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More signs of getting back to normal; in-person socials week 1 and 2

More signs of getting back to normal; in-person socials week 1 and 2

As you saw last post, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners Guild is starting to do some of our per-pandemic activities. We have had our first Demo since 2019, we are starting to organize in person workshops, the guilds library is back to having members borrowing in-person and we have had our first two socials in-person at the guild studio. This last is the topic i would like to chat about with you today.

Before the pandemic struck, we use to meet on Mondays (once a month for the guild meeting and we had socials in the studio on the rest). When the plague struck it took us a bit of a learning curve to transition to using Zoom for both meetings and then socials. The library was unable to Zoom. So, when there was no shutdown, we collected requests, pulled, bagged and had books ready for picked up and dropped off at an external door near the studio. (A bit more work for the librarians but it kept the books circulating.)

We tried a number of things to keep the guild active and connected during the pandemic. I started weekly posting of old photos going back to 2002, we most recently were checking the files from the early part of 2018 (so i hope the pandemic dosnt go on too much longer i am running out of photos!! Good thing we are starting to make new photos!). The Guild had Zoom based study groups on various topic to try to make up for the lack of in person workshops. Our Program team found cross Canada and international speakers for us that were a fabulous addition and would not have been an option in-person (so the effects of the social distancing were not all bad).

We have struggled with technological options as we change from zoom to the long-waited-for in-person or ideally, a combination of in-person and Zoom. Ideally we would like to have some way for those members who live farther away or can not travel at night to participate in both meetings and socials. We also want to take this opportunity to investigate what works and may be applicable for the first in-person/zoom guild meetings coming up in September. This gives us the summer to run through options and try problem solving so the on-line participants can feel included. With the meeting program it will be more watching and less input from the audience ether by zoom or those present. So, not quite the same as a social but it should give some feed back for those organizing the meeting.

Two weeks ago we had our first in-person social. It was a good turn out, we had 9 in person guild members, with a mix of masked and unmasked participants as well as 10 on line members. For technology we tried Ann’s laptop with its build in mike and camera.

1 Ann’s laptop running Zoom

Pros; One person could talk to the zoom group
Cons; the mike did not pick up other conversations away from the lap top. Only one person in front of the lap top could hear or communicate with the zoom group.

A few more shots of what we were up to in-person. I had brought my in progress needle felted Iris (its in photo one), there was a lot of spinning happening, as well as some innovative options for plying. The bulldog clips and basket were ingenious. We could not find a lazy kate in the studio so we improvised with two magazine holders and a chopstick for another spinner.

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2-8 a few shots from the fist social since we shut down at the beginning of covid

After chatting with the zoom participants it was decided that we needed to up grade the audio. I volunteered my x mass present of a video recorder with external mike for next week.

Week 2, we had Ann’s Lap top but now added my video recorder with external mike and my tripod.

Week two had a reasonable turn out, a bit less than week one with 8 in-person and 5 zoom participants (ginnypigs). this week we had spinning, fiber prep(Hackles) and felting, Ann this time since i was playing with the camera and Vid recorder. First we tried the external Video recorder/mike with Ann’s lap top then with the guild’s old lap top. (option 2 did not work since the Venerable old laptop did not recognize the vid recorder/mike it was too new)

The vid recorder has a zoom feature! which i discovered was vary slow and disturbingly jerky DRAT! I could zoom in but getting there was not fun to watch. So the concept is correct with a vid recorder and external mike but this particular one may not be the best choice (if i need to zoom in on anything).

9 Vid Recorder/ mike and Ann’s Laptop

10 the old laptop could get on zoom but the video equipment was to new for it to recognize

Pros; improved sound, more flexibility as to what the zoom members can see. smooth rotation from one spot to the next with the tripod having vertical as well as horizontal adjustments.
Cons; The mike works well so can pick up conversations that you may have thought you were having only with the person sitting beside you.

We wanted to try another experiment to see if we could get the zoom participants more than one view of the studio. To do this we signed into zoom from both the old guild lap top that runs the library programs (its ancient and i was not sure it could run zoom) and Ann’s computer. Unfortunately we quickly discovered that our internet bandwidth is vary low….. there was a lot of temporary freezing, but using two cameras gave the zoom group more options to see what was happening and from 2 perspectives. We may be able to do something about the bandwidth, we will investigate that further later.

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11-16 shots from the week 2 social

We had a bit of show and tell, Ann got a new aperen!

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17-20 Ann’s post appocolips apron. there were a few of us who want to look this up!

This configuration of hardware seem to be a big improvement from last week. The zoom members could see better what was happening and chat amongst themselves as well as have limited chatting with those at the social. I think our next option to try is to add the speakers the library purchased for use with viewing the guild videos. (The library also got headphones for when someone wanted to watch videos in the studio while someone else was weaving. The headphones would not be helpful in this instance.)

21 this is a big improvement over week one

Just when you thought i had forgotten about felting except for that brief glimpse of my iris in-progress, i have a few shots to update you but its Ann’s felting this time not mine. i had taken a couple shots of her background when i was at the farmers market buying her wonderful tasty chocklet chip cookies.Because i was curious i thought you mite be too, so i took a peek at the back of her back ground too. i had some quite fabulous video shots of Ann working on adding the moon to her background, unfortunately the Video was live feeding to zoom so i could not take a screen shot for you. i hope the shots i got with the camera will give you a sense of the intensely deep dark colours she is using.

22-24 Ann’s background for her little night landscape (front and back)

i hope if the groups you belong to are also struggling to figure out a blended in-person and zoom experience for  member we can share our attempts and figure this out. Please share suggestions of things you have tried. What worked what didnt?  in the meantime have fun and keep felting!

 

PS my computer had blue screened after a couple updates to software so its out to the computer doctor and looks like she will live with a minor surgery  (bigger C drive) and a good internal cleaning. maybe i should not felt on the desk right above the computer? in the mean time i am using Glenn’s computer which lacked programs i usually use and I lost half my pre-typed blog since he only has open office not word and if froze in stead of saving. i expect to have this up and ready to go hopefully before 2am (i did rewrite the second half twice and had to do some sneaky work arounds to get the photos! ooh i am looking foreword to my computer back! i hope she will let me felt in the office still!

 

A Bit Of Wire Work For Mr. Mer

A Bit Of Wire Work For Mr. Mer

Mr. Mer has spent another week making subtle comments about wanting an upgrade on his muscles…the fishy ones this time. His fishy bits are based on a Northern Pike which is common in the lake at my parents’ cottage. I have been beefing up his fishy bits but he says he is not ready for his close-up. I will keep working on his upgrades and try to tempt him to show you as soon as he feels he is done.  SO we will get back to him in a blog or two.

 Northern Pike reference

 

While we wait for him, I had something else I wanted to show you.

For the last week, I have been watching non-felting related videos from curios mondo. They seem to mostly have crafts to do with fabric stiffening products, that they sell, but have had some other interesting topics too. I did catch parts of the nine-class, workshop series on making a wire-wrapped bug necklace with beads. (They do the live broadcast free or you can buy the workshop and watch all of them at your leisure. So far I’m cheap and have so far only watched the live ones.)

You never know what you will be able to pick up while watching or taking a class. This includes topics that are not actually on the topic you mainly do. Even with missing large parts of the workshop, it gave me some odd ideas I wanted to investigate further. (yes, I will get back to that in a moment)

The instructor, while teaching, used the stepped pliers. I had been curious as to what their original purpose was. He used them while making a bail (it attached the bug to the chain).  He also had some very tiny-nosed pliers that might be quite useful for rolling ends of finer gauge wire. I have got to track down a pair of those! He showed an interesting technique of locking the bail and a similar way of making links on a beaded chain that I likely should have written myself notes on.

Another good suggestion he had was putting a mark on tapering rounded pliers so you will get the same size ring on each turning of wire. This would be more important on wire-work that shows but could affect your armature construction if you were working on a smaller scale.

He also work-hardened the antenna of the bug with a hammer (I would have suggested the smallest flattening hammer from the blacksmithing hammers around here which would have been more effective.) This might be useful in armature construction for the tips of claws if they are exposed? Or stiffening antler wires? You don’t want to work-harden the wire too much or it will be more prone to breaking when bent or posed. So, an area that will not be repositioned frequently like tips of claws or antlers may be fine.

 

Now back to what I got distracted thinking about while I was suppose-to-be learning to make wire-work bugs necklaces (with beads). It just doesn’t seem fair to give Mr. Mer a tennis ball but not give him a tennis racket.

Oddly, In last weeks guild social one of our members had made a tennis racket and was next going to felt a tennis ball. I seem to be working opposite to her as I had Mr. Mer’s tennis ball (which I used as my show and tell)  so now it’s time to make him the racket to go with it.

I have tried to play tennis in my much younger days. It did not go well. My glasses move if I run or suddenly change direction so I can’t see anything beyond blurs. This makes it hard to hit or dodge a moving object. I also got tennis rackets that tennis balls seem to be able to go right through!! That doesn’t seem fair at all. But if Mr. Mer would like to try then I should let him.  It may go better for him than it did for me. I am not sure if there are different rules for water tennis. I should ask my niece about that.  She might know. (She is very good at swimming, which I am not)

Now how to make the racket. It will be wirework! The gauge will be important.  With Something larger for the rim and much finer for the stringing.  I will also need to have a wrapped handle.  The black floral tape should work. If it is not adhering well I could try black acrylic paint, mog-pog or clear glue to finish it off.

Wire gauge selection

I pulled out and considered from 6 to 14 gauge aluminum for the outer rim. I decided on 9 gauge.  The little section of the inner rim had to be finer. After a bit of looking and debating, I felt the 12 gauge – 2mm Dollerama aluminum would likely work. For the lacing I selected the 26 gauge (steel?) coated gardening wire. After making the first racket I can see a way of making the lacing a bit neater but I am content with the first attempt.

2-3 two of the wires gauges I will need

The handle needs to be wider than the width of two 9 gauge wires. I debated between four or three wires and found 3 more in scale.

4 Three 9ga wire looks better than four

Since I didn’t have a bending jig I gently shaped the oval by hand at the top of the 9 gauge wire bringing the handle ends together and adding the middle piece of wire. I added floral tape to hold the handle in shape as I measured, cut, then shaped the lower curve in the 12 gauge wire. I added a wrap of black floral tape before taping it in place on the racket.

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5-6 Lower rim of racket added

I cut off a couple of lengths of the 26ga fine coated steel wire. ( If I did this again I would have made each vertical a separate piece and wrap to give the spacing between each string.) I wrapped then laid in the vertical longer strings (9 in total).  Then, used the back of the felting needle to create a shed to pass the horizontal strings through.  (Why did I not grab the large darning needle hanging from my desk lamp? It would have worked even better.)  I added extra wire wrapping around the perimeter which would likely not have been necessary if I had done the wires individually.

7 the strung racket

At this point, I needed a bit more stabilization of the handle. It was compressing towards the base of the racket (The three wires were not sitting flat. One was trying to lift up between the other two.) I can fix such errant behaviour with more wire!!! I pulled the lengths of the 22ga black steel floral wire and carefully positioned and wrapped the thin wire around the parallel 9ga wire. This required another layer of floral tape over top and all looked much neater and more like a tennis racket!

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8-10 Adding wire to strengthen the handle

Mr. Mer was thrilled with his new acquisition! Which he held and posed with trying to get just the right look.

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11-15 The photoshoot!

Here is a quick idea of scale as I hold his new racket and ball

16 To get a sense of scale

He has put away his racket and ball carefully and wants me to get back to work on his fishiness. Then, maybe finish off the muscles of his arms….maybe some hair…… (Mr. Mer is getting demanding).

17 Good Job Mr. Mer! toys should be put away after you’re done playing.

 

18 A final shot

Mr. Mer does a few quick stretches to start the New Year

Mr. Mer does a few quick stretches to start the New Year

January 8th, 2022

It’s the new year and like a new crisp white piece of paper, it’s all possibilities as you hold your pencil above it and wait to decide which way to go. Will it be a drawing of a landscape, will I work on a sculptural idea, will it be a note that I shouldn’t forget something, too late I likely have forgotten it since the paper is still blank.

I have things I want to work on in the future, more stretching with the Mers, I want to chat more about needles and I have to catch up to Ann with her studio upgrade! I also want to revisit my Peg Doll loom and talk about project bags and boxes.

However, after thinking about it and staring at that blank piece of paper I think we should start the year with a good stretch.

Let’s talk about Rhomboids!!! Not only are they a fascinating shape (sort of like a square but more creative: “a parallelogram with no right angles and with adjacent sides of unequal length”) they are also the muscles between your shoulder blades (Scapula). Their job is to help stabilize your arms and shoulders when your arms are out in front of you. As in when you weave, spin, felt, or work on the computer (typing and mousing).  As the Rhomboids work, they are paired with muscles at the front of your shoulders (there are 3 of them so it’s not really fair, Poor Rhomboids!)

Although you may be feeling pain between the shoulder blades and stretching them out feels good it is often the anterior shoulder muscles shortening and causing the rhomboids to complain. So let’s look at a couple of stretches for Rhomboids and then try to open out the anterior shoulder. So Rhomboids won’t complain as much and you get to have fun longer!

There are a number of ways to stretch rhomboids, there are yoga stretches that focus on them, there are also cat stretches and the one I don’t see on the internet is the self-hug with rotation.

Now to help me with today’s blog I had offers from Dragon and Mr. Mer. I think Mr. Mer just wants to get out of his project bag and he has hopes I might keep working on building up his muscles more!  While Dragon has a lovely back ridge and frill, his articulation of the scapula does not produce Rhomboids that would stretch quite the same way ours do. So even though Mr. Mer is a bit fishy he still has similar articulation in the shoulder and upper back.

With my willing victim, ummm… Volunteer, let us proceed to discussing how to stretch this fabulous muscle and why stretching the muscles that Rhomboids are working with maybe even better.

I have had Mr. Mer do a hard day of typing (too bad he can’t see what he is typing since he is watching his fingers when he types. I guess he did not have to take typing in grade 9 like I did, it didn’t go that well for me but that is another story.)

 1  Typing and showing off his Rhomboids

You can see he has a well-developed upper back including Rhomboids, it may be all that swimming! The Felting needle stuck in his back is indicating the area of the muscle. It runs between the large scapular bone and the spine on an angle that looks Rhomboidal (thus Rhomboids, some muscle names make sense!).

 2 Rhomboids between the shoulder blades (Scapula)

I asked him to turn around without moving his arms so you could see how contracted the anterior shoulder is in this position.

3 View of the front of shoulders

Three muscles help your shoulders curl in; Pec Major, Pec Minor and Short Head of Biceps. Sometimes Upper traps “Helps” and elevates your shoulder too. It is not as helpful as you hoped either. This is totally unfair since poor rhomboids on the back are having to stabilize against all three of them in the front.

If you are feeling the tension between the shoulder blades you have a few stretches to ease that. One that was popular and easy to do was the cat stretch. (this is usually done kneeling on the floor then arching your back like a cat and tucking your chin towards your chest to give a stronger stretch). Mr. Mer said it looked more like the dead man’s float from Beginner swimming lessons (oh the horror of these memories, the cold pool, the wet water…let us move on)

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4-6 the Cat Stretch

If, like me, getting off the floor may do more harm than good, you may like this one better. Try a self-hug, not too much stretch there unless you are really tight!

7 Self-Hug Stretch

Keep that self-hug position and rotate the upper body slowly left then back to the right.  If you need more stretch, try tipping the elbows down then rotating.

8 9 Self-hug with rotation

Now that Rhomboids have been stretched, let’s think about strengthening them while stretching out the anterior shoulder. This one is called the Invisible Can Crush.

 10 Preparing for the Invisible Can Crush

Bring your arms down to your sides, bent at the elbow. Imagine your favourite flavour of pop can magically floating between your shoulder blades. OH NO! someone has switched it for some terrible tasting Pop!!  Push your shoulder blades together and squish it for a count of about 7 seconds then relax. (Pop cans are weak and even weaker if they are invisible, so you don’t have to use all your strength in killing the can. Just use enough to feel like the muscle is working.)

 11 Invisible Can Crush

Next, lift your elbows up towards your shoulders and then squish the offensive pop again. (Count to 7)

 12 Invisible Can Crush

If we get Mr. Mer to turn around you can see that this will contract and strengthen rhomboids but also stretch the front of the shoulder. The change in position will stretch out a different part of the anterior shoulder.

 13  Invisible Can Crush front view

If we can keep the front of the shoulder from curling in we also reduce its likelihood of compressing the group of nerves that run past the front of the shoulder (the nerve bundle is called the Brachial plexus). If you squish the right part of the nerve bundle, you can get numbness in the hand or fingers which is not a good thing if you are using sharp needles!

Another way to stretch the anterior shoulder is a Passive Anterior Shoulder Stretch with a pool noodle. Unfortunately, I could not find Mr. Mer a pool noodle to fit him. I gave Ann some foam hair rollers that look like they might have been the right size but I will have to go look and see what I have here. Oh, I found a miniature pool noodle but it’s a bit too miniature.

14 This pool noodle is a bit small for his manly, er…Fishly back

This can be easily fixed by wrapping a towel around it to make it a bit bigger.  (I used a piece of felt and a few quick jabs with the needle to hold it in place! A couple of elastics will work with a real towel and pool noodle.

15  Pool noodle wrapped in a “Towel”

Mr. Mer is showing you where the pool noodle is positioned when he lies down (since he is not see-through) some people like to use the floor but I prefer doing this stretch on the bed.

16 Passive Anterior Shoulder Stretch, Pool noodle down the spine with a pillow under the head

17 The orientation of the pillow and pool noodle without Mr. Mer

The pool noodle (or pool noodle and towel) lies under the spine. This lifts the spine off the bed or the floor and lets the shoulders expand and relax towards the bed or floor. This is a passive stretch and should feel comfortable, not painful.  Adding a pillow under the head is often even more comfortable.

If you feel you want to increase the passive stretch you can either use a bigger pool noodle or move closer to the edge of the bed and let one arm extend off that edge. Do not over-stretch, it is important to listen to the muscles for what feels comfortable.

 18  Increasing the strength of the stretch by extending the arm

Remember to take a few stretch breaks while you are working. You can use a timer or drink something so your bladder reminds you it’s time to take a break.

I hope your shoulders and upper back are happy and you can now enjoy the potential that a new year brings just like a new crisp piece of drawing paper just waiting for your first flash of inspiration.

PS; Mr. Mer is so happy to be out of his project bag and is having a quick swim around my desk.  Or he is making a break for it! Have fun and keep felting!

19 “I’m out of here! See you later!”

 

2021 is almost done, looking foreword to a better 2022

2021 is almost done, looking foreword to a better 2022

It is almost the end of the year, which is good since this one has not been one of the best years I have seen. I must also admit it has had a few good moments.  We had tried to keep in touch with family and friends, through calls, zoom meetings and sometimes when we are very lucky in person.  There was even a bit of in-person fibre shopping towards the end! (ooh Fiber!!) This year I have been investigating wire and still have the ongoing investigation with samples of hairspray. I added a tiny dragon to the family and have one more nearing completion.

Speaking of Dragon, he was very excited about one of my Xmass gifts this year. It will take another day or two to get it figured out. I think I understand how my friends feel when I type too late at night! What I mean is that the instruction manual while written using English words, and most are incomplete sentences, is still incompressible. However, it is truly amazing how you can have a paragraph of words that are about the battery yet still do not tell you exactly how to add the battery!

It does have the specks I was wanting: 4K Video/Camcorder, 48mp, 60fps(frames per second in the very fine print it only seems to be available at 1080 setting.) it is also light enough to fit on my existing articulating supports.

1-2 Xmas present

Since there was also a gaping lack of instructions as to how to put the macro and wide-angle lenses on as well as the lens hood (not the lens cover that doesn’t actually seem to attach if you have the other lenses on.) it took me a while to figure out how it fits together. I have figured out the remote (YEAH! A remote) can turn the camera off but not on…..I did figure out how to plug in the mike.

I am not sure if the German, French or Spanish sections might be more helpful. So it will take me another day before I am ready to try it out. I am hoping to be able to use it for felting. This is considered a very entry-level camera so I want to try it out and see if it’s got enough function to do what we need. Maybe Ann and I can try it out for some of her study group work.

Dragon volunteered to help me show you it set up at the computer desk. Here is his photoshoot.

3-5 I think Dragon is a bit of a Ham!

I am hoping Dragon will have better luck with the remote than I have had so far. If this works I hope to be able to show you the results at some point!

 

I also wanted to show you a few Christmas shots of Christmas past to hopefully inspire you with better memories than the last 2 years.

6 -10 Shots from Oakville in 2016 (There was snow!)

Have a wonderful New Year!! I am sure we are all looking forward to exploring an exciting new year (one with a limited imagination on number selection – 2022)

An International Project by Line Dufour

An International Project by Line Dufour

Line Dufour has been a practicing textile artist and tapestry weaver for the last 35 years. She is a graduate of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto Ontario and has always had her own studio. She taught weaving to adults for about twenty years, while at the same time doing art/craft shows and exhibitions. She is currently retired from teaching but continues her studio practice. At the moment, Line does not have a gallery that represents her, and if someone wants to purchase one of her pieces they contact her through her website or social media or other channels. Line’s website www.linedufour.com. You can find her cv on there as well. She is currently enrolled at the University of Gloucestershire in the UK and working on obtaining her Master’s in Creative Writing and Critical Thinking.

And now the project

 

Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry, Punta del Este, Uruguay 2017

 

Fate, Destiny and Self Determination [] Le Sort, Destin, et l’auto-determination [] Suerte, Destino y Auto-determinación [] Los, Przeznaczenie i Wola [] Das Schicksal, das Geschick und das Selbstbestimmungsrecht

[] 운명, 숙명 그리고 자기가 결정한 팔자. 팔자  []  Usud, sudbina i samoodređenje [] Sorte,Destino,Auto Determinação [] Öde, mål och självbestämmande [] Fato, Destino e Autodeterminazione

 

Written by Line Dufour.

Fate is defined as a force, energy, principle, element or power that prescribes to each person a set of limits, boundaries and confines. In Islam it is called Kismet. The Greeks called Fate, Moira. Greek Mythology speaks of the three Fates: Clotho, Lachesis and Atropos who supposedly controlled each person’s fate. The youngest, Clotho,  is a spinner and she determines the time of birth and spins the thread of life on her distaff. Lachesis measures the length of the thread to determine the length of one’s life; the time of death is decided by Atropos, who cuts the thread. Inherent in the idea of Fate, is that one has no influence over events and outcomes. Mythology and psychology distinguish between Fate and Destiny. Destiny is considered an expanding field of possibilities alluding to our potential to influence our Fate. This makes Destiny kinetic. “The lives we construct are an inextricably woven fabric of influences, possibilities and accumulated consequences of choices made.” (James Hollis)

The development of the COVID-19 has made all of us more aware of the impact of isolation on our well being. This sense of isolation forms the underpinnings of this installation launched in 2016.  Fate, Destiny and Self Determination was created as social media driven initiative to reduce the isolation artists experienced in their artistic process through co-creating the installation, providing planned hands-on events and gathering them together to exhibit their collective efforts. Inclusiveness is the weft that weaves the installation together.

Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is composed of three sections. The main tapestry woven panel (on the left) was created by Line Dufour, referencing the contemporary practice of tapestry where artist and weaver are one. The second panel on the right, was woven by visiting participants ranging from the inexperienced and amateur to the professional. This referenced traditional tapestry conventions in that many weavers work(ed) on the tapestry at the same time or at various stages and did not contribute to creating the tapestry designs.

The final section is composed of irregular shapes positioned at varying heights, between the 2 main panels, floating freely in space, as though the tapestry is pulling apart or coming together.  As each shape arrives, Dufour photographs/documents it, posts it to the Facebook page for the project https://www.facebook.com/Fate-Destiny-and-Self-Determination-An-international-tapestry-project-194385150700425 as well as on Instagram@tapestryline and Twitter@tapestry_line. She also includes information about the participants such as their website if they have one, and other comments they have made about the project or about their work and/or life. Thus far, 864  shapes have been received from 43 countries, and a total of about 519 people have participated. The installation continues to expand as it accepts shapes on an ongoing basis. Part of the exhibition includes a list of all participant names. If a label cannot be displayed in the gallery, a QR code label is available so that the gallery viewer can access the web page with the names of all participants.

Each time Fate, Destiny and Self-Determination is installed the shapes are never placed in the same positions, making it interactive and spontaneous, and permits the curator(s) to be part of its creation. Conversely, the curator could also invite the gallery guest to position shapes on the wall between the two panels, having them re-create the installation.

The installation welcomes invitations to be exhibited around the world, and to that effect has been exhibited in the following venues:

  • Craft Ontario in Toronto, Canada
  • The Montreal Centre for Contemporary Textiles, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
  • The Doyle and Margaret Hartman Gallery, Regis University, Denver, Colorado USA
  • Craft Council of British Columbia, Canada
  • The San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles as part of the American Tapestry Alliance Biennial 11
  • Guan Shan Yue Art Museum, Shenzen, China. 9th From Lausanne To Beijing
  • The Centre D’Action Culturelle de la MLC de Papineau in Québec
  • World Textile Art Biennial at the Fundacion Pablo Achtugarry in Punta del Este Uruguay
  • World of Threads, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
  • Rosccommon County Council, Roscommon Ireland
  • Tuchmacher Museum, Bramsche, Germany
  • Tuch & Technik Textilmuseum, Neumunster, Germany

 

Anyone who wishes to do so, can create a shape using a textile/fibre related technique (tapestry, rug, weaving, felt, basketry, etc) or create a piece that references textiles with whatever materials they like. Any hue from the colour wheel is suggested. You can use more than one colour. There is no minimum or maximum size, but the average size is 10cm (4”) . There is no maximum on the number of pieces you can submit. A person can also weave (create) a shape of their country, state or province or any shape except not a square or rectangle.  You can look at the Instagram @tapestryline page for the project to see how other people have created their shapes.

Around the Web

Around the Web

This is post of links to interesting and or useful sites around the web.

http://www.soraiyu.com/work/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/Pulliswoollies

https://www.feltforarchitecture.com/portfolio

 

http://www.sheep101.info/sheepbreedsa-z.html

 

 

Homepage

 

https://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/reference/picture-dictionary/

http://www.pburch.net/dyeing.shtml

 

http://www.martinacelerin.com/

https://www.facebook.com/sarahzonadesigns

 

Spin like your Scottish

spinning on a pendulum wheel

 

https://www.hernmarck.com/about

https://www2.cs.arizona.edu/patterns/weaving/books.html

https://www.carolingianrealm.info/PatternGenerator.php

 

http://www.knittingonthenet.com/stitches.htm

https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/1940s-knitting-patterns

 

 

 

 

 

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.

Hair to dye for the Mer’s.

Hair to dye for the Mer’s.

Hair to dye for the Mer’s.

After a long pause from felting to work on the Guild Library survey (why did no one tell me data analysis was so much fun?) with interruptions to torture incent unsuspecting flax plants, I am now back to working on the Mer’s.  Shark Boy is coming along nicely but seems to be missing something… hair!! They will all need hair, but I want it to work with their tail colours too.

Well, I should have some locks or at least some bits of fleece that might work for long hair, because what Mer would not want long hair? All that floating along behind them in the water, looking flowy, and lustrous. Gorgeous tresses, getting in their eyes when they are hunting. ok maybe a braid might be better or another somewhat controlled hairstyle but long, defiantly.

I am imagining picking up bits of colour from the body may be a base of black or dark gray with streaks and accents of some of the body tones. Since Hair should be different than skin, I want to use a different fibre than the Corriedale I have used for the body. Something with a bit more body, (without the use of styling products or heavy conditioners).

In 2019 I picked up a couple of “Coarse” fleeces from the Wool Growers Co-op. Both are quite soft but are more towards a wavy hair than a fluffy crimpy type of sheep. Both are off white to light gray. I also have a reddish-brown Shetland fleece that might be interesting overdyed. I collected a sandwich zip lock bag of each from my stash and turned to the problem of changing their colour.

I need hair dye! Well, I have threatened my hair with that if it didn’t do something interesting as it’s progressing back to the “blond” I was born with. (Ann says it’s a shade of light gray, I claimed it’s just transforming to blond a very light shade of blond that I hope one day will be white) so I don’t have any hair die and none in greens and blues. Humm.

 1 I don’t have any hair die

I do have some old Ritz dies in the basement but they are for dyeing medieval gowns so a bit too much for small samples of fleece. I have heard rumours that you can use food colouring to dye with. Yep, checked youtube, they seem to show only dyeing yarn but it should work with what you make yarn with! Ok, check the kitchen, no food colouring.  I have a plan! Ask Glenn to pick some up on his way back from work! Thanks, Glenn.

So I had collected samples of the two coarse fleeces and a bit from one of the Icelandic. My final fibre to add was horsehair to give a bit more body. I have some dark and light tail hair but unfortunately, it was clumped together and tangled. I was able to extract some and got them laying parallel, held together with a bulldog clip.

Now what do I cook all this in. it’s a bit small for even my smallest pot. Hummm. I am not using the plastic organizer trays I was using for saucers on some of the outdoor plants. I wonder if they would go in the microwave? They don’t say that they don’t go in the microwave!

 2-3 Plan B

I am likely too impatient but I soaked the fibres in warm water and vinegar to prep them for dying. I realized I could fit most of my samples in one organizer and left one sample in the other.  I let it soak until the fibre seemed quite saturated and removed some of the excess water.

  4-6 Soaking in water and vinegar

When I could not stand the wait any longer, I dripped in drops of strait blue die on one end of the containers.

 7 Dye just sitting there

Well, that was disappointing. They just sat there, maybe I took out too much water. I think it needs a poke to inspire the die to migrate a bit. (One of the YouTube videos poked at their skeins in the dye bath) where did I put the spare take out wooden chopsticks? Found them! Why are they with the plastic straws? (maybe filed by the similarity of shape?) Poke, poke, stab, poke and the die is migrating along the top. Ok, let’s add some green and see if we can get a bit of migration and mingling. This is starting to sound quite social. I should put out cookies and make drinks! Again, green drips just sat there. Maybe a bit more water, AH! Yes, now it’s mingling better. More poking but not stirring and I have a nice blue-green, not the Prussian blue I was hoping for but it’s not the right base blue I suspect.

8-9 Poked with chopsticks then tipped the container to migrate the dye

Next, I dripped in some yellow to both samples and worked that in with more poking. Finally, I tipped the containers and got the unattached die to migrate towards the undyed parts. I assessed how it looked and deemed the blue was not quite what I wanted. Maybe a bit of red to get the blue a bit more towards purple would be better?  Let’s try that on the samples with the darker one. A few drops! Oh, my! Red is an aggressive colour! Well, I’m not sure you would call that blue but it is investing. Let’s see what it looks like when it’s dry.

10 3 drops of red

11-13 Heating it up, then letting it cool

Now on to the microwave, let’s guess a minute at a time. Two minutes total gave a nice hot dyebath but still a lot of suspended die. I cooked both for 2 minutes covered with cling wrap and remembered to take the mettle bulldog clip off the horsehair before I stuck it in the microwave. Now let it sit covered until it cools down on the stove and see if I have suspended dye left in the wool.

 14 one leaked but it did seem to have survived the microwave

Usually, I am much better at this patents thing, maybe I will go make some oolong tea. In addition, one of the last of the season’s butter tarts made by Ann. She is amazing and her butter tarts are Really good!

15-16 Oolong with one of the last tarts of 2020.

17 Cooling fibre on the stove

Enjoyed the Butter tart, drank most of the tea and worked on the computer….. Then went to drain and rinse the wool samples. Looking good!! I added some soap and re-rinsed, seems to have mostly stopped leaking blue.

18-19 Rinsing in the sink

So a light squeeze and draped over a chopstick and paper towel to dry.

  20-21 set out to dry

Went back to the computer (played Rune scape) then back to the kitchen to check on the wool and start dinner (miso and ginger soup with shitake mushrooms, onion and noodles). The wool seems to have left a few spots on the paper towel but is looking very colourful.

22 a bit of staining on the underside of the paper towel

  23-24 dyeing made me hunger for dinner

  25-26 Dry and ready to use

It was interesting to see how little die the white horse tail hairs picked up. I may get better results by letting them simmer overnight in a die bath but there is a bit of colour and they may still work.

It has been years since I got a chance to dye anything and this was a lot of fun. I will have to keep an eye out for variegated grey fleeces in 2021 and consider doing some dyeing outdoors next spring. (Glenn does have that second forge but it might make the dye bath a bit too hot. So maybe I can use the barbeque.)  Have fun and happy felting!

27 now on to more butter tarts!

Time for a New Hat.

Time for a New Hat.

I don’t know whats happened to my last year’s hat. It is probably at the back bottom of the deep shelf in my hall closet. I don’t feel like cleaning that out so I am taking it as a sign I should make myself a new hat.  I think I will make it to go with my new cowl. https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2020/11/16/the-cowl-is-finished/

I know it will be a purple wool base and have the orange/gold silk lap on it. I am not sure about the leaves. I am thinking of several possibilities for the hat.

You will have to excuse the very crude drawings but my drawing ability is very small.

The first option has a brim like this hat. The brim folds up twice but stands away from the hat. I was thinking of putting the silk fibre on the inside so it would show when rolled up.

The second thought was to elongate the brim on one side so that I could cut it and make a rosette on one side but still have the other side just folded up.

The third option is to make it with a normal turned up brim and the elongated part for a rosette. In the picture, I did it so it would have a very turned up brim but maybe a regular slight turn up would be better with the rosette.

Forth option( not pictured) is to just do a normal brim with some silk on the underside.

The leaves. I am not really sure they wouldn’t make the hat too busy. Maybe I could felt a couple by themselves and add some vanes on the sewing machine and then tuck them in behind the rosette.

Then there is doing a swirl or rings with shaping on the crown.

So many options, now tell me your thoughts on this hat. I am open to suggestions.

 

Fourth Quarter Challenge

Fourth Quarter Challenge

Although I don’t normally make a big deal out of Christmas the one thing I’ve always enjoyed, and can’t imagine not doing, is decorating my tree. The bigger the tree the better….in fact if it doesn’t touch the ceiling it isn’t up to the job! At this point I will come clean and admit that, as the trees got bigger and bigger, I made the shift from real trees to an 8 foot artificial one. I can hear the groans from those who wouldn’t dream of buying artificial, that used to be me, but it is what it is!

Most of my tree decorations have been homemade or received as gifts with some of the quirkiest, and most meaningful, coming from my Aunty Das who sadly isn’t with us any more. These lovely wooden decorations were gifted from Das to my partner who’s hobby is flying.

And these are a few I’ve made in the past…..

These rosette paper baubles took hours to make and won’t be repeated! The dark one is 17cm diameter and was made from black and white photos cut from magazines, the other two are 11cm and made from an old book.

With a big tree there’s always room for more baubles and with the fourth quarter challenge being Christmas Decorations it was the perfect excuse to make more. I found some 10cm and 8cm polystyrene balls locally and covered the large ones with four coordinating cream/black fabrics and the small ones with four green/red fabrics.

Some of the balls have been cut into eight segments and others have had extra horizontal cuts to create a patchwork effect.
I’ve found a stash of old baubles in the loft and these are getting a makeover this year, drawing on them with the hot glue gun and then covering them with Matt emulsion.

One of the first wet felting workshops I attended was run by Robyn Smith who taught how to make these gorgeous fairy boots…..I’ve made them as gifts every Christmas since then. With more time on my hands this year, and prompted by the Challenge, I’ve made myself some plus a few extras to sell.

As it’s the season to be jolly, and gnomes have always made me smile, I’ve had a go at making some of those too. The Scandinavian gnome is typically associated with the Winer Solstice and Christmas season so I thought I’d have a go at making my version of a Scandi gnome.

The gnomes came about by accident really. Spurred on by the challenge I’d ordered some 14cm high polystyrene cones online (by this time we were in lockdown) with the intention of making Christmas Tree shaped table decorations. When they arrived every one of the ten cones was damaged.

Rather than send them back, the challenge now was, what could I make with them that didn’t need to be a perfect cone shape? That’s when the gnomes came to mind….the wonky cones would make the perfect base!

Originally I thought about making flat felt for their clothes but then decided to use the same cream/black fabrics I had used for the large baubles, plus a few others. Being in lockdown and wanting to get straight on with them I searched around for something to make the beards out of and found an old cardigan at the back of my wardrobe that had a faux fur collar…..needless to say it doesn’t any more! The first beard I cut didn’t look right. With trial and error I’ve discovered that the way to cut faux fur is by working from the back and only cutting the backing fabric, not the fur itself, using a scalpel blade. That way you get a nice shaggy beard.

The females have Merino wool plaits and both sexes have felted button noses. I’ve machine sewn their outfits but if you were making these with children they could be made just with the glue gun for a quicker finish.

The clothes are simply a triangle for the hat, a semicircle for the jacket and a circle for the dress and/or gents undergarment.

The dress circle is simply hand stitched around the circumference, put on the cone and then pulled tight and the thread knotted. The front of the dress is then pulled up to approx 10cm from the base and hot glued in position.

I decided to use a belt and braces method to attach the nose as I was afraid it might get knocked off (really??) It’s been hand stitched to a strip of white fabric and that in turn is glued onto the cone. Thinking about it now, was this over engineered? Definitely!

The waistcoat was finished with a metal bead and the Merino fibre plaits attached either side of the nose using hot glue. The oversized hat has been glued in several places to create the sloppy look. To finish them off I’ve stood each gnome on a slice of wood.

I’ve had fun making these and I’m keeping a male and female on a shelf in my studio because I can’t look at them without smiling! Besides, a gnome isn’t just for Christmas!

Whatever you get up to over the Christmas period have fun and stay safe!

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