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Needle Felted “THING” first time running this workshop

Needle Felted “THING” first time running this workshop

The local Ottawa Guild had been optimistic in the latter part of 2022 and started to reschedule workshops, unbeknownst to us the evil covid was friends with 2 influenzas and invited them to drop by too. So we wound up with students and instructors out sick by the end of November into December. This was also the month my new workshop had been booked. I had offered to teach a chickadee or a tiny dragon but had been requested to make a Thing since Elizabeth, the workshop coordinator and I had not been able to decide on a definite thing. This is the description that was listed for the workshop.

Description:  Jan is paralyzed with too many possibilities for an item to use to teach needle felted sculpture, thus we announce a workshop in needle felted THING creation.  Jan will probably decide more or less what the THING will be before the workshop but it will be a surprise for students.  You will create your THING using three dimensional needle felting. By the end of the workshop, students will have the skills needed to go home and make a THING of their own choosing.  Previous felting experience is helpful but not necessary. Good eye hand coordination is very helpful (those needles are sharp).”

As soon as it was scheduled, I started to work on organizing a brand new workshop. I quickly figured out this scope is a bit broad, so making a small basket protecting thing would help. I had admired an amigurumi mix-and-match monster making book.  “Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters” by Kerry Lord.  Using the simple shapes from crochet to inspire the students, should give absolute beginners an achievable target and those who have felted before the opportunity to try four different wire gauge hands or wings and a tail.

The notes covered wire and needle gauges, fibre, fibre preparations (carded vs Combed it can make a difference), then wrapping. I had gone through and followed a couple of my projects and showed how I had made and built the armature, as well as a few wire augmentations I have had to do over the years. Most of that last section is actually in the blog posts! I finished off the notes with a list of books they may want to investigate and three online sources of videos.

If the various flues and covid were not enough of a challenge we had our first big winter store about to hit. I think most of the worst went south of us. I wonder, what the states could have done to offend the weather? After some debate with Elizabeth it was decided that since the forecast was to have the storm ending by Saturday morning, we would see how the roads looked closer to the workshop.  The snow had momentarily stopped and the workshop was declared a go.  I had collected the supplies together and then pulled the bags of fibre to go from the basement. Glenn hauled and loaded it all into the car. He and our new neighbour also cleared out the end of the driveway and we made a brake for the Guild Studio on the other side of Ottawa.

Car is being loaded to go to the workshop with fiber and suplys, snow covered car, tree and drive way. the driveway is getting quite icy. Grey Kia hatchback still dusted with snow, with hatch back open showing it is Full of bags of fiber. snow covered branches above car hang low from the weight of the clinging snow. Inside my Gray kea soul. there are bags of fiber and suply filling the back of the car blocking direct vision out the back and getting quite close to the inside of the roof. 1-3 it’s impressive how much wool you can stuff in a Kia Soul!

The side streets were not the greatest, but the highway was fine and the parking lot had been cleared!!!

the snow covered and slippery walkway in front of Heartwood house (the Building the guild is in) snow covers the ground and is clinging to the trees, the front corner of my car is visible on the left of the pictures. Front Gallery just outside the Guild studio, 7 large bags of wool on one side and boxes and bags of suplys on the other side of the hall way. in the distance my walker also carying boxes. the gallary has tropical plants along the windoe and artwork (prints) on the walls. 4-5 Arriving at the Guild and dropping off the stuff

He carried in the bags of wool, the box of armature things and the couple boxes of supplies. Then went and found the missing tables.

4 large plastic folding tables and a smaller white one hold fiber and boxes of suplys for workshop within the OVWSG studio6 Tables found and now I can set up!

He set them up in a C or U pattern so I could sit in a rolling chair in the center and help any student without a lot of standing and bending over.

18 pages of notes, a colourfull foam nealing pad (originaly for gardening), a pice of pool noodle, 3 sizes of small wooden dowls, leather Finger cots, wooden single needle holder all sitting on grey folding table 7  18 pages of Notes, Foam kneeling pad, A piece of pool noodle, 2 sizes of dowels, finger cots, wooden single needle holder. Still to add will be the needles.

I had also had a few needles for them to see what difference a gauge will make. T32,T36,T38,Crown40,Revese40 and 42. all needles are in zip lock bags and in little pieces of pool noodle foam. 8 I also had a few needles for them to see what difference a gauge will make.

a book on comparitive anatomy and one on Anagarumi monsters both listed in the text below picture9 the books just past the needles

You may have spotted I brought a few possibly useful Books; Comparative Anatomy (Animals Vs. Human)  Cyclopedia Anatomicae: More than 1,500 Illustrations of the Human and Animal Figure for the Artist by Gyorgy Feher. I also had a book on Anagarumi to give the students some ideas.  Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters by Kerry Lord. (Kerry Lord also has a book on crocheting sheep! Toft Sheep – 18 Crochet Sheep Patterns (uses UK terms))

a couple of my sculptural felting books. both books are listed in the text below the picture.10 a couple of my sculptural books.

Armature/Sculpture books I brought to show the students; A Masterclass in Needle Felting Dogs by Cindy-Lou Thompson, Needle Felted Kittens: How to Create Cute and Lifelike Cats from Wool by Hinali.

There are now quite a few good books on sculptural felting with or without an armature. I had a list of 14 that they may want to keep an eye out for.

plastic haloween skeliton of a dragon standing on pacagease of smartie candys (candiy coated chocholet)11   I also brought sustenance and plastic inspiration

The Ottawa guild has always wanted to have small class sizes to insure good student-teacher ratios. Most workshops have a maximum of six students. With the first snow dump of the year and 2 types of flu plus covid, I was a bit worried that it may not run. In the end, we had one student driving over an hour to Ottawa and made it safely but one was sick and another with a sick child. So we ran with four students.  Three went for Anagarumi-based Things and one went with a Kraken/Octopus combo. They were a bit bigger than I had envisioned but they all still had their armatures in time to have lunch.

4 images of hands working on bending wire to make there armatures12  Armatures are underway

We had two Things with four arms and a tail, one with two arms a tail and wings, and the octopus creature used pipe cleaners (ok now there called Chanel stems since there are not a lot of pipes to clean anymore) to see how that would help with wrapping later.

After a lunch break, they started to wrap the fibre around their armatures.

wool aplication starts, 3 of the scupltures has the first bit of wool added. 13 wool wrapping begins

I brought a couple of types of fibre preparations. This would let them see the difference between carded (which makes a woollen yarn)  and combed (which makes a Worsted yarn). I am going to talk about this more in a future post.

This thing was being helpful by holding fiber for its creator, even when that was not as helpful as it sounds.14 This thing was being helpful by holding fibre for its creator, even when that was not as helpful as it sounds.

this thing is developing fabulous wings.15 this thing is developing fabulous wings.

Unlike my last octopus this one has 8 arms! The pipe cleaners were found easy to wrap over.16 Unlike my last octopus this one has 8 arms! The pipe cleaners were found easy to wrap over.

A little way into wrapping, the students all realized it takes a bit of time to wrap, so instead of rushing and risking lots of punctured fingers, they decided they would like to add a second half to the workshop and focus on surface work. I did spend part of the time they were wrapping to show them a couple of options for adding fluffy furry surfaces.

two of this things arms were added to increase its head.17 two of these things arms were added to increase its head.

This one still has all four of his arms and is now standing on his own.18 This one still has all four of his arms and is now standing on his own.

By 4 pm we had good shapes developed and no major bloodletting due to rushing.

the octopus is starting to emerge. 2 legs are wrapped in white Top (Combed) and the rest are wrapped in Roving (Carded) wool.19 the octopus is starting to emerge

the thing with 4 arms has now received a head20  the thing with 4 arms has now received a head

the winged thing has temporary eyes and looks like he is looking forward to getting wings.21 the winged thing has temporary eyes and looks like he is looking forward to getting wings.

The class while not quite finished seems to have had fun to this point.  We will get a bit of time scheduled for part two to finish the outer layers in the new year. It’s always hard to estimate on time for a new workshop and the pace the students will progress at. Not pushing for speed, I think is the way to go for this one. Needle felting yourself is not conducive to creating more needle felters!

I hope you will get to take some time over the holidays to do a bit of needle felting. If you are at a loss for what to make you may want to peruse the Anagarumi Monsters for a bit of mix and match inspiration! Happy Hanukkah, Mary Christmas, Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays from the Mer Family, the Scott-Martin Family and the rest of my felted menagerie.

PS is it just my dyslexic brain or is this date really cool 12-22-2022 (if only we had 20 or 22 months it would be perfect! OK, the last few years have felt like years containing more than 12 months) but I hope you can enjoy such a fabulously numbered day! See you Next Year!!

Spinning Spirals and other topics.

Spinning Spirals and other topics.

A few years ago, while searching for an online textile workshop, I happened upon one that made me curious.  I was familiar with the tutor’s name, Ruth Lane, as her book “The Complete Photo Guide to Felting” was and continues to be one of my ‘go-to’ reference books.  Among its many attributes are two that I hold important, good writing and clarity.

At the time, Ruth was offering, among her courses, one titled   Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination.  This four week course is available under the heading Embellishing Felt With Surface Design Techniques – A Mixed Media Approach.

(https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/classes/embellishing-felt-with-surface-design-techniques-a-mixed-media-approach/nuno-felting-with-paper-fabric-lamination/)  Ruth lived up to expectations by providing concise instructions on her methods.  The smaller class size made the whole experience very personal and enjoyable.  It also provided a space where I, as a participant could interact easily with fellow students – it’s something personally I think important as sometimes on-line classes can leave me feeling quite remote.

I was absolutely delighted when Ruth asked me to write some posts for the Felting and Fiber Studio blog and when I finally decided to design and produce the online Spiral Workshop I was thrilled when it was accepted as one of the courses on the FFS workshop platform.  I feel so comfortable with the whole ethos of small class sizes and encouraging participants to engage with others if they so desire.

The Spiral workshop came about as a result of a challenge put to me by a fellow felter.  Once I had refined my technique I set about filming each step of the process.  I wanted clarity as, to a large extent, the videos needed to replace my physical presence in the learning space –  that said as with all courses offered by FFS, tutors are available to answer questions for the duration of the course.

Once the full course was recorded, I set about editing the material. This did not involve a lot of deletions.  Instead the videos were broken into smaller steps which would make particular elements of the process easier to locate for participants.  Each video has an accompanying PDF which again is broken into steps to match the videos.  These are available for participants to keep and the videos are available for the duration of the course (and a few extra weeks).

This will be the third run of the course which will start on 26th August.  Registration for it opens today (12th August) and numbers will be limited to make the experience more intimate.

Here are some photos of students’ work.  They are all so gorgeous and so different. I have included some of the reviews at the end of the video.

 

If you are interested in finding out a bit more, feel free to check out the following link:

HANGING FELTED SPIRAL WITH HELENE DOOLEY

 

Learning to print on (wet) felt

Learning to print on (wet) felt

I’m learning to print onto felt so I thought I’d show you some work in progress.  I’m following Lindsey Tyson’s course ‘Transfer Printing onto Felt and other Fabrics’ so I’m focusing here on what I’ve made rather than how. Lindsey’s been printing on felt for some years and has developed her own techniques. She’s now moving away from felt-making and printing to focus on painting so has produced a comprehensive course to share her expertise. I first saw her work a few years ago and have been really intrigued ever since to know how she produces such lovely images on felt.

I do quite a lot of sales and exhibitions in my local area. I’ve long thought I’d like to develop some smaller decorative items I can make relatively quickly and so sell at a lower price than some of my other work (because it’s more time-consuming).  I thought printing might provide an opportunity to do this.

I hummed and hawed for some time before signing up as it involves quite a big investment – not only in the course itself but also in equipment, software, space (for the equipment) and time.  I’ve just had a milestone birthday and as my mother wanted to give me a milestone gift, I decided that this was it.  I do love learning new skills and developing ideas so I was pretty sure I’d love the course.  Thank you Mum!

My first venture was to source some free online images (this is covered in the course) and, along with a little oyster shell sketch I drew, prepare them for printing and print some samples onto scraps of felt.

Small test pieces

I was pretty pleased with the results. However, some of the prints had a rather plastic feel and very visible edge.

Lindsey was very helpful with her suggestions on how to improve – including highlighting that I’d overlooked one of the steps when using the paper I’d chosen, doh! That is now largely resolved though I’m still wrestling with myself about whether I should buy a new printer as I have an inkjet and apparently laser prints work better.

I made a little tea light holder cover using some commercial prefelt. I’ve never used bought prefelt before (I’ve always made my own) and although it produced a very lovely fine felt, I also managed to create a line in the cover where the sheet of prefelt joined that I wasn’t happy with.

I now know (from the course) that there’s a way round this but I’ve decided for the time being to stick with making my own felt from scratch rather than introducing new variables.

The course covers, in a lot of detail, how to design and manipulate images. It includes tutorials on using free software as well as paid-for software like Photoshop. I decided to buy Photoshop Elements ( a basic form of Photoshop with a one-off purchase rather than a monthly subscription). I have to admit I have not taken to it like a duck to water! Some of that is doubtless me (remember that milestone birthday!) but I’ve seen lots of reviews that agree that it’s not very intuitive and so not particularly easy to learn to use. Fate intervened with (as far as I know) my first dose of Covid-19 during which I confined myself entirely to staying at home for 5 days (as per our current guidance) and until I tested negative. After the first couple of days I started to feel better so decided this was my time to make Photoshop Elements work for me.  In spite of sometimes getting very frustrated, I actually quite enjoyed the learning and have to be impressed with the things I can now do with it (however slowly) let alone all the things it can do that I can’t yet.  There are some really good free YouTube tutorials too, which helped, and I have certainly put in the hours. Many, many hours.

Back to the felt-making.  I made two more little tea light covers – one from 2 fine layers and one from 4 fine layers of 21 micron natural (undyed) merino. I wanted to see how they’d look with a lit tealight inside. Surprisingly they were both OK.

By then I’d thought of using my own felted bird images which I expertly (!) extracted from their backgrounds. I like the redshank and curlew as they both have feet.  Often my felt pictures have birds (like the avocet) whose feet are in water or behind pebbles – both because that’s how I saw the wild birds they’re based on and because I find felting bird feet quite hard!

I then tried out 18.5 mic undyed merino and decided this was what I’d use as it has a lovely smooth surface, light colour and a fine translucent appearance. Perfect both for printing and for tea lights.

I started to dig into my vast collection of charity-shop-bought silk scarves and added silk strips to the lower part of the designs. This was partly because lit tea lights’ metal cases cast a shadow at the base of the cover (see the lit one above), partly because it adds to the decoration and partly because it can ‘ground’ the images – i.e. give those birds’ feet something to walk on.  Oh, it also eases my conscience about quite how many second-hand silk scarves I own.

Redshank with recycled grey silk scarf strip

And so here are some more of the results.  I’ve printed a design on the front and the back (apart from the one with a flock of birds – that goes all the way round). They also look nice as plant holders, ‘thought they’re not quite the right proportions for most plant pots so I have to add some small pebbles to the bottom of the glass container if I want to show them as plant holders.

Herons

Some of them are free images I’ve found on the internet; some are from my own large felted pictures and one (the honesty seed pods) is from photos I’ve taken of the seed pods and worked on in Photoshop Elements to create a composite picture.

And here are the first 6 I put in the gallery shop at Creek Creative in Faversham (it’s a gallery, café, shop and studios where I rent my studio), just over a week ago. Inside each there are comprehensive warnings about lit tea lights, some felt care instructions and the name of the image.

First shop display at Creek Creative

The redshank on the left sold within a few days – I don’t know about the others yet.

I’ve also made some cards – initially to use up all the little test prints….

Square cards made using test samples

…..and then some I made specifically to become cards

Long cards

And finally a couple of bigger purpose-made plant pots with metal pots inside, using 21 mic merino in green and white.

Next steps? I’m looking forward to a couple of in-person sales / exhibitions I have coming up so I can gauge people’s reactions. I will keep building a stock of tealight holders, plant pots and cards and developing new images so I have plenty of both stock and variety.  I will keep extending my knowledge and skills in both printing on felt and using Photoshop.  And I will definitely keep working through Lindsey’s excellent course and drawing on her extensive and generous one-to-one and group support to help me on my way.

Here’s a link to a promotional video for Lindsey’s course, in case you want to check it out.

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/.

A Wool and Felting Study Group

A Wool and Felting Study Group

My weavers’ and spinners’ (and felters) guild has had to move online during the pandemic. One way we have been interacting is with Study Groups. For those who don’t know a study group is a bit like a workshop but not. There is a leader, and they facilitate the learning and do the organizing. It is an interactive learning experience with everyone participating and sharing information.

To that end, I will be running a Wool and Felting Study Group. It is open to anyone anywhere around the world, but be aware of the time difference.  Here’s the link. https://www.ovwsg.com/events/event/2200-wet-felted-fibre-study-group/

 

The group runs for 5 Zoom sessions over 10 weeks and has a dedicated space to share pictures, information and ask questions between sessions. The space will be available for 3 weeks after the last session.

Dates:

  • Wednesday, January 12, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, January 26, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, February 9, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, February 23, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)
  • Wednesday, March 9, 2022, 7:30 pm – 8:30 pm(EST)

Time Zone: North American Eastern Standard Time(EST)= GMT-5

We will be sampling wool and how it felts. We will sample as many kinds of wool as possible and share results online and using a standard form and pictures, so we are all getting the information the same way. We will discuss possible uses for the different wools and outcomes.

We will share pictures (taking and sharing pictures is a requirement) and if everyone agrees to the extra work and expense(fibre and shipping), I will collect and distribute real samples to everyone in the group. If time and resources permit, we will try some non-wool fibres and possibly how adding non-felting fibre affects the felting outcome

The prerequisite for the study group is to be able to layout a simple 10×10 square and feel it and take and share pictures. We will discuss techniques and how they affect the outcome. This study group requires you to participate so everyone can learn and grow, it is all about sharing.

 

I hope some of you can join us for this fun way to find out about different wools and share with a group of like-minded people.

It would be a great Christmas or whatever you may or may not be celebrating (Happy Friday works for me) present for yourself or a friend. And no shipping fee.  Adding some unusual wool would make it even better.  

 

Felted Hat Wedding Shower.

Felted Hat Wedding Shower.

Last weekend I got to teach a workshop for the first time since covid hit. I have really missed teaching. I was contacted to teach a wet felted hat class for a bride-to-be. She wanted to do something different than the traditional bridal shower.  Everyone was vaccinated and we all wore our masks. It was a lot of fun.

Everyone picked their colours from The Olive Sparrow (https://www.etsy.com/ca/market/the_olive_sparrow) and I ordered them in. I have to say the wool arrived quickly and nicely packaged with labels. I point this out because I have ordered from other places and received a mixed bag of fibres and I was left to sort out what the colours were and prep it for class.  All the embellishment fibres were from my own stash.

Everyone picked the style they wanted from the hat samples I brought. Then they grabbed their wool and we started. I like to do 3 layers for hats. With the most shrinkage being around and with the resist we used it leaves room at the top for shaping.

once the first side was laid out it was time to embellish. picking out the fibres and seeing how they look is always lots of fun.

Don’t forget to take a picture so you can embellish the other side.

Then the hard work begins rubbing and rolling.

After much rubbing and rolling, it was time to remove the resist.

and now they try them on and wonder how they are ever going to make them fit.

Much more rolling and fulling later the hats are shaped and ready to take home and dry. Sorry I got no pictures of that part.

All in all, it was good to teach again and the ladies were great to work with. I think we all had a lot of fun. I need to thank Sabrina( the gracious hostess) for her pictures of the day or they would be sparse. I think she is happy with her hat. 🙂

 

 

EYE’s Residential Weekend.

EYE’s Residential Weekend.

It’s been a long time coming but last weekend I taught my first face to face workshop of 2021 at Cober Hill near Scarborough. Originally booked for summer 2020, this residential workshop for the East Yorkshire Embroiderers had to be carried over to this year due to the Covid lockdown restrictions.

I did wonder if it was too soon for some and if numbers would be depleted but it turned out the ladies were very keen to get back to normal! Nineteen of the twenty ladies booked for the weekend retreat turned up, sixteen came to do the workshop and three came simply to chill.

Cober Hill was built in 1890 and was purchased by Arnold Rowntree, former Liberal Member of Parliament for York, and nephew of the chocolate manufacturer Joseph Rowntree, in March 1920. Rowntree had a vision for it “to be a place of joy and beauty, …a centre of refreshment and inspiration for many of those engaged in difficult public services… I hope experiments in Weekend Schools, Winter and Summer Schools of various kinds and of longer or shorter duration may also be tried there…” The venue, with its gardens, tennis court, croquet lawn, theatre and numerous other communal spaces, has an annual programme of craft workshops as well as hosting private groups, businesses and schools.

The theme for our weekend was “trees” and the aim was for the students to combine layers of fabric and paint with machine and hand stitching. The finished work could then either be backed as a quilt or mounted in a frame.

After dinner on the Friday evening the group were shown examples of my “tree themed” work and I talked through the techniques I had used to create them. The ladies then started to plan their designs based on images they had brought for inspiration. Not everyone wanted to do trees, one lady chose to use the techniques discussed to do a moon gazing hare while another went completely “off piste” with her abstract take on an owl!

Maggie went her own way with an Owl.
Dorothy and Debra painting their backgrounds.
Ann laying down the background for her tree silhouettes.
Melanie painting her background layer.
Rachel’s background is painted and now she’s working on her foreground layers.
Sandra adding detail to her foreground trees.

With the bulk of the painting completed and dried on Friday evening the ladies could concentrate on layering and stitching their fabrics on the Saturday.

Hilary’s background has been painted and now she is starting to layer fabrics to create her forest.
Rhona’s moon gazing hare is taking shape.
Dorothy’s forest is pinned and ready for stitching.
Evelyn’s work in progress.

I think the surprise of the weekend was Melanie who only came to Cober Hill to keep Ann, her grandma, company. This young lady doesn’t have the use of a sewing machine and had never done any free motion stitching before…..she borrowed Ann’s machine and took to it like a duck to water!

Melanie’s lone tree is starting to take form.
Rachel adding her gate and railings.
Ruth is beginning to add hand embroidery to her tree.
Debra used lots of free motion stitch on her version of a tree canopy.
Using the same image as Debra for inspiration, Carol chose to give her tree canopy autumnal colouring.
Judy’s version of my Walk in the Forest.
Hilary made good use of zig zag free motion stitch for trees in the distance.
Margaret’s version of my Three Tall Trees.
Dorothy added hand embroidery for foreground grasses and flowers.
Melanie’s finished work…..fantastic to think this was her first attempt at machine sewing and hand embroidery!
Rhona’s moon gazing hare…..what this image doesn’t show clearly is the addition of black beads which adds texture and sparkle when you see it close up.
Close up of Sandra’s finished trees.

What I hadn’t realised at the outset was that none of these lady’s had done anything like this before, so for some it had been a steep learning curve! It was great to see everyone throwing themselves into the task of painting, layering and stitching and the results speak for themselves! By the time we left Cober Hill on the Sunday there had been some terrific work created. I hope some of my students will continue to develop these techniques alongside their more traditional skills. At least one of them has since bought herself a soldering iron for doing more of this kind of work which was music to my ears!

I just want to say a huge thank you to the EYE’s group for inviting me back to teach their 2021 residential and for being such willing students and wonderful company. I shall look forward to working with you again at some point in the future.

The EYE’s class of 2021.
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.

Slow progress and a workshop

Slow progress and a workshop

I am writing this Sunday evening. My plan was to work on my cowl this afternoon. But after lunch, I just didn’t have any energy to do it, so after an incredibly busy week of baking, I decided on a nap instead. So at this point, I have nothing to show you about that.

I have booked a little hall for a workshop though. I had a request for a cat cave class. I am not sure I will get enough people to join as we have a short timeline. I have to have 4 people to run the class( 6  is the maximum) and I need them by Oct 9 so we can order the wool and get it here on time. her is the spiel Jan did for me for the class. the one I wrote up was boring. For those who don’t know where I hale from it is just outside Ottawa Ontario Canada. I included that info with all the shared posts on Facebook. it is a personal pet peeve of mine when people don’t post where it is for non-locals. Do you have any idea how many Perths and Cornwalls there are around the world? I have gotten all excited, only to find something is in Perth Australia or Cornwall, California USA?

Cat Cave Workshop

Do you have a present for that hard to shop for Cat on your Christmas list? Have you tried all the toys but are still being snubbed? I may have a solution for you! Have you considered making the perfect cat cave for your perfect cat? Whether you have a big or small cat if they like curling up and sleeping in cozy spaces then a cat cave may be your solution.
There will be a group order of wool (Finn) and consultation in creating your resist. Sign up quickly we have limited space so we can be socially distanced while we are felting together. Properly Fitting masks are required, and we will have our hands in warm soapy water!!

Wool: Finn (Pre-workshop group order) 1-4 KG depending on size and thickness of cat cave shapee.

When: Nov 7-8th 2020

Where: Pierces Corners Hall (Near North Gower, I will supply directions)

Cost: $100 plus costs of wool and a portion of shipping and duties

 

Suitable for enthusiastic beginners and people that have felted before.

Sign up soon and do not disappoint your cat, no one wants an unhappy cat Christmas morning.

To sign up or if you have any questions, please email me shepherdessann@gmail.com

I added some pictures of course

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