Browsed by
Category: Needle Felting

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

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

Porter and the Original Piece
Cherry Wood Specimen

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

Drum Carder and Wool Batts

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

Wonky Lines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gnomes and Capi’s “As You Wish” Sprite

 

 

Felted Iris Flowers Part 2

Felted Iris Flowers Part 2

Last week we got the petals to the point they were firm and reasonably thin. As I promised let’s look at the new equipment I am about to use.

I ordered a felting pad for ironing. it is a little firmer than the white felting mat I was just trying out. I also ordered the clover craft iron II (with accessories). I spotted it on at a lower price than I had seen it in previous weeks so ordered it. Checking on the day it arrived it was up in price over 10.00, while today the price is back down to 2.00 more than I got it for! Prices are acting very strangely lately.

Let’s look at the Felt Ironing Mat first.

23 Wool ironing mat “14″x14″ Wool Pressing Mat for Quilting”

Yesterday I found out some felters are using these ironing pads as felting mats. Ironing mats, (about .5 inch thick) are thinner than the 1 to 1.2 inch felting mats. The ironing pad is a bit firmer than the white felting mat. It arrived folded, with instructions that include “do not fold”. If I use it as a chair pad I will likely flatten it quickly, but I tried it in its present state. It is about half an inch thick. I measured the white wool mat at about an inch thick. The grey wool mat was about an inch and a quarter. (See Photo below)

24 comparing thicknesses

25 (Ironing mat, White wool mat, Grey wool mat)

I did a brief test with the bad sheep picture. This would let me check the end feel of the needle entering the ironing pad, which is quite resistant but does work.

26 needle test of the ironing felt mat

I suspect using the ironing mat may increase the strain on the arm/wrist/finger muscles with prolonged enthusiastic (stabbing) use for felting. I do not like ironing except for before sewing projects, so I am unlikely to injure myself using this as an ironing pad. This thought may come back to haunt me……

The Clover mini iron II and accessories came with a lot of instructions and diagrams. i read them over when they arrived then put everything away in a nice little box.

27  Clover Mini Iron II

28  I found a plastic box at Dollerama to keep the Iron and its attachment options in.

The iron is usually used with appliqué by quilters. The various attachments will get into small corners and the ball attachment will accentuate dishing shapes. The Iron is designed to flatten and smooth the surface of the felt, more like the commercial hot press felts.  It may be interesting to try starches or misting with this too. (oh no a distracting thought escaped!)

There are other similar-looking devices which are used for Auto body repair and another for taking wrinkles out of leather goods (shoes, bags etc.). Check the temperature range on each type, you don’t want to scorch your felt.

One last thing to remember about the mini iron, from what I have read online, it is very important to keep the iron rest, (the plastic and wire thing that supports the iron tip), somewhere you will not lose it. I read many warnings that this part can mysterious disappearance and happens frequently.

Tiny Craft iron time!

Ok, now I am ready for the next step that I skipped with the prototype.

 29 I plugged in the iron and waited for the iron to heat up

After a couple of minutes, I tried it on the prototype. Hum it doesn’t seem to be hot yet. The wool is not warm? I wonder if it’s working? Did I get a broken one? Let me check…Ooops! OWW! No, it’s hot now.

30  I guess this means the Iron is not broken. Owwww.

I carefully ironed each petal, first the prototype then the new petals I had made. There was a bit of thinning visible. I will have to try pressing a bit harder but i didn’t want to scorch the wool. Next flower I will try to get a wire that is closer to the petal colour since the black and green floral wires are still slightly visible, at least in the photos.

31 Carefully ironing the petals

I took them in to show Ann on Library day. It was not as busy as we had hoped so Ann got her dry felting experiment done and I showed her skinny petals.

32-33 Ann inspects the thinness. She said she had not anticipated them to be so firm.

There was one more step I had skipped in the instructions for making a rose from Tjarda’s Workshop.  She had very carefully trimmed any fluffy, flyaway edgings on her petals. I recently purchased a few more variations on curved bladed scissors. I selected one with a short curve to the blade that seemed to fit the petal and started trimming. I think I was a bit more enthusiastic than Tjarda but did get all the fluff removed and smoothed the curves.

34 trimming the edge fluff

35 close up of scissor blade curvature

36 Here is a before (R) and after (L) petal.

After trimming, I tugged gently on the edge of the petal to give a bit of the frill. The tugging is along the length of the edge.

The next step will be adding the last details to the iris petals and then assembly! But that will be another time, I have a bit more library work to do. So, while I am off doing that I hope you are enjoying spring and getting a chance to have fun felting.

Update; we seem to have had a week of mid-summer weather (not so good for the spring flowers). This weekend we made a trip to the first biggish Fiber Festival which was only a 3-hour drive away in Peterborough Ont!  It was so good to be able to feel fibre in person! if you are interested I took a few pictures (121 actually) but promise I won’t inflict them all on you! I am sorry I did not get a picture of the beaver we saw sitting in the grass beside the highway (i was driving) I thought it was only a groundhog as we approached but saw the distinctive tail as we passed. What a fun Saturday! I hope you are enjoying your weekend too!

Felted Iris Flowers Part 1

Felted Iris Flowers Part 1

This week, I am back to working on felted flowers between Library work. I have the last bit of data I needed for my year-end report (so I had better take a moment to fill that in and send it off to the guild executive). Now that is done I can get back to Felting.

A few weeks ago, I watched a workshop given by Tjarda van der Dussen. She made rose petals that were wonderfully thin. Next, she used a tiny craft iron to flatten them further. Then finally, she assembled them, adding leaves to the stems, into a life-like Rose.

I made a prototype of iris petals (https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2022/04/14/inspired-to-felt-an-iris-prototype/) but did not yet have a tiny iron to try that part of her instructions. The prototype iris proved that the pattern I had found online made a reasonably accurate bearded iris.  I gave it a ZZ top beard, not a respectable Gotee but I was having fun and it was a prototype.

1 Prototype iris testing the pattern

I am very fond of irises, I think they may be my favourite flowers. (if only they flowered longer!)  I have had different colours, but most are of the large bearded variety.  The frilly peach one in the backyard, came with us from the townhouse we rented before I bot this little house.  (My house is a semidetached bungalow, so I guess technically it is only half a house.) The location was good, and the yard was about twice as big as a townhouse with more room for plants, so I bought it. The house came with a dieing red maple tree, which I could put my hands around.  The first spring I added a garden to the front yard with the unhappy tree. Unfortunately when I watered the front garden the mostly dead red maple grew and over the next few years became a heavy shade-producing tree, thus all the sun-loving plants I had planted were not impressed. My back yard will likely have the same fate since there is now a rapidly growing red maple in the yard behind me, which will eventually shade a lot of my yard too. (Don’t tell my plants!!)

So let’s look at a few Iris from my garden over the years. I hope they will inspire you too.

2 Bronz and White iris

The bronze Iris is quite hardy but is not as flashy as some of the blues, or as delicate as the frill-edged peach. The white is also quite delicate in looks and does not flower every year.

3-4 Frill-edged Peach Iris

The frill-edge Peach is particularly showy but has been known to face plant since the flower is large and the stem is long. I have to remember to tie it up before it falls over this year.

5 I have two of the smaller varieties of iris,  this smaller variety, and an early dwarf spring clump that is an even darker blue dark.

I have had several iris in the front yard that have slowly died back and disappeared as both my tree and the neighbour’s Linden tree continued to grow and make shade. Some have been quite spectacular and I am sorry they did not last.

6 Fancy Iris

My backyard iris have fared better but were threatened with shade from an over-enthusiastic grapevine last year. (There will be a discussion of boundaries involving sheers shortly with said vine.)

7 backyard iris

I have even grown some, through the summer, in pots to good effect.

8 Iris in pots

On to the next (felt) iris.

I tried World of Wool core wool with the bit of kemp on the first petal. Laying out the general shape then adding a bit of the mixed blue merino braid I had used before for edging colour.

9 laying out the fibre

10 adding the blue edging

I used the T-36 to tack it in the general area, leaving some hanging off the edge of the petal to add to the underside when I flipped the petal.  I switched to the fake clover tool to imbed the blue fibre into the white. I realized I had forgotten to add the wire to pose the petal so added it now then back to poking.  I flipped frequently and found that if I worked a bit deeper I would transfer some of the blues to the other side giving a better mottle.

I worked one side and then the other side until the petal was the correct shape but not as thin as I wanted.

11 switching to the fake clover tool

I left the first petal at this point and started a second, this time using a small batt I had purchased from Wabi Sabi in Ottawa. It was a Rambouillet/ Merino mix batt, that had a nice crimp but was not quite as lustrous as the core wool.

12 Batt of Merino- Rambouillet

I did the same layout of fibre poking at a low angle along the edge of the pattern piece to get the shape required.

13 when I had the fibre holding together (not good felt but it was not falling apart) I added the wire.

14 adding wire through the center

After making more petals I may role the tip end as well as make a long role back just so it won’t poke up into the flower petal. Again, I added the blue to the edge and wrapped it over the edge of the petal, taking down the fibres with the 36T and then using the fake clover tool with the 40t’s.

15 adding the blue edging

Comparing the two petals, I decided to continue with the small batt of Rambouillet /merino.

16 comparing the two types of wool in the petals

  17  I suspect that this type of foam mat may be demoted back to a garden kneeling pad.

A couple of days earlier Ann had spotted another wool felting mat on Amazon. It was white and similar in size to the grey one I purchased and reviewed recently. This one was described as; “KEO ST. Needle Felting Pad – 100% New Zealand Wool Mat for Precision Felting. Natural Cream Color, 10” x 8” x 1” – Complete with 2 Handmade Leather Finger Guards”. (that was a mouthful lets just call it the white wool mat.

I also ordered a “14″x14″ Wool Pressing Mat for Quilting” so I would be ready to use the “Clover Mini Iron II-The Adapter Set” which I had ordered when it went on sale earlier. (It’s back up to an exorbitant price again.)

18 the new white felting pad (it came with more finger cots!)

19 let’s try it out

So let’s try this one out. It is much firmer felt than the gray wool with kemp felting mat. It is still softer to work into than the firm red foam. It does not leave little bits of red foam in the felt. Unlike the softer grey wool with kemp mat, it had no aroma. Both seem to be made in layers that are commercially needle felted together. The needle end-feel on the white is firmer than the grey but still less than the red kneeling foam. I did find I had some fibre transfer but I was trying to move the blue colour from one side of the petal to the other. The fibre transfer to the mat would have been less if I had not wanted to work so deeply. (a reverse needle would have been able to pull fibre from one side to the other too.)

I have recently seen the use of a thinner piece of firm felt placed over a mat to protect the mat from getting fibre transfer. Sort of like putting a mattress topper on top of a mattress to make it more comfortable and longer waring.  (not the type of mattress that has a built-in top since you cant flip them only rotate them they tend not to last as long as the un-pillow-toped mattresses. Sorry got distracted. Back to felt!) I may try to track down a light and a dark piece of firmer felt about a ¼ inch thick to try as a cover for my felt pads. I could see it extending the life of the mat, whether or not it works to keep fibre colour transfer from your work.

As long as you are lifting frequently and flipping the petal I found both the white (stiffer end feel) and the Grey (softer end feel) wool pads comfortable to work on.  They would be comfortable to work a picture on (again lifting frequently) or to use as a working surface for a sculpture.

I worked on the larger lower petals and then worked on the smaller upper petals.

20-21  using the needle at a low angle and moving the tinning fibre towards the center of the petal

My focus was to work as thin as I could while still creating a firm felt. I found that working around the edge with the multi-tool tended to spread the shape while it thinned the felt. I would alternate multi-tool to flatten then switch to a single needle working more horizontally towards the center to counter the spread. The pattern piece was helpful to check the size and get it back into the correct shape.

The other technical detail to consider is about the wire within the petal. I have quite a bit of experience felting with armatures. Very occasionally working needles through the wool and around wire I will brake one. It is usually when I start to try to work too quickly or I am distracted (trying to watch YouTube rather than listen to an audiobook).  Working with such thin felt defiantly requires more care and less speed. In the center of the petals where the wire is located, I found I had problems with the fake clover multi-tool and broken needles. I eventually shifted to focusing the multi-tool to thin the edges and the single needles to work near the wire and reshape the petals. This improved the longevity of my needles.

I worked the petals in stages. First holding together enough to insert the wire, then to the point it was the correct size and shape but not firm enough, then finally going back over each petal until it was the firmness I wanted and about the correct shape.

22 comparing thinness

The petal on the right is the basic petal shape which has been worked long enough to hold its shape.  For the petal on the left, I have continued to work with both the multi-tool and the single needle to the point of being quite a firm felt. If the felt was this dense but thicker (more of it) the light gauge of wire I am using would not be strong enough to hold a shape against the strength of the wool. I tried floral wire gauge 20 and an undesignated floral wire that I think maybe 24gauge.  I continued working with the other petals until all seemed to be as thin as I could get them.

Next week we will look at the new equipment that has arrived so i can continue working on these petals.

 

We Need a New Door Stop

We Need a New Door Stop

Recently we have acquired a new bookcase for our living room.  It was actually made to fit in the space between the front wall and the door of the room.  However it has a sort of lip around the top, the corner of which was banged by the glass of the open door if we were not careful.

2 Views of the book case against the glass (with some of my menagerie in view on the book case)

Obviously we needed something to stop the door before it fully opened. After some thought I decided that it needed to be tall (so that we didn’t have to bend down too far to move it – the floor gets further away the older you get), but it needed to be thin too otherwise the door wouldn’t open far enough to let one of us safely into the room, especially with drinks in hand.

I wanted it to go with the colour of the carpet and I knew that I had somewhere in my stash a blue wool sweater that I had felted (on purpose) by putting it through the washing machine. I finally rooted it out and decided that I would use one of the sleeves, which had a pattern knitted into it.

The Other Sleeve – what’s left of it – the pattern looks a bit hazy but hang in there, you’ll see it later.

Initially I thought that I would make a tall thin pyramid shape to fit in the gap between the side of the book case and the door. I sewed up the cuff of the sleeve and, to make sure it didn’t keep falling over, I begged a piece of flat lead sheet from my husband which I fitted into the bottom of the stuffed sleeve, and then sewed up what had been the shoulder to make the base. 

Well it was ok, but I thought it needed a bit more interest and decided to turn the door stop into a cat.

Out came the felting needles and my scoured merino, which I use as core fibres. Then for the “top coat” I sorted through the blues in my stash – normally jealously guarded because I don’t have a lot now as I use them for sky in my pictures – and found some which almost matched the main blue of the sleeve. Obviously he wasn’t going to be a realistic cat so I tried to “cartoonise” his features, and rather than give him needle felted eyes as I might normally do I fished out some bright orange glass eyes from another stash which would go well with his dark blue face. I used some of the blue to make a wet felt sheet, out of which I cut his ears.

Having made his head, I attached it to the tall thin pyramid. It’s sewn as well as needled on, but even so I was concerned that if he was picked up by his head it might come off. I made a piece of blue cord and attached that as a loop behind his head so that he might be moved safely. And here we have him.

Smiley Door Cat

Not long after this, we acquired a new pinky-grey bathroom carpet and also new pink and grey towels to replace very tired old red ones. Until then we had been using the bathroom scales as a door stop – that door will slam very hard if the wind gets up when the window is open. So now I decided that we would need another door cat.

When we got the new carpet we did not change the basic colour scheme as we didn’t want the hassle of changing the suite (vintage Pampas) or the tiles. The colour scheme is essentially derived from the tiles, which are pink and grey with some crimson detailing. Originally we had a red-ish carpet and red and dark grey towels, but when I bought those towels I could not get a bath mat to match, so I made one by stitching two red hand towels back to back.

Bathroom Tile

As the new carpet shed fibres quite a lot to begin with I thought of making the new door cat out of that fibre, but after a little more thought I realised that that would not be a good idea. We would keep falling over a camouflaged cat in the gloom of a late night visit!

So I thought I might find another felted sleeve, but couldn’t come up with something the right colour. Then, because we still had touches of red in the room, I decided that I would deconstruct the old red bath mat and use one of the pieces for the cat’s body. I had already given away the rest of the old towels to my friend for her dogs.

I felt that a “loaf cat” pose would be best, less likely to tip over if the wind caught the door, but I’d need too much lead sheet to make it a suitable weight. So I visited the garden and found a triangular(ish) shaped piece of rock, washed it and wrapped it in a couple of layers of non-woven cotton towels, secured with masking (painter’s) tape. I made myself a paper pattern of the body and cut out two body sides and a gusset for the base and chest. I cut out the pattern pieces from the towel and stitched it all up (first inserting the wrapped rock and stuffing it with polyester stuffing.

I had seen a cartoon of a smiling cat, which had enormous ears, which looked really cheeky. I thought I’d have a go at making one like that. I started with the core fibre again and got the head substantially how I’d like it and then thought about fibres for the coating.

Head ready to be covered in “Top Coat” (for some reason enlarged umpteen sizes)

I did not have exactly the right red, so had to blend a couple of pieces of pre-dyed merino tops which seemed to work ok. I did the same to make a pinky-grey blend for the chest, face and inside of the ears. I had decided that I would make the cat’s chest a similar colour to the carpet which meant that I had to make a wet felted sheet of the pinky-grey batt to cover the original red towelling. I cut the felt into the shape of the chest gusset, leaving enough for a pair of large ears.

I needled some of the red onto the back of the ears, and this resulted in a darker pink on the inside where the needles had pushed fibres right through, which was actually a benefit I think. I needled the blended red on to the back of the cat’s head and neck, and the pinky-grey onto the face, attached the ears and gave him a darker pink nose. I “shadowed” the smile and blinking eyes and I also gave him some laughter lines.

Nearly finished head, along with my felting cushion and a trapped needle holder

Then I stitched the head onto the neck, and the chest piece over his front, catching in the head at the neck.  I covered the join with more needled fibres and, using another piece of towel, attached a handle to the back of his neck so that he could be moved without his head coming off.

Loving Blinks from the new Door Ward

My husband has already named him Yoda.  We each confessed the other day that we both chat to him (in fact I pick him up and cuddle him too – he just fits into one arm)

What about the poor tatty sheep at the beginning of this post? Well, many years ago now, when I was a fairly new needle felter, I decided that I’d like to make myself a door stop for my bedroom door. I had acquired from our Guild a Jacob fleece, which, as it turned out, was ideal for needle felting. It certainly wasn’t a lot of good for wet felting – it wouldn’t, whatever I did to it. I suppose I must have had an old ram’s coarse and kempy fleece palmed off on me, when I was too naïve to know what I was getting – no wonder it was cheap!

Anyway, I got a body shaped pebble out of the garden, and washed it, wrapped it in some of the un- wetfelted fleece and started in with a No.36 felting needle (I only had 36 triangle and 38 star needles in those days- oh and a No.19 which was so thick it wouldn’t really go through anything I had with any ease). I bust quite a few needles before the pebble was covered. I added a neck to one end and then decided that my sheep would need eyes and a pair of horns. At that time I did not know that Jacob sheep often have 4 horns and wear them as if they had put them on in a hurry in the morning whilst still half asleep!

I made the horns and eyeballs using pipe cleaners and white Fimo polymer clay, baked and painted with acrylic paints. At that stage in my career I had not thought of using PVA glue on needled fleece to make horns. I needled a head shape around the horns and eyes, and then attached it to the neck. It did not occur to me to strengthen the neck with the ends of the pipe cleaners, I had cut these short and just put the horns on either end, and did the same with the eyes.

Well it all worked and for years he sat by my door, getting moved when necessary with my foot.  Now he’s a sad old thing, but being sentimental I can’t bear to get rid of him, even though he’s lost a horn and is definitely the worse for wear.  Perhaps I’ll give him a “makeover” sometime.

Poor Old Jacob, grown old and infirm in service

 

 

Inspired to felt an Iris (prototype)

Inspired to felt an Iris (prototype)

Last week I watched an online workshop with Tjarda van der Dussen. She was showing how to Needle felt a realistic Rose and Butterfly which had blue patterns on one side of the wing and brown on the opposite side. Originally, what I found fascinating was her ability to work very thinly with a lot of surface detail (particularly with the butterfly).

As I watched her workshop, I was impressed with her ability to do surface work (shallow insertion of the needle only affecting the top layer of her piece.) She achieved this partly through the angle of the needle and partly by very good depth control. She said she preferred spiral (twisted) and star needles for her work. She used them in a wooden single needle holder.  I am not sure if she has tried Crown needles, which as you know, have only one barb per side but all are located very close to the tip of the needle (making it ideal for surface detail felting). I think she said she was using 38 and 40 gauge needles. She also had one of the 7 needle fake clover tools (the blue rather than the original clover green) which she used mostly with a shallow insertion.

For her working surfaces, she usually started with the clover brush tool, used covered with cotton fabric. She was lifting frequently whatever she was working on, so it would not stick to the cloth. She would, at times switch over to working on a wool mat that she had made herself. (I do want to figure out how she made that!)

She used a pattern or template for the petals that reminded me of the paper flower patterns I have seen on Pinterest occasionally. I should go take a browse and see if I can see a pattern for an iris. (I miss my iris now that my front garden is all shade). Tjarda would compare the petals she was making to the template, first getting the general shape, then adding the indentations indicated for each petal shape.

She used leather finger cots (protectors) as she held the petal and template to work on the edge with the needle. If you don’t have finger cots you can make them out of scraps of leather or you could try to “accidentally” cut the fingers off a strong leather glove. If you go for the latter plan, it may be best to find one stray glove and hope the other doesn’t reappear later. Also, test the leather with a felting needle to make sure the leather is thick enough to protect you while supple enough to use to hold your project.

Her last tool that intrigued me was a “mini Iron” for sewing and crafting. After a bit of searching and price checking, I found one online. This iron requests a heat mat which I have not yet tracked down. There are similar-looking tools for taking the wrinkles out of leather and another that fixes dents in car bumpers, both are reportedly much hotter and a lot more expensive. The ones I saw described for quilting while looking identical to the Craft version were more expensive. If you find one at a garage sale you may want to get it if it’s a good price. Hopefully, it’s one of the ones that has a temperature adjustment and rest for the hot end.

She used the little iron to flatten the petals and also add a bit of shape to them. The most important aspect seemed to be the flattening and increasing the adhesion of the felt. Unfortunately without a heat mat, I didn’t want to try out this part of her workshop. I will try it as soon as I can find the elusive mat.

Now on to trying to create a flower, not a rose but let’s see if I can find a paper flower pattern for an iris. So off to Google image to see what I can find. Success! I found a page from what looks like an old book on flower making. There were also pages out of another book, in Russian, that look interesting but it took me a while to find an iris.

1) https://i.pinimg.com/564x/9d/4f/76/9d4f76d3d25433c7582e8db41be8d7e6.jpg

2) https://i.pinimg.com/564x/9d/af/ac/9dafacd4d3bdeecf0a766c7b7b9ddd29.jpg

I found a more modern-looking page from a book that had templates for Iris petals. I tried to track the image back to find out what the English book was called and if I could still get a copy. I think it might be “Handmade Flowers from Paper and Fabric” but I can’t find a view of the inside to check. I will have to watch for a second-hand copy. Maybe Ann will spot a copy at Value Village?

3) cover of the book I think the pattern may have come from

4) Iris pattern

https://i.pinimg.com/564x/ab/6a/b3/ab6ab390722260765a706977a3bc3b21.jpg

OK, I have found a general pattern shape to do a test run on.

Iris test run.

I printed off the pattern and cut out the pieces, then transferred them to card stock. I used the pattern to layout fibre for the petal.

 5) original pattern pieces and transferred to card-stock

My first petal was “A”, (it’s the petal that has the beard on a bearded iris). I lay down thin wisps of variegated blue from the remnants of a braid of merino.  (yes I do have a bit of Merino wool)

6) Pattern “A” fibre laid out

I did not have a clover brush tool like the one that Tjarda had used, instead, I tried the Red higher density kneeling pad. After removing the template from under the wool, I was focusing on thin like the ice dragon’s wings…..nope that’s too thin.

7) adding more wool to thin spots in the petal

I added more fibre and used the fake clover tool very lightly to fill in the thinnest spot. I found that the fibre tended to spread a bit and I had to check the template regularly and readjust the edges.

8) shaping the edges with the felting needle (if you are careful you can hold the pattern and petal in your fingers and very carefully needle felt the edge)

Each petal does not have to be identical but it should be quite close to the same size and shape.

I carefully lifted the wool off the foam regularly turning the petal.

9) Gently lift the wool off the work surface and turn it frequently

I followed the instructions and made all the required petals. (Ax3, Bx3, Cx5 I am going to make the leaves later)

10) all the petals are now created.

The next step was to insert the wire into the petal. I made sure that the wire was hidden in the fibres and not visible on either side as much as I could. I added a bit more fibre to make sure the wire would stay hidden. I did this for each of the 3 “A” and “B” petals.

11) slide the wire into the petal and hide with a bit more wool if needed

At this point, I realized I didn’t have a high heat ironing mat. So decided to fall off the instructions and skip the anatomical correctness for the lower petals and instead had a bit of extra fun.  (this is just the prototype to see if the pattern pieces work or if the size needs adjusting.)

12) the cool Mini Iron II, with extra bits! (but not a heat pad)

I had been looking at my photo reference for a Bearded Iris, Instead of a small beard (practically a goatee as it were), I went for the full ZZ Top facial hair on my iris. If you are going to have a beard, you might as well see how long a beard you can grow. I had a bit of Bernadette’s combing waste for the beard.

After adding the excessive Beard-age to the lower “A” petals, it was time to start the assembly. I paired an A with a B and twisted the wires together. This gave me three pairs of petals, which I positioned and twisted together in one stem.

13) The ZZ Top of Bearded Irises!

14) the bare twisted stem

 Next, we need to have that green base just at the top of the stem with the twisted wire I did not have trouble adding green fibre to cover the wire, building it up under the iris.

15) the stem gets wool at the base of the flower and down the stem

I will still need to make leaves for the flower but let’s move on to the bud so we can get it to about the same spot as the flower is at this point.

To make the bud I made a round-bottomed cone with a floral wire embedded in it. I then added the remaining petals, one after another,  adding them around the cone core.

 16) the bud

I had no trouble building up the green base to the bud but wrapping the stem was not as easy.  I followed Tjarda’s lead and tried clear fabric glue on the wire before adding the wool. This worked but was a bit messy on the fingers. It did allow for a very thin layer of wool to be added so I may try it on other tiny-er projects.

17) Tacky-fabric-glue,  make sure it drys clear

Now it was time to make leaves. The pattern instructions suggest 4 long leaves and 2 short for around the bud. I had a nice (feels like Corriedale) green in the bag I had found the blue roving in.  I think this was the bag I put together to make wet felted iris flowers at a felt in at Carsonby Hall a few years ago (no wonder I seem to have almost all the colours I wanted in it!)

18) first of the 4 long leaves to make.

This is long Iris leaf #1 done with the wire inserted. I will need to make at least 3 more but not today.

It has been dark and overcast all day today. Looking out the office window, I keep seeing little occasional white bits floating past. Not enough to rebuild the snowbanks, but too much when I have just planted the first pot of snow peas! I also have the front yard grass raked and the topdressing with grass seed has been applied!! This is not the time for even a few flakes of snow!!! What happened to plans for spring and getting the side yard felting studio ready to work in?

Oh well, at least I am well on my way to having a nice blue Iris to look at even if our plans for spring change suddenly back to winter.

19) the full-bearded Iris

20) iris and bud with the first leaf.

Next time I will try out the T40 Crown needles and press the wool. I am still pleased by the thinness of the petals on the prototype especially since they are not ironed.

Have fun and keep felting and I hope someone is enjoying spring.

Felting Surfaces & The new game, “What is that smell?”

Felting Surfaces & The new game, “What is that smell?”

A short bit more about felting surfaces

As you may remember from my last post, I wanted to look at some of the types of felt pads but had not yet got my hands on them. Well, this week 2 examples have arrived! I hope you won’t mind and will join me as I investigate.

The felt pads from the descriptions and images seem to come in 2 main types.

Thick felt pad; the photos look like industrial Felt, which is made with hot pressed steam rather than a felting machine.  (Photos can be deceptive!)

Felt pillow; which looked like an outer felt layer stuffed with something, hopefully, wool.

Testing tools.

For this test, I used two thin layers of commercial red craft felt. It is a cheap, not 100% wool felt and is very thin like a pre-felt which stretches easily. It is not as nice as the real wool felt but also not as unpleasant as some of the acrylic felt that seems to be shredded fibre (and possibly dryer lint) held together partly by glue. For needles, I am trying a single T36 and the fake clover tool with T40s, the fibre is from my stash, some are from Bernadette’s Batts, some was Galaxy Melange (died grey wool) from the World of Wool (UK) and a bit of died core wool from Sarafina fibre arts. (Just in case anything looked particularly appealing and you desperately needed a bit for yourself.)

 1 craft felt – has the thickness of very thin prefelt

 

Test subject #1:

2  Comes in a nice cardboard box with a wooden needle holder just like the ones I have been ordering from China.

3  Close up of felt pillow showing value-added felting tool.

Let’s start with the smaller pad, 7.08 x 7.87 x 1.57 inches (with a nice 3 needle wooden needle holder).

Its described as “Thick and sturdy: Our gray needle felting mat is thicker than ordinary felt, and it is not easy to scratch the tabletop. Felting needles is made of soft felt and dense sponge. The needle felting mat has the best density. It is also equipped with felting needle supplies, allowing you to get a better needle felt experience.”  The Cost was CDN$ 16.99 (Not cheap but it did come with the expensive wooden 3 needle holder I was already familiar with. The needle holder has a bit of a wobble as you unscrew the handle but doesn’t rub or catch, so is not one of the factory seconds I had purchased directly from china). The description left me a bit confused but still curious enough to get it.

The cover felt layer is approximately 1/8” thickness with a sewn seam connecting the two layers. The interior feels like a piece of foam or firm sponge. The edges look like it has had heat applied to them.  The way the edge of the felt layers has bits of melted fibres suggests that the felt has a lower wool component so likely a higher component of synthetic than wool.

4 edge of the felt outer layer with a firm melted edge.

The feel of the needle entering the top layer of the pad feels like the short stapled acrylic felt that is partly held together with glue. There is a noticeable resistance to the needle penetrating into the felt layer of the pad. This is less noticeable as I add more wool to the little picture I am working on. This may not be an issue when working on a  thicker ground layer to the picture than it would be with such a thin one.

5  Starting with a bit of sky

6  Adding some hills,

Pushing the needle through the felt had resistance, similar to that found in the cheap craft felt that has a glue component to it. It requires the piece you are working on to be lifted regularly so it won’t cling to the felt cover. Once the needle had penetrated the felt the feel of the sponge or foam inside is comfortable. There does not seem to be shifting between the foam and the outer felt so I don’t think there will be any added worry about lateral movement and broken needles. I suspect this is not a felting surface I will use frequently although the wooden needle holder is always a nice addition to my collection. This pad will likely be put aside for students to look at during workshops.

After working with the pad for about an hour I noticed that I could see a red tint of fibres from the felt base I was using.  A firmer base felt for my picture may not have left as much residue.

7  Red residue left from the back of  my felted picture

 

Test Subject #2

8  the second felt pad, came with 9 needles in 2 lengths

“Needle Felting Pad made of pure wool dimensions 10 x 8 x 1.2 inches, Needles and leather finger pads included.” The cost was CDN$ 13.99.

As I opened the taped closed plastic sleeve that the pad was in,  I inadvertently did a sniff test. Ummm…. Well, that is an odd aroma…. Slightly like, petroleum? Ann took a sniff when she was over, she may have a better description.  The smell decreased to barely-there over the last 2 days. I suspect the smell may dissipate if left sitting outside in the sun… for a while.

The second felt pad defiantly is made of wool that has a lot of kemp in it. The edges look like it is made in layers or it may have been the implement that cut the felt has left bands and groves. The close-up photos hopefully makes the kemp easy to see. if you look closely you can see fibres (Kemp) descending from one layer into a lower layer. This makes me suspect that this has been made in a needle felting machine. From the original photos, I had expected this to be the hard industrial felt used in ironing pads but this has some give to the surface.

9  Note the kemp which there is a lot of.

(Video testing firmness) P1790339 10 checking squishiness

I added more wool to the picture to test how the pad feels when used. Not bad. The surface is soft and the needle has much less resistance on entering the pad. I like this one better than the last one.

11 Testing felt pad 2

12 Adding World of Wool fibre.

 13 Shortening the hills, adding foreground and water. This makes me think of the north.

Ok, that is working well, let’s see what else I can try. I had meant to make the picture 3×5  but I am interested to see where the water is going. (you can’t trust the sneaky wet stuff, it’s likely trying to escape the picture and make a run for it.)  Let us change the size of the picture and make it a 5×7. So I need to add both length and width to the picture. I added fibre around the edges of the picture building up the size to what I wanted. I found lifting frequently kept the fibre from sticking.

14 Here is the front of the picture

15  You can see how the original rectangle has expanded with the added fibre. (What a mess! I will not frame this one with double glass!)

I did find that there was some transfer of the kemp from the pad to the back of the piece. I do not know if this will lessen as I use the pad. I suspect it may.

16 Kemp transferring from the mat to the back of the piece.

17  There was a small amount of red f transferred from the back of the picture to the mat.

This mat I would use again. It has improved in smell, it is comfortable to use, and it can hold a 5×7 or a bit larger picture.

We have a new game to play!

Today was our local guilds Library day. I had been into the studio last week pulling requested books and getting everything ready for today.  Ann had seen and smelled the second pad right after it arrived, (when it was at its stinky-est). Today I brought the finished piece and the mat to have a few brave people try the fun new game “what is that smell?”  After some careful sniffing, we have come to two suggestions from a number of players. One was it was “ode de Mutton Urine” or possibly “ode de petroleum product”.  The suspicions were that the wool may not have been as clean as we normally deal with or the lubricants used in the carding process had gotten in the wool giving it the odd aroma.

 18  The new game “What is that smell?”

19  “Sniff”

20  “Oh my!  Ode de Sheep Urine?”

21 Testing it with a needle

22 Admiring the little test picture

The original wool may have been a lower grade or kempy carpet wool (not a bad wool just more ideal for hard-wearing carpets than soft woolly underwear. There are many types of sheep and many uses for each of their different type of wool)

I hope that gives you a couple more options for taking out your more violent stabby tendencies. I may still try to make my own pad using a felt outer layer and wool core. I am suspecting there may be less compacting of the inner core of wool if I use something that is more like hair than something with a lot of crimps. I wonder if I can find some unwanted Tog (I have been collecting tog for an Icelandic blanket project but may need to find more!) if I don’t want to waste good tog, I can always take a quick trip to Carlton Place and visit the Wool Growers Co-Op and see what they have in there carpet wool box! That sounds like a reason for a road trip!!!

On another topic, Signs of spring!

I am sure I will soon be out in my garden side yard studio. I know this since I have seen signs that the first of my trees have migrated to their summer location! (Spring tree migration time!!) Spring must be getting close!! I hope you are enjoying spring or can see it coming (keep an eye out for those migrating trees!) and I hope you are having fun felting.

23 The day-old tell-tail-tracks of tree migration

24 The tracks end here where we find the noble wandering trees (their poplars) I am sure the rest will follow their lead in the next week or two! (yes I have a small portable forest)

Small felt

Small felt

As some of you know I am moving my studio. I am not moving far, just from one end of the building to the other. I will gain some storage space, another room and a direct entrance. And importantly I will be closer to the bathroom.

I have packed 90% of my studio into boxes and they are piled up in the extra room. Consequently, I do not have a lot to work with. I did make a box with a blob of each colour of merino I have. and collected a bag of prefelts etc.

So there I was on Monday, wondering what on earth I would post about today. I was looking at my inspiration file and going through e bags of prefelt and I found this small odd-shaped one.

This is the back of it because I forgot to take a picture before adding wool to the front.

 

I added some sky

A blue sky is pretty much one colour. light at the bottom but not a mix of colours. The grass on the other hand is not one colour. so I mixed some up using my dog brushes.

 

 

this is the finished background. the needle is to give you an idea of the size. Jan thought it looked knife-shaped I thought it looked like a bullet train.

 

 

I want to add some flowers along the bottom. I wasn’t sure what thread to use. I hat unpicking so I grabbed a piece of fulled sweater off cut and covered it in green to try out some different threads.

 

the dark pink is Filtex. these are very old spools they are shiny rayon, like fake silk.  the orange is 1,2 and 3 strands of embroidery thread., the blue is an embroidery cord and the green is a different kind of silk or fake silk embroidery yarn.

 

Here’s a picture of the back. You can see what each thread looks like a little better.

Next is doing the stitching. I think I will use the green to add a few bigger leaf shapes. the orange and blue worked well. I will try using 2 and 3 threads of the pink to see if they show up better. stitching on felt is odd. you have to make your stitch about twice as long as you want it to get it to show up the size you want. It must be because of how soft the surface is. Does anyone else also find this to be true?

 

Mac Dragon

Mac Dragon

The Snow started Friday just in time for rush hour and continued into the early parts of Saturday. (Sometimes it’s good that I don’t usually go anywhere.) I do not want to go out and look at the driveway.  Looking at the garage roof, it may be better to stay in and finish writing this note to you. Then tomorrow, Sunday, I have some feet to work on if I can finish the gastrox and soleus muscles so I can get to the feet. I promise I will show you how that is coming in a later post. I also can report I have received Mr. Mer’s Hair! I will show you that but thought a week less fishy might be in order.

 

So to get to today’s topic I should get you caught up with my frantic (HA!!!) social life. Last week we were able to visit my brother, his family and my Mom for the first time since…. Well, sometime last year…. I think it was early August actually. We were hoping for a safe Christmas dinner but that plan was thwarted.  So it was an early March, (my)  Birthday / (Mom’s) Anniversary,  Dinner My brother was hosting. It was fabulous to see everyone and meet the new kitten (not quite so new now but still stuck with kitten brain). We were very pleased to get caught up on all the family news, especially exciting was the news that my Niece had been accepted into McMaster University. My parents and brother all went to Mac, I was a rebel and wound up in fine arts at the University of Toronto after doing 3 years of commercial art. (My Dad and brother were both PhD Geologists, but I love landscape so I guess that sort of fits in.)

I had brought my little ice dragon to show my niece since she has been interested in some of the strange things I felt. She did like the little guy too.

When I got home, I dug through the little ice dragons’ box and found I had his wing template but not the armature measurements. I did a few quick measurements of the ice dragon then started working on the little Mac dragon. I pulled out a couple of 18-inch steel florist wires and found the roll of 26 gauge steel floral wire and got to work.

 1 Armature in progress

This little guy is a bit bigger than the ice dragon but only a little. I used the 20ga for the main frame and used the 26ga for the tows and lower jaw (both yet to be twisted in the photo). I also added the 26ga over the main frame to give it a bit more strength. He needs to be able to stand up and look fearsome!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

2-3 Adding wool to the armature body

I used a fine crimpy fleece I had purchased at the wool Growers Co-op in Carlton Place but found it to be too brown in tone. I switched to some of the core wool from Sarafina Fiber Arts, trying the darker grey but deciding on the lighter grey. (It’s really important to go check your source or reference material, in this case, the school colours.)

4-5 Always refer to your reference material

Now, to find the burgundy for the wings.   It is time to dig through the Red bin, I have a bag of red tones also in the basement.  Luckily, I found I had a corriedale called Aubergine by Ashford I had picked up at Wabi Sabi (one of the local fibre and yarn stores).

 6 “Mine!!”

The colour was perfect but looked a bit flat since it was too homogeneous. I added a bit of “i-have-no-idea-where-this-came-from fuchsia,”  which I had found while looking for my sari waste, which I never did find and I don’t think it would have been the correct tone if I had found it.

7 Mac Heraldry

A quick check of the McMaster shield Heraldry added the background colour of gold to the two colours Burgundy and Grey.  Ok, where did I put the boxes of beads, I need to find eyes!  They should be Gold or dark amber.

8-9 finding the right colour

I chose one of the dark amber beads in the little bag in the center of the second picture. The colour seemed to work with the body and upcoming wing colours. To add the eyes, I used a long needle to get the position, then used the tapered awl to get the depression the bead would be sunk into, (the eye socket). Leaving a longish tail of thread at the back of the head, I went from there across to the hole for the eye, added the bead and drove the needle through to the other eyehole. I again added a bead this time taking the needle out at the back of the head so I could tie the two threads together. I covered the knot with a bit more of the grey fibre.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

10-14 “Don’t look yet! I can see my wings are naked!!!”

I again made a template to layout the wings. I dry rubbed them a bit to get them to be cohesive enough to remove the cards.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

15-17 the strangely expanding wings.

Strangely with wispy wings, as I felt the wings tend to get bigger, not shrink like a good felt should do! Even my fiber is dyslexic and can’t be relied on to do anything the normal way everyone else dose! I could have done this using wet felting but I would have to have gotten wet so I went for the dry option. I am sure you will be much braver and may not melt with the application of dampness. If in dought you might try surgical gloves.

18 Mac Dragon is keeping close supervision on my work.

I counteracted the expansion that the punch tool seemed to encourage by working with a single needle on an angle, from each end, along the leading edge of the wing membrane. It was still a bit longer at the front edge than I had planned on, but I made a design change at the shoulder and was quite pleased.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

19-24 the wings

“No don’t show that side! You haven’t added my tail enhancement!!!!”

“The Embarrassment!! Just for that, I will show them what you were drinking while you were making me!! That will explain any blurry or inappropriate pictures!!”

25 “Ha! She was drinking BEER!!!”

Mac dragon, it did take me 2 days to drink that one can, out of the 3 days it took to make you, so I am not likely to be too tipsy to operate a camera. Though it’s probably not a good idea to drink too much alcohol while needle felting…….

My final additions to dragon were the ear puffs with a bit of gold Bombay silk and the bifurcated tail embellishment. I added a secondary piece of wool and silk above the bifurcation. (I am sure it will attract other dragons with its flamboyantness and the bit of gold silk)

26 “I am the magnificent Mac Dragon! I can’t wait to start classes! I wonder what we will be taking…. I hope it’s Art!  Maybe stop motion animation would be fun?”

I tried out the Christmas video camera (the zoom is a disappointment and the frame rate is not as listed.) I had a long argument with the file this afternoon and got it finally to crop, rotate and convert to avi format.   I pulled out the little display turntable I had ordered in December(?), time is getting much trickery to keep track of than it used to be.  Let’s just say it’s the pandemic and I won’t worry about that too much. If I can get the file to add, I will add it here.

Video of Mac Dragon pretends to be a merry–go–round (If this doesn’t work I will beg Ann to help! Second try, my phone is much more shaky but worked better than the new video recorder for formatting!)

I would like to have been able to get Mac Dragon (short for McMaster U. Dragon) to his new home but I am snowed in until tomorrow. So, no one say anything to my Niece until after I can deliver him on Monday!

Keep safe and Keep Felting!!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Update on Mr. Mer Part 2

Update on Mr. Mer Part 2

As I had mentioned before I had started the Mer-Family from Sara’s Mermaid-felt-along.  She had used 14 ga armature wire. I had not yet investigated armature wire when I started or I would have upped the wire strength since I had scaled up the figure. I also suspect I am working more firmly than she had intended.

I was finding the wire was unable to hold articulation at his waist. This could either be from the wool overpowering the gauge of wire used or the 14 ga wire may have broken at his waist. I am not sure that it has broken since it doesn’t feel like a bake. I have had a broken wire on another sculpture which might have been from metal fatigue but I hadn’t finished making it, so it should not have been tiered. For that one I did surgery, creating an incision and inserting a new wire. The incision was worked, with a course felting needle, diagonally across the incision to create the equivalent of scar tissue. Finally adding a surface layer to finish hiding the post-surgery look (you don’t want to leave a scar!).

This worked but I wanted to try something less intrusive. I was quite pleased with the glutes and lumbar spine /sacrum so did not want to do the incision. Instead, I decided to try arthroscopic surgery! (Without a license!!! Don’t tell!!)

I checked my options for wire. Since 14 ga aluminum was way too light, I suspected that either the 10 ga or the 9ga might work. Since I knew I wanted to position the Herring-ton rods (this is a fishy procedure) down each erector spinae, I would not likely need anything stronger than the 9ga. I checked the samples I had made during the wire study group and decided that 9ga should work.

21 Tools to sharpen the end of the 9ga aluminum wire

I cut 2 lengths that would reach from lower quads to upper back. I used the rasp and nail file to sharpen one end. I used an awl to make the insertion then worked the wire through the glutes and down the hamstrings.

22 insertion of the lower section of the first Harrington rod

I could easily feel where the end of the wire was through the wool (that Registered Massage Therapist career is still useful!!). I could rotate the wire to keep it more centrally located. As you may have noticed, the glutes are more posterior than the hamstring muscles so the wire needed to follow the couture of the body.

23 The white line indicated the approximate path of the 9ga wire.

The awl allowed me to insert the wires to either side of the spine, where the original twisted 14ga aluminum wire was located. It also allowed for an angle of descent into the glute so I could rotate the wire and get it to dive into the lower leg. I was sure I would need to cross the point of articulation (his waist), with enough length that the wires would stay well embedded and allow not only flection and extension (bending forward and backwards ) but, with this lateral placement should allow for lateral rotation!  When he had a single point spine (and less wool), he could bend forward and back but his rotational movement was minimal and not pose-able.

So the steps I took for this operation were:

  • Select the gauge required by reviewing my previous sampling,
  • Sharpen the aluminum wire with a file then refine and smooth the point with a nail file
  • Arthroscopic insertion (with an awl – I am sure it was well sterilized since it was brand new!)
  • Work the wire through the glutes rotating it to descend into the lower Hamstring muscle while palpating to keep track of where it was in the leg. Then repeat to this point with the second wire leaving the upper end loose and out of the body.

24 the insertion of the awl at a shallow angle

I check that the patent could do full flection at this point to confirm the operation was proceeding well.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

25-28 Mr. Mer shows off his new flexibility

There is also confirmation that some rotational movement is already possible, I suspect he will have more once the surgery is complete and the upper rods are inserted.

For the second half of the operation;

  • I bent and tried to determine the best angle and location for the wires. *remembering that there is a triangular frame in his torso that is allowing some shoulder curvature (Protraction/ Retraction) and rotational posing. So I chose to position the wires more along the Erector spine (located to each side of the spine) and then redirected them into the lateral part of the lats (latissimus dorsi).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

29-31 upper wire placement

 I trimmed the wires to a bit closer to equal length and sharpened the superior (upper) end of the wire.

I curved the wire to insert it but could not find my big pliers to straighten it out properly once the insertion had been made. I used one of my metal chopsticks to push against the wire to straighten it and it worked.

32 the skin graft to cover the inserted wire

For the skin graft, I took a section of the dark green fibres and needle felted a section down the center of the fibres leaving wispy edges for attachment on either side of the wire. (You can see the first part of the graft in the lower spine). I added more fibre to build up the Erector spinae muscle over the wire. (You can see that in the upper section of the lumbar and lower thoracic region). The wire is very close to the surface at this point so I need to make sure the fibre above this point is well secured so there will be no exposure of the surgical rods. (That would be embarrassing!)

I used the cop stick again to flatten the second wire and finish embedding it into his upper body.

Adding more wool fibre, I continued to contour and build up the muscles until the wire was well buried on both sides of his spine.

Mr. Mer is quite pleased with his operation and wants to show you how discreet the scaring is.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

33-36 Mr. Mer shows you where the wires are and how discreet the post-surgery scaring

Mr. Mer insisted I neaten up his hands before the photoshoot so while listening to an audiobook (a werewolf romance this time) I pulled out my 40ga crown needles and got to work. It took most of the 8-hour book to get the hands tightened up and reduce the fuzzy halo on them. I will want to go back later and trim them with scissors ( I have ordered a pair with curved blades that may work well with his fingers.)

 37-38 working on Mr. Mer’s hands

I also worked on his head a bit more giving him a bit more cranium and a better jawline. I am still working on his face but it’s coming along. I have found him hair, but it is still with Bernadette (the truckers in Ottawa interrupted its arrival on library day.)

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

39-41 continuing to work on Mr. Mer’s head and face.

He has also had a bit of work done on his chest and I am back to working on his arms again.

42 a post-surgery treat

I gave him a chocolate for his post-surgery recovery but he seems to just want to hold it. Probably for the best, since I didn’t felt any internal digestive organs for him….. and he only has teeth in his lower jaw. Let’s not think about that too much….

Now on to his photoshoot!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 43-52 Mr. Mer shows off his progress so far

Mr. Mer is quite pleased with his progress and is sure Mrs. Mer will be happy too. He would like a bit more work on his human muscles (I have no objection, you should see my photo reference pictures!!) I think I may make the integration from his fishy under-section to his knees a bit more elongated too. Otherwise, he is almost done.

For the rest of the Mer-Family; Shark Boy needs his hair and maybe a bit of a touch-up with the 40 or 42ga needles. I have had a trip to the local purveyor of wool (Wabi Sabi) to pick up Corriedale for the Mer-Ladies. I am considering Goldfish /Koi as inspirations so have a lot of body reshaping to consider. I have contacted Adel about long locks for their hair and she will watch for some in the right colour and length. Adele does fabulous dyeing of locks and roving (Adele Forward on Facebook) just don’t buy the one that looks like goldfish when she posts it!!. She use to go to a lot of the fibre festivals in Ontario but has been working from her home and shipping out during the pandemic.

While I am waiting for Mr. Mer’s hair to arrive, I will keep working the intersection between the fish and man and adding a few more muscular details.

If you would like to create a Mer-Person (or family) for yourself, I would suggest checking out Sara’s mermaid felt- along on YouTube to get you started! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hljS4YRmz9w)  What type of fish will your Mer-Person be related to? Will you stay more traditional? Or will it be a non-fish aquatic species, maybe a Mer-turtle? Whatever you chose to inspire you have fun and keep felting!

Update on Mr. Mer part 1

Update on Mr. Mer part 1

For those of you who have not met Mr. Mer, here he is last year as I was working on his anatomy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

1-2 Mr. Mer 2021

Mr. Mer was underwhelmed with how I had left his basic under-structure of his fishy bits.  I agreed with him that he was not quite as pike-like as I would like. The fish part of the body needed to be thicker and more muscular when compared to my photo reference. How can you fight snapping turtles with such a scrawny lower body?  I still liked the vestigial knees but felt the idea had not yet coalesced into a good integration between man and fish.  I will think more on this as I add bulk to his fishiness.

3 parts of the green fibre collection.

I dug through the greens I had been using, I was almost out of one of the colours I had blended and will have to blend more of it! I was using the large ball of “Olive” Corriedale as the base and adding other greens to mottle and create the colour for the under-structure.  The darker top that I was blending with the olive I am pretty sure some was the Superwash I had bought from the Black lamb.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

4-5 blending wool to build up Mr. Mer’s fish body and tail.

Since I needed a reasonable amount of fibre to build up his fish end I used the hand carders to partly blend the colours. (Nature tends not to have flat colours.) Although I usually hand blend small amounts for details, using the handcards or even dog brushes is easier on the hands and wrists than working with the same amount of fibre hand blending.  When I take the fibre off the cards, it is still quite a long staple. For the under layer and blocking in the basic shape this will work. However, as I get closer to the final shape I tend to tear the fibre into pieces from half an inch to an inch long.

Although I started with the armature and adding shapes build-up of fibre as per Sara’s instructions I have deviated well away from her original Mer-Maid design. She tends to work by adding formed shapes, but for this one, she added a wet felted skin layer to put over her under-structure. I have had more fun using a more blended approach of both additive and subtractive sculpture.  (Adding pre-formed shapes and felting them into place is a lot faster than what I tend to do with using layers and small amounts of loose fibre to sculpt into the desired shape).

You can see I have moved from legs with a tail shape Mer-Man to the beginnings of a more human-fish hybrid.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

6-8 upgrading Fishy-bits underway

I like the direction but need to increase the height and a bit more width of the fish section. I am investigating the popliteal space (the area behind the knees).  I like the angle of the intersection but want to raise the fish spine a bit higher.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

9-10  Needs a bit more

Oh no,  he is not going to like the way that tail looks, it’s a bit bear. I over fanned the armature of the tail and then added wisps of full-length staple. I added a bit to each side using a variety of needles and finally the punch tool (fake clover tool). so when I adjust the tail to the correct position the webbing should ripple like partly closing a fan.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

11-12 Working on the tail

That seems a bit better so I switched back to the body again.

13 elevating the top line of the fish body

I have made both the top line higher and am investigating the angle of integrating behind the knees. Tomorrow Is Library Day for the guild and I will ask Ann what she thinks. So it’s time for Mr. Mer to get into his project bag (not that I expect to have any time to work on him tomorrow) but I am sure he will enjoy getting out of the house and Ann will like seeing how he is coming along.

14  On Library Day, Ann Checked out  Mr. Mer’s Progress, she had a few suggestions.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

15-17 Ann critiques him

As we got the library ready for book pick up, Mr. Mer took up position on top of a small 8 harness loom to watch for guild members wanting their requested books.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

18-20  Mr. Mer is watching for Library patrons

 I noticed he was having trouble bending and has to maintain a push-up to allow him to look out the window.  I have to see what I can do to help him. I will start with an assessment of his ROM (Range of Motion) particularly at his waist but that will be in my next post.

I will hope you are not getting bored with the fishiness of my posts and promise to try to work on something different, but the next post will be part 2. There may be surgery involved!

Have fun and keep felting!!

%d bloggers like this: