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Framed Artwork and New Gallery Representation

Framed Artwork and New Gallery Representation

Lots of people asked to see my recent landscapes once they had been framed. I get my work professionally framed with a narrow, black wooden frame. If you’re in Whitefish, MT and need some framing done, I highly recommend my framer, FoR Fine Art. They also have a wonderful art gallery in Whitefish and Bigfork, MT and Tucson, AZ.

Here are the two biggest pieces after framing. They are approximately 20″ x 30-32″.

Here’s a couple more that I completed over the winter.

And the last one with it’s new frame. I have been working on getting new gallery representation and contacted a couple of places. I heard back from Northwest Handmade in Sandpoint, ID. I took 16 pieces over to them and will be taking them some snow dyed silk scarves when we go back by there in July. Yay, happy dance.

I decided to make a few more 5″ x 7″ pieces to take with me but didn’t get a chance to show them here. These are included in the 16 pieces that went to Sandpoint. If you happen to be in the area, please stop by and visit Northwest Handmade!

The five framed pieces shown at the top of the post weren’t ready when I went to Sandpoint. I picked them up from the framers and the next day, I heard back from 4 Ravens Gallery in Missoula, MT. They were interested in carrying my work too! Wow! Those five landscapes will be on display towards the end of June. Again, if you happen to be in Missoula, MT, please stop by and visit 4 Ravens Gallery.

It is great to have two galleries carrying my artwork but now I have to get busy and make some new pieces to replace any that sell. (I’m being hopeful and thinking positively.)

Completing Montana Sunrise

Completing Montana Sunrise

Here is where I was when I left off in my last post about my latest nuno felted landscape. I decided the next step was to create more evergreen trees to add to the left hillside.

I used some green wool sandwiched between two pieces of water soluble fabric and free motion stitched some trunks/branches. These were then soaked in hot water and gently felted. I started adding them into the foreground. I decided I didn’t have enough so I went back and stitched more several times until I was satisfied with the volume. I also added in a few areas of lighter trees to give a bit of contrast. Once I had those arranged and pinned down, I started looking at the yellow brown area in the middle of the picture, part of the closest mountain. It seemed to have too much contrast and due to being the same color as the foreground, it “moved” that mountain too far forward.

So I added a couple of pieces of sheer nylon scarves, one deep red and one purple over the area. That’s better! I try a lot of different things as I’m working and take quick photos on my phone. I’m not showing all the photos as it is hard to tell the differences in some of them. But I use the photos to see how the piece looks from a distance and find any glaring problems. At some point in here, I added some sheer black fabric behind the foreground mountain as there were bits of black wool that were drawing my attention too much.

After I stitched down the trees with a variety of blue green threads and a bit of feather stitch, I started working on the foreground. If you click on the photo to enlarge it, you can see the details a bit better. The grass is a combination of raffia, burlap and cheesecloth. I also was bothered by the “driveway” of green on the middle right. At some point, I tore some of the wool from the surface so that it wasn’t such a line.

I arranged the grass bits numerous times and then started stitching them down. The photo on the left has the “clumps” stitched but I was trying various pieces of raffia on the very bottom and had them pinned in place. I also decided the raffia was a bit too light so I colored it with a felt tip marker in light browns, greens and dark brown edges. The photo on the right shows the piece after completing the foreground. Next up was the sky.

I wanted to “move” the colors in the sky around a bit with some stitching. But how to do that? I first thought about couching threads to the surface. The photo on the left shows that idea being tested. I wasn’t happy with that but couldn’t decide what to do. So I reached out to Antje (who has authored posts here in the past), and she made several good suggestions. I decided to use running stitch. I used variegated colors and mixed several strands together to not have such a solid color effect. Click on the photo on the right to see the starting of the running stitch. The point of adding the stitching was to soften some of the harder transitions in the sky. Thanks Antje for your help!

Here is the finished Montana Sunrise (16″ x 30″). It definitely has a bit different feel using a mosaic type of nuno felt instead of one piece of dyed silk. I think it is much less abstract than some of my other recent pieces. Now I have to find the right fabric for it’s matting. What color would you use as the matte?

Beginning a Large Nuno Felted Landscape

Beginning a Large Nuno Felted Landscape

Having run out of already felted nuno backgrounds, I decided to try a large landscape and create it in a mosaic type of nuno process as opposed to one piece of dyed silk. I got out my remaining already dyed silks to see what was available. After looking at what I had, I decided on a sunrise or sunset with the sky being around two thirds of the landscape.

I started with a large piece of white prefelt, fluffed it up with a brush to make sure it would felt more easily. Then I added a very light layer of merino in the colors of the landscape. I used short fiber merino hoping it would help “glue” the small pieces of silk. I then wet down the wool before applying any silk.

 

I started with the sky and continued to wet down all the silk pieces as they were laid out.

I kept working my way down trying to make sure that there weren’t any completely straight edges on the silk. I did add bits of wool underneath the silk if there was more than one layer of silk. Once the sky was finished, it was on to the mountains and the foreground.

I added silk for the mountains and the foreground. I decided to add some green wool on top for some pine trees and to soften the edges between the foreground and the more distant mountains. Then on to felting.

Here’s the piece after it is partially felted. It did require a lot of careful rubbing but most of the silk stayed in place and adhered to the wool.

Here is the piece after being completely felted. I decided for now to call this piece Montana Sunrise. I am going to add stitching and more detail to the foreground but that’s for another post. The finished size of the piece is approximately 16″ x 30″.

I am running behind so…..

I am running behind so…..

I declare throwback Tuesday. I seem to have run out of time this week so I thought you might like to see this post from 2017. Jan posted some pictures in our guild group and it reminded me and I thought it was worth another look. I hope it and the links to the other 2 posts about it will give you lots of inspiration for your own work.

Ann

 

This is the 3rd and final set of pictures from this exhibit. http://mvtm.ca/?exhibition=colour-unboxed the first is here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/18/colour-unboxed-by-out-of-the-box/ and the second here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2017/01/26/out-of-the-box-part-2/ Again I apologize for some of the odd angles as it was very crowded with people enjoying the exhibit. In the last picture, you may find it hard to see but there is a very long weaving draped across the ceiling.

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Another Nuno Landscape Completed

Another Nuno Landscape Completed

I have been working away on my nuno felt landscapes this winter. I always sell more work in the summertime, so it’s good to get ahead of the game and get work ready to be framed in the spring. So what to do with this background. I felt like the diagonal lines of color felt too “tie dyed” and needed to break them up. The colors reminded me of summer flowers so that’s where I decided to go with this background.

I played around with a variety of cotton fabric and cheesecloth and laid these out on the nuno background.

I added a small bud to the small, lower right hand flower.

I pinned the pieces in place and added interfacing to the back to provide support for the machine stitching. I could have fused them down but I find that I don’t like the way the fusing flattens the fabric and doesn’t allow “movement” of the fabric with stitching. This is a personal preference and it is easier to stitch if everything is fused in place but I prefer to pin or baste the pieces in place. I also was looking at possibly bringing some of the dark blue up into the area above the flowers. I tested this out by cutting some small bits of #5 perle cotton and laying it down to give the impression of blue flower stalks.

I free motion machine stitched all the green first. I used two different shades of green to give a little depth to the stems and leaves.

I used three different shades of thread in the centers of the flowers and two colors on the petals. I decided to bring a bit of the burnt orange down into the petals to give a look of a bit of shadows near the centers. Last, I added dark brown to the bottom of the centers which definitely helped define the centers.

Lastly, I added blue French knots with #5 perle cotton thread. I then stitched it down to the background “matte” fabric and laced it on to card. So it’s ready to frame. I decided to call this one “Summer Fireworks”. I have run out of nuno felted backgrounds so I guess that will be my next project.

 

Tamarack Trio Landscape

Tamarack Trio Landscape

In my last post, I showed you this nuno felted background and asked for suggestions. Everyone’s ideas were so interesting and different than what I see in this randomly dyed piece. I loved hearing your suggestions but to me, this was definitely an autumn forest scene. I wanted to try and make it more abstract and less “real”.  So I started off just adding some lines in free motion embroidery that were to symbolize tree trunks. I forgot to take any in process photos. Once I get started on the machine, I get engrossed in the process. Then I got to the stage of “really ugly”. Do you find when you’re working that you go through that stage of “this is awful and I should just toss it”? But I kept going and ended up going more realistic than planned but that was the only way forward that I could see that would work.

I added tamarack trees, a fallen trunk and some foreground leaves in the upper right corner. The small trunks in the back left were too white so I took a gray colored pencil to them so they wouldn’t stand out too much. I then hung the piece up on the wall so I could look at it from a distance and to see what else it needed.  I decided to add more foreground leaves so they came down into the distant aspens in the lower right.

Here it is with more leaves added. That pushed the aspens back further into the distance and made the piece feel a bit more cohesive.

 

Here’s a couple of close ups of the free motion stitching. I don’t usually use the zigzag stitch when doing free motion but I liked the more abstract effect on the tamarack trees. If you don’t have tamaracks (also called larch) trees in your area, they look like pines/evergreens but their needles turn a bright yellow orange in the fall and then they shed all their needles. So they are a deciduous conifer. They are a gorgeous addition to the landscape in the fall.

I continued my new “habit” of finishing the piece at the time I made it. Here it is stitched down to a tan matting fabric and laced over matte board, another piece ready to frame. It does have some abstract qualities to it and I like the end result. Sometimes, you just have to keep pushing through and ignore that inner critic.

Recycled Fabric Samples – Quarter 1 Challenge 2022

Recycled Fabric Samples – Quarter 1 Challenge 2022

Lyn and Annie have set us a lovely Q1 challenge of sampling ways of recycling fabric.  They showed a great variety of fabulous techniques in their blog

In this post I will show you some wet felted samples I’ve made in response to the challenge, and my thoughts so far on what I might do next.

The quarterly challenges are supposed to push our boundaries.  At first glimpse, I do this all the time. I rarely write a blog without using charity-shop bought fabric and bashing on about how much I love using recycled materials, so maybe it’s a bit of a cheat for me? Well, maybe.  But while I scour the local charity shops for silk scarves or old lace for nuno felting, I also pick up some second-hand fabrics asking myself – ‘what would happen if I tried to felt that?’ Although my intentions are good, I often don’t get round to trying out the more unusual fabrics. So, I decided I’d use the Q1 challenge to dig out a few second-hand fabrics I’ve bought in the past but not used and make some samples.

I like the colours and am interested to see what happens to the texture.  As you can see, the background is quite sheer.

First I cut a square, based on the width of the scarf. I laid out 2 fairly thick, even layers of midnight blue merino at right angles on the back.

Here’s the final sample. Shrinkage was about 50%

It’s interesting how much the velvet has been integrated into the felt.  I’d expected more texture. I like the result but immediately wonder how it would look with a lighter colour wool behind it. Maybe I would be able to see more of the original velvet’s pattern? Ideas for a future sample.

Next up is a black and silver sequin dress. I bought this because I like the way the sequins are distributed on the backing fabric: not packed very tightly and not widely spaced. Also, I like the way the black and silver sort of drip into each other.

Sequin dress bought in a charity shop

I cut a 20 x 20 cm square: I like this size as it’s big enough to see what happens and small enough to felt reasonably quickly.  It also leaves enough of the original fabric if you decide you want to make something from it. I laid 2 fairly thick but even layers of black merino on the back and wet felted.

I achieved about 45% shrinkage. I liked the result and started to think about how I could use this fabric – more of which later.

Here’s a second velvet scarf I wanted to have a go with

Unlike my first velvet sample, the background didn’t integrate so readily into the wool, so sat more on the surface. Maybe that was predictable as the background was less sheer but for me it highlights the value of making samples – you can’t really be sure what you’re going to get until you try it. Especially as my charity shop fabrics rarely have labels telling me what they’re made of. I like the texture: maybe this would work well to represent an animal. Shrinkage was about 45%

Sample 4 was a light pink fade-dyed silk scarf with lurex stripes.  I used 2 thin, even layers of natural white merino on the back.

Final sample: from square to rectangle

One of the most striking things was how much more it shrank in one direction than the other (about 45% in one direction, 30% in the other). The ripple of the lurex also gave great texture.

I could have fulled this harder but decided to stop. I wondered whether the uneven shrinkage was just because of the lurex stripes, but looking again at the original fabric I saw that the silk was much more densely woven in the direction of the stripes rather than at right angles to them. When wet felting, the more dense things are, the less they tend to shrink. I think this would make some fabulous fairy wings maybe. Alas I have no call for fairy wings at the moment. Put that on the back burner for a future venture.

Sample 5 is a section of a loosely woven silk fabric with a distinctive pattern.  I wondered what would happen to the motifs.

Shrinkage was 40%. Given it is loosely woven, I was surprised by the amount of ruching. The fibres retained a nice sheen.  I regretted my choice of natural white wool for this one.  I wished I’d used a turquoise blue or maybe tried 2 different colours to test how to show up the silk’s colours. I’ll put this in the samples box and maybe I’ll come back to this another time.

Sample 6 – I found this scarf particularly intriguing. Clearly a woven fabric but no information about the materials.  The weave made the fabric very stretchy but the threads themselves had almost no stretch in them. I thought maybe cotton or linen. Using the same method I went for 2 fairly thin layers of undyed white merino on the back. 

It was a bit tricky to decide how much to stretch out the fabric when laying it out so I ended up with a slightly larger sample than the others. Also, I don’t have an iron in the studio so I wet the particularly creased sections to help flatten them.

Blue woven scarf final sample

Shrinkage was 45%. I really like the texture here.  Maybe I will use this when creating waves / sea water in a future wet felted coastal picture. I could lay it out in wavy lines with dark blue or pewter-coloured wool.

A small aside.  Why do I keep talking about shrinkage? I’ve been felting for over 10 years now but it took me a long time to understand how to full felt properly.  It’s very tempting to stop fulling when you get to about 25% or 30% shrinkage. And for some things, like pictures behind glass, that may be OK. But in my experience, the more you full things the better the quality, strength, appearance and durability of felt.  And the best way of checking how well you’ve fulled or felted something is to aim for a high shrinkage rate. 

Sample 7 – a silk scarf with a dense feather pattern.  I was interested to see what would happen to the pattern when felted. I put silk on both sides, with wool sandwiched in between.

I wasn’t sure about the white wool but think the silk has potential to represent something like lichen in a felt picture or sculpture – maybe using sage green wool. Or maybe marble? I cut this sample into strips to make bookmarks.

OK.  These are the seven samples I made specifically for the Q1 challenge.  The next question for me is ‘so what?’

I’ve included some thoughts on what I could make next with these fabrics. I decided to investigate further the potential of the sequin fabric.  I tried some 3D drop-shaped pieces, using a resist with the sequin fabric inside.  The first has potential for earrings, though I need to think about the earring fixings.  Or maybe part of a neck piece.

The second is a prototype for 2022 Christmas decorations. I think this has potential but I would include more colour and maybe texture in the outside. Also, I must remember to mark the front as I couldn’t tell which side to cut into. It’s difficult to see the scale in the photos – the earrings are 7cm top to bottom and the decoration 11cm.

Here are a couple of fabrics I’ve sampled in the past and how I’ve learned from the samples to make things – in this case plant holders.

This was a loosely knitted shawl.  I made a sample and loved the mossy look of it. In the sample-making process I cut off the ribbed edge and included it in this plant pot holder, to give a textured band.

Here’s another charity shop scarf that I incorporate into plant holders

Final thoughts:

  • re-using, recycling or up-cycling are not just good, eco-friendly ideas but can be really fun and give unique results.
  • small samples are fairly quick to make but give you loads of information about how fabrics will felt or work with other processes
  • making samples is a great way of sparking ideas about future projects
  • make sure you full wet felting really well
  • keep your samples as you never know when the learning and ideas might come in useful

The Q1 challenge is not just about felt-making: it’s about different ways of recycling fabric.  There isn’t a right or wrong answer with samples – just lots of things to learn. Do join in by posting your recycled fabric samples on the forum.

Weeping Birch Landscape Completed

Weeping Birch Landscape Completed

Back in early December, I showed you the beginnings of weeping birch trees that I created out of nunofelt. At that point, I had just started stitching the smaller branches.

Here’s what it looked like at that point.

I added quite a few more branches with couching in a variety of colors to give the mottled appearance of these type of branches.

I decided not to procrastinate with the finishing work, so I chose a “matte” fabric of medium value gray, stitched the nuno felt to the fabric and laced the fabric around matte board. The piece without a frame is 11″ x 18″ approximately. It’s now ready to take to the framers when I have some other pieces completed to go with it.

Here’s a closer look at the hand stitching. You can click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Next up are two more nuno felted pieces that need embellishing.

I think the one on the left will become free motion machine stitched with tree trunks and perhaps more orange leaves in the upper right corner. I am going to try and keep it fairly simple and not overdo the stitching. I want it to stay fairly abstract as landscapes go. The piece on the right may have cone flowers added to it with applique. I haven’t made any final decisions on that one yet. How would you finish these? I’d love to hear your ideas.

The Winners and a Start to a New Landscape

The Winners and a Start to a New Landscape

We had quite a response to our recent tenth anniversary giveaway post with over 175 comments. We’d love to hear from you more often on our regular posts.

The winners were drawn by random number generator and the choice of prize was given on number generated first through last of the 178 comments.

#1 – Kristina wins an online class of her choice.

 Kristina says:

Thank you for the continuous inspiration and sharing so many skills! I’d love to take the Free Motion Machine Stitching on Felt course.

#2 – Linda Prine wins a sari silk pack.

 linda prine says:

If I win, I choose the sari silk. Thanks, Linda Prine

#3 – Cate Lake Thompson wins an online class of her choice. 

 Cate Lake-Thompson says:

Congrats are due for this 10 year anniversary! Wonderful posts!
I would love to learn free motion stichery on felt.
Cate

#4 – Debbie Loveland wins a sari silk pack.

 Debbie Loveland says:

Happy 10th, FFS! I have been enjoying your posts for the last few years. Thank all of you who share your talent. I wish FFS continued success! I would love to win one of the classes. Print, Stencil and Play with Thickened Dye on Felt looks particularly interesting.

#5 – Shoshana Avramovitz wins a sari silk pack.

 Shoshana Avramovitz says:

Congrats on ten years Ruth!!!
Your posts are always such I highlight for me I so appreciate you 💕
I would love the Sari silk as I have been inspired by your work, to try new things:)
Hope to be here with you for the next ten years
Hugs Shoshana 🤗

Congratulations to all of the winners. We will contact you directly by email to get your information and send your prize.

Now on to what I have been working on. The photo on the left shows one of the nuno backgrounds that I made a while ago that has been waiting for further embellishment. I decided I wanted to use the photo on the right of weeping birch as inspiration. Now to find some fabric that I could applique to the background. I went through my entire stash and found absolutely nothing that would work. What to do? Then I was looking through the silk that I use for nuno felting and realized that I still had a piece of the same fabric. The original background was felted on to black prefelt. What if I used the same fabric and felted it on to white prefelt? That should give me trees that would work with the background but still have enough difference that the trees would stand out. I considered covering a larger piece of prefelt with the silk and then cutting the trees out after felting. But what if I cut the prefelt into tree shapes and then covered with the silk fabric and felted? A new experiment in felting to try!

I cut out the trees free hand, hoping for the best. Isn’t the difference in the background to the original fabric astonishing? The black wool really migrates through and changes the colors and values. The photo on the right shows how I cut the silk to “fit” the tree shapes. I left a border of silk to wrap around to the back side of the prefelt.

I then began felting the silk into the prefelt trees. I did rough up the prefelt a bit with a brush to get good migration of wool through the silk. I did quite a bit of rubbing and minimal fulling. I had given myself a bit of extra room for shrinkage, but not enough for complete fulling. since this is a piece of wall art, I wasn’t worried about the trees not being completely fulled. They just needed to hold together enough for me to stitch them down once dry.

The photo on the left shows the felted trees laying on the background. They have been appliqued down in the right photo. I used a medium value tan thread and the tiny stitches are hardly visible. I have also started adding a couched branch on the right hand tree. This is as far as I have gotten so far.

Here’s a closer look at the stitched branches. There will be more of this type of branch added to the left hand tree as well. I used bullion stitch to make the little seed poddy things at the end of the branches. I will probably add a few more thread colors to the branch.

I haven’t decided yet whether the trees are too much of a contrast from the background. I am considering adding some shading with grey on one side of the tree trunks for shadows most likely done with paint. I am going to add more small branches before I decide. What do you think?

 

Recycling, upcycling…..and how one thing leads to another

Recycling, upcycling…..and how one thing leads to another

It’s that time of year when there are lots of Christmas fairs coming up & I need to make some festive items. 

Recently, I picked up some Christmas-themed small wooden blanks (for tree decorations, or maybe gift tags) very cheaply in a charity shop. I started doodling on them with acrylic pens and found I was enjoying myself – it made me think about the recent popularity of adult colouring books.  Good for mindfulness.

Some examples of the painted blanks – there was quite a variety of shapes.

I know these aren’t fibre-related but it set me off thinking about doing something similar with felt. I bought some bauble-shaped wooden blanks online and after colouring a few in (colouring in is a little addictive) …..

 Some of the painted baubles

….. I decided to make a sheet of white felt, decorated with bits of vintage lace, old tatting and shadow-work embroidery, all bought in charity shops. I have a box full of old strips of hand and machine made ‘lace’, old dressing table doilies, bits of fine crochet….anything I think might felt. I thought this was an ideal opportunity to do some creative up-cycling. 

 

As I was making the felt it struck me that I have lots of handmade felt off-cuts, test pieces and samples that I could use in a similar way. A good opportunity to recycle work and release a little studio space. To continue my recycling theme, I even used charity-shop-bought crochet cotton for the hanging strings. 

These were cut from square samples I made during Fiona Duthie’s Ink + Felt class

 

Left, some more ink + cloth samples. Right, samples I made for my ‘hippie’ bag earlier this year

Left photo: Top left a nuno sample I made using recycled linen; the others were off-cuts from other projects

Right photo – the yellow was a coaster I made with coloured yarn; the green and pink are nuno samples, the blue is an example of paper felt with some acrylic pen

Finally, I painted some of the wooden bauble-shapes white, and married them with a broad strip of black vintage lace. 

So, the chance purchase of second-hand wooden blanks led me to upcycling vintage textiles and recycling some of my own felt off-cuts and samples. I love seeking out and using second-hand materials, especially small hand made things, usually made by women, that tend to be disregarded by many people. Often they are from something that has worn out, like a pillow case, or is rarely now used, like dressing table sets or antimacassars.

I have one particular piece of embroidery on fine silk that I couldn’t bring myself to use. The work is so fine I endlessly marvel at the skills of the woman who made it. It’s so intricate and beautiful with such tiny stitches it makes me feel slightly sad.  I bought it in a charity shop for £2. To me it’s a disregarded masterpiece.

Silk and embroidery (hand / finger included for scale)

The silk is starting to disintegrate and I’m really not sure what to do with it. Any suggestions? 

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