected! A rose as well as 3 tubes of extra needles!9-10)  Surprise! OH MY!!! That was unexpected! A rose as well as 3 tubes of extra needles!

11) Opening the end of the bubble wrap bag I found More sealed plastic in the next layer!!! 11) Opening the end of the bubble wrap bag I found More sealed plastic in the next layer!!!

I am starting to wonder if they were expecting horrific weather in Canada or if there will actually be an end to the protective wrapping!! (it may be all packaging and nothing inside?)

 12) Aha!! A fancy white box with writing I cant read and a sticker with some sort of cool pattern on it.12) Aha!! A fancy white box with writing I can’t read and a sticker with some sort of cool pattern on it.

It may be one of those boxes other people’s phones can read. (I did mention my phone only claims to be smarty….but it is mostly out of power and is just a phone. It doesn’t even text. Which is good since it’s a phone so friends should just call me.)

 13) Gold text on the white box, any idea what it says? 13) Gold text on the white box, any idea what it says?

Removing the outer layer and lifting the lid I found helpful instructions, including some English!!

14) the instructions in multiple languages14) the instructions in multiple languages

Oh no more packing, this is very well-packed!

15) Now we are getting to the heart of the matter! lifting the thin foam layer I can see a silver solid mettle with plastic sliding needle guard and the nob for the speed control and anther bottle of needles all nestled securely in more packing foam.15) Now we are getting to the heart of the matter! lifting the thin foam layer I can see a silver solid mettle with a plastic sliding needle guard and the nob for the speed control and another bottle of needles all nestled securely in more packing foam.

16) Digging a bit further I found the power cords with speed control and a white plug adapter that I wound need on this side of the ocean.16) Digging a bit further I found the power cords with speed control and a white plug adapter that I would need on this side of the ocean.

17) all the parts extracted from the packing, plus the 3 viles of needles an the cloth rose.17) all the parts extracted from the packing, plus the 3 viles of needles and the cloth rose.

The needle canister with the machine has three sets of four needles, I did not ever get any of the otherwise very helpful company reps to tell me what gauges these are. It may be 32, 36 and 40 gauge but I’m not sure. I may investigate more Sunday.

18) Allen Key inserted to add the first needle. 18) Allen Key inserted to add the first needle.

Referring back to the instructions, yes it is best to actually read them and not just guess. I loosened the needle-holding screw with the Allen key provided. (I got extra screws and Allen keys since I don’t want tiny parts to go missing.)

Each of the four needles has a tiny screw that needs to be backed off to insert the cut needle and then tighten. You can run it with one needle or up to all four.

19-20) When the needle(s) have been added you can twist the guard and release it. showing guard retracted and extended.19-20) When the needle(s) have been added you can twist the guard and release it. showing the guard retracted and extended.

This is what it looks like with the guard extended.  It slides up and down like the Clover and fake clover tools do.

I have to get back to getting ready for tomorrow, which will be the Spin in, in Chesterville, a small town south of Ottawa. I hopefully will have photos for you of the fun and shopping, in an upcoming post.

there are a number of other hand-held felting machines (tools) have you tried either of these or one of the other ones? once I have given these a good test run we can evaluate the ergonomics and get a better idea of their effectiveness.

Starting 2023 with books

Starting 2023 with books

2023 has already sent me a change of plans notice. My last goal for the end of 2022 had been to have the local guild library book check completed. Then I would spend hours grouping, sorting and formatting data into lists so the library would be more accessible for members to use. I was running a bit behind schedule and the new deadline was to have the circulating books counted by 4 pm on Jan. 9th.  If I cannot get all the circulating books checked between one meeting and the next it means I have a lot of extra checking to do once the books start moving in or out of the library. Ann had been extra busy this past year and was not as available as she had hoped. This meant that on the day of the meeting, there were four full cabinets of books checked, leaving one last cabinet full of books to check (780.’s Basketry to 900.’s Textiles – Finished cloth).

1) OVWSG Guild Library cabinet full of weaving books, on the door is a list of what is on the bottom shelf. In front of the cabinet is the old guild computer on the library rolling table.1) OVWSG Guild Library cabinet full of weaving books, on the door is a list of what is on the bottom shelf. In front of the cabinet is the old guild computer on the library rolling table.

I got into the studio extra early and It all was going quite well until I got to my nemesis, the bottom shelf. The “Problem” shelf.  The Shelf placement within the cabinets does not allow binder-height books to sit upright on the bottom shelf, so most books sit with their spine edge facing up. For easier use, I had created a photo and list of what should be on that shelf. Unfortunately, I had to check to make sure that all were present and accounted for. This involved a bend, twist and lean maneuver that I had to repeat as I found each miss placed book or worse lack of book. Missing books kept me searching longer before giving up, and marking them as not there. I finally got to the end of the shelf and thought I had gotten away with this particular acrobatic bending maneuver…. But my back was only considering how best to discuss this grievous insult to its dignity. (It also likely recalled the 4 previous circulating cabinet bottom shelves.) I knew well before the meeting had started I was not going to be able to stay. I had the library set up for the evening, labelled everything I could think of and waited for Ann to arrive after work so she could run the library. (Sorry Ann!!) I got help back to the car and headed home, hoping to watch the meeting on Zoom. (There is still the Reference section, Audio-Visual and Magazines left to check!)

It was a fabulous presentation on a reinterpretation of district checks by Carl Stuart. But by the end, it was a challenge to get from the computer down the short hall to the bedroom and into bed. It’s taken 4 full days to get the grumbles back to a manageable level so I can hope to think and type.

My original plan of having a chat about fibre prep vocabulary has been put on hold (it will let me find better photos for you too) and instead, I wanted to keep with the theme of this post so far and show you the books of X-mass 22.

Glenn has discovered buying Felting Books for me is as much of a challenge as buying Blacksmithing books for him. Even so, he did very well this year.

2)  Unwrapped Christmas presents, 3 felting books, candy and a plastic box sitting on a black duvet.2)  Unwrapped Christmas presents, 3 felting books, candy and a plastic box sitting on a black duvet.

(The Mysterious contents of the plastic box we will chat about in an upcoming post with Ann.)

He also found an IKEA Octopus and an Octopus winter hat!

3) Yellow IKEA Octopus wearing a Red, Black and Purple Octopus winter hat sitting at the pillow end of the bed.

4) Japanese book cover by Sachi with framed needle felted cat on the front

The first book is in Japanese, I think it may be “Portrait of Cat Made of Wool Felting”? It has a lot of detailed pictures about the needle felting of cat faces including how to make eyes, whiskers, patterns, and fur in detail. The text is completely in Japanese but the layout is correct for a European book (spine on the left-hand side) so I hope there will be an English edition soon. Ann said there should be an app on my phone to take a picture and translate it. I don’t think my phone is that smart but it would be helpful while waiting for an English version.

Let me show you a few interior shots so you can get an idea of the content, the pictures are extremely detailed and give lots of information even if you don’t read Japanese (Written English is still challenging enough for me, arigtozimasu).

4.1-4.4)  A couple of random pages showing photos and text from the book.4.1-4.4)  A couple of random pages showing photos and text from the book.

This would likely be a good book for those interested in extreme realism and fur applications. I suspect it will be even more enlightening if you have a friend who reads Japanese! I hope it will be printed in English, I would buy it.

The second book I had seen mixed reviews on.  I was hoping to find an inexpensive second-hand copy to check out. The rumours had been quite negative, that the book was basically a coffee table vanity project with lots of pictures of the artist’s work and almost no info about how to needle felt.

5) Cover of “Make Animals felt Arts from Japan” by YoshiNobu5) Cover of “Make Animals felt Arts from Japan” by YoshiNobu

While I would agree the first section (66 pages) of the book is inspirational images of the artist’s work, the second section, (page 67 to 118) are divided into information on tools, types of wool, ways of blending fibre, basic techniques, then on to small projects to teach the basic techniques and expand on them. The projects are finger puppets and broaches. The instructions start out with simple shapes and a bit of colour blending and get more complicated. There are occasional translational word choice problems but overall it has good information. (There is a drum carder labelled as a combing machine! I will return to address that in a later post).

This book may have received better reviews if the inspirational section was after the informational section. But the information included is good and the pictures though small are reasonably clear to follow.

5.1-5.4) A few interior pages from Make Animals felt arts5.1-5.4) A few interior pages from Make Animals felt arts

 6) Cover for “The Natural world of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon showing needle felted pengquins.6) Cover for “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon showing needle-felted penguins.

The last book he found for me was one I already had picked up in 2021. “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon.

6.1-6.4) parts of interior pages of “The Natural world of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon6.1-6.4) parts of interior pages of “The Natural World of Needle Felting, learn how to make more than 20 adorable animals” by Fi Oberon

This book has a different approach to sculpture than I usually take. There are a few projects where the wool is cut and the armature inserted when the sculpture is almost complete. There are a number of projects with partial armatures and some with no armatures. I purchased a copy while I was working on the armature wire project. There is the use of strips of felt to make the core of a sculpture as well as the suggestion of using a ball of wool yarn to start the center of a spherical shape.

There is an interesting suggestion for making felted mushrooms (a currently popular topic) by using cardboard yarn and then adding a cap and stem of needle-felted wool. Most of the projects are simplified shapes which are not too intimidating for a beginner or advanced beginner.

All 3 books are worth looking at and depending on the direction your style of needle felting is taking you may want to get a copy of some of these for your own library.

7-7.1) Ann looking at my Christmas felting books7-7.1) Ann looking at my Christmas felting books

Ann and I will show you a bit more of our Christmas acquisitions but that will be in a later post. In the meantime have fun and keep felting!!!

Needle Felted “THING” first time running this workshop

Needle Felted “THING” first time running this workshop

The local Ottawa Guild had been optimistic in the latter part of 2022 and started to reschedule workshops, unbeknownst to us the evil covid was friends with 2 influenzas and invited them to drop by too. So we wound up with students and instructors out sick by the end of November into December. This was also the month my new workshop had been booked. I had offered to teach a chickadee or a tiny dragon but had been requested to make a Thing since Elizabeth, the workshop coordinator and I had not been able to decide on a definite thing. This is the description that was listed for the workshop.

Description:  Jan is paralyzed with too many possibilities for an item to use to teach needle felted sculpture, thus we announce a workshop in needle felted THING creation.  Jan will probably decide more or less what the THING will be before the workshop but it will be a surprise for students.  You will create your THING using three dimensional needle felting. By the end of the workshop, students will have the skills needed to go home and make a THING of their own choosing.  Previous felting experience is helpful but not necessary. Good eye hand coordination is very helpful (those needles are sharp).”

As soon as it was scheduled, I started to work on organizing a brand new workshop. I quickly figured out this scope is a bit broad, so making a small basket protecting thing would help. I had admired an amigurumi mix-and-match monster making book.  “Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters” by Kerry Lord.  Using the simple shapes from crochet to inspire the students, should give absolute beginners an achievable target and those who have felted before the opportunity to try four different wire gauge hands or wings and a tail.

The notes covered wire and needle gauges, fibre, fibre preparations (carded vs Combed it can make a difference), then wrapping. I had gone through and followed a couple of my projects and showed how I had made and built the armature, as well as a few wire augmentations I have had to do over the years. Most of that last section is actually in the blog posts! I finished off the notes with a list of books they may want to investigate and three online sources of videos.

If the various flues and covid were not enough of a challenge we had our first big winter store about to hit. I think most of the worst went south of us. I wonder, what the states could have done to offend the weather? After some debate with Elizabeth it was decided that since the forecast was to have the storm ending by Saturday morning, we would see how the roads looked closer to the workshop.  The snow had momentarily stopped and the workshop was declared a go.  I had collected the supplies together and then pulled the bags of fibre to go from the basement. Glenn hauled and loaded it all into the car. He and our new neighbour also cleared out the end of the driveway and we made a brake for the Guild Studio on the other side of Ottawa.

Car is being loaded to go to the workshop with fiber and suplys, snow covered car, tree and drive way. the driveway is getting quite icy. Grey Kia hatchback still dusted with snow, with hatch back open showing it is Full of bags of fiber. snow covered branches above car hang low from the weight of the clinging snow. Inside my Gray kea soul. there are bags of fiber and suply filling the back of the car blocking direct vision out the back and getting quite close to the inside of the roof. 1-3 it’s impressive how much wool you can stuff in a Kia Soul!

The side streets were not the greatest, but the highway was fine and the parking lot had been cleared!!!

the snow covered and slippery walkway in front of Heartwood house (the Building the guild is in) snow covers the ground and is clinging to the trees, the front corner of my car is visible on the left of the pictures. Front Gallery just outside the Guild studio, 7 large bags of wool on one side and boxes and bags of suplys on the other side of the hall way. in the distance my walker also carying boxes. the gallary has tropical plants along the windoe and artwork (prints) on the walls. 4-5 Arriving at the Guild and dropping off the stuff

He carried in the bags of wool, the box of armature things and the couple boxes of supplies. Then went and found the missing tables.

4 large plastic folding tables and a smaller white one hold fiber and boxes of suplys for workshop within the OVWSG studio6 Tables found and now I can set up!

He set them up in a C or U pattern so I could sit in a rolling chair in the center and help any student without a lot of standing and bending over.

18 pages of notes, a colourfull foam nealing pad (originaly for gardening), a pice of pool noodle, 3 sizes of small wooden dowls, leather Finger cots, wooden single needle holder all sitting on grey folding table 7  18 pages of Notes, Foam kneeling pad, A piece of pool noodle, 2 sizes of dowels, finger cots, wooden single needle holder. Still to add will be the needles.

I had also had a few needles for them to see what difference a gauge will make. T32,T36,T38,Crown40,Revese40 and 42. all needles are in zip lock bags and in little pieces of pool noodle foam. 8 I also had a few needles for them to see what difference a gauge will make.

a book on comparitive anatomy and one on Anagarumi monsters both listed in the text below picture9 the books just past the needles

You may have spotted I brought a few possibly useful Books; Comparative Anatomy (Animals Vs. Human)  Cyclopedia Anatomicae: More than 1,500 Illustrations of the Human and Animal Figure for the Artist by Gyorgy Feher. I also had a book on Anagarumi to give the students some ideas.  Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters by Kerry Lord. (Kerry Lord also has a book on crocheting sheep! Toft Sheep – 18 Crochet Sheep Patterns (uses UK terms))

a couple of my sculptural felting books. both books are listed in the text below the picture.10 a couple of my sculptural books.

Armature/Sculpture books I brought to show the students; A Masterclass in Needle Felting Dogs by Cindy-Lou Thompson, Needle Felted Kittens: How to Create Cute and Lifelike Cats from Wool by Hinali.

There are now quite a few good books on sculptural felting with or without an armature. I had a list of 14 that they may want to keep an eye out for.

plastic haloween skeliton of a dragon standing on pacagease of smartie candys (candiy coated chocholet)11   I also brought sustenance and plastic inspiration

The Ottawa guild has always wanted to have small class sizes to insure good student-teacher ratios. Most workshops have a maximum of six students. With the first snow dump of the year and 2 types of flu plus covid, I was a bit worried that it may not run. In the end, we had one student driving over an hour to Ottawa and made it safely but one was sick and another with a sick child. So we ran with four students.  Three went for Anagarumi-based Things and one went with a Kraken/Octopus combo. They were a bit bigger than I had envisioned but they all still had their armatures in time to have lunch.

4 images of hands working on bending wire to make there armatures12  Armatures are underway

We had two Things with four arms and a tail, one with two arms a tail and wings, and the octopus creature used pipe cleaners (ok now there called Chanel stems since there are not a lot of pipes to clean anymore) to see how that would help with wrapping later.

After a lunch break, they started to wrap the fibre around their armatures.

wool aplication starts, 3 of the scupltures has the first bit of wool added. 13 wool wrapping begins

I brought a couple of types of fibre preparations. This would let them see the difference between carded (which makes a woollen yarn)  and combed (which makes a Worsted yarn). I am going to talk about this more in a future post.

This thing was being helpful by holding fiber for its creator, even when that was not as helpful as it sounds.14 This thing was being helpful by holding fibre for its creator, even when that was not as helpful as it sounds.

this thing is developing fabulous wings.15 this thing is developing fabulous wings.

Unlike my last octopus this one has 8 arms! The pipe cleaners were found easy to wrap over.16 Unlike my last octopus this one has 8 arms! The pipe cleaners were found easy to wrap over.

A little way into wrapping, the students all realized it takes a bit of time to wrap, so instead of rushing and risking lots of punctured fingers, they decided they would like to add a second half to the workshop and focus on surface work. I did spend part of the time they were wrapping to show them a couple of options for adding fluffy furry surfaces.

two of this things arms were added to increase its head.17 two of these things arms were added to increase its head.

This one still has all four of his arms and is now standing on his own.18 This one still has all four of his arms and is now standing on his own.

By 4 pm we had good shapes developed and no major bloodletting due to rushing.

the octopus is starting to emerge. 2 legs are wrapped in white Top (Combed) and the rest are wrapped in Roving (Carded) wool.19 the octopus is starting to emerge

the thing with 4 arms has now received a head20  the thing with 4 arms has now received a head

the winged thing has temporary eyes and looks like he is looking forward to getting wings.21 the winged thing has temporary eyes and looks like he is looking forward to getting wings.

The class while not quite finished seems to have had fun to this point.  We will get a bit of time scheduled for part two to finish the outer layers in the new year. It’s always hard to estimate on time for a new workshop and the pace the students will progress at. Not pushing for speed, I think is the way to go for this one. Needle felting yourself is not conducive to creating more needle felters!

I hope you will get to take some time over the holidays to do a bit of needle felting. If you are at a loss for what to make you may want to peruse the Anagarumi Monsters for a bit of mix and match inspiration! Happy Hanukkah, Mary Christmas, Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays from the Mer Family, the Scott-Martin Family and the rest of my felted menagerie.

PS is it just my dyslexic brain or is this date really cool 12-22-2022 (if only we had 20 or 22 months it would be perfect! OK, the last few years have felt like years containing more than 12 months) but I hope you can enjoy such a fabulously numbered day! See you Next Year!!

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