Browsed by
Category: Wet Felting

Finding Focus

Finding Focus

It’s the new year and here we are in England with what I’m calling the ‘new abnormal’: all non-essential shops closed; travel only if necessary; people working from home wherever possible and, for many of us, very limited direct contact with people outside our household.

If you’d asked me a year ago if I’d have liked a long stretch of time with few commitments that I could dedicate to felt-making, I’d have jumped at the chance.  Be careful what you wish for. 

Towards the end of 2020 I had several events to aim for so was able to focus on making things for those. Here are a few of my favourites: a succulent holder, nuno felt vase (with glass interior) and needle felted mince pie.

I have plenty of sales and exhibitions booked throughout 2021 but no way of knowing whether and when they will take place. I have notebooks full of ideas but feel I need to find some focus to direct my efforts and get the creative energy flowing. 

I really enjoy learning new skills and developing my felt-making in different directions. So, I decided at the turn of the year to sign up for some online workshops. I’m mostly self-taught as a felt maker but now I’m asking myself ‘why do I want to reinvent so many wheels?’.  I’ve long wanted to take Fiona Duthie’s workshop ‘Fibre + Paper’ so when I saw she was running the workshop in March 2021, I eagerly signed up.  I then find myself tapping my toes impatiently and thinking ‘I don’t want to wait ‘till March!’.

Fortunately, in February Fiona is offering another class I’d like to take ‘Ink on Cloth’.  Yep, I’m in for that too.  Still the toe-tapping: ‘what about January?’. 

The Felting and Fiber Studio to the rescue: Teri Berry was offering her bag making class starting 7 January.  Perfect! I’m in for another class.  Well, you can’t say I lack enthusiasm!

While I’m waiting for the class to begin (yep, still with the toe-tapping) I decide now is the time to retire an old friend.  One of the first things I felted for myself about 9 years ago is an iPad cover. I carry my iPad mini with me everywhere and the cover is worn out.  It has done a great job – it even outlasted the first iPad – but the corners have rubbed away and it’s looking very shabby.

I may have mentioned before (more than once) that I’m an avid charity / thrift / op shop enthusiast and have built up an impressive collection of second-hand fabric, mostly scarves and mostly silk. I have a dig around and fish out a very fine small silk chiffon scarf with leaf prints. Left – front, right – back, middle – action shot! I’ve carefully controlled the shrinkage so it fits snugly: it slides out when I want it to and not when I don’t.

I enjoyed working with the silk so decide to make some more samples.  One issue with fabric of unknown origin (and often even with fabric of know origin) is that you can’t be sure how it will felt. Here’s the ‘before’ and ‘after’ of each sample.

Some kind of velvet devore?

A woven cotton or linen?

A silk and cotton mix – I assume the background is silk and the slub lines are cotton

Definitely 100% silk (it still had the label in)

All are interesting. I chose a similar wool colour to the background silk colour as I want to focus on texture and print.  I particularly like the leaf print one and will definitely use that at some point. 

Next, my patience (!) has been rewarded and the bag class is starting.  First is an animal theme phone or glasses case.  I consult the interweb for animals that have big tongues and decide on a gecko.  I’m rather fond of geckos, though I’m not sure I’ve ever met one. 

I’m pleased with the result, although admit it looks rather more like a frog or an alien.  I was going to trim the tongue but decided to leave it as it is. I’ve taken to calling it my alien frog bag.  I made it to fit my phone but it’s actually a bit big so I’ve now added a thin green leather strap with some Chicago screws. Next time I’m invited to a ‘BYO alien frog bag’ event, I will be all prepared. 

On to the next, bigger bag, with integrated straps and internal pockets.  I have a fair quantity of nice natural grey Corriedale top and decide I’ll use that for the outside.  I’m on a roll with recycling the silk scarves so select a few with similar colours.  I’m not sure grey will be the best background so, in an unusual fit of sensibleness, decide to make some samples. 

I prefer the lighter colour behind them. The bag will be fulled very hard and I think I may completely lose the silk.  Little lightbulb moment: why not prefelt the silks with a light colour wool to help preserve some of their colour?

I prefelted some pieces of silk.  I even got a bit jazzy with the one with large spots, with fawn Corriedale and charcoal Merino.

On the left: the bag laid out with (nearly) all the surface decoration ready for wetting down. I did move things around a little afterwards but forgot to take a photo. On the right: the flap detail of the final bag

Finished bag

It’s not perfect (eg I put 2 pockets inside but they are on the front wall of the bag instead of the back and it’s a bit wider than I intended) but I do like it and will enjoy using it.

So, what next? The third bag is a backpack.  I’m wrestling with myself over whether to use wool I already have or wait for some I’ve ordered to arrive.  I have a studio full of wool but want to use a medium or coarse wool for durability and don’t have much of any colour or breed in sufficient quantity.  I made a sample yesterday of potential wool candidates but am a bit underwhelmed. There’s a black dyed Perendale batt, grey/brown Finnish top, light grey Swaledale top and natural white batt (can’t remember the breed) but I’d have to mix them and that’s a lot to have going on.

I decided too to make a paper template of the finished bag to help me work out the resist and stop making bags bigger than I intend. Ha, ha, I do hope I don’t start calling this my toilet seat backpack.  And that brings me right up to date.

All being well, I will have the backpack done to show you in my next blog spot in March, along with some makes from the Ink on Cloth workshop.

I’m enjoying the learning and Teri’s class is excellent.  The instructions are clear and detailed. She has been positive and encouraging and very quick and generous in responding to my extensive questions about clasps, straps, bag design, wool breeds….

Are you struggling to find focus, or maybe finding new ways to learn and different things to try?  I hope you’re able to do a little fibre work and I wish everyone a peaceful, happy and creative 2021.

Interesting New to Me Scarf Type

Interesting New to Me Scarf Type

These last couple of weeks in the Wet Felt Makers group on Facebook people have been making in interesting and new to me type of scarf. It’s called a french scarf.

Arlene Toth shared it with the group and shared the youtube video.  It is part of a video from a fibre festival a year ago. The teacher is Elena Nayemova. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ho5B-bOHKwE The instructions start at 28:58 in the video. It is in Rusian. You can probably figure it out by just watching her make it but If you want to and you are on a computer not using the Youtube app you can use a translation future on Youtube. It’s nowhere near perfect but it helps. I will explain that at the bottom.

The scarf in the video is very lacy and mostly yarn, very decorative. I wanted something warmer so used much more wool. After seeing how small the ones using the dimensions from the video were turning out  I sorted out my own sizing that I thought would work and had a go. If you are petite then the smaller dimensions would probably work for you but I am Rubenesque so that isn’t going to work for me. I picked purple and orange, my go-to colours. I used orange and gold silk lap bits on one side and some yarns for decoration on the other.

You can wear it in different ways.

 

The part that goes behind the neck is a bit short I think and maybe the rectangular part too. I added some to both parts and had another go in red this time, using silk hankies and silk top

 

For this one, I used silk hankies on one side and silk top on the other. I like this one better. I pulled the piece through farther so it hangs down to wear it out. I am not much for big bows. If you want to fold it into a triangle and poke the corner though I wouldn’t add the extra length to the rectangle part. Here are different ways to wear it

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The other thing I realized while taking pictures is that you can give the large piece a twist in the loop so you have both sides showing

 I wanted a winter scarf inside my coat. It worked wonderfully even though it’s not really cold here yet. I hope you give it a try.

Translation on Youtube.  You have to be watching Youtube in a browser and not on the app for this to work. Rather than write it all out, I will give you the link to Pat Spark’s blog post about it, as she explained it very well. https://sparkfiberarts.blogspot.com/2020/05/blog-post.html

A picture with some metal in it.

A picture with some metal in it.

It’s after the Christmas crazy and I feel all out of sorts. There is nothing I need to be doing.  Nothing to shop for, nothing to bake for. I do have some nice new teas to try but although they are delicious, that is not really doing anything. I want to yell I’m bored, but my mom wouldn’t hear me at her house and what’s the point of that. So, like many of you, I must kick my own butt and just get on with something. Start with housework, if that doesn’t start you thinking of things to do in the studio, nothing will. After several loads of laundry and digging out the corner of the bedroom where we toss things to deal with later, I had had enough and I grabbed a tea and my sketchbook and headed for the studio.

I know you are thinking but what about your hat aren’t you supposed to be sewing the flower into place and making leaves. Yes, I am but I don’t feel like it. I had a poke through some recent sketches I did. I can’t really draw but I can get the idea down and use it to work from.

 

I dug out some felt pieces I did as starter pieces. Picked one and started.

First I defined the house. It was just a roof and walls when I picked it. I forgot to take a picture, sorry. I added some windows and the roofline and the corner of the house.  Then, strangely I started at the front of the picture with some fence posts. Usually, you start in the back and layer to the front.

 

With the magic of felt, I just took a picture and then pulled them off and put them aside.

 

I added some sheep, I bet you didn’t see that coming…..LOL. You can see I decided the house looked more like a barn and changed the windows into a large door. I also by this time decided the blue was water and added a path along the cliff edge.

I defined the sticky out piece of coastline to help with the water effect and check the placement of the fence posts. I decided to keep them straight because the right-hand one is going to be short anyway. I added some different blue to define the sky and some white with a bit of sparkle for waves. There was lots of wool sticking out past the picture edge so I just folded it around the back.

Then it was what to do to finish the fence. This is where the metal comes in.  Originally I was going to use thread to be the wire but then I was chatting with Jan about wire and remembered I had this spool of wire.  It is a very old spool and I don’t know what kind of wire it is or what it was meant for. It is thin but strong and flexible. It is old, as you can see from the wooden spool but there is no rust. It has a 58 stamped into the top but it’s not the gauge.

 

I decided to make a real wire fence. I twisted two lengths together and cut 4 of them to stick out past the ends of the picture.  I folded them around the edges to hold them in place. I then couched them down with 6 strands of grey embroidery floss to be the fence staples.  I think it really works. The whole picture is only 5.5inches (14cm)by 4 inches(10cm).

 

I did think about making at least one strand of my fence barbed wire. I made one barb, to try it but you couldn’t really see it against the wool so wasn’t worth the fiddling.

My New Years’ Resolution is to do more felt pictures and to try to do them a little bigger. Do you have a Fibery New Years’ Resolution?

4th Quarter Challenge: the Making of Elf Boots.

4th Quarter Challenge: the Making of Elf Boots.

Recently Karen Lane did a post on Christmas ornaments.  fourth-quarter-challenge

I thought the elf boots she made were so cute I would have a go at making some for our tree too.

I drew one out the size I wanted then scaled it up.

I traced it. I like this underlay. You can see through it to trace things out. I have some blue stuff that’s opake and I have to cut things out to trace around or work it out, right on the underlay with a marker.

Then I have some “sheep” wool in a batt that was a nice gree so I laid it out wet it and started the rubbing.

I did some rolling with a mini pool noodle and some shelf liner. when it was ready I cut them apart.

I worked them one at a time. you can see the difference between the start and finished.

I have some gold Beada tinsel, non-tarnishing that was probably bought in 1960. It is a thin cord. I used it to make the laces.

having success I decided to make some more. Now, you would think after all this time and the fact that I warn my students about directional shrinkage, I would have known better than to lay the wool (merino top) across the boots because it would be easier to wrap it around. Needless to say, the foot part is much thinner. So perhaps they belong to some clown elves.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I think I will try it again. They are fiddly to finish but I enjoy having something to do with my hands watching BritBox shows in the evening.

Have you done anything for the 4th quarter challenge? We would love to see them. You can post them over on the forum. https://feltandfiberstudio.proboards.com/thread/4214/2020-fourth-quarter-challenge

Felt Samples Notebook

Felt Samples Notebook

Recently, Jan posted about the documentation being done in her guild about weaving. When I commented that I had created a felt sample notebook while writing the book The Complete Photo Guide to Felting, Jan asked that I share the notebook. So here it is!

I want to thank all the people and companies that donated to this effort as I had asked for samples of different breeds of wool, other fiber that felts and different embellishments. That’s how I got a wider selection of fiber. For each sample, I documented the type of fiber, the type of processing (batt, roving, raw wool etc.), how long it took to felt, the amount of shrinkage and any comments about the felt that I thought were good to remember. Each sample started with the same size layout and were all felted in the same way. I guess I should have documented exactly what I did but this was in 2011 and now I can’t remember exactly how they were felted or fulled.

I put all the samples on black construction paper with a small piece of double stick tape and a label beside each piece. These were put into plastic sleeves and stored in a large loose leaf notebook. You can easily slip the pages out of the sleeve to be able to touch the samples and look more closely. Most of the felt samples (without embellishments) are the natural color of the fiber. You can click on any of the photos to get a closer look and be able to read my documentation about each fiber.

Pelsull/C1 Blend and Dorset

Blue Faced Leicester and Corriedale

Falkland and Finn

Gotland and Icelandic

Merino and Norwegian C1

Pelsull and Polwarth

Romney and Wensleydale

Alpaca and Angora Goat

Angora Rabbit (smaller sample due to limited amount of fiber) and Bison Down

Camel and Cashmere

Llama and Yak Down

The second part of the notebook is about embellishments. I used a merino wool and applied the embellishments to the surface. I didn’t do much documentation on these except to state what the embellishment fiber is.

Silk Top and Silk Cap

Silk Throwsters Waste and Silk Hankie

Silk Carrier Rods and Silk Noil

Rainbow Nylon and Angelina Fiber

Fake Cashmere and Tencel (viscose)

Banana Fiber and Sea Cell Fiber

Flax and Wool Nepps

Wool Slubs and Wool Locks (flat on surface)

Wool Locks (ends loose) and Pre Yarn

Specialty/Novelty Yarns and Cotton Fiber

Soy Bean Fiber

I have always been an advocate of doing samples before starting a project. I think it really saves effort, time and money so that you have an idea how something will work before doing a larger project. Do you make samples? Do you document the results? We’d love for you to share your sample process over on the forum.

If you have any questions about the samples above or about using a specific fiber, feel free to ask in the comments below.

 

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.

Holiday Card Exchange

Holiday Card Exchange

Each year on the forum, we have a holiday card exchange. It’s always lots of fun to see all the different cards created and to receive one in the mail. If you’d like to see other cards, you can see them here. Make sure to scroll down and then look at all the pages in this thread to see the ones posted so far. 

I was getting a bit concerned about the card that I sent to Janet in Canada. I sent it out on November 4th and she didn’t receive it until November 27th. That is one of the reasons that we have people send their cards early so it has more time to arrive safely during the busy holiday season. But at last, she got it! So now I can tell you how I made the card.

Here’s the layout. I used a piece of white prefelt for the background and then added short fiber merino in blue green for the sky. I left patches very thin to make it look more snowy. I used “white” mixed 56’s for the snow but it wasn’t very white so I added a bit of white cashmere fiber that I have been saving. It was very white. Then I added silk noil to create a more snow like effect on the ground and in the sky. Finally over top of this, I added white prefelt tree trunks. I started with only one layer of prefelt but decided to add another layer over the trunks in the sky section as I felt that the blue green was going to bleed through too much.

Here it is after felting. I liked how the tree trunks overlapped on the top so I left them for awhile.

Next up was to add a little free motion machine stitching. I used an off white thread to give a slight shadow and more texture on the trunks. It’s kind of hard to see here but you can click on the photo to enlarge it.

Then I added a dark grey thread to give the characteristic birch tree look. I don’t use black for this because it feels much too stark. I think the grey looks more natural. Then I had to decide whether to crop or leave it as is. I finally decided on the cropping because it was just slightly too big to fit on my 5″ x 7″ card. I trimmed it up with a rotary cutter and attached it to a greeting card to send to Janet.

So here it is. I do think it looks very wintery which was the goal. I am going to have to make some more of these to sell as small art pieces.

And this is the wonderful card that I received from Janet. This is Janet’s first attempt at making a fiber/felt card and didn’t she do an awesome job? Thanks Janet for this beautiful card.

Fingerless Mitts or maybe they are Gauntlets or Wrist warmers

Fingerless Mitts or maybe they are Gauntlets or Wrist warmers

I am super busy getting ready for our last farmers market of the year. We sold so many meat pies I will be frantically trying to make as many as possible for this Saturday. I thought you might like this fingerless mitts post I did a few years ago.

 

I decided I want to sell some fingerless mitts this fall. Or maybe they are gauntlets or wrist warmers? Does anyone know what the difference is?

First I have to make a pair of resists. I traced my arm from knuckles to almost my elbow.  then measured around my arm to see how much I had to add for depth. then I figured on 30% shrinkage.

fingerless mitt resist

Naturally, I picked purple wool. I used about 60 grams for the pair. mostly because that is what was in the ball of wool I grabbed.

100_7131

 

 

fingerless mitts ready to felt

Here they are finished

fingerless mitt finnished

They turned out fine and they fit me and my much thinner daughter so sizing is good.  I may add some stitching and beading.  I think they are a little heavy or thick. I was going to put a thumb hole in but I think it would be uncomfortable with the thickness. Next time I think I will use 40 grams of wool and see how that goes.  I may try making the part over the hand pointed too. I think it would look nice.

 

Snowman Ornaments Complete

Snowman Ornaments Complete

Thanks for all the suggestions for completing the back of my snowmen ornaments. There were some great ideas which I might have tried except for the fact that this was supposed to be a quick project. I have seven ornaments and I already have thought of more than seven people that I could give them to as holiday gifts. So I really couldn’t do them back to back or I would have had to double my workload. I liked the idea of a cord around the edge or blanket stitch to snazz up the design, but again, that would take much more time than I have allowed myself for this project. So I took the easy way out and fused black craft felt circles to the back of each ornament. Before I did that, I stitched on a hanger with some black shiny cord that I have in my stash.

Here’s the back of one of the ornaments. I didn’t worry too much about an exact circle but just cut them to match the felted circles. You can definitely tell it’s hand crafted!

And here they are all together. I kept thinking I should be naming them like the Seven Dwarves, Happy, Bashful… But they were all fairly happy so I wasn’t sure I could come up with enough names meaning Happy.

I did use plastic over the last set of six while felting to see if there would be less transfer of black and red fiber to the snowman face. It was slightly less and definitely kept the surface of the felt a little smoother. The one on the bottom right is the one I didn’t use plastic on when felting and it is a little darker than the others, maybe.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

And here they all are separately a bit bigger. All the faces were stitched with #5 perle cotton and the hat bands are sari silk ribbon. I don’t usually do “cute” so it was a departure from my usual style but I enjoyed creating the different faces on each one.

Have you created any holiday decorations this year? We’d love to see over on the forum, you can post any photos of your hand crafted holiday creations here (either past or present).

Holiday Decorations – Fourth Quarter Challenge

Holiday Decorations – Fourth Quarter Challenge

I have been thinking about what holiday decorations that I wanted to make for the Fourth Quarter Challenge. I wanted to do something simple and decided to try creating an ornament with prefelt. I don’t usually use prefelt in creating my designs so I thought I would give it a try. I decided on a snowman design.

I had commercial prefelt in white and black but none in red. So I created a piece of red prefelt as the first step from mixed 56’s hand dyed fiber.

Next I needed a circle of red prefelt from the background. I wanted my finished ornament to be around 5″ diameter so I used this approximately 7″ container to cut around. I used a craft blade and essentially just scored around the container and then finished cutting the circle out with scissors.

I had enough red prefelt for 7 circles. I hadn’t really planned on making multiples but what the heck, I might else well make more, right?

Next I cut out two circles in white prefelt, two black hat shapes and a black circle to go behind the red circle. I decided that my red prefelt wasn’t going to be heavy enough with just one layer. I used black instead of white because I like a deeper red better than I like a pink. I didn’t have enough red prefelt for two layers. Now on to felting.

I had hoped with two layers of white prefelt that I wouldn’t get a lot of fiber migration. No such luck. I did shave a bit off the surface of the white so it wouldn’t look so hairy and that helped. I only felted this one just to see how it would come out. Next time, I think I will cover with a light plastic to try and prevent any movement of red and black fibers into the white. This one was rubbed with my hand so I think that I got a bit of movement of fiber as well as migration through.

Now on to more decoration. I stitched a small piece of sari ribbon on to the hat for a band. The sari ribbon adds a bit of shine. Then I hand stitched the facial features. Now I have to decide if the ornament needs further backing, if it needs an edging treatment and how to hang it. What would you suggest?

%d bloggers like this: