Not Quite What I Planned

If you visit the forum or follow Zara’s blog, you’ll have seen her challenge to ‘felt the elements‘. I was just making my breakfast the other morning when I had this flash of inspiration and knew what I wanted to do! It seemed so simple, yet would look great. My idea was to lay out a couple of layers of scarlet Merino, then add some wisps of yellow. Then I’d get some two-tone red/yellow organza, fold, sew and ruffle, place on top of the Merino, add a resist, then a couple of layers of black Merino. After felting, I’d cut a slit in the black, remove the resist and the organza would spring out, like flames. For an extra touch of genius, I thought I’d slice the black carefully to reveal cracks of red, like burning coals or molten lava. Well, it just looked like black wool with red migration and a red slit! I couldn’t even get any decent photos of the disaster because I was working on a tutorial and my camera battery died. By the time it charged I had the unusual problem of it being too sunny! Here are a few photos, though. This is the organza flames leaping from the slit:

And how the flattened, crumpled organza really looked:

And the sad little embers under burning coals:

I even tried to do another one quickly:

I did make a nice piece of nuno last week though!

Have you had any ‘seemed like a good idea at the time’ moments lately?

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , | 14 Comments

First Quarter Challenge Done.

It’s not even the last day of march and I have my First Quarter Challenge piece done. Here is the link to the challenge if you haven’t see it yet.

It took me a long time to figure out what I wanted to do. I didn’t want to remake an existing Fauvist painting. Then I remembered a couple of pictures I had when I was a child that had ballerinas in them. One was them dancing at night and one in a French garden. I doesn’t know where the pictures are now but what I remember is that they felt very happy. Fauvism should express emotion with simplified form and bold colour so that was the choice.

I did what I usually do for back grounds, a piece of cotton gauze between 2 pieces of prefelt. It measured about 14×14. Then I positioned my ballerinas. I used silk hanky pieces for the dresses.

I used prefelt, merino top and the large blue piece is a small left over piece of batt I made last year.  I then wet it all down and felted it down to 12×12. For an art piece this seems to be enough shrinkage. the size lets me use it for my guilds upcoming art show celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday.

Here it is after felting I think it qualifies as Fauvist.

It was ok but I wanted to emphasise the ballerinas more so I made their skirts 3D by needle felting some more silk hanky on to them.

I liked it before but I like it much better now.


I hope those of you that haven’t made anything yet will be inspired to so something before the end of the month. It was fun.


Posted in Challenges, Design, Mixed Felting Techniques, Needle Felting, Prefelt, Silk, Uncategorized, Wet Felting, Wool | Tagged , , , , | 16 Comments

Composition and Design – Harmony and Unity

Finished Free Motion Stitched Seed Heads

Unity is the presentation of an image that is integrated; an agreement exists between the various elements and they look as if they belong together. Another term for this is harmony. If the various elements are not harmonious, if they appear separate or unrelated, your design is not cohesive and lacks unity. An important aspect of unity is that the whole of the design should be dominant – you should see the whole before seeing the individual parts. Creating visual unity is made easier by the fact that the viewer is looking for some sort of organization, something to relate the elements. Viewers tend to group objects that are close into one unit; negative spaces will also be organized. Objects of similar shapes will be grouped together by the viewer’s brain. Our brain looks for similar elements, and when these elements are recognized, we will see a cohesive design.

Value Sample 14

Unity can be achieved by the following methods:

Finished Still Life


Proximity – put the elements close together

Screen Printed Leaves

Repetition – repeat various parts of the design to relate the parts to each other

form birch groveContinuation – continue an element from one form or another to draw the eye

Organza squares

Organza squares

Continuity – the planned arrangement of various forms so that their edges are lined up i.e. using a grid to create serial designs (thanks for the use of your photo Zed!)

Using repetition to create harmony and unity is often seen in traditional quilt patterns. Shapes are repeated and colors are repeated to give a pleasing unity to the quilt. I don’t make many quilts and the piece above is made from selvages that are repeated. Often the quilting is repeated over the quilt’s surface and that may create a unifying factor.

Fauvism at an angle

However, you don’t want too much unity as it can be boring. Thus you must consider adding variety. Shapes may repeat, but perhaps in different sizes; colors may repeat, but in different values.

Any of the design elements that I have discussed before can be repeated. This is a simple pattern of repeating lines based on frost. Think about how to use the different elements in your composition and how you can repeat them to create harmony. Should you use repetition of line, shape, color?

Couched Lines

And the shapes or lines that are repeated do not have to be the same. Similar shapes and lines that are related still give repetition and a feeling of unity without being too boring.

Questions to get you started:

Can you produce a design that is only of one subject repeated many times? How do you keep this design from becoming boring?

Practice making small compositions with a variety of geometrical shapes. How do the elements look scattered randomly across the surface?  What happens when you move the items into groups that are close together or overlapping? What does your design look like with similar shapes repeating in a pattern? How can you move the viewer’s eye from one shape to the next? If you use a grid as your format, how does this affect the design?

Posted in Design | Tagged , , | 9 Comments

Relearning to Crochet

I’ve been trying to think of projects that weren’t labor intensive since I’m having back problems again.  My son and his family gave me a set of ergonomic crochet hooks for my birthday.  Then for some reason I started getting crochet posts in my Facebook news feed. I’ve been intrigued with some more complicated textures and dimensional stitches.  But I haven’t crocheted in years and figured I’d start with the basics.

I do have a book on crochet, but the Internet is loaded with tons of videos that keep calling me.

I’ve been practicing, but not have gotten my tension mojo just right.  So, bear with me. For these samples I used a medium weight (worsted) acrylic yarn I had on hand with a 5 mm, (UK 6, US H8 hook.)

Next to making the chain (ch) for a sample, the Single Crochet (sc) is one of most basic stitches.


Next I tried the Double Crochet (dc).


Then I made a sample with the Half Double Crochet (hdc) which I don’t remember ever seeing. A little more intricate and I liked the added texture.


The Triple Crochet (tc) is more open and less dimensional.


Then finally, the Double Triple Crochet (dtc.)  Very open and airy.


While they aren’t perfect and I’m getting the tension a little more consistent with daily practice, I’m far from making a project.  I try a new stitch everyday to keep my hands on fiber and learn something new.  Which I’ve learned helps spark creativity when you learn a new skill.

Have you tried something new lately?

Posted in crochet | Tagged , , , , , , | 18 Comments

Bright Nuno Pieces

Some slightly more ‘conventional’ nuno felt this week. Well, conventional to me anyway 🙂 I made a piece similar to this first one a while ago and it was really popular and sold, so I thought I’d make another one:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m thinking that next time I make something which is ‘double sided’, I’m going to flip the layout over when I’ve finished the first layer, because the top always looks better than the underneath. It looks alright, but was definitely better on the side I worked on:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love the shiny ripples of silk nuno:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a strip torn from a viscose scarf on another piece I made:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think you can see the ripples a bit better on an angle:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe ripples were so uniform and neat, I couldn’t decide which close up to use, so I’m posting 3 🙂




Posted in Nuno Felting | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

A Spring Shawl

The museum store wanted some shawls that are more “springy”.  This is the first one.

It is a pastel pink and blue silk with pale pink wool on 2/3 of it. I then added some silk hanky flowers  and leaves at each end and in the middle. It was to plane so I added some more leaves down the length. At this point I remembered to take some pictures.

pink-shawl-silk-flowerspink-shawl-left-end pink-shawl-middle pink-shawl-right-end

The pink wool is in a very thin layer so it will be very light weight for spring. The finished piece is about 15 inches wide so it can be a small shawl or a wide scarf.

finished-spring-shawl finished-spring-shawl-wool-side-2

finished-spring-shawl-wool-side-1 finished-spring-shawl-silk-side

I like doing shawls with a a silk section left to float as you walk.

The pictures are in my studio , taken hastily as my turn to blog snuck up on me. Everyone seems to be complaining about it being to dull outside to take pictures. I have the opposite problem. The sky is blue, the sun is shinning and the ground is covered in white highly reflective snow. It is blinding out there.

Are you thinking about spring things with soft colours or are you still in hibernation with warms cozy colours?



Posted in Design, Nuno Felting, Scarves, Silk, Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , | 12 Comments

10th International Shibori Symposium Exhibitions

This is a guest post by Kim of Flextiles. She recently attended the Tenth International Shibori Symposium and I thought you all might to get a glimpse of what she did and saw there. Thanks Kim!

My previous post about the 10th International Shibori Symposium (10iss) in Mexico last November focused on some of the workshops I attended. This time I’m going to report on some of the inspiring exhibitions and beautiful work on show.

Several of the exhibitions were in the Centro de las Artes de San Agustin (CASA), around 45 minutes’ drive from the centre of Oaxaca. It’s a former cotton mill that was converted into a stunning arts centre by local artist Francisco Toledo in 2000. Its hilltop location gives amazing views, and it has two exhibition halls and smaller rooms for running workshops.

Here there was a wonderful exhibition, curated by Yoshiko Nakamura and Consortium Arimatsu Narumi, of historical and modern Japanese indigo-dyed kimono from Arimatsu and Narumi in Japan.

Another exhibition here showcased 12 pieces of clothing designed by Mexican designer Carla Fernandez, highlighting connections between the Mexican and Japanese traditions of ikat (known as jaspe in Mexico and kasuri in Japan).

The contemporary garments were wonderful, combining Japanese silhouettes and designs with traditional Mexican rebozo patterns.

The main exhibition hall at CASA was given over to a wide range of contemporary shibori artworks and wearables, curated by Yoshiko Wada and Trine Ellitsgaard. Unfortunately, the evening viewing I went to was quite dark, so I found it tricky to get decent photos, but here’s a flavour of some of the pieces on display.

A short walk downhill from CASA is the paper making cooperative Arte Papel Vista Hermosa, also founded by Francisco Toledo. Its members use bark, plants, flowers, cotton, hemp, silk, linen and pieces of shiny mica in their products. As well as seeing the artisans at work, visitors can have a go at making paper themselves.

For this exhibition they worked with artist Kiff Slemmons to produce some stunningly intricate paper jewelry. And yes – I did end up buying a piece! 🙂

Back in town, the Textile Museum of Oaxaca was, unsurprisingly, the main exhibition focus. One of the most eye-catching was an installation of bandhani flags by Christina Kim. This was a collaboration between artisans in Kutch in Gujarat and the National Institute of Design in Ahmedabad to employ women displaced by the 2001 earthquake in Kutch. Fluttering against the blue sky, the flags were a stunning sight.

The second exhibition was an interesting cross-cultural comparison of shibori and ikat techniques from around the world. While I know something of the Japanese and Indian traditions, I was less familiar with jaspe, the Mexican equivalent of ikat.

Ikat is the process where (usually) sections of the warp threads are bound with threads before dyeing, forming a pattern that will show after weaving. Sometimes the weft threads are dyed, and sometimes both warp and weft – this is known as double ikat (or patola in India).

It’s immensely disciplined because you have to know exactly where the dyed threads will end up in the final piece – no changing your mind (or pattern) once you start! The resulting designs tend to look a little “fuzzy” around the edges.

Shibori pieces on display ranged from a Japanese kanoko shibori jacket to raffia- stitched fabric from Africa.

Finally, there was a fascinating exhibition on the plumed weavings of Mexico. In the 1980s, a fragment of fabric woven with a mixture of cotton and duck down was found in a flea market in Puebla. The technique seems to have been unique to Mexico, and the exhibition displayed work by modern weavers incorporating duck down.


There is a website here explaining the process, but it is all in Spanish.

If you have any questions, please feel free to comment and Kim will answer you. Thanks for the post Kim!


Posted in Community, Dyeing, Guest Writer | Tagged , | 7 Comments