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Category: Nuno Felting

Late Bloomers Finished?

Late Bloomers Finished?

I had showed you this background a couple of post ago and was planning on free motion machine stitching a meadow scene.

I started with some background grasses in a couple of rows. If I do this again, I think I would stitch only one row and make the grasses longer.

Then I began couching down some different yarns with machine stitching.

I decided I should go ahead and stitch in the main focal flowers now so I wouldn’t fill up their space with grass. I couched down the green yarn for stems and then stitched heavily over a piece of purple felt for the flowers.

I decided the piece needed some more skinnier lines and some darker values. So I stitched the weedy bits in dark brown. These would have been easier if they were stitched before the larger grasses.

I then added some dark green weedy bits to the left hand side and couched some lighter green yarn down across the foreground. As you can see, I started looking at the piece in a “frame” since that was how it would be presented. What else did I need?

I decided the flowers needed some leaves so I used more of the same green yarn and pulled it apart a bit to get more width for the leaves. Was it finished? There was something bothering me on the right hand side. Do you see the brown grasses forming an ellipse? It seemed to draw my eye too much. So a bit of unstitching was necessary.

Now here it is after a bit of grass removal. Is it finished? I will leave it hanging on my design board for a few days to decide. I think I will add a bit of darkness to a couple of stems just right of center. Probably with a marker or a bit of paint.

What do you think? Is it finished?

Coastal Felted Pictures

Coastal Felted Pictures

I had a few weeks of sales / exhibitions coming up and was rather low on felt pictures so I decided to go on a little picture-making binge.

First an oystercatcher. I’m particularly keen on square pictures but I know some people prefer rectangles, so last time I had a batch of box frames made for me by my friendly local framer, I ordered four large rectangular frames – two finished in oak & two white wood. (Frame size 84 x 64cm / 33 x 25”)

I’m afraid I didn’t take many ‘in progress’ shots of the oystercatcher.  I’d wet felted the bird’s body a little while ago. I then wet felted the background to fit the frame using a variety of pebble-coloured prefelts for the foreground, some incorporating bits of recycled silk scarves. The waves are merino wool with lots of small locks and some sort of tube of knitted yarn designed for scarf-making that I’d picked up in a charity shop.  The patches of sea foam are bits of cobweb prefelt and I also included some blue cobweb prefelt to suggest light reflected from the sky. These were added to two base layers of pewter-coloured merino with additions in green and mink.

I needle felted the bird into place then needle felted in the eye, beak and legs, using orange prefelt and hand-dyed fine merino wool.

I wasn’t sure what I’d put on the right-hand side of the picture.  I’d considered a second oystercatcher with its back to the sea but there wasn’t really enough room.  I live in Whitstable, in south east England – a town famous since Roman Empire times for its oysters – so thought oyster shells might work well for an oystercatcher.  I wet felted a pair of 3D oyster shells using bits of different recycled wool and silk yarn on the outside and some pearl fibre from World of Wool on the inside.  I like the pearl fibre as it adds a sheen and is presumably made from the insides of shells (i.e. mother-of-pearl) so it seemed appropriate.

I thought it needed another shell so cast about in my stock and found a wet felted mussel shell to add to the collection.  I messed around with the composition a little then needle felted them into place before framing. I now use sticky backed hook strips (like the hook half of Velcro) when framing felt – the hook strip attaches to the mount board and the felt is held in place by the little hooks. The felt can easily be removed without damage or residue if I need to move it or someone decides to reframe it.

Next up I made a very lightly felted cobweb prefelt to use in the next three pictures.

When making cobweb felt I tease out a piece of wool roving rather than laying out separate tufts of wool in a single direction. This is part way through the teasing-out process. I prefelt it very lightly – in fact it’s scarcely more than wet wool – so I can stretch it out as I apply it to a picture.

I then started on Summer Sea. Again a pewter-coloured merino base but with lots of other colours applied in wisps on the surface.

Then a layer of blue cobweb prefelt topped with some white cobweb.

Here’s the final picture ready for framing. I’m happy with this, even though the wisps of colour aren’t quite as visible as I’d have liked.  (64cm / 25” square)

Next picture is a single wave. I start with 4 layers of pewter merino for the sea area and two layers of natural white for the wave and beach.  In the past I’ve forgotten to take into account how much extra material goes onto the wave and beach. If I have 2 layers for the whole of the base, the sea part shrinks a lot more than the rest.

First I added some lighter grey/blue merino on the sea alongside some strips of darker blue cobweb prefelt. Then some cobweb prefelt in front of the wave to suggest water from a previous wave. Next I layered on broken baby alpaca top, mohair, silk hankies, wool locks and wool burrs to create the wave itself. I’ve also put a few strands of silk on top of some of the background waves and the wet-look front area to create sea foam.

Here it is from the side so you can see how high that wave is piled!

And here is the final picture.  I spent a while when it was dry picking up some of the wave elements with a broken felting needle to enhance the 3 dimensionality of the wave before framing it. (64cm / 25” square.)

4th and final picture was a smaller one (framed size 43cm / 17” square) called ‘Choppy Sea’.  Base layout is pewter with highlights in green and mink, with sections of blue cobweb prefelt and silk hankies for wave tops.

Here it’s felted and dry, sitting on top of its frame waiting to go in.

Again, I’ve used a broken felting needle to tease up the silk hankies that make the wave edges to enhance the depth.  And here is a view from a low angle to show the 3D.

So, that’s how I’ve been keeping myself busy recently.

To end with, a few shots of these pictures in situ in a gallery.

These pieces didn’t sell in this week-long exhibition but some older work did – which is a great result for me. I like to live a while with the new pictures so we get to know each other but prefer older things not to hang around for too long! However, the last week and a half I’ve been in the beach hut gallery in my local harbour and yesterday both the oystercatcher and the single wave found new homes, which made me do a couple of very happy ‘shop small’ dances.

If you sell your work do you also get that ‘I’m not ready to let it go’ versus – ‘ok, you need to find somewhere else to live’ feeling?

Small Autumn Meadow Piece

Small Autumn Meadow Piece

I have been thinking about creating a meadow themed landscape for a while so I decided to do a smaller piece (about 8″ x 10″) to try out some different ideas.

I found a nice background from my stash, that is nuno felted and has an upper plain felt portion. The only problem was it wasn’t 8″ wide. I want to be able to frame this piece with a standard frame so that it doesn’t have to have a custom frame. Looking through my boxes of felt pieces, I found the upper darker blue piece that would add enough to the total to get to 8″ in height. I think it is a screen printed piece but I really can’t remember. Some of the stuff in my stash is really old and needs to be used up.

Now to connect them together. The simplest plan was to needle felt them together. I made the light blue felt uneven by cutting it as I didn’t want to see a straight line working it’s way through. Then I needle felted the two together and this is the result.

Next, I looked through my many boxes of yarn bits. These are the ones that I decided to try. I want the scene to look like autumn grasses and seed heads. Some of the choices didn’t get used but now I needed to sample them and see how I wanted the stitching to look.

Luckily, I have more of the nuno background to use as a sample. This piece is about 3″ x 6″ as I only wanted to try out the different colors and practice a little free motion machine embroidery before I started on the main piece. I did put a thin interfacing on the back to stabilize the felt. I like most of these ideas for grasses and seed heads except for the one that looks almost white. I think I will skip using that one. The purple one on the far end is a small piece of purple felt that I stitched down with a lighter thread color. I’m only going to have a few flowers that are still blooming in this piece. The tentative name at this point is “Late Bloomers”. Hopefully, I will finish this before my next post.

The First Leaf – Nuno Felt Landscape

The First Leaf – Nuno Felt Landscape

Before I get started on my new nuno felted landscape, I wanted to share the changes that I made to First Light, which I posted about several weeks ago.

This is what it looked like on the last post. I had a comment from Ann B. that it lacked shadows. I had hemmed and hawed about adding shadows. I had convinced myself that the marks on the background could serve as shadows as it was a bit abstract. But the more I thought about it, the more I agreed with Ann that it was lacking something. So I decided I would audition shadows with sheer fabric. And once I saw it, I knew the shadows were necessary. How could I call it First Light if I ignored the shadows?

And here it is after adding shadows. What do you think? Better or worse? I would suggest that you don’t rush whether a piece is finished or not. It was a bit of a challenge stitching the shadows down after the piece was already laced to backing board 😉

Now on to this piece. It definitely had beautiful autumn colors, so I decided I would add some silver birch trees with their fall leaf color. You will notice that I turned this around so the darker area was closer to the top of the piece.

I cut out some tree trunks from silk paper that I had made a while ago in preparation for trees. I hand stitched these in place.

Then I added some branches so the leaves would have somewhere to live.

Next up, I needed some background foliage. I didn’t want it to be too dominant but just needed some texture. I decided to use nylon organza and then burn it back with a wood burning tool to give it a leafy feel. Then I stitched it in place. You can click on the photo to enlarge it so you can see the details better.

Next up was to cut out a bunch of leaf shapes in two colors of silk organza. I hand stitched these in place but the leaves were still too transparent and weren’t giving the effect I wanted to achieve.

I looked through my stash and had this bright yellow in silk habotai. That would perfect from a more opaque leaf. Once cut out, these leaves were stitched down. The photos above show the progression from left to right. Then, I put the piece up on the wall and studied it. That leaning tree trunk on the far left was bugging me. I didn’t like that it took your eye off the edge and it matched the same lean as the tree towards the middle. So I did a bit of unstitching and removed it.

So here is The First Leaf. I haven’t found the correct background fabric for it yet so I will have to go shopping for that. But that gives me a bit more time for it to hang in the studio and make sure that it is really finished!

 

First Light – Nuno Landscape

First Light – Nuno Landscape

This is the nuno background I showed a while back. Surprise, surprise, I created another landscape!

I started by adding some yellow orange sheer fabric to indicate the sky and then started auditioning trees cut from dyed silk organza. The trees went through many forms as I went along auditioning colors, sizes and placement.

I began making the foreground trees darker and the background trees lighter. It felt like the sun was coming from behind the hill. So I continued to emphasize that light perspective as I went along.

I was getting closer, adding more shadows and light.

Then I decided that the ground felt too light in the foreground. So I auditioned some sheer scarves in this area. These are light nylon scarves, you can see the edge hasn’t been removed here. Once the edge is cut off, the scarf can be easily frayed to blend into the background. Then on to stitching everything down.

Here’s the piece after I finished hand stitching the applique pieces in place for the trees. I also use a very small seed stitch to stitch down the sheer scarf pieces.

I decided I need something more in the foreground. The darker marks in the middle foreground reminded me of these plants. I think these are a type of wild orchid. This is a photo I took on one of my morning walks in the woods.

Here are the foreground plants. They are a combination of torn black tulle, couched yarns and pistol stitch in perle cottons.

I felt that the bottom of the orchids was a missing something so I added in some grasses which were couched down.

Here is the final piece on it’s fabric background. I have decided to call it First Light. The coloring in this last photo is the closest to the original. Now all it needs is framing.

 

 

Learning to print on (wet) felt

Learning to print on (wet) felt

I’m learning to print onto felt so I thought I’d show you some work in progress.  I’m following Lindsey Tyson’s course ‘Transfer Printing onto Felt and other Fabrics’ so I’m focusing here on what I’ve made rather than how. Lindsey’s been printing on felt for some years and has developed her own techniques. She’s now moving away from felt-making and printing to focus on painting so has produced a comprehensive course to share her expertise. I first saw her work a few years ago and have been really intrigued ever since to know how she produces such lovely images on felt.

I do quite a lot of sales and exhibitions in my local area. I’ve long thought I’d like to develop some smaller decorative items I can make relatively quickly and so sell at a lower price than some of my other work (because it’s more time-consuming).  I thought printing might provide an opportunity to do this.

I hummed and hawed for some time before signing up as it involves quite a big investment – not only in the course itself but also in equipment, software, space (for the equipment) and time.  I’ve just had a milestone birthday and as my mother wanted to give me a milestone gift, I decided that this was it.  I do love learning new skills and developing ideas so I was pretty sure I’d love the course.  Thank you Mum!

My first venture was to source some free online images (this is covered in the course) and, along with a little oyster shell sketch I drew, prepare them for printing and print some samples onto scraps of felt.

Small test pieces

I was pretty pleased with the results. However, some of the prints had a rather plastic feel and very visible edge.

Lindsey was very helpful with her suggestions on how to improve – including highlighting that I’d overlooked one of the steps when using the paper I’d chosen, doh! That is now largely resolved though I’m still wrestling with myself about whether I should buy a new printer as I have an inkjet and apparently laser prints work better.

I made a little tea light holder cover using some commercial prefelt. I’ve never used bought prefelt before (I’ve always made my own) and although it produced a very lovely fine felt, I also managed to create a line in the cover where the sheet of prefelt joined that I wasn’t happy with.

I now know (from the course) that there’s a way round this but I’ve decided for the time being to stick with making my own felt from scratch rather than introducing new variables.

The course covers, in a lot of detail, how to design and manipulate images. It includes tutorials on using free software as well as paid-for software like Photoshop. I decided to buy Photoshop Elements ( a basic form of Photoshop with a one-off purchase rather than a monthly subscription). I have to admit I have not taken to it like a duck to water! Some of that is doubtless me (remember that milestone birthday!) but I’ve seen lots of reviews that agree that it’s not very intuitive and so not particularly easy to learn to use. Fate intervened with (as far as I know) my first dose of Covid-19 during which I confined myself entirely to staying at home for 5 days (as per our current guidance) and until I tested negative. After the first couple of days I started to feel better so decided this was my time to make Photoshop Elements work for me.  In spite of sometimes getting very frustrated, I actually quite enjoyed the learning and have to be impressed with the things I can now do with it (however slowly) let alone all the things it can do that I can’t yet.  There are some really good free YouTube tutorials too, which helped, and I have certainly put in the hours. Many, many hours.

Back to the felt-making.  I made two more little tea light covers – one from 2 fine layers and one from 4 fine layers of 21 micron natural (undyed) merino. I wanted to see how they’d look with a lit tealight inside. Surprisingly they were both OK.

By then I’d thought of using my own felted bird images which I expertly (!) extracted from their backgrounds. I like the redshank and curlew as they both have feet.  Often my felt pictures have birds (like the avocet) whose feet are in water or behind pebbles – both because that’s how I saw the wild birds they’re based on and because I find felting bird feet quite hard!

I then tried out 18.5 mic undyed merino and decided this was what I’d use as it has a lovely smooth surface, light colour and a fine translucent appearance. Perfect both for printing and for tea lights.

I started to dig into my vast collection of charity-shop-bought silk scarves and added silk strips to the lower part of the designs. This was partly because lit tea lights’ metal cases cast a shadow at the base of the cover (see the lit one above), partly because it adds to the decoration and partly because it can ‘ground’ the images – i.e. give those birds’ feet something to walk on.  Oh, it also eases my conscience about quite how many second-hand silk scarves I own.

Redshank with recycled grey silk scarf strip

And so here are some more of the results.  I’ve printed a design on the front and the back (apart from the one with a flock of birds – that goes all the way round). They also look nice as plant holders, ‘thought they’re not quite the right proportions for most plant pots so I have to add some small pebbles to the bottom of the glass container if I want to show them as plant holders.

Herons

Some of them are free images I’ve found on the internet; some are from my own large felted pictures and one (the honesty seed pods) is from photos I’ve taken of the seed pods and worked on in Photoshop Elements to create a composite picture.

And here are the first 6 I put in the gallery shop at Creek Creative in Faversham (it’s a gallery, café, shop and studios where I rent my studio), just over a week ago. Inside each there are comprehensive warnings about lit tea lights, some felt care instructions and the name of the image.

First shop display at Creek Creative

The redshank on the left sold within a few days – I don’t know about the others yet.

I’ve also made some cards – initially to use up all the little test prints….

Square cards made using test samples

…..and then some I made specifically to become cards

Long cards

And finally a couple of bigger purpose-made plant pots with metal pots inside, using 21 mic merino in green and white.

Next steps? I’m looking forward to a couple of in-person sales / exhibitions I have coming up so I can gauge people’s reactions. I will keep building a stock of tealight holders, plant pots and cards and developing new images so I have plenty of both stock and variety.  I will keep extending my knowledge and skills in both printing on felt and using Photoshop.  And I will definitely keep working through Lindsey’s excellent course and drawing on her extensive and generous one-to-one and group support to help me on my way.

Here’s a link to a promotional video for Lindsey’s course, in case you want to check it out.

Two Nuno Backgrounds

Two Nuno Backgrounds

After putting my work in two different galleries, I felt a moment of panic because I have no more artwork that would be ready to go if anything sold. Better get to work!

I still had more of this dyed silk that I used for the Weeping Birch piece.

This is the fabric after I nuno felted it to black pre felt for the weeping birch piece. I had some red prefelt of the correct size so I decided to see what the fabric would look like with a red wool base.

Here is the piece after felting. It definitely has a different feel than with the black wool. Now to decide how I should move forward with this piece. What do you see? It’s always so interesting to hear what different people see in the same background.

 

This is the nuno background that I used for Summer Fireworks. It was felted on to white pre felt. Since I was already using the red prefelt, I decided to back the dyed silk from the same piece of fabric with red pre felt. How different would it look?

Here is the silk fabric nuno felted on to red wool.  I see trees and bushes at the top of this with perhaps grasses or flowers at the bottom? Or maybe roots and the underground at the bottom? I will show you my progress as I get further along in the process.

I definitely enjoyed seeing the difference that the pre felt wool color makes in the end nuno felted result. I will have to try out more colors when I get the chance.

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″.

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