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A bit of this and that

A bit of this and that

‘Tis the season to show off trees! I’m no exception, so here is my contribution.

A few years ago I had the idea of creating a portable Christmas decoration to sell in my shop. I wanted something small, cute and as eco-friendly as possible. The solution? Needle felted mini trees.

The trees

Needle felted miniature Christmas trees by Eleanor Shadow

I think they’re rather fun, even if I do say so myself. The colours are bright and who doesn’t like miniatures?

Each tree has a wire frame to ensure stability. I needle felt the the larger components (tree trunk, copse and base) around the wire and the rest is made separately and stitched onto the main part.

It’s quite fun to felt the baubles, I used to take small amounts of differently coloured wool with me to doctor appointments and such and, whilst waiting, I could get 4-5 balls created. It was also a great conversation starter.

To finish things off nicely, I glue the whole ensemble onto a sturdy piece of locally sourced wool disc and, as they say, Bob’s you uncle.

They’ve been quite the success this year, I’m down to the last one at the time of writing!

Wreathes

Another holiday idea was to create a wreath that could be used over and over again. Have I mentioned I like reusable, eco-friendly things? 🙂

I had some needle felting foam that I regretted buying. It wasn’t the best quality foam and I found out I hated using them, so they’d been languishing in my stash for a couple of years. I didn’t want to throw it away. One day it dawned on me: I could cut and use them for something else.

Needle felted Christmas wreath by Eleanor Shadow. It has a donut shape with felted balls and a red ribbon wrapped around it. It has a green ribbon bow at the top.

I love these wreathes and each year I look forward to hanging mine in my front door. They’re not huge because I had to take the foam’s original size into consideration but isn’t it cute?

Sewing

It wouldn’t be a post written by me without some sewing fun. I felt brave and bought some jersey knit fabric to make a Stasia dress by Sew Liberated. You might know a lot of sewers avoid jersey due to its stretchy nature. My previous experience hadn’t been the best but this time I was determined to succeed.

Fun fact: despite my determination, for some reason I didn’t make a mock version of the dress beforehand. I just moved on ahead directly to cutting the good fabric!

The consequence of this is that my sleeves ended up a bit shorter than I’d wanted, so I think I’m going to cut them and create a ¾ sleeve instead.

Eleanor Shadow shows off her Stasia dress in yellow jersey fabric.

Can you tell I’m so happy with the result? The black dots and stripes on the fabric are just so cute to me. My poor mother still wonders how I ended up going from wearing just black to being obsessed with mustard yellow, but here we are.

Yellow Stasia dress. Pattern by Sew Liberated, made by Eleanor Shadow.

That’s it for today. Can you believe it’s already December? This is my last post for the year, so I wish you a great New Year, filled with fibre and other fun stuff. See you in 2022.

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? 

Recycled Coffee Capsules

Recycled Coffee Capsules

It doesn’t seem all that long ago when life was simple and the only decisions we needed to make regarding our daily fix of caffeine were “instant or percolated”, “black or white”, “with or without sugar”?

How times have changed! Nowadays we have a dazzling array of flavours and styles to chose from when visiting our favourite Barista. I did once try a cinnamon and syrup latte in M&S and have never forgotten how vile that was…..give me a straight forward, simple latte every time! On the other hand, if you like your coffee more exotic, there are plenty of rather weird (and probably not so wonderful?) tastes to explore. The Farm Girl Cafe in Portobello Road could be the place to visit if you fancy a black charcoal latte made with activated charcoal, date syrup and cashew milk. Or how about their blue Butterfly Matcha made with organic blue matcha powder (now there’s an interesting ingredient to look up) with almond milk or their most famous creation, the rose latte (a double shot with rose water infused milk and petals)….there is obviously a market for it but personally I think I’ll pass!

Of course we no longer have to go out to get our fix of posh coffee thanks to the popularity of the domestic barista machines and the single use coffee capsule. Although many of these are said to be recyclable, according to Nestle, only around one third of their capsules (Nespresso, Dolce Gusto, Tassimo) were being returned to the manufacturer for recycling in 2020. The rest were ending up in landfill where it’s predicted they will take 500 years to breakdown!

Photo source: http://www.johnlewis.com

A “not for profit” organisation in the UK called Podback are now working with local councils and other organisations to make it easier and more convenient to recycle our capsules with roadside collections alongside other household recycling. Consumers also have the option of leaving them at over 6,500 Yodel drop off points and we should soon (if it’s not happening already) have them collected by supermarkets when they drop off our online shopping.

That’s all sounding good but many of us are finding more creative ways to recycle our coffee pods, albeit on a far smaller scale. One use is to add them as interesting, textural ‘inclusions’ to a felting project. The first time I saw this done was in 2018 when I attended a Felted jewellery workshop with the wonderful German tutor Ricarda Assmann. Although we were working with fabrics, not capsules, three of the necklaces Ricarda brought as workshop samples had the aluminium crushed pods in them. At that time I didn’t have any capsules but the contrast between the hard texture of the metal and the soft feel of the fibres really appealed to me.

Another fabulous feltmaker, Judit Pocs, created this enormous “Gate” wallhanging in response to a commission from the Feltmakers Association. It is something like 2mtrs tall and studded with crushed capsules in a multitude of colours. Judit also makes beautiful rings with them and teaches the technique for making these in her online workshop.

The Gate by Judit Pocs
The Gate detail showing the capsules
Felted capsule rings by Judit Pocs

The year before I attended Ricarda’s jewellery workshop I had the idea to recycle my collection of Tektura acrylic wallpaper samples as inclusions in my pendants (I never throw away anything that might have a use in the future!) It’s a simple process but very effective, wet felting the “waterproof” paper discs between pieces of prefelt. Four years on, and with those papers almost depleted, I’m now starting to use coffee capsules instead. Being thin aluminium they can be crushed by hand (that’s how I did the gold one in the ring) or they will flatten more easily with a little persuasion from a hammer, in which case I find it best to cover them with fabric first to avoid the hammer scratching off the colour. I’ve also started using them in some of my brooches.

I’m sure some of our readers will have tried Felting with capsules and I know Ann did some experimenting with them which you can see here, has anyone else tried this? They could look great in 3D pieces such as bags, sculptures, etc. I did a google search and didn’t find any other images of felt with capsules but I’m sure there’s lots out there somewhere. I did find zillions of “non felted” ideas for recycling on Pinterest, Etsy, YouTube, etc and websites including ecogreenlove.com, these are just a few…..

Nespresso Pendant and Earrings
Necklace
Floral Arrangement

There are so many inventive ways to create with coffee capsules and with Christmas fast approaching they could be used for decorations or even nativity scenes like these found on Pinterest…….

I will leave you with one of the most impressive uses I came across which was the stunning 2017 catwalk collection by Birmingham designer Rhys Ellis. Rhys studied Fashion Design at Birmingham University and, as part of his course, he spent a year in Italy studying at the Politecnico di Milano design school alongside world-renowned tailor, Guiltiero Fornetti.

“It was while I was in one of the markets that I saw a lady making very simple jewellery from these coffee pods and something just clicked and I knew that I could create dresses this way.“ “I also liked the idea of using material that would otherwise be thrown away.”

Photo source: http://www.comunicaffe.com

I won’t be making anything that dramatic but I am planning to make lots more pendants and brooches. I might just add some capsules to my next felted bag too. If you’ve done anything with them we would love to hear about your projects in the “comments” and you could always post them on the Forum.

Coffee pod experiment +

Coffee pod experiment +

Hi, It’s me again, out of sync. We had a scheduling problem so I have jumped back in and Ruth will be me later.

A while ago I collected some used coffee pods to try doing some felting with. This was inspired by Judit Pócs. She is an incredible felter and has an amazing imagination. https://pocsjuditstudio.hu/home I believe she used them in a felted ring, free workshop for people that are members of the International Felt makers Association when they had their online conference. I am not a member. Anyway, there were all over Facebook and I wanted to try them out. This is the first attempt.

These are metal pods for a Nespresso machine. I got them by asking on my local buy/sell/give group on Facebook. People with these machines do not throw the pods out they collect them in a supplied bag and then send them back to the company postage paid for recycling. At least that seems less wasteful.

They are pretty and come in two sizes

 

I had to flatten the pods first. The large domes are much easier to flatten nicely.

I laid out a thickish base and then added to the 2 kinds of pods.

 

Then another double layer of wool on top.

 

I felted in the usual way and then cut holes over the disk. I cut the wrong side first, naturally

 

 

This is where it starts to go downhill. The texture of the disks makes it hard to rub and heal the cuts. I am not the most patient with this step normally so this was frustrating and didn’t work well.

 

As a first experiment, this was a good learning experience.

Next time I will mark the top and put a piece of underlay over the pods to make a smoother surface to work on after I cut the holes. That should make it easier to make a better edge. I also think I needed a thicker layer of wool over the pods to get a nicer deeper edge.  Maybe just over the pods and not the whole piece. This piece is a good thickness for bag/pouch. Also, as usual, I need to slow down and be patient.

I also made a piece of felt to try out some stitching with the Solvy water-soluble stabilizer. It’s not very exciting to look at and I will probably iron it a little smoother and flatter. I think I will add some needle felting to part of it before using it so I have the 2 textures to try on.

I like figuring out how things are done. I enjoy making samples/experiments much more than I used to. I think it’s all the covid lockdowns and there being no shows.  There is not much point in making 20 hats and scarves if you have nowhere to sell them. Have you successfully figured out how to do something you’ve seen online?

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

When things don’t go as planned, improvise

Imagine this: you’ve planned that project in your head. You’ve gone through all the steps and know what needs doing. You have all the materials, and you’re getting ready to work on it. It’s going to be epic!

Except… something goes terribly wrong and the end result is nothing like what you expected.

Sound familiar?

Hand dyed yarn by Eleanor Shadow
This hand dyed yarn looks great at first glance, but in reality it’s “muddy” – the colours have somehow blended into each other in a not-so flattering way.

I’m sure we’ve all been there. Craft long enough and, be it due to bad luck or simple statistics, something will go wrong.

The problem: The yarn above is a colourway of mine called Love Heart Meow. At first glance, it looks exactly as it should, except something went wrong during the dyeing process and the end result is “muddy.” You can’t really tell in the photo, but in real life I can definitely see it and it’s driving me mad.

The solution: I’m going to overdye it. I find that when things don’t go as planned, a blue overdye can save things around. Who knows, maybe I’ll create a new colourway?

(Shameless plugin moment: I’m getting back to blogging in my own website and I’ll be sharing the over dyeing process over there very soon! I’ll of course still be working on new content for our lovely blog here.)

 


 

Silk cocoons

 

A while back I was doing an exchange with a dyer friend of mine and decided to send her some hand dyed silk cocoons. Silk comes at a price for the poor silk worm, so I was very keen to “make it count” (yes, I’m the soppy type).

I carefully dyed each cocoon, making it so that the exterior and the interior were slightly different and adding variation in shade/colour. I was rather chuffed with the result.

Of course, I then proceeded to ruin things beautifully. I don’t know what happened in my brain but I decided to set the colours with more acid… by dunking the cocoons in hot water.
If you’ve ever dyed these precious things, you’ll know they need to be steam set if you want them to retain their shape. Hot water is most emphatically not the right thing to do, as I remembered even as I was dunking them in the H2O.

The problem: I had a hot mess in my hands, the cocoons all melted into each other, were soft and (to me, at the time) completely useless.

The temporary solution: Remove from water and back away from the project! Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: After keeping whole thing away from sight a while, I looked at it again. It was a mess, but I could make it into something different. The colours were pretty. Then it hit me…

Fibre wall artwork by Eleanor Shadow

Tah-dah, wall art to the rescue. The colours are actually brighter in real life.

I sewed the Cocoon Combo to some black felt, added some beads and shiny embroidered stars in gold and silver. The shape of the thing was asking for an oval embroidery hoop, so I bought one in a suitable size and Bob’s your uncle.

It looks like something done on purpose, doesn’t it? It’ll be our secret.

 


 

Now, this wouldn’t be a post by yours truly if I didn’t add a little sewing, would it?

While perusing one of my usual fabric supply sites I stumbled upon the most fun cat fabric. As with most things in the crafty brain, I had the “button” sorted but not the “suit,” so to speak. I had to come up with something to create with that fabric!

I decided on the Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated because it looked comfy and, best of all, asked for two complementary fabrics (the cat fabric had a “friend” that I thought made the cats look even cuter. Aaand, I’ll stop using metaphors now.)

Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated, sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I love this dress. It works great on its own or as a top layer, making it good for more seasons. It’s meant to be reversible, but this one isn’t (there are reasons but I shan’t go into them).

One great thing about being short is, I never need as much fabric to make something as the pattern says I do. After careful calculations, I knew exactly how much to buy and order it I did.

The bad thing is, if you don’t have extra and make a mistake… well.
I was on the phone with my other half and got distracted. Instead of cutting the top layer a specific way, I did it wrongly. I immediately noticed the disaster, but it was too late. My soul hurt. I didn’t want to order more fabric because of this!

The problem: No extra fabric and the huge unwillingness to buy more. I was doomed.

The temporary solution: The same as with the cocoons! Back away from the project. Make some tea. Curse out loud. Come back later.

The real solution: I had a little extra of the gingham fabric. Patchwork to the saving.

Detail of Metamorphic Dress by Sew Liberated as sewn by Eleanor Shadow

I had only made a mistake with one half of the fabric, so that became the back. I cut that piece in two and added a strip of the under layer fabric to the middle. It almost looks like it’s a proper feature, at least to my eyes.

I’ll have to confess I felt rather smug after this. My solution worked, I didn’t have to buy extra fabric and my dress is perfectly wearable.

My smugness was somewhat abated after my mum saw the dress and said it looked like a maid’s apron, but that’s another story…

 


 

That’s it, three examples of things that didn’t go as planned but had a solution. If you let your brain think about it for a while in the background, I bet you’ll come up with alternative endings for your “mistakes.” Like the cliché goes, mistakes can be opportunities to do better later. Beats giving up, right?

 

Finally, the random photo of the day:

Sheep from the Shetland Islands

My lovely osteopath Jane went on holiday to the Shetland Islands and I asked her to send me some sheep pics. She obliged and I thought I’d share them with you.

Enjoy your weekend!

Recycling and Upcycling silk kimono

Recycling and Upcycling silk kimono

A few blogs ago Welshfelters posted about upcycling/recycling a chinese lantern. That got me thinking about the project I’ve been plonking away on for ages now – recycling silk. I really love silk in almost all its forms, not too crazy about silk noil, but everything else is just lovely, the texture, the colours, the gloss, the sound. I have ASMR, so even thinking about silk gives me a case of the shivers.

When one of our guild members was down sizing and offered some used kimono for sale at an excellent price, I was first in line and happily took home a box of bright red, blue, brown, and orange silky bits. The construction of these kimono was amazing, all hand sewn, all exquisitely designed and all in deplorable condition. The fabric has deteriorated along the fold lines and has some tears, so re-purposing is one of the best options for most of the fabric. Hand washing and disassembly followed, along with a bit of ironing, just to make life a little easier when cutting time came.

A few years ago another friend had gifted me fabric cutters; Bliss and Frazer. They are both vintage models and well loved. When they first came into my care, I really had no immediate purpose for them but knew that ‘someday’ they would be put to good use. Along with recycling fabric, good tools also need to be kept in useful condition, so they went for a spa treatment to a talented gentleman who fixed a damaged bearing, sharpened the blades, retooled the wheel plate and generally got them both up and running optimally.

Silk is brutal on fabric cutters.

The wheel is starting to show signs of wear after cutting silk

The blade is showing signs of becoming dull, so I will probably switch to a rotary blade and ruler, which seems to work just fine. The rotary cutter has the added benefit of replacement blades that can be recycled and replaced as needed. I’ll save the fabric cutters for wool and cotton. Using the ruler and rotary cutter to cut width doesn’t yield consistent results, or as consistent as the fabric cutter, but with silk I don’t think that’s a significant issue. There are a couple of ways I can make the strips of cut silk into a single piece of ‘yarn’.

I can spin it together and then hold it together a little more with a ply of silk thrums thread.

I can do a splice and spin it as a single which allows for the little tails to become a design element in the yarn.

This is the tails and tops method of joining

or I can just weave it in as a rag technique and alternate with the silk thrums. In the end, I’m going to call it art yarn and who will challenge the inconsistency of the yarn!

All fabric that is used in our daily lives will wear out, but when it comes to a fiber that is so costly to make, so valuable and lovely I want to put the extra effort into keeping it out of the rag bag for as long as possible. Most, if not all fabrics can be given a second life before they can be purposed as rags. The ingenuity of our predecessors was impressive and there is no reason not to emulate them. Sheets, curtains, judo gis, towels, suits can all be remade into carpets, place-mats, cushion covers, dish rags, clothing material, blankets, quilts, scarves, the list goes on a long as your imagination permits. And yes rags, that’s a valid repurpose.

My plan for these red and orange silk kimonos and the red silk thrums is to weave material for a medium weight jacket for the winter. Something very simple in design, similar to a kimono but without any fitting or lining. My cousin in Japan is hunting an obi or two for me to use as trim. Hopefully this will be functional and attractive once I can solve the problem of the silk bleeding like crazy. But that is a challenge for another day.

Silk thrums easily dye wool and are difficult to control. Silk kimono also run their colour.

 

Not all the kimono could be cut, at least not by me.  This is going to be a project for another day.

 

Felting Beaches

Felting Beaches

In my last blog I looked at different ways I’ve tried to represent sea and water in wet felted pictures.

Felting Sea Patterns

Looking back at this link, I realise I sold the sea picture I used as the blog header this week. Happy times! A couple of people asked in the comments if I’d also show how I’ve made beaches, so here we go.

The beaches where I live are mainly pebbles, but there are sandy beaches a little to the east and I’ve used both types of beach in my pictures.

Whitstable West Beach: the pebble beach at the bottom of my road

Here’s a picture of two Sanderlings at Minnis Bay: a lovely sandy beach with chalk rocks embedded in places in the sand.  I’m starting with this as it was an early picture and the first time I thought of using a blue cobweb felt overlay to represent a wet beach reflecting the sky. It’s a technique I like and use quite a lot.

Layout for and final picture “2 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay”

There’s a pewter-coloured base for the sand and light prefelted sections and silk fabric pieces for the chalk with a bit of darker shading around them

Here’s another Sanderlings picture, also at Minnis Bay. This time I’ve used a few different sandy shades to add the idea of shade and texture in the sand.

3 Sanderlings, Minnis Bay

Pebble and shell beaches are more common in my pictures as this is what I see when I walk near home. There are quite a lot of variables in how I create them. Some choices are for ‘artistic’ reasons (how do I want this to look and feel?), some for experimental reasons (what would happen if?) and some are entirely pragmatic (what suitable bits of prefelt and felt offcuts do I have kicking around at the moment?).

This is a Big Wave picture that is now owned by a friend of mine. Here I have cut up felt and pre-felt into pebble shapes and put them on a base of several layers of sandy coloured wool tops. I then laid a bit of blue cobweb prefelt and silk over the pebbles nearest to the wave to give the impression of the remains of a previous wave over the pebbles before wet felting everything together

This is a similar picture where I’ve added more patterned silk scraps (recycled charity shop scarves) which are topped with wisps of wool to help them felt in.

Here I’ve taken a different approach. Whitstable is on the north Kent coast of the UK. It’s famous for oysters and has a very long history of oyster catching and farming. Empty oyster shells are piled up on the beach next to a local restaurant to be reused for farmed oysters. When it’s quiet, turnstones pick over the shells, ferreting out bits of left-behind oyster. I love the turnstones! You can see one in action in this video and hopefully see where they get their name from.

Turnstone picking over the oyster shells

I’ve made a few turnstone pictures. In this one I prefelted lots of oyster shells for the foreground then snipped up loads of different coloured tapestry wool for the beach as I wanted a more distant background impression rather than individual pebbles. The tapestry wool is all from charity shops: I really like recycling old and second hand materials.

It took a surprisingly long time to snip all that wool into a large plastic washing up bowl ready to mix it up and lay it out on top of sandy wool layers. It also made a bit of a mess as the felting threw up lots of loose wool strands because the fibres were very short.

“Turnstone Dining at the Royal Native Oyster Stores”

Another experimental approach was a picture I made earlier this year using pieces of recycled silk (cut from charity shop scarves, of course) on top of a couple of layers of wool tops with some wisps of wool on top for colour and to help attach the silk. This gives a different feel – more impressionistic – but still (I hope!) the impression of a pebble beach.

This penguin picture was a commission. Unusually I was working from someone else’s photo rather than my own observations and pictures. By necessity the felt picture is similar to the original photo (though I had to give the penguin on the right a proper head!). I custom made various sheets of light grey pebbly prefelt which I cut up to make this beach as there’s quite a lot of it so I couldn’t just rely on scraps.

And finally, I think this is my favourite beach so far (maybe apart from the oyster shells). It includes several of the techniques I’ve described. I pre-made some shell shapes and used prefelt pieces for pebbles. There’s lots of silk too – I think I may have put down a whole sheet of silk on top of wool layers then added the rest on top of the silk. This gorgeous ringed plover was standing on a shingle spit that juts into the sea just along from my house and I felt this was a good representation of that particular terrain.

Do you have a favourite? Or anything you don’t think really worked? I’d love to hear your views.

Time for a new hobby

Time for a new hobby

For many of us going into lockdown meant we suddenly found ourselves with lots of free time. For the first month I carried on felting and stitching, working on a few projects I had planned for Summer exhibitions. By the time we got to the end of April reality had hit home and it was looking less and less likely that those exhibitions would be happening before the Autumn, if at all this year! For ages I’ve been wanting to take up dressmaking and it suddenly dawned on me that I’d now got the time for a new hobby.

I’d only tried this once before when I made my “duvet dress”, a tunic made from an old Ikea duvet cover. It was a very simple pattern, bought because I liked the style but also because it said “Yes, It’s easy” on the front of the packet! I was pleased with the result but never got around to doing any more.

img_2746

What I really wanted to do this time around was to make a pattern taking inspiration  from a Masai dress I particularly liked that was well worn, and accidentally splashed with bleach. I took it apart, laid each section onto lining paper and traced around, adding half an inch all round for seams. I found some 3/4″ elastic for the sides of the hem but didn’t know how to create the elasticated band across the back of the dress. In the end I figured, as it was such a loose fit, an elasticated back wasn’t really necessary. Instead I cut a pattern for a plain band, the same width and depth as the elastic panel, and gathered the excess fabric onto it. I didn’t have any dress fabric, and besides I wasn’t sure if the pattern would work, so used the old left over Ikea duvet cover to make a toile, or muslin.  

This was quickly followed by a couple of camisoles. The pattern was created by tracing over the top section of the See & Sew tunic pattern.  I took the bottom of the armhole and the centre fold as my base.  It didn’t want to be as loose as the tunic so the side seam was narrowed, the neckline lowered and the shoulders were shortened and narrowed. A quick search on YouTube provided techniques for adding facings and for making and inserting thin straps. Once I knew the pattern worked a Principles skirt was cut up and used for the second cami…..nothing will be safe in my wardrobe any more!

The next item was based on a favourite jacket. It’s had a lot of wear and become very pilled and bobbly but I was determined not to throw it out until I’d found a replacement. This was a bit trickier to trace around as it’s stretchy and I couldn’t bring myself to take it apart! There are lots of Youtube videos showing how to fold items to trace around them…..it’s easy enough as long as there are no darts involved…..nothing I’ve traced so far has had darts! One thing I learnt from drawing around the jacket sleeves though is that it isn’t enough to simply mark the fold line…..you need to allow a little more width when dealing with thicker, folded fabric. My first attempt resulted in the sleeve being a little too narrow. The other thing to bear in mind is your choice of fabric. It was quite a challenge searching the house for a fabric with similar properties to the original to make the toile. It needed to be thickish, stretchy and ideally something that wouldn’t need hemming. The nearest match I could find was an old fleece blanket with a pattern of enormous spots! I’d no intention of this being a finished item, it was just meant as a trial, but since the weathers cooled off I’ve worn it twice already!!

Another project has been this midi length dress, recycled from a charity shop buy. It was four sizes too large for me but I loved the fabric and knew it would come in useful sometime! After taking it apart the sleeves were used to made saddle bag pockets, the side seams were taken in and the hemline scalloped. I’m not normally a flowery type but it’s worn with a pair of wide leg linen trousers and I absolutely love it! 

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I’m loving my new hobby and getting a bit obsessive with it….these items are just a few of what’s been made so far from recycled fabrics.  Although our shops are not fully open yet, last weekend I did manage to pick up a couple of new dress fabrics, neither are quite right for the Masai dress but it will be fun making something from them! 

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3D wet felting experiments (part two)

3D wet felting experiments (part two)

In my last blog spot I showed how I made a sprouting seed pod as part of a group of 3D wet felted objects I’m calling ‘Lifecycles’ that I am submitting to an open exhibition.  You can see that blog here if you missed it or want a reminder https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2020/01/13/3d-wet-felting-experiments-part-one/.

The second piece is a fallen tree branch with fungus and lichen. My ideas is that as one thing dies (the branch) it gives life to others (fungi etc). This will tie in with the sprouting seed pod (a new tree) and maybe I’ll add a couple of other things too, yet to be decided.

Wondering where to start with the texture I take myself off to the local park to look at different types of bark.

I am particularly taken with these very ridged examples and wonder how I’d go about creating that texture in wet felt.  I happen to have some off-cuts from the seed pod on my work table – a piece of fabric, probably linen, I found in a charity shop and felted –  so I decide to see what it looks like if I lay those under some new felt.  Keen to do things properly (and not waste time) I make a sample.

I am still experimenting with using wool batts from different breeds of sheep (rather than merino tops) so put together natural brown and grey Shetland and Finnish wools plus a little dyed green Perendale including a couple of bits of prefelt. You can just see the ridges when felted but I want more so try cutting into the surface. I really like that effect.

Sample of recycled scarf felted to become lichen

I try out some pieces of a (charity shop) hand dyed silk scarf for lichen and like those too so decide to get on with making the log.

I make a sheet of nuno felt using the recycled fabric which I cut into uneven strips.

Using a large rectangular resist I lay out 3 layers of wool on each side, wet it down, and add the felted linen strips on one side in what I hope is a bark-ish pattern. 

I cover these with two more layers of mixed brown and grey wool then add the surface decoration including prefelted discs for fungus and some marbles under the largest green section.

Surface of side one laid out

I would normally lay out the whole thing before starting to felt but there is a lot going on by now that I don’t want to disturb by flipping it over so I start working the first side to try to get it stable before finishing the second side layout.

On the second side I add yarn, locks, nepps, slubs, silk noil, nuno prefelt, pieces from a striped charity shop silk scarf….I am really starting to enjoy this. It’s a good job there isn’t a kitchen sink nearby as I might throw that in too. I’m thinking that as the log will be lying down, this will be the under side so it doesn’t matter if I don’t like everything. I could even cut bits out.

It takes quite a long time to rub and full this woolly smorgasbord, working hard into all the grooves. As I finish working it I decide it looks better standing up and so the log becomes a tree stump. 

Final tree stump from the front

In the end I decide not to cut into the surface as there is plenty of texture and I also leave the marbles in as I like the green knobbly bits (visible in top picture). 

What next? I’ve been mulling over how the pieces will be displayed together and decide to make a flat piece of ‘woodland floor’ felt for them to stand on.  I start with a piece of mixed leafy-coloured prefelt.

I cut the prefelt into rough leaf shapes and lay them on some layers of brown wool.  I can’t resist adding a little bit of 3D so felt some thick green rope to look like new shoots emerging from the ground. 

Finally I make an autumn leaf to highlight the annual cycle of a tree’s dying and renewal. 

Here’s the final piece.  Have I captured the idea of life cycles?

Final “Lifecycles” piece

And yes, Lifecycles has now been accepted into the exhibition so will be on display at Beach Creative in Herne Bay from 20 March to 2 April as part of the 3 gallery exhibition ‘Map’. If you’re in the Whitstable, Faversham, Herne Bay area do pop along to the Fishslab, Creek Creative and/or Beach Creative Galleries and check out how other people have responded to the Map challenge (dates vary slightly). I know some of my friends have fabulous work in the exhibitions so I think they will be hugely varied and interesting shows

Halloween for Christmas 2019

Halloween for Christmas 2019

As you may remember, my Halloween Ghost Girl was lonely and I created Werewolf boy to keep her company. I was thinking of my niece and nephew while I was creating them, which may be why they seem to be wearing Kamiks,  a northern boot.  Def- Mukluks or Kamik (Inuktitut: ᑲᒥᒃ [kaˈmik]) (singular: ᑲᒪᒃ kamak, plural: ᑲᒦᑦ kamiit) are a soft boot, traditionally made of reindeer (caribou) skin or sealskin, and worn by Arctic aboriginal people, including the Inuit, Iñupiat, and Yupik.).  Since I had the kids in mind as I made them, I hoped that my sister in law would enjoy them.  I was sure they would have a good home there.

 

1              1 Kamik

 

I had a problem on how to present them.  In this case, lucky for me, I have dyslexia and was unable to do any of the normal jobs my friends had, (since no one is dumb enough to hire me as a secretary or receptionist, although the guild kept electing me as librarian).  Instead, I wound up being a picture framer as my first career. Lots of archival work, French matting,  shadow and plexi boxes. So I know how to present a 2 or 3 dimensional piece.

But a plexi box is not always the solution. Sometimes it’s good to think outside of the box even if you are thinking of a box.

Solution 1 Michael’s Art store carries shadow boxes and plexi display boxes, that would be perfect! So I’m off to Michaels.  No, they don’t carry that size of plexy display box anymore, would I  like the one for basket balls or there is this lovely one that holds base ball cards that lights up?  They did have an “open”  Shadow box (ok, it is just a deep plain molding without glass that hangs on the wall. Only barely deep enough for the figures, and a bit high. …..but that would work for those trees I want to try later, …….. and its on sale …… ok, I cave. On to Ikea which for me is in the same mall.

 

Ikea has a large table top miniature green house that might work and it would keep plants or Halloween figures safe from cats. But it’s a bit too large a foot print for just the two figures. But it would be a good back up plan.  It’s still sitting in the back of the car.

2 2 Ikea; Width: 17 ¾ ” (45 cm) Depth:  8 ¾ ” (22 cm) Height: 13 ¾ ” (35 cm)

 

Over at Walmart I spotted a tall, glass and black metal pillar candle lantern.  The base might be a bit squishy but it’s worth a try. Oh look, no price but it has a bar code. No, scanner is broken at the self-scanning spot…. again…. (Mutter) it’s a bit pricier than I had hoped but it’s worth a try. I got it home and realized the width was not adequate for both figures.  However, the lantern concept was excellent! Just what I sort of envisioned for presentation.

 

33 Walmart; 5″ x 7″ x 19

Back to Ikea for their big white lantern (much cheaper in price than Walmart’s), return the lantern to Walmart and drive over to pick up Glenn from work. Just in time to Drive to Oakville for the weekend. (That was the trip that the last post about the Mouse Angel happened on)

 

44 Ikea; 17 1/4″ (44 cm)

 

Along with Xmas presents and necessary visiting stuff, I had packed Ghost Girl and Werewolf boy, more of the Shetland fleece from last summer (Dark and light sections), the Bee combs and an assortment of needles still stuck in my garden kneeling pad I use as a work surface. I did not pack a ruler. I wanted to do a bit of finishing touches on both figures before they ended up in the candle lantern and off to their new home.

 

I wanted to add a bit more firmness to the Kamik like boots and give Ghost Girl her Mitts (she did not hold her Ghost Balloons quite as well but I bet her fingers are warmer now!)

565-6 Mitts to keep her hands warm

7 7 Boots to keep her toes warm

 

My plan was to use the foam pad to anchor the figures in  then cut the foam to fit the inside of the lantern. (that’s where the missing ruler might have helped) but due to my skills with non-math solutions to measuring I had a piece of yarn and pins to solve this dilemma. Dyscalculia is not all bad really! The foam cut easily and with a tiny bit of trimming fit into the bottom of the lantern.

88 Ikea Solution in Oakville (there are more angels in the background!)

9109- 11 foam base and using the sting to measure and the pins to mark

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Time to drive back to Ottawa and continue work on the base

 

On Dec 23rd the Guild had a Potluck and Social for those still in town and needing a fibre related escape. I continued with the base. I started with laying out wisps as when wet felting. Then started to use the needles to create adhesion. I layered in a darker path and then added a bit of undulation to the landscape.  I kept to the same colour scheme easily by using the same fleece. This time I deliberately felted into the foam as I worked around the edges to keep the blue from being visible.

  12- 14 Covering the base with felt

 

Yes! that is sort of what I was wanting. I wish the lantern had been just a bit bigger.

Wrapping – I failed utterly at wrapping since I didn’t want to put the lantern on its side and possibly have unwanted movement occur. So basically unwrapped presentation I will just have to focus next year’s attention all on the wrapping and not on the content to make up! (Maybe a spectacularly wrapped but empty box? Dante the cat would like that.  Maybe I will try that for him next year!)

15-17 the delivery My Niece with the ghosts on stings. i will have to make her bigger ghosts!!

(These pictures were off Glenn’s camera.  Sorry, they’re a very grainy.)

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1919 The bell jar I used with the Angel Mouse was also from Ikea. It was called a  BEGÅVNING Glass dome with base, 10 ” (26 cm) high.

 

Having the felt figures under glass decreases the need to dust and keeps cats from trying to play with the mouse!  Framing felted pictures is a bit more problematic not for the dust protection which can be excellent. The problem can be the same as photos against glass. If the owner used an excessive amount of glass cleaner, the liquid can wick in behind the glass and affect the photo making it stick to the glass or wetting the felt. The use of a mat or a spacer gives a space between the Glass and the art which will reduce the effects of wicking wetness (the best idea is spray the cloth to light dampness and then wipe the glass so no liquid runs behind the glass) but we can chat about framing some other day.   For now I have glass-less shadow box, an extra BEGÅVNING and a SOCKER Greenhouse to fill……another weasel dragon or maybe a small hippogriff? That’s what I love about felt you can make anything!!!

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