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.

Quite a first quarter challenge – Gaudi – part 1

Quite a first quarter challenge – Gaudi – part 1

Having decided to take part in the first challenge for 2021, which asked for us to take inspiration from the years 1900-1909, I immediately thought of Louis Comfort Tiffany with his beautiful glass and Antoni Gaudi the Barcelona architect. As I have been fans of their work forever, it wasn’t a problem to take the relevant books from my shelves and start researching. Thereafter I was still undecided.

I mentioned my dilemma on a Zoom meeting with felting fellows….Gaudi won.

I knew I wanted to challenge myself even further with different techniques in a 3D structure. Just how much of a challenge….I am still finding out!

Using my book and pictures from the internet I set about sketching and drawing various interesting elements from Gaudi’s vast repertoire of buildings, just to get a feel for shapes and get my brain into gear, thinking about the structure.

I haven’t done any serious sketching for years so the ‘pen and thinking’ took several weeks. Finally, decided on Güell Park 1900-1914, and set to.

I also decided on a few other things too – to go big (or bigger than recent artefacts) and to start using up ‘stuff’ in a bid to reduce my stash. This included using some pure wool quilt wadding, which I have posted on before ‘A yarn and preparation experiments’ and have now used a few times. The reverse side, where the ‘Vilene’ type fabric is still attached, had the perfect cracked tile effect for an homage to Gaudi. 

Those decisions made it was on to creating the shape and template. Having made a quick sample I knew that the shrinkage co-efficient was around 1.3….yep, you have read this right….I did make a small sample! It was then onto creating a typical Gaudi arch to the approximate size (the first arch was too thin, bearing in mind it would be opened up) – plate and bottle put to good use.

Also put to good use were vintage tools of my former trade!

Cutting out the resist and designing the remainder of the template/resist elements, another very very quick decision was made….measuring 62 x 39 cm (24 x 15 in)….this was NOT going to be a book template as I had originally sketched!

Note to self – permanent marker pen is permanent on fingers but not on a resist!

Finally it was onto fibre and materials, cutting the quilt wadding (my drift wood bricks from a bay in west Scotland are very useful) and repurposing a waistband from a deconstructed jumper.

Gaudi admired the writings of John Ruskin particularly ‘Ornament is the origin of architecture’ (Ruskin 1853) and he adhered to the thinking that an architect had to be both painter and sculptor. This is perfectly demonstrated in Güell Park where he let his imagination run fantastical in terms of shapes, structures and with everything decorated with colourful mosaics of ceramic tile fragments (ceramics being very popular internationally at that time).

Auditioning the fabrics to evoke the decorative mosaics, I found it interesting that Eusebi Güell, Gaudi’s greatest sponsor, lifelong friend and associate, was a businessman mainly in – textiles.

I started on the ‘collar’ by creating small patches of nuno pre-felt using scraps of fabric – I wasn’t worried that some didn’t overlap as it would add to the effect. Then cut these into the sketched shapes and pre-felted them to some wool wadding.

As I mentioned I was using up supplies, wool I had bought oh so many years ago….mmmm….I should have tried a sample first!  Suffice to say, I will be single handedly keeping the razor manufacturers in production!

Then it was onto the main event laying down a fine herringbone layer of wool, wadding, resist, wadding and wool, taking care to enclose the edges well, the whole was pre-felted. Following which the ‘cord was laid in place and the second layer of wadding added to each side – stitched at the edges for added insurance! The whole was worked to an early pre-felt stage.

Adding the viscose – the viscose I have is in circular bundles which needs to be cut, thereafter I need to peel a quantity off. If I don’t want a knotted mass, this last is achieved by wrapping it around my legs as a counterweight and gently pulling….thankfully you can’t see me demonstrating this technique.

Recently I came across a Russian felter, who immerses her similar viscose in fabric softener, then dries it ready for use. I am still experimenting with this trick – thus far it does seem to stop the viscose ‘snagging’ (just like silk) on my reasonably smooth hands.

I then cut it into smaller lengths (as it won’t draft off like wool fibre) and going for the ‘cloud’ effect I place it horizontally on my carders. Vertical placement, as for wool fibres, doesn’t work….it just slides off the carder, especially the softener treated viscose!

The screen is a good resting post for the viscose! The peach coloured hank has been treated with fabric softener.

Viscose applied in mixed colour ‘cloud’ layers up to the cord.

An off-centre cut made in the base it was time to remove the resist. If by this point you are scratching your head wondering why….my thinking is….holes have a habit of growing larger, so simply slicing off the top would create too big an opening in the top. If I felt the structure almost fully then cut off the top it might be better. I can easily stitch up and conceal the base slit….time will tell if my thinking was on solid foundations!

With the resist out I could concentrate on the stitched seams.

It was now time to try the ‘collar’ which fitted as planned….pheu….but it was at this point I realised I had made a fundamental rooky mistake….I had laid and worked the cord at 90 deg to the vertical! Opening out the wet structure gave me a distorted shape with 2 sides longer….oops I should have placed the cord on a curve. With my former career I have no excuses for (and nowhere to hide from) this mistake 🙁

My solution….thus far….has been (with enough felt in the base) to pull, push and stitch the cord inside to achieve the curve. The downside of this action is that I now have a fold on the inside….mmmm!

The base has been tucked inside to check the curve, the ‘collar’ will hide the ‘dropped’ viscose. No, the section diagram is not a diagram of a demented mole….although….

I have come to a temporary halt whilst I re-think my next move. I don’t feel too bad thus far….unintentionally – I’m simply emulating Gaudi who being a pragmatist did not spend his life at the drawing board preferring to be on site, thinking things over, experimenting with and rejecting ideas to get to a solution.

I’ll get there……..

Distractions while working on the Armature Wire Study group homework!

Distractions while working on the Armature Wire Study group homework!

As I mentioned earlier, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners guild had decided to try 3 study groups starting in February. One on weaving, one on spinning and I had the Felt study group looking at armature wire. We were going to look at different types of wire, in different gauges and in different combinations. To see how flexible they were and what size of sculpture might be appropriate to use them with.

We started on Feb 24, 2021, at  07:30 PM and ran for 4 weeks till Mar 17, 2021.  I had ordered a lot of different aluminum wire online and had found quite a bit of non-braided wire at the hardware store and Dollarama.  I was doing quite well until last week!

As we came out of lockdown, we had the opportunity to do fun stuff in a limited way again like have a guild library day!! Ayah!!! Getting out of the house, pulling and bagging books to ready for pick up, the Anticipation!!! Then the horrible realization that the car still wants to quarantine in the driveway, watching the buses go by. After a quick consultation from the nice CAA man who said he has seen a lot of this problem, suggested we wait for the next warm snap and see if she will start. Unfortunately, that would be after Library day!!

0.5 This is the Sunday of Library day (Masked Librarian receives book return). Saturday Elizabeth, not pictured but also masked, helped with book pulling and bagging while I dealt with the circulation database and added new items to the library.

I was very grateful for 2 of my very wonderful friends who gave me lifts down and back to the guild library while my Kea Soul sat in the driveway refusing to stop self-isolating. I rather overdid it even with their help, well I do not get out much now and wound up back laying down how frustrating. As the 3 days of warm weather arrived, on day 3 she started!! 2 trips to the car doctor and a rather hefty bill and she is now fine.

Besides library and car surgery excitement, I have been organizing and participating in the “Armature Wire Study Group” through our local guild. We were making samples of various gauges of wire, single, twisted, and then felted over. We had a number of different kinds of wire, copper, steel, rubber coated steel, stainless and aluminum. We had gauges from 6 aluminum to 26 steel floral wire.

For my samples I have been making appendages, well, 15 twisted wire and 15 wool covered legs with feet, 4 wire arms with different gauges of fingers on hands and 22 samples of each wire I was able to get. (there are a few that still have not arrived yet!) All the appendages are hanging up beside the desk in little baggies, with labels, notes and wire samples. I had wanted to do samples of two different gauges of wire as well, but am running a few days behind where I thought I would be. I still have a day so I may get a couple of the options done but without a wool covering.

 

1-3 all the samples (This is part of tonight’s zoom meeting for the study group)

The EXPERIMENTATION –Loop joint Samples

One of the participants had wondered about increasing articulation at the joint. I decided to try a simple loop to loop connection and a loop to loop with lateral support. The idea was to keep the “bone” sections from bending when it’s not appropriate. I sampled 2 connecting loop options in 9ga aluminum which is quite heavy. The first was two loops set perpendicular, at a 90 deg. angle to each other. The second was the same configuration but with 18ga aluminum secured above and below the joint and acting as the medial and lateral collateral ligaments (MCL and LCL) to this mettle joint.

– to try to give articulation in one plane of movement. Using 9-gauge Aluminum wire.

8 the bare armature with the first joint attached. Joint 1

Joint 1

2 loops locking together, the lower turned so the main articulation swing will be front to back. This will give hyper-extension but may be reduced by wool over layer.  Wool does provide increased support but still allows more lateral shift than wanted.

– Freely swings to the front and back (anterior/posterior movement).

-it also swings freely from side to side (Medial / lateral movement).

-the joint can not be positioned to stay in one location other than what little support the wool is giving it. (This joint needs emergency surgery to correct for the lack of both the lateral and medial support ligaments!!!!

Joint 2

Loop at joints – with double twisted wire of the same gauge creating a loop for superior articulation. Augmented by 20 gauge aluminum wire (at sides of joint for adding grater lateral support).

-lateral support from wire greatly reduces lateral shift in the joint almost all the movement is front /back, anterior/posterior.

-again positioning is not an option other than the restriction from the wool covering the joint it can be moved but will not stay if released. moves more freely than just a single or twisted wire.

Conclusions: will not work for posing a figure but may be of use if you need a flexible joint that returns to its resting positions. This may be an option for some other project, but not for the project I want to do next.

We will have one more meeting in a month to report after we finish all our samples and exchange information. So I may be able to give you an update on a bit more of our findings. This looks like it was a good felting question to investigate

18 Articulating swing arms for webcam and tablet

I bought some new equipment to help with my zooming and after much surcharging for improved lighting. Eventually, I remembered the box with the magnifying lamp picture on it was not empty. (I had moved it when I was trying to sort out the office so should have remembered more quickly that I had it.) I got out my light for de-hairing Qiviut fibre to augment by poor office lighting. Of the new stands, one is designed to hold a phone, (if only mine would let the zoom app lode and open) but also how has the attachment to hold a webcam pointing at the desk and the other is holding Glenn’s older small tablet. I got Miaka’s email to log in through the tablet, so it could take a picture of me. It’s all been very exciting and a bit of a steep slope on the learning curve!!

It’s now getting quite late, which is why my spellchecker is not available (I think sleep spellchecking may be no better than me believing Microsoft word when they tell me “that is defiantly the word you meant”!!! I will hope that it doesn’t lead me too far astray.)

There are rumours it is getting warmer and there may be spring soon. I saw strawberry leaves poking through the fall leaves on Friday (car doctor assessment day) but by Monday (day surgery car day) they were all dead again. they always seem to be a bit overenthusiastic. I know that soon we will all be out Felting Alfresco again!!!

Making felt ball in bulk

Making felt ball in bulk

This exercise started with me wanting to make some felt cubes and triangular prisms to make a more 3D version of a sky view landscape. the first thing I thought of doing to get the shapes was to felt around some small wooden blocks. I spit some into roof shapes and some in half for shorter cubes. Although this seemed like a good idea it was not very successful. the pointy corners proved to be a problem and adding more wool would just start rounding them too much.

Then I was talking to the group and Lyn said to try squishing them into squares when you making them. Well of course why didn’t I think of that. Now I need to make balls and I had been thinking I should try making a bunch of them, why make 4 if you can make more. I had seen a video of them making large numbers all at once in Nepal. So off to google how to do that. There are several videos on how to do this. Living felt has the best one.

Step one roll up some wool for the beads. I wrapped the wool around a chopstick and poked it a few times with a felting needle to hold it while I make more.

Once I had a bunch ready I added some soapy water. Just ad a little then roll them around the container to absorb it. Then add a

little more until they are wet but not soggy.

Then I popped the lid on and started rolling them around and shaking them until they were felted. This works really well and doesn’t take long at all. I rinsed them and couldn’t believe how dirty the water was.

Now I need to full them, I put them on a towel and used the starburst lid of my container to roll them around. adding pressure as I went.

 

On to a drying wrack.

I squished a few into the right shapes for my picture

I haven’t started the picture yet. I did make a sheep glasses holder for my granddaughter who just got glasses. I flattened the bottom so it wouldn’t roll. You rest the glasses on the lamb’s nose. His nose I a bit piggish but he was gone to her bedroom to find the best place for him before I could fix it.

And just to throw another spanner( or 2 )  in the works we started having lambs ( early, rams are very sneaky and quick when they want to be) got our new puppy. not sure how much felting will be going on but I usually do best when I have no time. Always seems to motivate me and create ideas.

Ava: 8 weeks

Meet the Supplier – Sara Quail of Unicorn Fibres

Meet the Supplier – Sara Quail of Unicorn Fibres

Fibre 3, 2, 1

Q-3 Three types of fibre you can’t live without?

1. Viscose tops – I really love working and experimenting with this plant based fibre. Created from regenerated wood pulp, viscose has all the look and feel of silk tops, without the static when you draft it and it is considerably cheaper. A brilliant fibre for adding some lustre and surface interest to wet or dry felted projects. You can make fibre sheets in different densities and use thin wispy sheets for layering or thicker ones for cutting out shapes. Being a similar micron, viscose integrates really well with 19 micron merino roving. You can card it with other fibres, lay it out thickly or thinly for different effects or blend colours together. Being a smooth manmade fibre with no scales, it won’t wet felt on its own, but only needs a surprisingly little amount of wool fibre to get it to all hold together.

2. Merino roving – Like many felters, I am a fan of combed 19 micron roving. It is easy to work with, quick to felt and ideal for wearables and many other projects. After a visit to the DHG dye-house some years ago, I am still in awe of the complex process and scale involved in processing, dyeing and creating commercial roving from raw fleece.

3. Uniblends – Our exclusive Uniblends are my dream fibre. Custom blended, they combine the qualities of viscose and 19 micron merino wool. I love to use it in one-way cobweb layouts – it drapes beautifully, reduces pilling and is less itchy against the skin than using wool only. Using Uniblends speeds up the laying out process as the fibres are already combined and you don’t have to worry about embellishing the other side! You can also add additional viscose if desired, 2-directional layouts give a heathered effect and it spins well too.

Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?

Well, apart from my 2 hands, I use my homemade mega felting tool and ball brauser constantly. Ball brausers are fantastic water sprinklers for speedy wetting out of a project and with a little care, can last a very long time. My biggest tip is to never to leave it standing with the spout in water or soap solution for any length of time. This prevents rust potentially settling in and snapping off the sprinkler head. Shown here with a ball brauser for scale, my mega felting tool is pretty large. I have made smaller versions but this one is great for large projects like making wraps, garments & scarves. Glass décor beads have been glued to a rendering tool, sourced from the local hardware store.

Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?

Nuno felting without question. My preference is to use embellished prefelts rather
than applying roving directly onto fabric, using hand dyed Margilan silk or cotton gauze.

General Questions

What is your business?

Unicorn Fibres is an online business selling supplies for wet felting, needle felting
and associated arts.

What kind of items do you sell?

Lots of Fibre, Hand dyed fabric and Tools for felting. We stock 19 micron merino roving in +100 colours – solid & variegated colours, merino/silk blends & our exclusive merino/viscose Uniblends.

Our range of carded wool batts is growing and particularly popular for needle felting along with Corriedale roving.

Over 45 viscose colours available as well as hand dyed Margilan silk and Cotton
gauze for nuno felting.

Ball brausers and a variety of tools for needle felting.

And if you are stuck for a gift, eGift cards too!

What do you think makes your business different from similar ones?

 Along with having considerable felting expertise, we are focused specifically on the needs of felt makers/artists. Our aim is to keep prices low and service high.
 Weight options – Fibre can be purchased from as little as 10gm (0.35oz), up to 1kg (2.20lbs) bumps. Flexible quantity options to suit your needs.
 Custom products – Our Uniblends are created exclusively for us and a dream to use.
 Bundles – Merino and viscose bundles are offered to make colour choices easier, quicker and a little cheaper.
 Hand dyed gauzes – Margilan silk gauze and Cotton scrim with characteristic colour nuances to enhance nuno felting & other textile projects.
 DHG reseller – We are an official reseller for DHG products who use ethically sourced fibre and create their products to the industry’s highest safety and environmental standards.
 Shipping – Turnaround time for orders are generally same-day and we dispatch orders really fast, twice a day. All stock is onsite, so there are no drop shipping delays.

Where are you located?

We are an online business in Perth – a pretty idyllic spot, at the bottom left hand side of Western Australia. Close to amazing beaches and a city that sits on the Swan River.

Where can we find you on the internet?

https://www.unicornfibres.com.au/

Sara is very kind and generous and she is doing a giveaway for all of our readers. Please read the instructions below to enter. She has also given our readers a coupon code for a discount for a purchase of Uniblends from her site. See below for details. Thanks Sara!

Giveaway and Offer

Two Giveaways –

For one international and one Australian recipient:

You can win a bundle of Uniblend rovings – 6 x 50gm (1.76oz) packs in colourways of your choice, inclusive of shipping.

Giveaway is now closed.

Offer

Use coupon code: UNIBLEND10 for a 10% discount on our exclusive range of Uniblends – stunning variegated extra fine merino wool and viscose roving blends.

Prices include 10% Australian tax, but are excluded at checkout for international
shipping addresses.

Spring Online Classes Open for Registration

Spring Online Classes Open for Registration

The spring series of online courses are open for registration.  The registration for the 4 modules of Embellishing Felt with Surface Design Techniques – A Mixed Media Approach opens today, March 12 for a class start date of March 26, 2021. Click on any of the links about the courses to learn more. The courses are four weeks of PDF and video information and two extra weeks of instructor support for only $45.00 US for each module. You don’t have to be present at any certain time during the course.

Here is a video that I made about the first module of my online courses, Nuno Felting with Paper Fabric Lamination.

The second module is Experimental Screen Printing on Felt. Screen printing is loads of fun and you can obtain a huge variety of results with the techniques you will learn in this class.

Or you might want to try the third module which is Printing, Stenciling and Playing with Thickened Dye on Felt. You will learn how to make stencils and stamps as well as the use of thickened dye to decorate the surface of your felt and make your own unique designs.

The fourth module is Free Motion Machine Stitching on Felt. Have you always wanted to add machine stitching to your felt but didn’t know how? This course takes you through the basics of machine stitching on felt and works through to more complex techniques of using your sewing machine to embellish felt.

If you are interested in any of these online classes, please click on the links above for further information about the classes and scroll down to the bottom of the page to register. You will also find the supply lists of what you will need for each class on the linked pages.

Our Wet Felting for Beginners online class is available any time. You will have unlimited access with this class. So if you’d like to know more about the basics of felting including laying out the wool, embellishments, shrinkage and a variety of felting methods this is the class for you. You can sign up any time at the link above.

Hexagons and Holes

Hexagons and Holes

OK, I have to hold my hands up yet again….I hadn’t looked at my diary yet this month and so completely forgot about today’s blog post!! It’s funny how it’s so easy to forget what you should be doing when you really don’t have anything much to remember anymore, thanks to Covid!

Thank goodness for our quarterly challenges….always a handy blog subject when you’re caught out last minute! I’ve really enjoyed the first one of 2021 which was to make something inspired by the decade 1900-1909. Lyn gave us lots of examples of people, events, etc from that era which could be used as a starting point to fire our imagination and get us thinking about what we were going to create. As soon as I read the dates I knew instantly that I would be using the book Art Forms in Nature as my main source of inspiration. The book is a compilation of illustrations by the German botanist and zoologist Ernst Haeckel.

I’d bought the book about a year ago having accidentally come across Haeckel’s illustrations during an online search. Although based on reality they are very stylised and have an instantly recognisable quality which has led to them being used as inspiration by artists and designers from the Art Nouveau period through to the present day.

A recurring shape seen throughout this book is the hexagon, hardly surprising as it’s everywhere we look in nature……from the basalt pillars of the Giants Causeway to honeycomb, it’s also found in the eyes of insects, tortoise shells, fish scales and as a cloud formation around the North Pole of Saturn…..the list goes on and on!

There are lots of fascinating facts about hexagons in nature which I hadn’t ever given a thought to in the past, but that’s a great thing about doing these challenges…..you never know where they might lead you or what you might discover.

I like working in 3D so decided to use the hexagon as a raised surface decoration for two wet felted samples. They were both made with the same size resists using Bergschaf fibres and each piece is approximately 32cm across and about 5cm high.

The first was a very simple form which can be open or closed. The second was created using exactly the same template but what was negative space on the top layer in the first sample became positive space in the second, creating a totally different look.

The domed shapes were created using differential shrinkage so didn’t need padding but I’ve added it anyway so I could get a little more height in the centres. I’ve also added a few Colonial Knots to one of them.

I don’t do enough sampling so I’m now working on some more designs of this size but, rather than keeping the backgrounds circular, I’m thinking of cutting them into hexagons so I can join them together without gaps as one large “sampler” Wallhanging.

Another challenge I’m currently making for is titled “Filled Holes” and this is one I’ve set for my local Belchford group. It came about during a Zoom meeting when Lucy showed us a project she had done for her college course. As you can see from this image Lucys is very small, the holes have been made from magazine pages and some contain found objects.

I set off with the intention of making circular holes in fabric and using a soluble backing to fill them with free motion stitch. As often happens before I knew it I’d veered off and ended up with something completely different! I found some fabric I had stamped with leaves and acrylics and another piece that I’d rust dyed ages ago and done nothing with. The one painted with acrylic was quite stiff and so perfect for creating raised domes (this must have been at the back of my mind since the hexagon samples). The other had small rust marks from washers and bolts which could be framed by allowing them to peep through the holes.

I’m really happy with how these three pieces turned out, and each little hole does have a rust print “filling”, but are they “Filled Holes”? I’m not totally convinced I’ve met my own brief so next time I will show you what I did when I returned to my original idea of using the soluble fabric and the free motion stitch.

Source of images.

Giants Causeway: https://discovernorthernireland.com/things-to-do/giants-causeway-p696331

Insect eye: https://nautil.us/issue/35/boundaries/why-nature-prefers-hexagons

Tortoise shell: https://www.tortoiseowner.com/can-tortoises-turtles-live-without-their-shell/

Honeycomb Cowfish: https://www.floridamuseum.ufl.edu/discover-fish/species-profiles/acanthostracion-polygonius/

Saturn: https://www.countrylife.co.uk/nature/hexagon-abounds-in-the-natural-world-153183

Twist Workshop – 2D needle felting portraits

Twist Workshop – 2D needle felting portraits

A few weeks ago, there was a question about the Fox picture in the bog banner. With the re-cropping, you can just see the eye and a bit of the upper face. I was sure I had blogged about the workshop I started to create this in but neither Ann nor I could find the post. I promised I would re-post it after the Hedgehog of Love posts were up.

Twist Workshop – 2D needle felting portraits

Sunday, August 19, 2018 from 09:30 to 16:30 Teacher: Megan Cleland
Level: Beginner to advanced Language: English

Getting to twist the first time:

In August there is a fibre festival just over an hour away from Ottawa in Quebec.   I went for the first time a few years ago carefully printing out the instructions from Google maps (I didn’t own a GPS).  I jumped in the car and headed east across the border and down highway 50.  Now I know you likely had not noticed I am SEVERELY and utterly dyslexic.  I am even dyslexic in French (much to my grade 7 English teachers horror.  “What do you mean you can’t have 3 vowels and 3 consonants together?  The French teacher said it was fine.”!  So that was the end of my French classes. Too bad I really liked French there had been no reading or writing up to that point!)  Anyways to get back to Twist, I headed out with the instructions to turn north at the town that made me think of pineapples (Papineauville).  Yes, that should have made me think of grapefruit (pamplemousse) but I really am dyslexic bilingually so I slaughter both English and the bits of French I still remember. 

As I mentioned it’s just over an hour away from Ottawa and I was diligently checking each off-ramp sign I approached to see if any of the letters looked similar to what I was looking for.  That year there was a lot of road work and a lot of dead skunks.  It was past an hour by the time I reached Meribell airport (that’s really getting a bit close to Montreal!) so I turned back.  There had been no suggestion in the instructions you had to pass the airport.  On my way back I passed Montebello, which I remember passing the first time. Then I reached a sign that had been missing driving east; Papineauville and Saint-André-Avellin.  Turning north I found the town and the festival only I was really late!  I found out the sign was down due to the construction.  DRAT!!!

This year Getting to the workshop location:

I cannot spell but I am not a dumb as I look.  I asked Google Maps again to find the location of the workshop I would be attending;  ” Staffroom ADSPN”.   It told me this place would be 2 blocks away from the recreation center Twist was being held in.  so I did a street view and discovered no, it’s across the street from the back of Twist! You won’t fool me twice!!! I checked when I attended the 3d sculptural workshop, yes, it’s across the street.

Our Teacher was Megan Cleland who has a background in Fine Art (Painting).  She lived on a sheep farm for 10 years in Australia then moved back to Canada bringing her fibre with her. (I don’t think she brought her sheep).

She had requested we email her which of her sheep pictures we would like to do or if we had felted before we could select our image. So I did some digging through the internet and found a few photos I thought might work. 

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I narrowed the selection down to these shots.

I decided on the fox with the seal as runner up. I got an email back that she could only see half my fox could I send it again. So I sent the fox, the black and white and the colour separation. Ah, there is only half a fox.

Arriving at the workshop there were a lot of animals chosen but I had the only close-up. Ok, it is going to take me longer than the class to do this.

Our teacher is approaching needle felted felt portraiture was more like a watercolour painting; using layers of blended hues to produce the final colour.  

She handed out our photos with the out lined colour separation in grayscale like the third picture I had done.  We also received the prefelt for the picture backing, a bag of fibre in colours that would be appropriate for the picture that we could blend from, a foam pad (dollar store for kneeling to garden on), half a pool noodle as a needle rest and 2 felting needles.  She asked us to bring a pair of sharp scissors and a tablet or phone with our image on it.   I also brought candy and a bottle of Mountain Dew –for the caffeine.

I was very excited about how we would be transferring the image to the background.  Could it be the use of a Lucy? (A projector used in Illustration and Commercial art applications)  Are we going to grid and scale the pictures up? Would we be using a light table?  – I knew that commercial and fine art background would come in handy!  Yes, it was the last one just less hi-tech; we used the window.  She suggested a couple of types of pens used by quilters.  We used a blue ink that was to disappear with heat I think.  Quite a bit of it rubbed off on the side of my hand so I may try a different type next time.

She works starting with the Eyes and nose then adding in the darkest areas, then working out from there.  I had a commercial art teacher who painted watercolours.  His preferred method was to paint the whole painting then soak it in the bathtub to remove most of the pigment leaving only a stain behind. He would repeat this over and over but in the end, his painting had a Luminosity that was amazing.  But it was a very slow way to work. I usually approach felt more like a cross between Oils (work from the background to foreground) and Acrylics (application of carefully blended paint). Although, I did tend to use my acrylics paints with more of a watercolour wash technique. Back to the dyslexic confusion I mentioned before.  I know how I would approach this so let’s see what her methodology creates.

Just after lunch.  I have the eye basically blocked in but it needs more work same with the nose.  I have started on the dark areas

By the end of the workshop, I am not close to finishing and am feeling very slow but had a blast and am pleased with what I have done so far.  This is definitely slower than my usual technique, but let us wait and see the final result.

I got a chance last weekend to do a bit more between photography and a bit of shopping at the Almonte fibre fest.

Here is how far I have gotten at show and tell for the OVWSG guild show and tell (I had a lot of show and tell including 2 new to me, flax wheels, one Mini Electric spinning wheel, a tensioned lazy Kate and skein winder, both by Alvin Ramer, the 2 baskets I made at the blacksmithing conference and the Fox from the twist workshop, still in progress. It was a busy summer!)

The workshop with Megan Cleland was a lot of fun and I gained new information and experience. The garden kneeling pad from Dollarama is a great idea and did not absorb fibre like the foam pads do (even with the plastic cover still intact). She will be using rigid foam insulation for her next extremely large life size portrait. The half a pool noodle needle rest was a cool idea and the consideration of using fibre colour similar to layers of watercolour is quite intriguing.

She will be coming back to the Ottawa area and will be teaching in other locations both later this year and into the next. If you see her workshop you may want to take it.  Check out her Facebook page for what she has been creating! https://www.facebook.com/InTheLineofFibre/  I hope you get a chance to take a workshop with her too.

Update: Thursday  in Kanata 9am-7pm

I had the opportunity to continue working on the fox during the Kanata Games Club board game convention last weekend. While Glenn played 18xx train games, which are extremely long and full of math, I got to have fun and felt.

I found that checking with the camera helped me to see where I needed to adjust the fox’s colour.  It was also interesting to check out the back of the very thin felt we had been given to work on.

Friday I spent working on the guild library so I was back to felting on Saturday 11am to 9pm; this time downstairs by a window.  Then later I moved upstairs (someone brought garlic dinner so I evacuated).

Back Sunday to Kanata for the last day of the Boardgame (and Felting) convention.  Today the church was booked so we were at the community centre behind the church.

I got to the point around lunch when I was finally happy with the general look of the fox and decided to try single muskox guard hair as whiskers.  I was suspicious they would be too thin and need to be augmented by gluing a few together to give them more visual weight. 

 I like the concept but I think using the glue to beef up the size of the whiskers should work.  So by 3-ish I started another picture; this time sheep! But that’s for another day!

PS: Update on the foam kneeling pad from Dollarama. It worked very well for the fox but by the time I started to work on the next piece I was noticing bits of wool sticking and the foam is degrading in the areas most poked. So it works very well for a short time (30+hours?). But if you are really layering lots of thin wisps of fibre it will die. But at only a couple bucks it’s affordable and there is the second side to still use!!

I hope you have enjoyed the reminiscence about the fox and how it came to be. The banner at the top of the blog is a combination of Spinning, weaving, many kinds of felting as well as equipment for all these activities created or belonging to Ann or i. We stuffed it all into our cars and dragged it down to the guild studio to do a photoshoot for the blog heading. it was quite the assemblage of felting, spinning, weaving, basketry (to hold the fibre) and fibre prep tools all adding up to a pile of fibre fun. But that is another story if you would like to hear it sometime.

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.

 

 

Free Video Tutorials!

Free Video Tutorials!

This post is copied from Teri Berry’s blog with her permission. Thanks for the info Teri! https://www.teriberry.com/2021/02/22/free-video-tutorials/

Covid has had a negative impact on so many areas of our lives but the joy of human ingenuity means that the solutions we find to these unwelcome problems can lead to some unanticipated benefits.

Normally the International Feltmakers Association (IFA) holds their AGM as an “in person” meeting in the second quarter of the year. This year I was very much looking forward to spending a few days with lovely, like-minded fibre enthusiasts at Felletin in France, the workshops organised by the IFA are always excellent and you are guaranteed to make new friends at the social events.

Then Covid raised its ugly head and a plan B was needed….

This year, for the first time, the IFA has commissioned a series of free videos, for their members’ exclusive viewing, from four internationally renowned feltmakers. We will have opportunity to “meet” them live during the AGM weekend in advance of the video launch on YouTube.

If you are not already a member I can thoroughly recommend taking out membership, especially if you are based in the UK, as membership includes free Public Liability Insurance among other benefits. This link will take you a page detailing more of the benefits of membership and at the bottom is a button where you can sign up.

Below is an outline of the 4 tutors taking part, their bios and what they plan to share. The AGM will be over the weekend of 27/28th March 2021.

 

Nancy Ballesteros

Nancy lives in Australia and is artistic director and founder of Treetops Colour Harmonies. For over thirty years she has immersed herself in the science and study of wool, felting and colour theory. As an international tutor, she specialises in Nuno felt techniques and her recent focus is applying Fibonacci’s Design principles to feltmaking.

How Fibonaccis Design Principals can help Reconnect your Creativity

There is a Natural Rhythm in things we consider beautiful. Leonardo Fibonacci, a 13th century Mathematician wrote about it, Leonardo Da Vinci used it when he painted Mona Lisa.  The Golden Ratio, Fibonacci’s numbers… how could this help your creativity?

Nancy’s video will explore simple, practical ways to apply this powerful design principle to your felting and no maths is required!

www.treetopscolours.com.au

 

Nicola Brown

Three words describe my textile practice: simple, natural, crafted.

Since my introduction to felt and eco printing I’ve been on an exciting journey of discovery. Over time the sustainability of my work and teaching has deepened leading to new connections online and in person with like-minded individuals. The advent of Covid-19 means that keeping safe, staying local and living in harmony with the environment has never been more important.

For ReConnect I will share a series of 3 videos: where this journey began, an introduction to eco printing and an eco print/natural dye tutorial using locally sourced vegetation.

 

Fiona Duthie 

Fiona Duthie is a Canadian feltmaker recognised for her dynamic, sculptural clothing and artwork. Fiona strives for excellence in design and technique, while furthering the medium of felt through the use of new material combinations.

Creative Sparks looks at reconnecting with simple techniques and familiar materials in a playful and exploratory way. Perfect for uplifting us out of a creative slump, or to refresh our existing design process. We explore sixteen creative prompts while making a beautiful, harmonious set of felt tiles. Each prompt can be taken beyond this project and used to add creative sparks to any felt project.

www.fionaduthie.com

 

Judit Pócs

Spatiality, Material Use, Recycling

I’m a Hungarian felt artist, who experiments a lot to develop felt in 3D and to achieve new, interesting surfaces.

It has always been a challenge for me to see how felt can be transcendent, whether stone-like or metallic. I find it very exciting when a particular substance goes beyond itself. When designing a surface, I usually push these boundaries.

Recycling is also a feature of my work, I often cut old, used clothes and incorporate the pieces into my wall hangings and other creations and more recently I also recycle coffee capsules into my works.

www.pocsjuditstudio.hu

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