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Category: Wet Felting

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

My Second Quarter Challenge Piece

I actually had a plan for what I would write about in May. I planned to circle back, to my crocheted hexagons; discus finishing options and show some new color fun I have had. Then Porter, our 6 month old [Bernese Mountain] puppy delivered his latest woodworking project to the patio door. It was a perfect specimen for the second quarter challenge; “look at what is right around us, and make something.” I shot a couple pictures, of Porter and his woodworking pieces.

Porter and the Original Piece
Cherry Wood Specimen

I was planning to use the “tree knot” in the first photo, but my wool selection wasn’t right. We gathered all his dropped pieces on the patio table and found the perfect replacement: a piece of cherry wood from a previously removed tree. The colors were perfect with the wools I had to work with. I got my drum carder set up, and went to work, blending shades. The batt colors came out better than I expected.

Drum Carder and Wool Batts

I hoped to wet felt a piece that resembled our patio table. First I laid out the gray batt [top left] for the backing. In the opposite direction, I laid the batt blended in the colors of the table. [bottom right] I added wisps of additional colors in areas. Last, and to my regret, I added a brown Alpaca/ CVM yarn for grout lines. I wet it all down with soapy water, covered with fine mesh, and rubbed gently. After a few minutes, I removed the mesh, and replaced it with a second piece of bubble wrap. I flipped the piece over and rubbed on the back a little. The toothy wool was already attached fairly well. I placed this bubble bundle on a bamboo mat, and began rolling 25 times in each direction. When I checked the piece…ugh! I failed to think about what shrinkage would do to those grout lines.

Wonky Lines

Straight lines when felted go wonky! I should’ve thought to needle felt them in later. I look at all these situations as learning opportunities; and I won’t forget this lesson anytime soon. Overall, I am very pleased with my background attempt. All is not lost, I will store the piece away, and cut it up for other projects. My felted cherry wood piece, on the other hand, was a happy surprise! I have done some needle felting, but none of my 3D pieces, turned out the way I hoped.

I started the wood piece, by making a very tightly rolled snake, and stabbed at it only enough to keep it together. I rolled it together between my palms, and once it meshed together, it was longer than needed. I decided cutting the wool snake in half, and placing both halves together, would get me closer to the girth required. I used my 38 star needle to felt the pieces together, then rolled that up tightly, in another piece of the batt.

Needing to create a small protruding piece, I rolled some scraps together, folding in half as before. I stabbed the little piece to the lower part of the twig. Then to hold everything together and create the inner coloring, I rolled the whole piece in a brown/tan batt, splitting the fiber when I came to the knot. This is what it looked like:

Wool wrapped twig piece prior to Felting. Shown with the real piece of wood.

At this point I turned exclusively to my felting needle: felting around, and around, up and down the entire wool twig. Every once and a while, I made a series of stabs, on either end to begin shaping. Once the piece was good and firm, I applied a nice layer of the rusty/blue gray batt I blended with my carder. (photo 1, below) I needle felted the fiber in place, concentrating my attentions on the blue gray, and rust areas. (photo 2) I was really happy with my (accidental) blending capabilities. Lol:-)

1. Blended Batt 2. Initial Felting 3. Knot Area 4. Final Result

I used some brown alpaca yarn, to enhance the area under the knot. I continued to work on either end of the twig, using some lighter bits of wool. I stabbed some deep lines, coming up from the bottom, and tried to add a bit of realness to my specimen. (photo 4) Overall, I am really pleased with my felting experience, this time. I don’t know what I will do with my felted twig, but in the meantime it will hang out with knitted gnomes and the “As You Wish” sprite creature I created before the pandemic.

Gnomes and Capi’s “As You Wish” Sprite

 

 

Community Art Installation

Community Art Installation

I was asked by my local community arts centre to run a felting workshop to contribute ‘something’ to a community art installation to celebrate Queen Elizabeth II’s forthcoming platinum jubilee.  The wonderful Horsebridge Community Arts Centre in Whitstable is creating a ‘tea party with a twist’: everything will be hand-made and not necessarily from the usual materials.  Think papier mâché teacups and crocheted sandwiches.  The Horsebridge received a grant from Arts Council England to create their installation which meant participation was free but I would get paid to run the workshop – a win-win!

I mulled over what the ‘something’ might be and decided to run a workshop making wet felted flowers as table centre pieces.

I decided early on to take my colour inspiration from the Commonwealth flag – royal blue and golden yellow. This would reduce the choices people would have to make (which often take a long time!) and would be a change from the red, white and blue of our national flag.

I’ve not made flowers before so set about designing something that was as simple as possible to make. The creators were unlikely to have any felting experience and we were going to do this in 2½ hours – both demonstrate and make.

By now my friend Sue (a ceramicist) had agreed to run another workshop making slab pot vases for the flowers to sit in, so they needed to stand in a vase. I took some wool away on a trip with me and started trying out designs.

Prototype One: a loopy sort of flower made by laying out 5 separate petal shapes of wool (herring-bone style layout) then felting them together with a little wool in the middle.

I thought it was OK but getting the petals even was a little challenging and we’d have to use wire for the stems. I wasn’t sure they’d sit very well in vases and I generally thought I could do better, so moved on to my second design.

Prototype Two: I liked this a little better. It was laid out in a flat circle and the petals were cut part-way though fulling. It seemed pleasingly tulip-shaped. I wasn’t content to settle quite yet, though, as I had a few other ideas to try out.

Prototype Three: a more complex design laying out one larger circle of wool then covering it with a circular resist with a hole in the middle and laying out a smaller circle of wool on top of the resist, ensuring the two layers joined together through the hole.  Not surprisingly, I realised that this was going to be way too complicated to create in the time available. The fulling took a long time. I did like the blue edging on the petals though so carried this through to the next sample.

Prototype Four: I wanted to try adding a felt rope stem so it would sit nicely in a vase without using wire so needed a fairly simple flower shape if there was going to be time to add the stem to the design.  I made a felt rope in blue, keeping one end dry and fluffy to attach to the flower head.  The head was laid out in a single yellow layer, radiating out from the centre, in a similar way to prototype 2. I joined the stem as I wetted down the wool and covered it with a piece of bubble wrap with a hole in the middle for the stem to poke through.  This would prevent the body of the stem felting to the flower.

Once the flower and stem were at prefelt stage and the stem was securely attached, I picked up the flower by the stem and rolled it closed, mostly between my palms, to shape it into a 3D rather than flat flower.

Yes, this seemed just about do-able within the time and was reasonably simple for inexperienced felters to make.  If anyone ran out of time they could skip the petal-cutting stage and make a cone-shape flower so they wouldn’t have to heal all the edges and shape every individual petal.

By the time I got back to my studio the right coloured wool had arrived, along with some yellow tussah silk.  I already had blue and yellow nepps so I could set about refining my prototype.  A few design changes: I decided we’d run a second layer of wool just around the outside of the flower head circle as this would give the petals a bit more body.  Second, I’d add add nepps to the centre and a few strands of silk to the petals. Here’s the new layout.

And here’s the finished flower: advanced prototype 4!

Yes, I was pleased with the improvements and fairly confident the flowers would sit comfortably in their vases. I parcelled out the wool, nepps and silk and gathered together all the equipment ready for the workshop. It took a while!

Normally I teach a maximum of 8 people at a time but as this was a small make I rather recklessly committed to 16 – thinking I could have 2 people per table. Not a problem until I started to seek out 16 towels and 16 mats…..but it seems my hoarding tendencies came good! Cutting out 32 pieces of bubble wrap (16 of which needed a hole cutting in the middle) and 16 pieces of net started to feel like I was on a production line. Happily, though, I got everything together just in time for the day of the workshop.

Here’s the teaching room at the Horsebridge with everyone setting to work – a lovely light, airy and spacious room with people well spaced-out.

A couple of work in progress shots

And lots of happy felters with their beautiful creations.

The workshop seemed to go well and we produced plenty of flowers to add to the installation. I made sure people took photos of their own flowers as they can collect them after the event, if they want to.

Here’s most of them gathered at the end of the workshop.

Lessons: we needed more time! It’s hard to estimate how long it will take to demonstrate something and for people then to make it.  I’d opted for 2½ hours but with hindsight should have gone for 3.  I’ve left myself quite a lot of ‘finishing off’ to do – to make sure stems are firm enough for example – before the flowers go into the installation in early June. I could wrap the floppier stems in florists wire but I’d prefer them to be fully felted. It also took me way longer than I’d realised both to develop the prototypes and prep all the materials. Happily I was able to put the time in and I’m now fully ready for any future flower felting opportunities!

The installation is from 2 June and I’m really excited to see how it all comes together and how the flowers fit in. I took part in a couple of the other workshops: making slab pot vases and monoprint doilies. There’s something really joyous for me in taking part in a community art project and the Horsebridge have done a wonderful job in involving lots of people in the installation. As well as a series of workshops, they’ve sent out lots of making kits for people who can’t get to the centre to make things and worked really hard to involve lots of different members of the community. If you’re interested in the end result I’m sure the Horsebridge Arts Centre will post photos so here’s a link to their website. https://thehorsebridge.org.uk/ and a big thanks too to Arts Council England for providing the project funding. https://www.artscouncil.org.uk/.

Remembrance

Remembrance

I promised after I made a small poppy piece for the first quarter challenge repurposing a piece of nuno felt, that I would make a bigger piece in the same style.

This piece is large, somewhere in the 30″ length and 18-20″ width. This is the layout and I have sprinkled the cut up orange nuno felt over the base layer of green wool. I made sure that the orange bits were roughed up so they would stick down better.

Here is the piece after felting. I have pinned some larger poppies in the foreground made out of painted silk paper. I was distracted by the yellow in the direct center in the sky. I decided to add more yellow so that the one area wouldn’t stick out as much.

I needle felted some yellow across the left portion of the lower sky and a few wisps up higher. I also added some lighter/paler silk paper to the poppies as I felt they were too dark in the first try. Then I added some green locks to the foreground for foliage.

And here it is after finishing and “matting” on green fabric. Now Remembrance is ready to go the framer. Now I just have to find a new gallery to carry my work, easier said than done.

Monstrous Felting Retreat

Monstrous Felting Retreat

A few weeks ago I experienced the delight that is the Auckland Fun Felter’s Retreat, 2 full days of felting bliss! 🙂

We were 13 like-minded ladies at a retreat centre, tucked away in a quiet and leafy corner of west Auckland, we had the entire centre all to ourselves and were blessed with some lovely weather.

Jenny, our organiser extraordinaire, asked if anyone would be willing to teach / lead a short workshop on Saturday morning. Due to the pandemic, I haven’t had the chance to teach face to face since 2019 so jumped at the chance and then immediately panicked that I had nothing to teach this incredibly creative and experienced group (most of the members have been felting at least as long as I have!).

After several weeks mulling it over and talking to other AFF members I settled on “animal textures in felt”, I thought this would lend itself to a series of pre-prepared samples that we could discuss the potential pitfalls and then each member could incorporate one or two into their own project. This group is so experienced I couldn’t imagine any of them wanting to waste their precious felting time watching me laying out fibre over a resist.

We all arrived on Friday afternoon, settled into our rooms and started playing with our fibres in the main hall. After talking to a few members I realised not everyone would be happy for me to share some samples and tips on how to achieve different effects, they wanted a project to follow…. my heart sank, I hadn’t planned for this, how was I going to come up with a project that included, fur, scales, eyes and locks before tomorrow morning?!!

So it was that Fugly was born….

A little pod critter, with eyes, scales on his back, a lambs tail and an unfortunate ear-hair problem – for the record I would never normally recommend trying to cram so many different techniques onto one item but now he is finished I do find Fugly quite endearing 🙂

To my surprise most of the group also made pods that incorporated most or all of the techniques and we ended up with a ?gaggle, ?fright, ?laughter <insert collective noun of your choice here> of funny little monsters:

A couple of members applied to techniques to small bags with great effect…

This weekend was such a success we agreed to do it all again in just 6 months time! 🙂

On the Swan

On the Swan

Recently, a local woman asked me to create a river view in felt for her. I created several watercolor sketches she could choose from so that we agreed on what the landscape would look like and what to include. The client lives on the Swan River here in Montana and decided she wanted a view similar to what she has behind her home.

After hand carding and blending colors, I started on the layout. I used a commercial prefelt background and mostly short fiber merino batts. Somehow, I wasn’t thinking correctly on shrinkage as I went with the idea that it would shrink 30%. But I forgot that I don’t normally full my wool paintings very hard as they don’t really need intense fulling.

I continued working down the picture laying out the distant trees, the river with the trees and mountains reflections and then into the foreground grass and lupines. At the same time I was laying out the big piece, I also laid out a smaller sample. That way I could try different options with final details and stitching. This shows the birch trees from silk paper that I was trying to decide upon. Luckily, I had made the birch tree silk paper several months ago at one of our local group meetings.

Here’s the small sample that I made. I tried the left tree trunk in prefelt and then used free motion machine stitching for the dark areas. The right tree trunk used silk paper which was painted for the dark areas. I also tried out some FME for the branches and the lupines. I didn’t feel that the FME was what I wanted for this piece and opted for the silk paper birch trunks. I had also used some brown/tan wool for the distant shoreline which was way too much if included in the original wet felting process. I ended up cutting out a portion of this sample so that the brown wool was showing much less. I then stitched the two pieces of the sample back together to give the feel of what I wanted in the large piece. This sample really saved me from making some big mistakes!

Here is what I had after wet felting. I had to full this piece very hard as the request was for a certain size. I don’t normally worry about size on my wet felted landscapes and I ended up cutting the edges because I had not figured the shrinkage correctly.

Next I started adding in needle felt details. I added more definition to the distant tress, added a shoreline and added some lines in the water to simulate movement.

Then I stitched some grass in the foreground and stitched down the silk paper tree trunks.

I continued on with details. I added some paint to the tree trunks, I couched down branches and added leaf details with needle felting. I added hand stitching in front of the trunks and some leaf details for the lupine.

Here’s a close up so you can see a bit of the detail in the foreground.

Then I found I already had enough green fabric that worked to finish the piece. My client is getting it framed with barn wood, so this is how I delivered the piece. And the wonderful thing is that she loved it. I’m so happy it worked out the way that she wanted.

Felted Wall Hangings (in pairs)

Felted Wall Hangings (in pairs)

These wall hangings were made for a customer order. The idea was to be something modern but inspired from archaic motifs. I love the central Asian motifs, so I decided to use these curves in different ways. I used the wet felting technique, first the design with pencil roving, then the coloured wool and finally the 3 layers of wool. With lot of rolling and work I finished these wall hangings.

 

Felt Saguaro

Felt Saguaro

This is a guest post by Cindy, our first reader to submit a photo for the 2nd Quarter Challenge. If you would like to submit a photo, you can do so here.

Hi everyone, my name is Cindy and I love playing with fibers – all the wonderful colors and textures. I sat down in the evening to relax and opened up Felting and Fiber Studio to enjoy the new posts. It is always like picking up a good book to read.

I was delighted that the 2nd quarter challenge was about noticing the little things – the details in everyday life. The project I just finished surprisingly enough was exactly that – a close up piece to resemble the ribs on a saguaro cactus. I decided to post the picture on the site for the challenge. Ruth reached out to ask more about it and would I share my process with the group – I happily agreed to do so – hope you enjoy.

I had been admiring the way the light and the shadows play on the saguaro cacti in my yard and surroundings. I started examining them – really paying close attention. I decided to make a few saguaro sculptures working on form and trying to get some texture as well. I had a shibori piece that I made on my desk and my thoughts meandered (as they often do -LOL) – wondering if this method would work to make the texture and ribs for a saguaro. I did not know if I would be able to keep the lines fairly straight to get the look I wanted or if they would scrunch up and be more of a zig zag like my other piece, which I love but not for this project. I thought it was worth a try. Here are a couple of my inspiration photos of saguaros in my yard that I was watching the play of light and shadows.

The inspiration photo on the right is a close up of the ribs of a cactus that I took a few years ago when we had snow in our area – which is a rare occurrence and that I enjoy immensely.

I set out to lay out fiber to wet felt – knowing that I would be pleating the piece for the ribs – I laid out the piece approx. 22” long x 9” high. I wet felt my pieces between a lightweight tightly woven fabric – assuming a polyester or such as it does not felt. I call it “slip” material because that is what I originally bought it for. You can see it under the fibers in the photo below.

The first layer is black core fiber. I knew I was going to have a few layers of colors, so I laid out each color pretty thin as I did not want the finished piece too thick. The picture shows the initial black core layer followed by the start of the 2nd layer – copper colored fiber.

Here you can see the 2nd layer of copper finished with all the fiber going in the same direction.

Next, I added some wisps of a tan core fiber as a 3rd layer. You can see that I did not cover it entirely – just wanted some lighter color for emphasis.

It was time to add a 4th layer of green, which was maori wool fiber.

I wanted more hues of green to add light and depth – so the next step was to add fine wisps of lima bean colored Corriedale wool fiber. I also added fine wisps of other greens – lime, Christmas, evergreen and olive – again to get light and depth in the piece. I decided to cut up some wool yarns in light, medium and dark browns to make the “spots” that I noticed on the close-up photo. Note: I would say that all of these blended in and I did not get the spots as intended, but they did add to the overall look of the piece. At this time, you can add any other embellishments that you might like. I enjoy color, so I added some purple and dark blue strands.

Next, I folded over my piece of “slip” material to cover the fiber and started the wet felting process – wetting with soap and water and rubbing and rolling the piece 30-50 times each side and direction to obtain to a prefelt material. My best description of prefelt is a soft material in which all the fibers and embellishments (if any) are interlocked together and are not moving loosely – it is basically a piece of soft fabric. When it reached that stage, I rung the soap and water out of the piece and gently rolled it in a towel to get out most of the moisture. I was impatient to start the next step and did not want to wait for it to dry.

It looks bumpy, but that is because the photo was taken just after I squeezed out the soapy water. Note: the blue shelf liner material, in the next photos, was under the bamboo mat for grip. Starting on the left side, I went in approx. 3⁄4” and made an upwards fold (1/2” – 3⁄4”) in the prefelt, I hand sewed a medium long basting running stitch at the base of this fold with black heavy-duty thread to make a “rib”. Note: at the beginning of the stitch, I knotted the thread at the back of the piece. When I finished top of each row, I left the thread long (approx. 3”) and loose. My theory was if it was loose, it would not pull, since I wanted the rows fairly straight. I sewed ribs all along the piece leaving space between each rib. I added a few “Y” ribs with my stitching. If you look closely at a saguaro, you see that where it changes shape from wide to narrow, the ribs form a Y. You may be able to make this out at the top of the close-up photo. In the spaces between the ribs, I decided to sew a running stitch. I left the thread approx. 3” long and loose on both edges. This was an attempt to get more dots that I was seeing in the close-up photograph.

In the photo below all the hand sewing completed and the piece full of ribs, it was ready for the felting/fulling process. I sandwiched the piece between the white poly/slip material. Added soapy water to the piece and began the fulling process by rolling it in a bamboo mat. I was always mindful of the ribs. I would open periodically to pinch the ribs to make sure that they were not felting together, and to keep them upright.

Once the piece was firmer and holding its shape, I rolled it up on itself with the ribs inside and then with them outside, alternating between both directions, and continued to roll it. I continued until I was happy with the size, texture and firmness of the piece. I then took a small pair of sharp pointed scissors and began to snip small lines and indents on the top of each of the ribs so that the tan, copper and black colors would be exposed to mimic the spines on the ribs of the saguaro. I was mindful of how deep I cut
with the scissors to expose the color I was after.

The stitched lines between the ribs had all but disappeared in the felting process so I carefully sliced off a very thin layer of felt at these areas to expose the stitches and my fun dots appeared! I decided to expose more of the colors underneath, so I carefully snipped away little areas here and there. I am happy to say the ribs stayed straight without the zig zag look I was afraid I might get when I made the cuts to expose the colors underneath. I believe that is because the thread remained loose, not tight, as it felted. I like all the colors and how they look together and the many hues of greens help with the light and shadow on the ribs. In fact, the right side looks brighter to me as if the sun is shining on it. I am very pleased with how this piece turned out.

Below is a photo of the finished piece on a white background with the lighting from above, so that you can see the colors and the fun black threads. Notice I cut all the way through the felt to expose the background color in just a few of areas.

 

I may trim a few of the long black threads. I plan to keep the threads exposed as they represent a continuation of sorts of the ribs on the background.

The final photo shows how it would look framed. I placed it on a copper felt background with a rustic wood frame with the strings tucked behind. As you can see, the light is coming from the right and happily playing light and shadows across the ribs.


Hope you enjoyed and hope it inspires you to try felting if you haven’t already. Thank you, Ruth, for letting me share my fun project. 🙂 cindy

 

 

We Need a New Door Stop

We Need a New Door Stop

Recently we have acquired a new bookcase for our living room.  It was actually made to fit in the space between the front wall and the door of the room.  However it has a sort of lip around the top, the corner of which was banged by the glass of the open door if we were not careful.

2 Views of the book case against the glass (with some of my menagerie in view on the book case)

Obviously we needed something to stop the door before it fully opened. After some thought I decided that it needed to be tall (so that we didn’t have to bend down too far to move it – the floor gets further away the older you get), but it needed to be thin too otherwise the door wouldn’t open far enough to let one of us safely into the room, especially with drinks in hand.

I wanted it to go with the colour of the carpet and I knew that I had somewhere in my stash a blue wool sweater that I had felted (on purpose) by putting it through the washing machine. I finally rooted it out and decided that I would use one of the sleeves, which had a pattern knitted into it.

The Other Sleeve – what’s left of it – the pattern looks a bit hazy but hang in there, you’ll see it later.

Initially I thought that I would make a tall thin pyramid shape to fit in the gap between the side of the book case and the door. I sewed up the cuff of the sleeve and, to make sure it didn’t keep falling over, I begged a piece of flat lead sheet from my husband which I fitted into the bottom of the stuffed sleeve, and then sewed up what had been the shoulder to make the base. 

Well it was ok, but I thought it needed a bit more interest and decided to turn the door stop into a cat.

Out came the felting needles and my scoured merino, which I use as core fibres. Then for the “top coat” I sorted through the blues in my stash – normally jealously guarded because I don’t have a lot now as I use them for sky in my pictures – and found some which almost matched the main blue of the sleeve. Obviously he wasn’t going to be a realistic cat so I tried to “cartoonise” his features, and rather than give him needle felted eyes as I might normally do I fished out some bright orange glass eyes from another stash which would go well with his dark blue face. I used some of the blue to make a wet felt sheet, out of which I cut his ears.

Having made his head, I attached it to the tall thin pyramid. It’s sewn as well as needled on, but even so I was concerned that if he was picked up by his head it might come off. I made a piece of blue cord and attached that as a loop behind his head so that he might be moved safely. And here we have him.

Smiley Door Cat

Not long after this, we acquired a new pinky-grey bathroom carpet and also new pink and grey towels to replace very tired old red ones. Until then we had been using the bathroom scales as a door stop – that door will slam very hard if the wind gets up when the window is open. So now I decided that we would need another door cat.

When we got the new carpet we did not change the basic colour scheme as we didn’t want the hassle of changing the suite (vintage Pampas) or the tiles. The colour scheme is essentially derived from the tiles, which are pink and grey with some crimson detailing. Originally we had a red-ish carpet and red and dark grey towels, but when I bought those towels I could not get a bath mat to match, so I made one by stitching two red hand towels back to back.

Bathroom Tile

As the new carpet shed fibres quite a lot to begin with I thought of making the new door cat out of that fibre, but after a little more thought I realised that that would not be a good idea. We would keep falling over a camouflaged cat in the gloom of a late night visit!

So I thought I might find another felted sleeve, but couldn’t come up with something the right colour. Then, because we still had touches of red in the room, I decided that I would deconstruct the old red bath mat and use one of the pieces for the cat’s body. I had already given away the rest of the old towels to my friend for her dogs.

I felt that a “loaf cat” pose would be best, less likely to tip over if the wind caught the door, but I’d need too much lead sheet to make it a suitable weight. So I visited the garden and found a triangular(ish) shaped piece of rock, washed it and wrapped it in a couple of layers of non-woven cotton towels, secured with masking (painter’s) tape. I made myself a paper pattern of the body and cut out two body sides and a gusset for the base and chest. I cut out the pattern pieces from the towel and stitched it all up (first inserting the wrapped rock and stuffing it with polyester stuffing.

I had seen a cartoon of a smiling cat, which had enormous ears, which looked really cheeky. I thought I’d have a go at making one like that. I started with the core fibre again and got the head substantially how I’d like it and then thought about fibres for the coating.

Head ready to be covered in “Top Coat” (for some reason enlarged umpteen sizes)

I did not have exactly the right red, so had to blend a couple of pieces of pre-dyed merino tops which seemed to work ok. I did the same to make a pinky-grey blend for the chest, face and inside of the ears. I had decided that I would make the cat’s chest a similar colour to the carpet which meant that I had to make a wet felted sheet of the pinky-grey batt to cover the original red towelling. I cut the felt into the shape of the chest gusset, leaving enough for a pair of large ears.

I needled some of the red onto the back of the ears, and this resulted in a darker pink on the inside where the needles had pushed fibres right through, which was actually a benefit I think. I needled the blended red on to the back of the cat’s head and neck, and the pinky-grey onto the face, attached the ears and gave him a darker pink nose. I “shadowed” the smile and blinking eyes and I also gave him some laughter lines.

Nearly finished head, along with my felting cushion and a trapped needle holder

Then I stitched the head onto the neck, and the chest piece over his front, catching in the head at the neck.  I covered the join with more needled fibres and, using another piece of towel, attached a handle to the back of his neck so that he could be moved without his head coming off.

Loving Blinks from the new Door Ward

My husband has already named him Yoda.  We each confessed the other day that we both chat to him (in fact I pick him up and cuddle him too – he just fits into one arm)

What about the poor tatty sheep at the beginning of this post? Well, many years ago now, when I was a fairly new needle felter, I decided that I’d like to make myself a door stop for my bedroom door. I had acquired from our Guild a Jacob fleece, which, as it turned out, was ideal for needle felting. It certainly wasn’t a lot of good for wet felting – it wouldn’t, whatever I did to it. I suppose I must have had an old ram’s coarse and kempy fleece palmed off on me, when I was too naïve to know what I was getting – no wonder it was cheap!

Anyway, I got a body shaped pebble out of the garden, and washed it, wrapped it in some of the un- wetfelted fleece and started in with a No.36 felting needle (I only had 36 triangle and 38 star needles in those days- oh and a No.19 which was so thick it wouldn’t really go through anything I had with any ease). I bust quite a few needles before the pebble was covered. I added a neck to one end and then decided that my sheep would need eyes and a pair of horns. At that time I did not know that Jacob sheep often have 4 horns and wear them as if they had put them on in a hurry in the morning whilst still half asleep!

I made the horns and eyeballs using pipe cleaners and white Fimo polymer clay, baked and painted with acrylic paints. At that stage in my career I had not thought of using PVA glue on needled fleece to make horns. I needled a head shape around the horns and eyes, and then attached it to the neck. It did not occur to me to strengthen the neck with the ends of the pipe cleaners, I had cut these short and just put the horns on either end, and did the same with the eyes.

Well it all worked and for years he sat by my door, getting moved when necessary with my foot.  Now he’s a sad old thing, but being sentimental I can’t bear to get rid of him, even though he’s lost a horn and is definitely the worse for wear.  Perhaps I’ll give him a “makeover” sometime.

Poor Old Jacob, grown old and infirm in service

 

 

An interesting felt sample

An interesting felt sample

I’ve been running a felt study group and I wanted to share one of the more interesting samples I did in the group.  I had some white welsh mountain sheep wool. I have no idea where I got it it was raw and I have had it for years because I didn’t know what to do with it.

By Vertigogen – woolly sheep, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4875408

This is the description from Wikipedia with them giving credit to Morris, Jan (2014). Wales: Epic Views of a Small Country. Penguin Books Limited. pp. 53–57. ISBN 978-0-241-97024-9.

The Welsh Mountain sheep is usually white with a white face with no wool on forehead or cheeks and white legs with no wool below the joint. Females are polled but rams usually have curved horns, although some are polled. The fleece is thick and moderately long and the tails are not normally docked.

Breeders give a high priority to hardiness, milking ability, mothering quality and lamb survival. (Lambing percentage can be 130%, which rises to 180% under favourable conditions on improved pastures.[2]) It was not always thus; the 18th-century English agriculturist Arthur Young described the Welsh Mountain sheep as “the most despicable of all types” and a judge at an agricultural show in the 1880s described it as “a diminutive ill-shapen animal with its shaggy coat more reminiscent of hair than of wool”

I had a shoebox sized amount. As you can see not the nicest looking stuff, a bit like a horse’s mane.

I washed it in a laundry bag with some dish soap.

It took 2 washes but it came out a lovely white, white horse but white.

The locks average about 10 inches long.

 

I weighed out 25 grams and divided it into 4 and carded it into little batts. Each batt would be one layer of the sample.

The samples were all laid out 10×10 inches for easy calculation of shrinkage. At this point, I was skeptical that it would felt at all, it is so much like stong, straight hair

The piece was rubbed and rolled to felt and then rolled on a textured mat and scrunched for the fulling. Throwing doesn’t work well with such a small piece.

Much to my surprise, this is the final result. It’s a bit wonky but that’s down to my hand carding

It’s about 40% shrinkage and it is rock solid.  The most I got of any of my samples. It is rock solid. I tried to felt it more but it wouldn’t budge.  All the samples were made with 25grams of wool. It makes me wonder about people that say they get 50% shrinkage on their felt protects. Are they measuring differently or are they using very thin layouts?  I could see this felting more if I used half the amount of wool. so if I made a sample 20inches by 20 inches with the same wool I would get a higher shrinkage rate. What do you think?

Concertina Hat and Felted Bags Classes – Registration Now Open

Concertina Hat and Felted Bags Classes – Registration Now Open

I always look forward to each new iteration of these classes, its always exciting to see how each new group of felt-makers will interpret the weekly tutorials, looking back at the photos in the class galleries it is hard to imagine they were all following the same instructions! 🙂

These are just a few of my favourite creations made by students from previous classes.

If these photos have whetted your appetite and you would like to see more the full galleries are here:

Hats

Bags

Key dates for both classes:

15th March – registration closes
17th March – first tutorial will be posted
24th March – second tutorial will be posted
31st March – third tutorial will be posted
We will have use of the forum pages until 28th April so you can carry on making and sharing your creations with everyone or catch up if you need to take a week or two off during the course.

The tutorials for both classes contain step by step instructions and lots of colour photographs illustrating each steps. They will be pdfs for you to download and keep for future reference.

For more details and the contact form to sign up for these classes please follow these links:

Concertina Hat Class

Felted Bags Class

Thinking of joining in the fun but have questions about these classes? Please post them in the comments below or use the contact forms on the class pages above.

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