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Started but not Finished

Started but not Finished

At the moment I seem to be really squeezed for time. I have managed to start 3 small things

First I wanted to do another vase cover. I used a bat that was made on a blending board. I pealed a thin layer and then filled in the holes. I like the autumn colours.

 

That is as far as that got.

Next, I wanted a little bigger landscape I could needle felt and stitch on, so cut a 5×7 inch piece of the soft thick prefelt to use.

 

 

I wrapped the wool around the piece so there won’t be grey edges.

And that’s as far as that one got. I have it rolled up with the vase cover so they can be rolled at the same time.

Then, oh my I still have a few min. I had some well-fulled wool fabric a friend gave to me. I think it used to be a coat. I cut out a small piece and brushed up one side with my wire dog brush to see if it will stick together well with wet felting.  Then added some fibre

The difference is hard to see. the left is the unbrushed side and the right is the brushed side.

I had intended to just add 2 colours and felt it to use for trying out stitching on the new water-soluble stabilizer I ordered. But before I realized it I had made another landscape. Oh well, that’s ok, I will have to try again to make some practice pieces.

That is as far as I got with that one. I will probably wet it and add it to the other roll and then do them all at once. Maybe next week I will have them felted. With this time of year being very busy for me, it makes it hard to get some felting in. I try to get some in every week so I can share with all our friends and followers.

 

 

 

Theatre Textiles Part 1

Theatre Textiles Part 1

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

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

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

Disreputable Tom Cat

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

“Sketch” for Buttons’ Dog

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

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

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

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

Beau

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

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

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

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

Guests at the Ball with “perfume”!

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

The Exchange Brochure 2008

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

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

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

My Second Poker Challenge: Felting.

My Second Poker Challenge: Felting.

Last time I showed you my spinning poker challenge. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/07/26/spinning-poker-challenge/ This time it’s the felting poker challenge

In case you didn’t see it the idea is you pick a card from felting four different category card decks. With felting wool is a given.

My picks are:

Fibre: use thread or fine yarn

Colour: use cool colours

Structure/Technique: needle felting

Other: No Larger Than An Index Card ( 3inches by 5inches, 7.5cm by 12.5 cm)

This one took me a while to figure out. I kept thinking of a cold picture even though I do know cool colours doesn’t mean a cold picture. I don’t usually do needle-felt pictures I usually wet felt and then do a little needling and stitching. I am glad it’s only a small piece.

To start I cut the right size piece of prefelt for the base. I got this to try out From Monica of The Olive Sparrow. I have to say so far it is very nice to use. It’s quite thick and nice to needle into, not too hard and not too soft. Just like baby bears bed.

          

 

Next, I picked my colours for a nice scene. Most of it is merino except the two-tone green. It is corriedale.

 

Laying it out. and tacking it all down. I wanted sky and water and a clifftop.

 

The sky and sea are blending together. I went online and had a look at some sea and sky pictures. There seems to be a definite dark line where they meet but when I added it to the picture, it looked odd. I decided to pop an island in.

That looks better but it looks lonely so I added another one and greyed them out a bit to make them look a little farther away.

That is where it stands now. You will notice there are no threads or fine yarns. That will be next. I will probably add some grasses and flowers to the foreground with stitching and maybe a tiny lighthouse on the rock. I am not sure yet what I want to do.

Giveaway Winner and Another Little Bag

Giveaway Winner and Another Little Bag

 

First, the part everyone wants to know, who won the Custom Fibre Chest. The winner is Karen Cantwell. Congratulations, I am sure you will enjoy your basket of goodies. For everyone else get a Free goody bag if you place an order this month. Just mention you saw it on the Felting and Fiber Studio Blog. 

 

And now the less exciting part,

I decided to make another little bag to keep things in my basket organized. I am going to use some thick prefelt I have. The nice thing about the thick felt is you can split it and cut away a layer so you can overlap the edges and not have a thick seam.

Here’s the layout ready to wrap around. I use a felting needle to keep it all in place before wetting.

I thought it would make it more versatile if it had a little loop so it could be attached to something if I wanted to use it somewhere else, maybe attached to my sketchbook. to add it I used the offcuts from pealing the prefelt and some of the yarn I am using to decorate it. It’s handspun wool and silk. This is the back with the loop wrapped up so it won’t stick down. I needled the ends of the yarn down.

And this is the front. I may embellish it after it’s felted. I will see what it looks like. It looks very blank at the top but I will be cutting that later to make a foldover flap.

 

It felted down really well and you can’t see where the joins were. The join is right down the middle top to bottom.

I added the pen for size and a little piece of white felt so you can see where the opening is. It didn’t show with the black on black. I will probably add a magnetic closure if I have a small enough one. If not I will add a snap.

 

I love the way this yarn worked. This yarn is handspun. it’d shredded sari silk and wool. I don’t remember spinning this but looking at it I think it must be mine. Firstly it is a very small amount and I typically do this. The other is how it’s plyed. It looks like it sat in a center-pull ball or on a spindle a long time before plying. When you do that the yarn sets and when you ply it, it doesn’t really look right until you wet finish it to give the yarn back its spin energy.  I almost never bother to wet finish my yarn because I won’t be knitting with it. Essentially I’m lazy about it, what can I say?

I didn’t look at this too closely before using it, I just liked the colours and thought they would look good on both the black and grey. Now looking at it after felting I suspect ( I would have to go look to be sure) that it was plyed in the wrong direction. I plyed it in the same direction as the spin so added more energy rather than plying in the opposite direction, removing energy and balancing the yarn. If you look at the yarn now you will notice it sometimes looks like two parallel yarns and sometimes one wrap around the other and that seems to be happening in the same direction as the single yarn.  It didn’t just all unravel because I have tacked down at both ends.

It is another fun thing about making your own yarn. You can do some cool stuff on purpose or by accident. It fun, you should try it. It’s all the same supplies you already have. You just need a cheap drop spindle. You can even have lots of them, cheap and expensive and still not be in as deep as one spinning wheel.

 

 

 

3D Felt Landscape

3D Felt Landscape

I sold three of my landscape pieces in March and I need to get more down to the gallery shop soon. So I took five pieces to be framed and I needed to make a few smaller pieces to go in ready made frames. The first one was easy, I made a replica of the holiday exchange card of winter time birch trees. I wrote a post about creating it here.

Here’s the second version. I forgot that I had used two layers of prefelt for the birch trees so they weren’t as white this time. But to me, it just makes it look colder!

Then I needed another idea. I have been watching some artist spotlight videos on the Youtube channel Fibre Arts Take Two and had seen one about the felt maker Kristy Kun. There were several short segments in the video that showed a bit about her process which looked interesting.

Then I walked by this small piece in our living room that I created in Level 3 Art and Design. It’s made with paint, gel medium and cardboard. Perhaps I could recreate this design in felt? And I could attempt some three dimensional felt on the horizon line with a similar method to the video I had just watched.

I first laid out wool in similar colors as the original. I should have noticed at this point that the horizon line was too close to the center vertically but I missed that.

Then I laid out some strips of the dark red and black mixed together in different sizes.

Then I began felting. I only wanted to go to the prefelt stage with both of these elements. The red bits reminded me of bacon the entire time I was felting.

The strips seemed too wide for what I had in mind, so I folded them in half lengthwise and ironed them. Once I figured out what I wanted the arrangement to look like, I began stitching them in place. I used a thread that would blend in so I wouldn’t need to take it out.

Suddenly, I remembered that I was supposed to needle felt these in place before stitching. No worries, I went ahead and needle felted the already stitched pieces and kept going.  Once everything was in place, I felted everything together. I spent a lot of time rubbing the strips in place and making sure that they were holding on to the background felt. I even tried a little underwater felting as I had seen in the video.

Here is the end result. I am happy with how it came out and it is well attached between the strips and the background. It didn’t shrink down as much as I wanted so I will need to find a bit larger frame for it. And I might remove a bit of the bottom to make the horizon line a bit lower. It was a fun experiment and hopefully, someone will love it and take it home.

Post edited to add final photo.

Here is the final photo of the piece in it’s frame. I did trim a bit off the bottom to change the horizon line a little. The frame is 8″ x 10″.

Soon to be leaves; purpose made prefelt

Soon to be leaves; purpose made prefelt

If you remember I started to work on a new cowl design for maybe teaching or maybe selling but at least one for myself. here the blog if you missed it or want to remind yourself. https://wp.me/p1WEqk-9Ha

Sorry to disappoint but it still isn’t finished. I did decide I wanted to put some autumn leaves on it so I made some prefelt to cut them out of. I started with green, I want it to be in the middle. I was thinking of having a little green showing at the edges might look nice.

then I added some reds orange and golden yellow. I did it in an odd pattern so I could cut out leaves that were not all one colour. The pictures are not great. No matter what I did they looked blurry. I think it’s too much light bouncing off the fibres it just can’t focus.

I flipped it over and laid out to “match” the other side. The green is thin so it wasn’t hard to see the colours through it.

Next, I got out my silk top and my silk hankies and put some on both sides to give it some shine. I tried to get pictures of it but it doesn’t show at all.

This is the finished piece. You can see the silk now.

There is only one more regular market day, this Saturday and then I get a break until the Christmas markets on Nov. 21 and 28. I plan to get the cowl done and to make some baskets to sell. So, fingers crossed, more to come.

 

This and that.

This and that.

I haven’t done much this week but I did decide to do some stitching on one of the circles I made earlier for the jewelry challenge. Seeing Antje’s post reminded me I had made a few stitching blanks. this one is just over 2.5 inches/7cm. I don’t think mine is quite as artistic but it was fun to do with the bright threads.

Next, I thought I would like to do something a little more 3D. I have a box of stretched silk hankies and bits of silk hankies left over from other felting.

I stretched out some circles from bits to make the flower bases.

And a bigger blog of pieces for leaves.

I added some wool.

And then some more silk hanky bits.

I rubbed them all and then I decided to roll them up and pop them in the dryer while I made a few small landscape blanks for stitching. I cut out some prefelt and added the sky and grass. They went into the dryer too and then it was time to feed the bottle lambs and head of to work.

Next week is our school break so I am hoping to get some felting time in.

Holiday Card

Holiday Card

Now that my partner has finally received her card I can tell you about it.

First I made a background using some prefelt and added some northern lights. I then wet felted it all together. they are not felted hard because it is small and is an art piece.

Next, I added the trees along the far hill and a nice big evergreen and a barn using prefelt again.

I added some snow to the tree and added some definition to the barn. I also added the fence wire using perspective so I could add the posts along the right line.

Then came the fence posts and some shading for the snow-covered ground.

and finally I added the sheep( I bet you are not surprised that I added sheep) and trimmed the northern lights so I could turn it into a card. I always do my card as a postcard so they can easily be framed if someone wants to. I just print off a postcard back from the internet and iron it onto the back with a fusible web. I was in a hurry to get it in the mail at that point and didn’t get a picture.

I made a second one at the same time. I like to have 2 to choose from when sending a card. This one I kept. I will frame it. I haven’t decided if I will keep the northern lights projecting over the mat board or trim them off as I did in the one I sent.

I wish I had a better picture for you but I have put it someplace safe and now I can’t find it. I am sure I will come across it when I am looking for something else.

Plaited felt vessel

Plaited felt vessel

This is a guest post by Kim Winter of Flextiles.

In September I started a two-year part -time basketry course at City Lit, which is an adult education institute in London. Although it’s only one day a week in college, there’s at least another day’s worth of homework, so it’s quite intense. But I am enjoying it immensely.

Plaited paper vessel

In the first half of the term we focused on plaiting, mainly with strips of watercolour paper. In the second half of the term we moved on to willow, which was much harder on the hands! You can read more about either of these subjects on my blog if you’re interested.

Stiff paper or card is ideal for plaiting, as you can get nice sharp edges and the structure retains its shape. But I like messing about with different materials, so I wondered what would happen if I plaited strips of prefelt and then felted them afterwards. How would shrinkage affect the overall shape and pattern?

If you don’t know how to make a bias weave plaited basket, there are some good instructions here. I don’t usually twine around the base as shown here – I just use pegs! – but otherwise the method is the same.

I used commercial prefelt for this experiment, in two colours. The white prefelt was merino wool, while the grey prefelt was Gotland. Gotland has a sturdier finish than the merino, but in my experience they have slightly different shrinkage rates, so that was another thing to throw into the mix! 🙂

I cut six strips of each colour and then wove them together to make a squarish 6 x 6 base. I pinned them together as I went along, and when all 12 strips were in place I then stitched horizontally and vertically. I did a couple of back stitches at the beginning and end to secure the threads but left the ends long so I could use them to continue stitching up the sides.

Prefelt strips woven and pinned together

Prefelt strips stitched together

(Apologies for the quality of some of these photos, but they were taken in artificial light, as the days are so short at this time of year!)

Once the base was stitched, I started weaving the sides by overlapping the central two strips on each side and then continuing to weave under and over the adjacent strips. I pinned and stitched as I went along.

Weaving and stitching the sides

This is what the piece looked like after I had woven the sides and cut off the excess felt.

Normally with plaited baskets you have to make a border by tucking the ends in or stitching a band around the edge. The advantage of felt, of course, is that it is self-sealing as the fibres mesh together, so I planned to finish just by trimming the edge after felting.

Once the weaving was complete, the felting could begin. I wetted the piece down, rubbed with soap, and started gently rubbing it all over, turning it inside out to make sure that both sides were felted.

I had to keep opening it up and turning it around during the rubbing phase to make sure the sides didn’t stick together (I could have used a plastic resist but didn’t bother, as I never rubbed for too long in one position).

The prefelt strips felted together fairly quickly, but despite the care I took when rubbing, holes started to appear at some of the intersections. So when the piece was partially felted I did some more stitching to ensure that there were no holes. I’m afraid I didn’t take any photos of this as it was quite dark by this stage!

This is what the piece looked like after felting and fulling.

I was tempted to leave the felted ends on, as they gave quite an organic feel, but in the end I trimmed them off, and rolled the piece some more to seal the cuts.

I also initially thought I might leave the stitching in, as I liked the marks and texture it added. But when I took out the stitching on one side for comparison, I felt that it distracted from the subtlety of the pattern, so I ended up taking it all out!

The inside and the outside have different patterns due to the weaving, but during felting some of the fibres have migrated through, so you can get an idea of what colour is on the other side.

Scaled up and turned upside down, I also thought this could make a good flowerpot hat – I can see Audrey Hepburn wearing something like this, can’t you? 🙂

So it is possible to plait with felt, though it is rather fiddly and time consuming. The forms are softer and more rounded, and you get a subtle idea of the pattern on the other side.

Thank you for reading, and I wish you all a very happy and creative 2020!

Influencing Shape with Prefelt

Influencing Shape with Prefelt

I’m continuing on with some experimentation on how three-dimensional shape in felt is influenced by different factors. This time, I am using a resist with a layer of prefelt which is cut in a certain manner and then added to a thin layer of laid wool over the same resist. The differential shrinkage of the two layers creates the shape. I learned of this technique from several discussions on the forum that we had about creating sea shell shapes.  One of our members suggested that we look at this blog: www.parallelfunk.de/ She has a series of photos of the steps that I will go through below. Scroll down on her blog to find the relevant blog posts.

I decided to try a seed pod type of shape instead of a shell. The first step is to make a fairly thick prefelt. I decided to use a green batt that I had made some time ago.

The batt was actually really thick so I pulled it apart into two layers. I ended up using only one layer so I have enough to try a different shape. I used a small circle of floor under layment for the resist.

I covered the resist with pulled apart batt in a radial fashion. I wanted the embellishments to run the correct way on the finished pod. You will see how this works when I cut the prefelt off the resist. I wet down the wool, flipped it over to the other side and folded the ends in. Then I covered the other side with wool in the same way. I used two layers of wool on both sides of the resist.

Here is the covered resist ready to felt. I felted in my usual fashion by rubbing with soapy hands. I generally don’t cover the felt with anything except when I wet down I use a sheer nylon curtain just to hold everything in place. We do get quite a few questions of how to avoid a ridge at the edge of the resist. I avoid this by not rolling. I also carefully rub the felt so it pulls the felt inward against the edge of the resist and doesn’t felt against itself. Wool has a tendency to spread out when wet down. This causes the edges not to be pulled tight against the resist. I counteract that with rubbing in towards the center of the circle and making sure that the ridge never forms at all.

Here’s the prefelt after I finished rubbing. It is just barely starting to shrink on the resist and it is holding together well. Now it’s time to cut it open. Depending on what shape you want to create is how you decide how to cut the prefelt.

I cut the circle in half on both sides of the resist. You can see that the silk embellishments will be following the shape of the “pie pieces” when I get them all cut.

I then cut one side into six “pie pieces”. I just eyeballed it since I wanted to end up with an organic form, I wasn’t worried about exact symmetry. Then I flipped the prefelt over and pulled out the edges of the flaps so I could see where to cut on the back side. The photo on the right shows the pieces completely cut with a few flapped open.

The inside of the prefelt needed to be roughed up so that there were lots of loose fibers. So I used  a felt brush that I had to roughen it up. I did also try using a fingernail brush which worked just as well.

I then covered the same resist that I used for the green prefelt with black wool. I used only one layer and it was pretty thing. Just thick enough so I wouldn’t end up with holes.

The next step was to reapply the prefelt over top of the resist that was covered with the thin layer of black wool. Then to wet down and begin gently felting.

I used cold, soapy water and worked slowly and gently. I rubbed a lot along the edges of the prefelt and along the edge of the resist where the black wool needed to attach to the green edge. I gently placed my  hands over the entire piece and made a rocking motion back and forth with increasing pressure downwards on to the ridged rubber mat. I continued to alternate rubbing and gentle downward rocking. I gradually increased the pressure and rubbing friction until the entire piece was holding together and the green prefelt was adhering to the black wool.

The piece was beginning to shrink and you can see that there was an almost floral shape emerging instead of just a circle.

I picked which side I wanted to be the open top end of the pod and cut a very small hole in the black felt. I removed the resist and began fulling and shaping. I have a problem taking photos during fulling as I am using both hands and get absorbed in the process. I did most of the fulling by pulling the pod from open end to closed bottom end and then rolling it over the ridged mat. I added hot water and rolled it in between my hands as well. I did a bit of holding my finger inside and rubbing the green felt lengthwise but not much. The shape actually nearly created itself. Hopefully, when I try the next one, I will get more fulling photos.

The pod can actually be at least two different shapes. This is more rounded and looks more like a bell pepper or perhaps a sea urchin.

I actually like it stretched out more like a seed pod as shown in the photos above. So I dried it in this shape. I fulled the felt hard and it holds its form easily. The reason this works so well is that the thicker prefelt doesn’t shrink in the same way as the thin layer of black wool. Therefore you get the curved pieces of the green creating the organic pod shape.

I am going to try another one cutting the outside prefelt into a different shape and I will show you that soon.

 

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