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Connections: An Exhibition

Connections: An Exhibition

I’ve just taken down my work from a Made in Whitstable group exhibition at a local arts centre gallery so thought I’d tell you about the felt pieces I had in the exhibition.

Made in Whitstable is a loose affiliation of artists and makers who have a close connection to the town, on the coast in SE England.

With a diverse artistic group it’s not always easy to find a title that everyone is comfortable with. ‘Connections’ seemed to offer enough room for people to work with in their various styles and mediums.

This exhibition was postponed from Easter 2020 so it was great finally to get some work out there, and to catch up (albeit at a distance and in a mask) with people I haven’t seen for a long time.

As I’ve described in previous blogs, this year I’ve been learning from online workshops. I’ve long been interested in both seed heads and shells and these have both continued to feature in my recent work. Reflecting on this, I realise they are all forms of natural protective cases and although it’s not a snappy title, I decided it was a good ‘connections’ theme for me.

This is a picture I made specifically for the exhibition.

Recycling Oyster Shells: Turnstone at the Royal Native Oyster Stores, Whitstable

These photos show the oyster shells laid out, prefelt shells in a single sheet, then cut up and laid onto a background of white Norwegian batt (lower half) and tan Perendale batt (top half). There’s a recycled silk scarf laid over the tan batt layers to give the impression of a pebbled beach in the distance.

Layout for the turnstone, using a combination of merino wool and prefelt; fully felted turnstone and a trial with two birds. I decided to go for just one. I needle felted the turnstone into place then added the eye, beak, legs and a few feather details

I also made some smaller pictures along the shell & seed pod theme

Top left: mussel shell with recycled silk sea, cotton scrim wave foam and prefelt pebbles

Top right: Oyster shell with mixed wool and yarns and fabric barnacles on a recycled silk background

Bottom left: pink shell on a recycled silk beach with cotton scrim wave foam and mixed wool and silk fibre sea

Bottom centre: paper felt shell on recycled silk background

Bottom right: Corriedale, silk and yarn background with multiple-resist circles, hand stitching and a sycamore key

I also had various 3D shapes in the exhibition.

Left – based on a eucalyptus seed pod. I made this in a wonderful workshop by Gladys Paulus in November 2019. I covered that workshop in my first blog for the Felting and Fiber Forum. Various wool batts and mohair locks.

Top right – conker made in two parts (using the stem technique I learned from Gladys). Outer made from Perendale and Norwegian batts, inner is merino wool tops

Bottom right – based on a hazelnut, also made soon after Gladys’s workshop.

Here’s a poppy seed head I made this year after Fiona Duthie’s Fibre + Paper workshop. Mulberry paper is felted into the felt surface. The paper adds structure, folds and pleats well and can be drawn on / painted. I painted this with watercolours. I had to make the top separately so stitched it on. A local craftsman made the base; the pod is held on a piece of dowel attached to the base.

This nigella seed pod is also paper felt but made side-on with pre-felted ropes and thicker wool sections (not prefelted) to allow variable shrinkage (learned from Soosie Jobson). I had a reclaimed jarrah wood and dowel stand made for this.

Another paper felt shape, inspired by shells, with pleats and nobbles made as a result of Fiona Duthie’s workshop

And finally, I included a few plant holders and some earrings.

Here’s my display area – I did put the cards (bottom right) on a small table!

My display area

There were lots of good exhibitors. Here’s a small selection: top left fused glass by Irene Southon; middle left acrylics by Josephine Harvatt; bottom left watercolours by Sarah Louise Dunn showing local sites commissioned by Whitstable Museum to illustrate a map of the town; right, prints by Linda Karlsen. Work by Irene, Josephine, Sarah and Linda (Wearartworks) can all be found on social media like Instagram and Facebook. They and other exhibitors can also be found on Made in Whitstable’s Facebook and Instagram.

The footfall was rather disappointing and I would guess that sales were down on previous years, but it was really good to get some work out on show and to see what other people had been creating.

“Gates” Wet Felted Wall Hanging (red and white)

“Gates” Wet Felted Wall Hanging (red and white)

The story of these wall hangings started when I decided to take part in an exhibition. I wanted to create something with an ancient design but I wanted it to be integrated into our lifestyle and modern times.

So I decided to make a wall hanging with a gates design. Everyone has gates in his/her life. We have to go through them with a lot of work but finally we succeed. We can talk about emotional gates too, these are often difficult to manage in our life.

First I made the white one, I chose more natural colours.

The design is cut from prefelt and than covered with 3 layers of wool. 

I used a rolling technique , I worked about 4 days, but I loved every minute.

After a while I decided to try this design with other colours, same design with few changes, but the same inspiration . I like both wall hangings🙂

Finally Finished and Playing with Rocks

Finally Finished and Playing with Rocks

I have finally finished my pouch. Yay! I am not sure how big I want the individual spaces in the bag to be so I have just basted the divisions for now. If they are working fine I will sew them in permanently.

 

Here it is full of things. and some things that didn’t make it in. As you can see it’s not dedicated to one kind of thing. It’s a way to keep all the smallish stuff from filtering down to the bottom of the basket where they are hard to find.

 

 

and all rolled up.

 

Here is the basket. First I put the liner in. It’s a thick, fairly stiff fake silk scarf. I can’t imagine it was nice to wear which is probably why it was in the secondhand clothing store in the first place. It’s great for this job.

 

Adding everything into and onto the basket.

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There was even room left to add my guild library books when I got back to the house.

I am sure you are all as tired f hearing about the basket organizer as I am so it is now time for something new and more colourful. I have been seeing felted rocks popping up on Facebook a lot. I figured they looked like a pretty obvious and easy thing to make, so I will give it ago. The first one I did use floor underlay resists.  I started with a pebble. I covered it completely in wool.

 

 

I cut out a resist a bit bigger than the wool covered pebble and then added the top put the resist on the top of the rock and folded the wool around. then I cut a bigger resist and did it again and marked the top. It was a bit awkward. I should have worked the other way up but where’s the challenge in that. LOL.

 

It fulled down quite fast.

time to start cutting, I rubbed each cut to heal it before doing the next cuts. I don’t think you can see it but the bottom of each layer is fully attached to the one below it.

 

I sat it on a green lid to dry, looks really striking there.

 

 

That worked quite well. Now for a different way.

For this one, I used plastic wrap to keep the layers separate. I cut a small hole in the underside so the layer would be attached to each other.

 

wool wrapped pebble

 

first layer wrapped in plastic

 

3rd layer

I wrapped the last layer in plastic I just rubbed it and rolled it around in my hands as if I was making a felt ball. I did it longer to make sure the inside layers were felted as well. While wrapping I lost track of the top and bottom. Naturally, I picked the wrong side to mark. I cut the first hole and it was attached to the one below so I kept cutting down to the pebble. I planned to stretch each layer, but with it being quite small there wasn’t much stretch or even room to get anything in between the layers to try and stretch.  so In the end I just fulled it tight around the rock.

 

Here is how they compared in size before felting

 

And how they compare with my hand to show the sizes

 

See Lyn, not felted rocks but felted rocks. Ha Ha Ha :O)

Second Quarter Challenge Part 2

Second Quarter Challenge Part 2

In Part 1, I showed you my design process for this challenge. It’s based on Art Deco ideas and color schemes but I created my own design.

The first thing I needed was to buy some black wool yarn. I was going to order unspun yarn, which I think would work best for this technique but I didn’t manage to get it ordered. Instead, I went to Michaels (hobby/art store) and purchased this cheap, wool yarn. At least that made it so I could move forward.

Next I placed my enlarged design under a piece of plastic so I could follow the lines with the black yarn first. You need to work upside down with this technique. So the black goes on first. I wet down the yarn per Ildi’s instructions on her recent felt wall hanging post. If I had been paying more attention, I would have looked back at Ildi’s design and seen that it was much more spread out than mine. But on I went.

Here’s the layout after I had laid down all the wet black wool yarn. I found it was easiest to cut all the lengths that were similar and wet them down at once. The yarn had a tendency to just lie on top of the water and not get wet. So I took 6 cut lengths at a time and dunked, patted and pushed the water into the yarn. Then I laid the yarn length along the pattern, sometimes squeezing the ‘corners’ to get a sharper turn in the yarn. I cut off the extra lengths as I worked.

Then I started laying out the colored wool. This was wet down in advance too. It was a bit awkward filling in the areas to start but I soon got the hang of it. I pinched off a bit of fiber, got it wet and then ‘smooshed” (that’s a technical term) it in place. My estimates of the amount of wool needed also got better with practice. I filled in the background color too to make the first layer of wool level. I did look at Art Deco color palettes and chose one that was similar using what I had on hand.

Then I added more of the background wool on top. I wanted it fairly thick so that it wouldn’t shrink too much and squeeze the design down even more.

I covered the wool with a sheer curtain and pressed the air out and added a bit more water to get everything flattened out. From the blue green side, I folded over any stray fiber and made a kind of circle with the background. I figured I would cut it later if I wanted everything to be even.

Then I spent most of my time rubbing and putting pressure on the blue green side. I didn’t do much rubbing on the front design as I didn’t want it to shift. I always use a piece of corrugated rubber underneath the felt while I rub and have the felt covered either with plastic or sheer fabric. Once the design was set and everything was staying in place, I fulled the piece with a rolling pin and with hand pressure. I didn’t do any throwing, rolling or heavy rubbing.

Here it is after felting and fulling. I was surprised at how straight my lines stayed. I did do a little stretching along the length of the lines if they started to get wonky. But all in all, I thought the method worked great. It does take a long time to layout but the design stayed put. The cheap wool yarn worked fine so I didn’t need the more expensive unspun yarn. But I think unspun yarn would felt in more easily and perhaps have less “hairiness” when felted.

And here it is after I cut the edges. It would make a nice hot mat or a design on a bigger felt piece such as a large tote bag. The piece is about 10″ in diameter (if it was a circle). I’m not sure what I am going to do with it. Thanks Ildi for the idea and thanks to Lyn and Annie for another good challenge. Art Deco is an interesting time period to use as an inspiration!

My 2nd Quarter Challenge is Progressing

My 2nd Quarter Challenge is Progressing

I’ve been working on the stitching for my basket organizer.  The first part I did was the waves. I liked them but I didn’t like how the edges were fuzzy.

 

I went looking in my stash for the right size yarn to edge it. I found my stash of Briggs and Little Sport singles. I picked up several colours cheap from a weaver who had finished a project.  I picked black to outline the waves.

 

I used the outline stitch. I used the tutorial in this great stitch dictionary. https://www.embroidery.rocksea.org/stitch/stem-stitch/outline-stitch/

You can see how the wool yarn is raised adding texture as well as definition. I enjoyed following the curves with my stitching. more fun than straight lines. I only

And finished. I like it much better the black outline really makes the waves pop.

Next was the rectangles on the flap at the front bottom.  I used some red this time.

At first, I thought I would do a Fly stitch up the middle of each one.  My stitching was really uneven. I didn’t like it, so out it came.

I decided to put two lines up the rectangle. the stitching isn’t fabulous because I had no line to follow. the only thing I had to mark it was chalk. I did try it to see how it would brush out and it was really hard to get off the felt it wanted to move further into the felt rather than come off.

And after I cut off all the tails.

So far so good. I have a plan for the last part of the decorating. It will need lines for me to follow so I will have to wait for the heat erase marking pens I ordered. After that is the really hard part……….. the finishing.

3D Felt Landscape

3D Felt Landscape

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Post edited to add final photo.

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

Wet felted wallhanging

Wet felted wallhanging

This is a wet felted wall hanging, it was made for a customer order. She wanted something modern but with not too many colours.

So I started with wool yarn to make the design.

As I started the process, I was inspired and I knew it will look great.

Than I filled with wet coloured wool and than covered with layers of wool.

The felting process take about 3 days of hard work for me.

The customer was very pleased. I hope you enjoy my work!

A Wet Felt Study Group

A Wet Felt Study Group

With workshops on hold, my guild decided we could run some study groups online. I will be leading a wet felt group. The plan is to felt a standard size square using different wools. https://www.ovwsg.com/events/event/2103-wet-felted-fibre-study-group/

We will compare how they felt at different stages, ease of felting and possible uses. We will all do Merino and Corriedale so we can compare how we all felt the same thing and then move on to different wools. We don’t all have to have the same wools. It would be nice to have and many different breeds as possible depending on what people already have on hand and or want to order. Some mixed fibre would be interesting too.

 

The group starts April 21st. We will meet on zoom once every 2 weeks and meet on a Discord server ( a place to share photos, chat and ask questions between zooming). Discord was chosen because some people don’t like Facebook or are not on Facebook. We didn’t want to exclude anyone.   Or if everyone is on Facebook we could make a private group there if that is what people want.

Everyone will get a worksheet to record information on so we are all gathering the same information to share.

I am based in Ottawa Canada, (GMT-4hrs.) I think that makes our Zoom meetings 9 am the next day in Sydney Australia. I hope you can join us and learn something while having some wet woolly fun.

Here is the link again.  https://www.ovwsg.com/events/event/2103-wet-felted-fibre-study-group/

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

Online Learning: the new and the unexpected

The last time I posted here (in January) I described my plan to take various online felting classes. With all my sales and exhibitions cancelled or on hold I thought this would be a good way to keep me focused and motivated during our 3rd pandemic lockdown. Here’s the link in case you want to look back to January’s post.

https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2021/01/21/finding-focus/

This time I’m talking about my online learning since then, including how it has led me in some unexpected directions.

I was part-way through Teri Berry’s bag making class, which was great. I made my third bag, a backpack, and am very pleased with it. I’d definitely recommend Teri’s class. The instructions were clear and comprehensive and Teri was very responsive to my many questions, thoughts and comments. I learned a lot about bag making techniques, which is exactly what I was looking for.

Corriedale Backpack with Canvas Straps

Because two of the bags I made are large, relatively thick, and have to be fulled very hard, I admit bag-making was rather harder work than I’d anticipated. I rent a studio in an old industrial building that is largely unheated so maybe mid-winter isn’t the best time to be working so much heavy, cold, wet wool, but it’s a minor point. I had to use plastic gloves for the first time as my hands became so shredded and I often went home with sleeves wet to the armpit!

I’d planned to take 3 classes over January to March but was irresistibly drawn to a 4th: a 2-session live international felt-along by Aniko Boros (Baribon.Hu) learning to make her beautiful felted tulip pendant with pebble inclusions. Having signed up I realised it was going to be difficult to find the colourful 14 micron merino wool I needed. I only had white. I’ve never dyed my own wool before but I thought, why not have a go?

I already had some acid dyes so I started off with some 21 micron merino before going on to the finer and more expensive 14 micron. Then I tried silk hankies, Corriedale tops, mohair tops, silk fabric, alpaca & nylon …. nothing was safe. I had a blast. I had no idea how much fun dying would be.

Then it snowed and I thought ‘ooh, I could try snow dying’. That turned out to be great fun too. On the right are just a few of the snow dyed fabrics.

I had several colour choices of dyed 14 micron merino by the time Aniko’s workshop came around. The workshop itself was really interesting. A clear and detailed PDF was sent in advance and turned out to be very helpful on the first day when the sound or picture dropped out occasionally. It meant I could see what I needed to do next so was able to keep up. I’m pleased with my pendant (although I still have to add a fastener) including how the dyed wool worked, and feel I’ve learned techniques I will be able to use to make my own designs. Also, it led me into the entirely unexpected joy of dyeing.

Hand dyed 14 micron merino pendant with pebbles: Aniko Boros’ workshop

In the meantime I’d started Fiona Duthie’s online class Ink + Cloth. We practiced adding ink at various stages of feltmaking with loads of potential for using these techniques in future projects.

Above are samples of adding dye / ink before felting (on silk fabric) and on prefelt

These are samples of ink added in different ways to finished nuno felt with cotton and two types of silk. I’d found an image in the V&A museum online catalogue (a fantastic resource) of an early 20th century furnishing fabric with this style of lollipop trees that I was thinking of using for the 1st quarter challenge …but that’s a story for another time.

At the end of this I decided to combine various things I’d learned: to dye my own Corriedale wool tops for a bag and maybe to decorate it with inked or dyed pieces. This is still work in progress as I am not completely happy with it. I decided to let it dry and have a think before doing the last bit of fulling. After I’d laid out the wool I dithered over whether to add silk and prefelt pieces or not as I quite liked the wool as it was. At the last minute I added all sorts of bits and pieces without properly thinking through the design. I fear it betrays its history. A colleague who saw me rinsing it at the studio casually commented it was very ‘hippie, trippy summer-of-love’ which is absolutely not the look I was going for! I will come back to it soon. I included the strap in the photo to give an idea of what it will look like finished.

Now I’m part way through another class with Fiona Duthie: Fibre + Paper. It’s a fascinating process of combining specialist paper with wool. We started by making lots of samples: paper and felt, paper relief, extreme paper relief and paper with prefelt.

Above are samples showing different amounts of paper felted into 21 micron merino wool and bottom right combines prefelt and paper. They feel lovely and there seems to be so much potential to use paper with felt in different ways.

This week I made a vessel with paper embedded into the surface. It’s not perfect: I got a bit over-confident near the end and tore some of the surface (you can just see it bottom left, between the two ribs). I’ve been interested in shell shapes for a couple of years so I shall enjoy making more 3D paper & felt shell-inspired objects.

Paper felt shell-inspired vessel

In the coming week I will be trying out adding colour and surface designs with ink and paint plus making samples with some different papers. Fiona’s classes have been really enjoyable with excellent PDFs, photos and videos and lots of class interaction.

All the online classes I’ve taken have been great fun and very inspiring. They have given me lots of new skills and techniques that I will be able to use in my work. And they have definitely achieved my other objective: they have been really helpful in keeping me learning, focussed and motivated during what could otherwise have been quite a bleak time.

Back to some winter sheep

Back to some winter sheep

I have been felting and stitching a little picture again. And of course, my favourite sheep will make an appearance.

I did a sketch of the idea I wanted, I don’t think I have the patience for proper drawing. I do a quick general idea. I used a thick piece of “almost felt” and made the blue sky and snow base, wet felting them together. Next, I used Blue Faced Lester lock to make some evergreen trees.

 

I added some paths for the sheep. Sheep like to walk the same path other and over, one after the other, even in a green pasture. Once they are where they generally want to go, they wander off. I have no idea why they like to stand out in a snow covered field, but they do.

I added all my trees and tucked the edges around to make it neater. I added some blobs for the sheep so when I add the stitching they will stand out a little more. I also lightened up the paths a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I used french knots to make the woolly coats and some embroidery for the heads and legs.

 

I fiddled with trees a bit and added trails into where the sheep are standing. I tried t add some shadow under the trees but it didn’t look right so I pulled it off. The trees still need some snow. I usually do that last, I am not sure why.

My problem is the bottom right. It seems very bare. I don’t know if I want another sheep or something else. I thought of some little birds on the snow but think as this is a small picture (about 5″x6″, 12×15 cm) they might end up looking like sheep droppings. I don’t want a fence. Does anyone have any ideas? It may end up being another sheep.

 

 

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