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Mac Dragon

Mac Dragon

The Snow started Friday just in time for rush hour and continued into the early parts of Saturday. (Sometimes it’s good that I don’t usually go anywhere.) I do not want to go out and look at the driveway.  Looking at the garage roof, it may be better to stay in and finish writing this note to you. Then tomorrow, Sunday, I have some feet to work on if I can finish the gastrox and soleus muscles so I can get to the feet. I promise I will show you how that is coming in a later post. I also can report I have received Mr. Mer’s Hair! I will show you that but thought a week less fishy might be in order.


So to get to today’s topic I should get you caught up with my frantic (HA!!!) social life. Last week we were able to visit my brother, his family and my Mom for the first time since…. Well, sometime last year…. I think it was early August actually. We were hoping for a safe Christmas dinner but that plan was thwarted.  So it was an early March, (my)  Birthday / (Mom’s) Anniversary,  Dinner My brother was hosting. It was fabulous to see everyone and meet the new kitten (not quite so new now but still stuck with kitten brain). We were very pleased to get caught up on all the family news, especially exciting was the news that my Niece had been accepted into McMaster University. My parents and brother all went to Mac, I was a rebel and wound up in fine arts at the University of Toronto after doing 3 years of commercial art. (My Dad and brother were both PhD Geologists, but I love landscape so I guess that sort of fits in.)

I had brought my little ice dragon to show my niece since she has been interested in some of the strange things I felt. She did like the little guy too.

When I got home, I dug through the little ice dragons’ box and found I had his wing template but not the armature measurements. I did a few quick measurements of the ice dragon then started working on the little Mac dragon. I pulled out a couple of 18-inch steel florist wires and found the roll of 26 gauge steel floral wire and got to work.

 1 Armature in progress

This little guy is a bit bigger than the ice dragon but only a little. I used the 20ga for the main frame and used the 26ga for the tows and lower jaw (both yet to be twisted in the photo). I also added the 26ga over the main frame to give it a bit more strength. He needs to be able to stand up and look fearsome!

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2-3 Adding wool to the armature body

I used a fine crimpy fleece I had purchased at the wool Growers Co-op in Carlton Place but found it to be too brown in tone. I switched to some of the core wool from Sarafina Fiber Arts, trying the darker grey but deciding on the lighter grey. (It’s really important to go check your source or reference material, in this case, the school colours.)

4-5 Always refer to your reference material

Now, to find the burgundy for the wings.   It is time to dig through the Red bin, I have a bag of red tones also in the basement.  Luckily, I found I had a corriedale called Aubergine by Ashford I had picked up at Wabi Sabi (one of the local fibre and yarn stores).

 6 “Mine!!”

The colour was perfect but looked a bit flat since it was too homogeneous. I added a bit of “i-have-no-idea-where-this-came-from fuchsia,”  which I had found while looking for my sari waste, which I never did find and I don’t think it would have been the correct tone if I had found it.

7 Mac Heraldry

A quick check of the McMaster shield Heraldry added the background colour of gold to the two colours Burgundy and Grey.  Ok, where did I put the boxes of beads, I need to find eyes!  They should be Gold or dark amber.

8-9 finding the right colour

I chose one of the dark amber beads in the little bag in the center of the second picture. The colour seemed to work with the body and upcoming wing colours. To add the eyes, I used a long needle to get the position, then used the tapered awl to get the depression the bead would be sunk into, (the eye socket). Leaving a longish tail of thread at the back of the head, I went from there across to the hole for the eye, added the bead and drove the needle through to the other eyehole. I again added a bead this time taking the needle out at the back of the head so I could tie the two threads together. I covered the knot with a bit more of the grey fibre.

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10-14 “Don’t look yet! I can see my wings are naked!!!”

I again made a template to layout the wings. I dry rubbed them a bit to get them to be cohesive enough to remove the cards.

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15-17 the strangely expanding wings.

Strangely with wispy wings, as I felt the wings tend to get bigger, not shrink like a good felt should do! Even my fiber is dyslexic and can’t be relied on to do anything the normal way everyone else dose! I could have done this using wet felting but I would have to have gotten wet so I went for the dry option. I am sure you will be much braver and may not melt with the application of dampness. If in dought you might try surgical gloves.

18 Mac Dragon is keeping close supervision on my work.

I counteracted the expansion that the punch tool seemed to encourage by working with a single needle on an angle, from each end, along the leading edge of the wing membrane. It was still a bit longer at the front edge than I had planned on, but I made a design change at the shoulder and was quite pleased.

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19-24 the wings

“No don’t show that side! You haven’t added my tail enhancement!!!!”

“The Embarrassment!! Just for that, I will show them what you were drinking while you were making me!! That will explain any blurry or inappropriate pictures!!”

25 “Ha! She was drinking BEER!!!”

Mac dragon, it did take me 2 days to drink that one can, out of the 3 days it took to make you, so I am not likely to be too tipsy to operate a camera. Though it’s probably not a good idea to drink too much alcohol while needle felting…….

My final additions to dragon were the ear puffs with a bit of gold Bombay silk and the bifurcated tail embellishment. I added a secondary piece of wool and silk above the bifurcation. (I am sure it will attract other dragons with its flamboyantness and the bit of gold silk)

26 “I am the magnificent Mac Dragon! I can’t wait to start classes! I wonder what we will be taking…. I hope it’s Art!  Maybe stop motion animation would be fun?”

I tried out the Christmas video camera (the zoom is a disappointment and the frame rate is not as listed.) I had a long argument with the file this afternoon and got it finally to crop, rotate and convert to avi format.   I pulled out the little display turntable I had ordered in December(?), time is getting much trickery to keep track of than it used to be.  Let’s just say it’s the pandemic and I won’t worry about that too much. If I can get the file to add, I will add it here.

Video of Mac Dragon pretends to be a merry–go–round (If this doesn’t work I will beg Ann to help! Second try, my phone is much more shaky but worked better than the new video recorder for formatting!)

I would like to have been able to get Mac Dragon (short for McMaster U. Dragon) to his new home but I am snowed in until tomorrow. So, no one say anything to my Niece until after I can deliver him on Monday!

Keep safe and Keep Felting!!








Finding a Solution to Weak Wire

Finding a Solution to Weak Wire

This may be an unusually short (for me) note.

“Mistakes” can lead to opportunities to try new to you solutions. I am sure all of you have come up with this solution but in case you haven’t made this mistake I thought I should share and show you my solution.

The wire I chose for the toes was a coated steel but only 25ga. (Perfect for chickadees but not for this size of Dragon, but you work with what you have at hand.) Now I am back home and have a bigger selection of wire options.  I need to augment the 25ga since it is not providing the grip I need to hold on to the cane or cling to the basket of the walker. Otherwise, I very much like the little guy.

1 As you last saw him

Do I have to make another armature? Or, can I augment the strength of the wire so it will have a better griping ability? I already have a thin layer of wool to make the skinny long fingers. I guess I could make less skinny toes and fingers if they have better gripping.

2 Inserting a wire across the hips to strengthen legs, (that was not the wire I thought I grabbed).

I pulled out a long black wire, it was in with the green floral wire. I poked it through the hips then found the middle and wound it down the legs on either side. It was a bit short and not as strong as I hoped. So I added a second wire of 20 ga. to the leg and down into the middle tow.

The second wire was inserted and anchored under the top of the finer black wire. I wound tightly over the already wrapped wool. A small change in gauge or type of wire can make a big difference in the stiffness of the wire. It’s best to have wire that is just a bit stronger than the tension created by the wound and felted wool. If the wool is stronger than the wire your figure will not hold a pose. If you are only lightly felting something you can reduce the strength of the wire and it will still hold the fibre/felt. Do you remember the ghosts I made for ghost girl a couple of Halloweens ago? They were lightly felted but I needed the wire to support their weight so that determined the gauge I chose. In the case of the dragon, I likely should have doubled the 20 ga for the legs toes and fingers.

3 Needs a bit more stiffness, adding the 18”, 20ga green floral wire.

4 Much better.

I wound down to the toe and used the plyers to make sure it was tightly secured. Then I wound back up the toe a bit with the extra wire.

5 Both legs done, the little guy feels much stronger already!!

Legs done, I next moved on to the arms and middle fingers. I again poked the wire through, this time at the shoulder joint. I wound the wire down the arm to the middle finger then back up and into the bottom part of the wing.  I left the medial and lateral digits un-augmented.

Next, hide the wire!! I continued with the World of wool Core wool that I had hand carded the last time I was in Oakville. There is a tiny bit of kemp in it but it is working well for both wrapping and sculpting.

6-7 Hiding the wire, the toes don’t look too much bigger.

As I added fibre to cover the extra wire, I made glutes, quads, and gastrocs! I have also added ribs to the wings only 2 this time. I think that is looking better!

8 Time for the beginning of the colour layer!

I have started the first layer of colour but have a trip back to Oakville so I think this is as far as I can go before I have to start packing. (Well Glenn will do a bit of emergency laundry first then I can pack). I have wool and tools pulled and ready to go. I should grab some wire (since I forgot to bring any last time).

I wonder what I have forgotten?

Ok, back to the topic at hand or more accurately on the desk. The augmentation of wire strength by adding wire over the underlayer worked. (it worked much better than the incision, extraction of the broken wire and insertion of a stronger gauge on a skunk project. Poor skunk’s wrist never healed correctly but it’s better than the break was.)

If you don’t mind the toes being a bit larger in diameter than originally planned this may work for you if you find a similar problem. (That problem being, not bringing a selection of wire with you when you spontaneously decide to create a new project!)

Have fun and keep felting!

PS I got out to the Market Ann is selling at and did some promotional photos for her and discovered that pumpkins are shiny when they are wet!! Who knew that? Here are a few shots of a rainy day at the market to enjoy

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9-16 The Farmers Market at the Barrhaven Log Farm

Which Cane is Which? Prototype and Concept Testing!

Which Cane is Which? Prototype and Concept Testing!

It’s been another couple of busy weeks in Ottawa and Oakville, but in between fighting with errant grapevines, trying to start to prep my garden for fall, long drives to southern Ontario and eldercare, I did get a bit of felting done.

While in Oakville I noticed that my Mother in law and I both have the same quad cane. (it’s a cool type of cane when you have any balance issues.) They are identical, except for the height they are set at. I need a way to make my cane more, well, mine.


1) Quad canes

If my mother-in-law does go to a seniors building she will also need something to distinguish hers from other similar canes. I could do this by adding a piece of tape with our names on our respective canes but that seems rather unimaginative!  I should do better. I think I should do a Morning glory for her and I will see if I can figure out how to have a dragon on mine. (Glenn says I need more Ice Flame wings like the last cute little dragon I did). This one will have to be much longer, or would that be taller? I didn’t bring down any appropriate flower colours so I think I better start with mine.

I had brought with me an IKEA bag of white core wool to card into usable fluffiness with one of my sets of hand carders. I had sampled the core wool with combs but found the carders gave greater loft as you would expect in a woollen (carder) vs worsted (combs) fibre preparation. I tried very hard not to leave little fluffs of wool all over the basement carpet or anywhere else in the house! That will give me fibre to try out my ideas.

I borrowed a pen and a piece of paper and started to work on a design. I looked at my cane and my super helpful walker.  Both are stylishly black, so they go with anything as a fashion accessory. Unfortunately, they are also identical with every other black quad cane and walker of the same make.  I looked at the curvature of the cane near the handle, then started sketching.

2) walker and helpful grippe-thing.

 3 )Sketch of ideas for cane identification dragon.

Ok, this looks interesting. I have core wool with me, why did I not pack wire? I have to go to Walmart to get a few things so let us see if I can find another package of floral wire (20 and 25 ga coated steel).  After a lot of looking, I had success! This 20ga wire comes in pieces 18 inches / 45.7 cm long.

I looked over my original designs now that I had the wire. I think the easiest way to get a dragon to stay on the cane would be to have the neck, body, tail, or appendages hold on to it. So, I should consider a longer neck and long tows would help too. How about adding a bifurcated tail that should be twice as grippe as a mere single tail!!

Like the sketching, I started to play with the wire I wanted to see if I could get the dragon a size I could wrap around or cling to the cane.

 4) Extending neck?

5) Adding body and back legs

 I folded the first piece for the upper skull, neck and forearms. I folded and used the second piece interlaced with the shoulders/upper arms to create the spine and back legs.

 6) Adding the tail

 I used a third piece folded and attached to the hips /back legs. This one I twisted about two-thirds of the length and left the rest to create the bifurcation.

7-8) Tail extensions and long tows

 I used the 25ga (the wire I have at home I am sure was 26ga) to create extra-long tows, lower jaw, and bifurcation extensions. This amused my mother-in-law who sat watching my twisting, flipping, bending and attaching bits of wire together.

9) Checking on the cane

10) last part to add

 I folded and used a final piece to create the leading edge of the wings. (4 pieces for the total dragon)

11)  I started to add the wool over the armature deciding to add stubby ears to his head before building up the upper and lower jaw.

At this point, I took a break and went for a walk around the block with the walker. It is good to get outside and take a break. It allows for an increase in circulation and time for inspiration to strike. I was hoping to find a horse Chestnut tree since the squirrel-planted ones in my pots had died and I would like to have one in my portable forest. (I have a bunch of trees I keep as pets in pots on my driveway…. It is not as strange as it sounds.)

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12-16) Views from Oakville

17) This is the leaf structure of my little tree that died. I would like to grow another.

18 ) is this a black walnut? It was dropping fruit and making a mess of the sidewalk!

Oakville is about 2 weeks different from us in weather since Ottawa is farther north. The trees in the south have just the hint of colour and the nut trees have not dumped their nuts yet. I did find 2 trees nearby but only one nut was on the ground. I will try to check next trip and hope for better pickings. I think I found black walnuts, which I will try to plant and see if I can expand my forest!

Upon my return, I continued to add wool to flesh out my dragon until it was ready to try on the cane for scale. AH Ha!! I think that works.  I need to add a bit more flesh to his bones and maybe a longer tail would help but the basic concept is a success.

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19-22) testing out the dragon on the cane

So, this is proof of concept, yes this will work. Analyzing the little guy suggests making the toes out of a stiffer gauge of wire than a 25/26ga steel. I will look through my sample appendages and see if I have something that would suit better. ( I do suggest making samples of the gauges you have access to, in single, double and if you don’t have too many options, then how the flexibility of one gauge is affected when wrapped in a different gauge. It’s a lot easier than discovering part way through a project “I wish those tows were stronger” and considering a tow-ectomy with the upgrade reattachment surgery to consider after the extraction. I will likely finish this little guy off and he may be a walker basket dragon if he’s not a cane dragon.

This morning I woke up early to drive back to Ottawa and miss as much of the Toronto area traffic as I could. (The alarm went off a bit earlier than I had anticipated and I started in full darkness but it was quiet.) While still on my in-law’s street I spotted 2 of the infamous Ninja-stealth skunks of Oakville! They do not have a white stripe down their back or sides. One had a white puff at the tip of his very puffy tail. I did not stop to try to get a picture of a black skunk crossing a dark street. Oh! You find out where the strip is if it lifts its tail, the white stripe is on the underside!

Pre-dawn occurred as I passed Darlington (I hope that was pre-dawn and not a nuclear problem!) dawn occurred at my first rest stop. Since I was now stopped I finally got to take a picture, there had been fabulous pinks earlier, now the colour was shifting to the yellows and blue sky.

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23-24) true sunrise at my first rest stop

A bit later in the morning, I drove past a field with a group of deer. Then spotted in two marsh areas near Kingston Ontario, groups of very big white swans! When did we get loose swans? Sorry, no pictures I was driving!  I had given up on radio and switched to an audiobook about werewolves and dragons.  Traffic was great at these ungodly hours and I cruised into the farmers market for a cookie purchase from Ann about 2 hours ahead of when I thought I was likely to get there (remember about the enthusiastic alarm clock sending me out over an hour before I had anticipated. Maybe I need to get a watch again.)

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 25-31) shots from the Farmer’s Market Ann sells at (and the chipmunk she was trying to take pictures of)

Ann still had the Cookies I was looking for so it is time to head home and write up the blog post of my prototyping a cane identifier. However, since I started with a quick nap in front of the computer maybe a lot of caffeinated Mountain Dew to wake me up long enough to finish this for your amusement is necessary. I am sorry I did not get you pictures of the ninja skunks and swans.

So in conclusion remember to pack your felting wire, make samples to see if a concept will work, assess the sample, make augmentations or adjustments then either finish the sample or create your fabulous extra impressive piece now that you know more about how it will all work from your investigation. Maybe skip the part with the skunks and the long drive.  but the scenery had lots of rocks and trees and even some water and wildlife! I would suggest keeping the part with Ann’s excellent cookies. Now I think I may have another little nap since the caffeine is starting to wear off. (Oh no, I left my spell checker in Oakville so I will try not to break your spelling by fixing mine)

Have lots of fun and keep felting!


PS, my cane dragon is now hanging out on my hat brim (it’s my driving hat so I’m not wearing it now!), I wonder if I can convince him to go back to the cane? or the basket of the walker?

Moms Birthday present.

Moms Birthday present.

Last week ( I showed you what turned out to be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of Chickadees! He is Humongous!! (There may have been a robin secretly involved in his parentage. Some illicit tryst perhaps?)  As I said last week, I mostly followed Sara’s instructions and upgraded the wire for Mega-chickadee. The wire gauge was defiantly a success there was just too much of it.

A bit of historical interlude (I will get back to felting shortly I promise)

When I was much shorter and could still climb trees, my parents bought land adjacent to a lake but way up a steep slope, so reasonably safe from lake attacks. (You do not want to ask me about the long weekend before I started grade 13. Never trust water!) A small cottage was built looking out across the lake and we enjoyed watching sunsets, sailboats and the local birds, including the great blue heron and the loon family.  Mom and Dad enjoyed the Chickadees, Wrens and hummingbirds particularly. I spent many years bringing mom wonderful presents, of Frogs, in various sizes and shades of green. I finally gave up on my quest for the perfect frog, when Mom rejected a tree frog. it was perfect! How can you object to those huge cute eyes, the sucker tows and cool colours that made him almost invisible sitting on a tree! But no it was like all the other frogs I had brought her. Mom said, “it’s an outside creature take it outside right now!” “Aw, Mom!!!”  I got the same response for grass snakes, garter snakes and black rat snakes (I did not try the snake that looked like a Mississauga rattler but without the rattle). She even rejected turtles, including the almost impossible-to-catch, soft-shelled Mud turtle!!! Look at the nose on one, it’s soo cool!!!

Mom’s birthday is coming up fast and its going to be one of those big number birthdays. This year will be her 90th! So i will have to chose her present carefully! I know frogs, snakes and turtles are out as presents. She did like the small birds at the cottage, but the chickadee I just made would be unacceptably large. The armature would make a fine robin but she still blames the robin for taking out the original railing on the path down to the lake. The robin was a bit Rubenesque and it often hopped down the skinny birch tree that had been used to create the railing. On one trip to the cottage, we realized the railing was broken and lying on the ground! Stupid robin I bet it was jumping on the railing again!! – so no, I had better not make a robin.

She would like a chickadee; they are always so fun and will yell at you if you didn’t fill up the bird feeder fast enough. The ones in my side yard get particularly annoyed with me if I’m out and haven’t topped up the feeder.  Ok, I will have to make a smaller armature at least half the size, maybe a bit smaller.

I am pleased with the armature wire gauges that I had used for Mega-chickadee and they should work for a closer to normal size bird too. The body is 20ga steel floral wire. I measured from the foot, leg, body the added the length for the neck/head. I wrapped the neck/head in black floral tape and then cut the excess off, Which I used for the shoulder/body and tail.  I used 26-gauge floral wire for the tows and extra leg supports. I was enthusiastic in the wrapping of the legs to provide lots of support for posing the little guy.

1 Mega-Chickadee and 2 smaller Chickadee armatures

I selected a short, superfine, highly crimpy fibre from a fleece I had purchased from the Wool Growers Co-Op, (possibly a Shetland). This is the same fibre I used for the mega bird legs too.  I pulled out my scary-looking Viking combs and put them to use. I drafted out a narrow sliver and wound carefully around the wire. Unfortunately, earlier this morning I was moving small plants in pots in the front garden, one of the pots broke and I broke one of my talons much lower than they normally break. OWW!! ( I trimmed the nail down and had to use the left hand as my primary winder.  (One of the few positives of my particular learning disability is my weakness for the concept of left and right, which means I have two lefts or two rights and can often use the wrong right hand to do things. Silly brain).


Ok, the left hand is not as good at photography as the right one is.  It may be because all the buttons are on the wrong side for the left fingers. Can you get a left-handed camera? My thumb should be heeled by the weekend but now I’m curious about left-handed cameras…. Focus, back to felting!!

3 legs done and the first under-layer of core wool added.

4 comparing the two new armatures

I did not use the floral tape with its waxiness to increase adhesion on the legs but the wool stayed in place well. I was starting to worry I had guessed the nose (beak) too long. I can trim the nose back if it seems too long but let’s add more wool and find out if it still looks long.

I put away the Viking combs and pulled out the hand cards. I had made a large purchase, from World of Wool, of 2kg of white core wool. The texture is soft but a bit clumpy so just pulling out of the bag to use was not drafting as well as I would like. When I did a quick couple passes with the hand cards I created a lovely soft, lofty, easy to draft out mini batt. From which I could easily pull a section to draft and wrap with.

I used a bit of Corriedale blending of the colours licorice and slate to wrap the beak.  if you can, most living things will look more realistic if you blend more than one tone or colour. In the case of black if you can make that darkness with slate and a really dark brown or green or even a bit of red you will get a much more interesting black than using the colour “out of the tube” as it were.

Then I added more of the core wool white to build up the chest back and head.

5 It’s amazing how much bigger the bird is than the armature.

6 A bit more wool to the front of the face to get a better shape and the beak now looks like the correct size.

Oh good the nose is not too big!! The head, on the other hand, does look a bit tall and large. I need a quick trip back to check my photo reference to get the shape and angles on the head.

7 Here is Mega-Chickadee, normal chickadee and extra armature.

A bit fluffy but coming along nicely. It is now time to mix up more dark charcoal, this time to add the markings on the head.

8 it’s nice to see where you are going! So, I added the eyes.

9 Still a bit too tall so worked on compacting the top of the head.

The armature is strong enough to hold a pose of the head. The legs are also supporting the body weight. This was a good choice of wire gauge.

10 posing the armature and getting the curl in the toes.

11 I think it needs a bit of a creamy tone to the under-wing and sides of the body.

12 much better.

Now that is what I basically want. The core wool does have a bit of kemp, not a lot just the odd bit that protrudes, as well as a light halo of wispiness.  The poor guy seems a bit harry. Ann sometimes Shaves her wool to expose silk fibres, it works wonderfully. I think some tiny scissors may work for my purpose.  Now, where did I put those fine embroidery scissors? Hummmm……

13   Standing on the scissors will not keep me from trying to trim up the flyaway hairs. Is this a subtle hint not to trim anymore?


Need for more Experiments!!

I think I should make a couple of samples of hairy surfaces and try a thin application of hair spray or fixative to see if that will keep the fuzziness contained.  I would want to do a time test to check for yellowing or other discoloration to the wool if either spay is applied.  But for now, just the very basic trim has neatened up the surface of the chickadee greatly.

14 a view of the back

Next, I am off to IKEA, well in the morning, now it’s quite late since I got distracted again while writing this blog. There are bell display bottles “BEGÅVNING – Glass dome with base 7 ” tall”. Yes that is for the morning, “Yawn” I will let you see what I find tomorrow.


Day 2 the “Framing”

Oh, the Excitement!! A trip to IKEA!! (OK it’s only 5 stop signs away from the house. Well, 4 stop signs on the road and 1 in thier parking lot. It is very close, but it’s been over a year since I have been there!!) I consulted the web page and notice that the cafeteria is open for take-away food. Gravadlax or Poached Salmon? Yummm. Ok grab the camera and the Chickadee and headed off to IKEA!

15 the exciting Begavnings in their natural environment!

16 they come in two sizes!

17 the options at IKEA, If I could do woodturning I would consider the glass covers and make a wooden base.

I decided on the smaller size Begavning. Now off to get lunch to bring home.

As a fabulous treat, I went to the cafeteria and found that it was indeed open and you could eat in if you were spaced apart. I sat way at the back of the dining area in a section all by myself. It felt so odd to be eating in public and so tasty!

18 what a treat!

19 I think someone wants my dry cracker. Good thing chickadees can’t open zip lock baggies!

While i was shopping I also found a wooden articulated hand, a pepper grinder and then an umbrella weighted base in AS-IS! I LOVE trips to IKEA!

I brought home the display jar and tried the chickadee in it. The photo shows more reflection than is seen in person. Yes, that is what I am looking for.

20-21 almost ready to wrap

Do I need a piece of corkscrew hazel to give a bit of height? I tried one piece but was not convinced. I think I should add a couple of sunflower seeds and let that be the narrative.

22-25 The photoshoot

Mom’s 90th Birthday is on the 08th of the 08th, I have ordered Chocolate chip cookies from Ann (her favourite) and I have the chickadee done. It will be wonderful to see her. I hope she will like the little guy. I bet she says “at least it’s not a frog” when she opens it!

PS; Don’t tell Mom what she is getting, its a surprise!! (She doesn’t read the blog!)



2021 OVWSG Fiber Poker (Felting)!!

2021 OVWSG Fiber Poker (Felting)!!

Quite a few years ago, as a way to give a fun summer challenge to guild members, the Ottawa Valley Weavers and Spinners guild executive decided to make a summer poker challenge. But since we are not a card-playing-poker-guild we would do fibre poker instead. I think it was Shirley Browsky who set it up (she has her OHS master Spinner (1991) and is completing her master weaver Certificate). she made a deck of cards listing different types of fibre, different techniques, thicknesses, colours and things to includes like feathers or beads. We drew 4 cards from the deck and could re-select one if we wanted to.

1)  2014 the drawing of the cards

Even after trading in one card for another, we occasionally wound up with conflicting cards, which made the finished item extremely hard to complete. There was also a deck for weaving created. Over the years, more cards have been added to the deck and for the summer of 2020, a felting deck was created. This year, each deck was updated and divided into 4 suits; for felting, it was Fiber, Colour, Technique and Other. This greatly reduced the likelihood of getting impossible conflicts in cards. (Use only plain weave + include overshot).

Cards would be drawn at the June meeting and you would have until the September meeting to create your yarn skein, woven sample or project, or your felted item. The September meeting would be a double show and tell meeting, a sort of what I did on my summer vacation and the poker challenge completed projects.

2) This is my spinning challenge from 2014. I think it was; include Found objects, use Locks, Pigtails and it was either use more than 2 plys or over twist.

3-5) Carl ran Fiber Poker in 2017 with a spinning or weaving option. He carefully wrote down everyone’s picks.

6) This is Ann’s finished skein.

7) A particularly interesting solution to one challenge was seen for “include Locks”

I had not been participating the last few years, due to working on the library architecture migration project; we can chat about that some other day if you are curious. This year we were in lockdown and with the most massive part of the library project done. (There are still a few small manageable chunks left to do.) SO, I can have fun rather than just watching what everyone else has made (and taking pictures of course).

This year the draw with the new decks was over email. I requested a felting challenge and the email arrived of what elements I would have to include. Nothing conflicted and I could do all the elements without researching.  The problem was more what to pick?

8) 2021 my cards

OH my, so many options running through my head!! Slow down and write them down

  • Stained glass with fine yarn using a blue 2D picture with 3D wire element finishing embellishment with beads. Going from 2D to 3D is lots of fun. I have done quite a bit of that with the Guild art show for Canada’s 150th. Keep thinking.
  • Landscape with blue sky as a prominent feature. Wet felt background layout yarn for cloud edges, water ripples, with a tree or rock edges. Lay over yarn with thin wisps of wool, building back words to the backing base. Work the back dry then flip check wet and felt. Let dry enough to Add wire elements to the backing side to push out rocks/trees add edge stiffness to the piece. Add fibre and felt to attach the wire. Push stretch out 3D areas. Let fully dry and add beads. Hmm, that sounds like fun but let’s keep thinking.
  • Hedgehog, yarn for spikes, make a blueberry or blue flower. Use an armature –mouth can open, add beads for eyes. – 1.5 (14ga) aluminum, high twist 2 tone yarn may have to spin it. black beads, white, beige and light gray and brown back. Research: “There are seventeen species of hedgehog in five genera found throughout parts of Europe, Asia, and Africa, and in New Zealand” Also; adult size of 6–8 inches, short legs, but hedgehogs are equipped to waddle around with the help of an about a half-inch long stubby tail for balance. They can lift their underside completely off the floor and run very quickly for short distances. domestication will have five toes on their front feet and only four on their back feet. Spines only grow to be less than an inch long but are sharp enough to provide defence. the quills, which are modified hollow hairs.  For domestication purposes, the white-bellied or four-toed hedgehog, Atelerix albiventris, was bred with the Algerian hedgehog, Atelerix algirusThe structure of their teeth, including two frontal incisors for 36 altogether, They prefer a cat food with meat or poultry listed as the main ingredient, and definitely with a high protein level. a supplementary diet including insects or mealworms. Some additional treats could be boiled egg, fruit, crickets, or vegetables.

Maybe not, i did one (with a soap inside him) recently for Glenn. (he named him Crevice)

9) Robins nest from a hanging basket at my mother inlaws’.

  • A real Birds Nest arrived from Oakville – make a bird with an armature to go in the nest. Oh, I like this idea. Let’s look at it further.

My favourite colours are blue and black. (ok my favourite colours remind you of a bruise at least it’s not one of those awful green and yellow bruises!) A blue jay is too big for the nest, research birds that are blue in the Ottawa area of Ontario. Birds I like; crows (too big), Blue Jays (too big), chickadees (well they have black but not blue), most of the birds of prey (too big).

Include Wire well that is easy. Add an armature. Didn’t Sara have proportions for a wren recently in a video? Yes. What is she using for her armature? 22ga for legs, it looks like floral wire, 32ga for toes and a pipe cleaner for the body. Hmmm, I do not think that has the strength I want and I don’t have a 32 (I checked my samples). Ok, 20ga legs and body, 26ga toes. Wrens and chickadees’ are close in size. This should work perfectly!…. I carefully watched and re-watched the first bit of the video as she is working on the armature to figure out the size. Leg measurements check, body and toe pieces I have an estimate but I left the wire longer so I could trim to size as I work. This allowed for more support wrapping on the legs, which I had wanted to add while watching the video.

Include Beads Or Sequins: birds need eyes! I have at least 2 sizes of glass beads in the small box of beads. I switched that part of my collection into a different box when I rebuild my office shelves (moved the massage and computer reference stuff out and moved wool, wax, wire and beads in. ok where on the shelf did I put it and why is it not labelled yet? (Another job, add it to the list).  I guess I should either not clean up or remember where I put things!  Ah, one little bag of the right size, perfect! Now how to attach it?

Use Thread Or Fine Yarn: do I know where my beading needle is? ….no. Will one of the long sewing needles in the giant pill bottle by the window work? Maybe… Yes, not all the beads are exactly the same size so some fit over the eye of the needle and some don’t. I pick two that fit. Now for the thread. I just got a couple of huge bobbins of industrial thread for making bags (a shop that made bags was closing so I scored white black and a green, no blue) I picked up some quilting thread that may be a bit better size and it will still be strong enough. What do I find for colours? Black, white and a different green… there seems to be a theme here that doesn’t include blue. Ok, I like black too. Black, it will be. Any other instructions? let me check. No, that’s 4 and I have them covered.

Now to watch the armature section of Sara’s wren video.

Part 1 is here;

Part 2 is here;

Sara (Sarafina Fiber Art) has a slightly different approach to felting than I seem to be developing. She is more additive and has been working on techniques and vocabulary that can be reproduced by others. She tends to wrap the armature, then makes shapes from the wool and adds them to the armature. (Thus, additive; like sculpting with clay). While I start with the armature and wrapping, I usually add loose wool and sculpt it down to what I want. (Thus more subtractive; like sculpting with stone. Just keep poking and compacting until you get the shape.) I am adding wool in sections and layers to build up muscles but I don’t tend to pre-build the muscle and add it on.

Since I had never tried to make a bird before I should probably try to follow Sara’s instructions and see how that goes… or how long that lasts before I wander off-topic and do my own thing. (I am a challenging student.)

As I said, I watched and re-watched the beginning of Sara’s video to get the armature correct. I modified her wire suggestions to increase the armature strength. For the body and legs, I selected the 18-inch long floral wire in 20ga steel (I used a magnet to pick up a part that fell off the table.)  I measured and cut the legs then added the 26ga garden wire to create the toes and trimmed the excess. I then folded the 18-inch floral wire (20ga) following Sara’s measurements twisting the wires together and attaching the body to the legs. I formed a small triangle for the body and left the rest of the wire to support the tail.

10)  Leg-wire adding the wire for the toes

11) The body added to the legs with the extra wire left for the tail

12-13)  Added black ½ inch floral tape to the beak and neck.

Ok, time to look more closely for reference photos for chickadees. Oh my, there are many chickadee types! Our local one is the black cap Chickadee. Let’s try to find shots from various directions. Why is it so hard to find a shot of the back of the head? I guess it’s hard to sneak up on a chickadee or photographers just don’t think of that as a chickadee’s best side.

Time to add fibre

First, try on the beak, it was a dark grey long-staple fibre but it just didn’t look right. Next, I tried a bit of black merino roving but I wasn’t too happy with that either. Let’s leave that a moment and look at the legs

For the legs, I selected an extremely short crimpy brown/beige fibre.   Although the baggy of fibre was unlabeled, I think it may be a bit of extremely fine Shetland. It is lightly washed and still has a bit of lanolin in it. I drafted out to about an eighth of an inch width started at the top of the leg and worked down to the toes.

14-15) Head and feet

I am still considering the black but let’s add the body and start the neck.

16-17) I anchored one end of my roving and added layers following Sara’s Instructions. It’s starting to look a bit more bird-like.

18)  I continued to follow instructions (mostly), adding a roll of wool for the chest and to build up the back.

19) I am working over a cheaper quality pool noodle.

20)  Yes, that looks a lot more bird shaped now. I don’t like that grey tonally. It’s too dark and flat. That’s ok. I have more fibre options.

21)  Blending with hand carders

My options in Corriedale are Liquorish (black), Slate (dark grey), Fog (med-light blue-grey), Grey (med-Dark Grey), White Core wool world of wool. A bit of Fog,  grey and a tiny bit of white and I had what I wanted. I again did not completely blend the fibre to a uniform colour since nature tends to be more creative than flat colours.

22)  lightening the back colour

Now it’s time to consider the tail. The Chickadee seems to have a reasonably long tail so let’s trim a bit off the leftover wire and let that support the tail. I didn’t want to fold over the ends so I used the floral tape to keep them from poking through.

23)  needs a tail

The nose was still bugging me so I took off the merino and replaced it with Slate Coriadale. Ah, much better. I then blended the slate and Licorice to get a non-flat colour for the black head markings and build up the top and sides of the beak.

24-25)  Oops, I got distracted watching the Olympics while I worked  (there was no blood shed but audio-books are safer when felting). At this point I have the wing shapes done but still need to add the feather detailing. I will leave that for later. I just have them held in place with a pin. I think I need a bit more rounding under the wings and the head and markings still need a bit more shaping. I also need to add eyes.

A pause while I go look for the box of beads. I will get back to that in a moment.

Through today I have been sitting in front of the computer (you can see the messy desk piled with wool and implements of wool torture and maybe the Mountain dew I was drinking). Just off to the right(?) is the phone which today is the bane of my felting. After someone wanting to clean my ducks, (how silly, ducks are self-cleaning. it’s the pond they wash in that would need to be washed – I don’t have a pond or ducks), multiple probably robocalls that there is no one on the line so I hang up and finally I got this one. Oh, I have chatted with their co-workers before this could be fun but it’s interrupting my felting.

Transcript: Ring!!! “Hello?” Long pause, “Is this Mrs. Glenn Martin? Noncommittally “this is Jan, Who is this?” “This is Microsoft service department about your computer.” I interrupt “which one, I have a few? If you can tell me the operating system I will know which one you want to discuss, I have some that don’t go on the internet too.” Silence……Click. She gave up much more quickly than I expected. It usually takes them longer to give up. Maybe I sounded like she had interrupted important felting?

After a bit of a search I found the small box of beads and yes I have 2 sizes of black glass beads. The bigger ones look like they will be perfect for this size bird. Now, where are the beading needles? I have a long needle that worked if I was careful selecting the bead (some had larger or smaller openings)

26) adding beads for eyes

So by bedtime, I had got this far. The eyes have been added and the felting highlight around the eye has been added. You can see the notes I took while watching Sara’s video. Unfortunately, I was partway through watching the videos when I heard her say she was working at a larger-than-life, size. Drat!!! Well, that explains why a chickadee fits in a robin’s nest!

27) still needs to have details added to the back and wings but that will have to wait until after the next library day. I promise I will show you it when I am done! I may make another which is more appropriately sized.

Have Fun and Keep Felting!!


Armature experiment 3; Comparing Parallel wire with twisted wire (and ..the Garage)

Armature experiment 3; Comparing Parallel wire with twisted wire (and ..the Garage)

During the wire adhesion and rotational experiments, I awoke in the middle of the night wondering if the use of parallel wires would reduce wool rotation? Would parallel wires increase the likelihood of needle entrapment leading to breakage? How would the flexibility of the sample be affected by the use of parallel wire?  How would parallel wire compare to twisted wire of the same gauge? Am I not getting enough sleep since I seem to be dreaming about wire?

Since I had found the floral tape was helpful with adhesion and may reduce the entrapment of the needles I applied it to the twisted and one of the parallel samples.

Sample 3.1 twisted wire sample with floral tape compared to the parallel sample 3.2 with floral tape. Both are 10ga/3mm Aluminum.

1-5 Parallel vs Twisted, both with Floral tape

Sample 3.3 parallel, without floral tape also in 10ga/3mm Aluminum.

The second investigation on parallel wire, this time without the floral tape. Found that there was rotation in both the wire and wool. I used elastic on one end just to keep the wires together while the wool was wrapped.

6-7 Parallel without floral tape

The lack of adhesion to the wire allowed the wool to be compressed which was not seen in the other samples.

8-9 Wool compression along the length of wire.

I tried bending both with the wire stacked and adjacent. I found the Stacked was stiffer than adjacent.

10 Double bend with wire to investigate if the alignment of wire will make a difference in flexibility

11 Stacked (one wire on top of the other)

12 adjacent (one wire beside the other)

Would parallel wires reduce wool rotation?

  • parallel bare wire, greatest rotation of the three samples
  • twisted wire with floral tape, less than bare wire
  • parallel wire with floral tape, least rotation of these samples

How would the flexibility of the sample be affected by the use of parallel wire?  

  • parallel wire with floral tape, when stacked seemed the stiffest but still flexible.
  • adjacent alignment of both parallel samples seem similar to the stiffness of the twisted sample

Would parallel wires increase the likelihood of needle entrapment leading to breakage?

I did not find the needle catching between the wires but I wrapped the wires when they were straight, not shaped so this may have reduced the likelihood of catching. I also suspect the wires with the floral tape would be less likely to catch than the bare mettle. If the wires are twisted loosely there is more opportunity for the needle to get caught in the looping sections. Only two samples may be too small a sample size to be definitive.

Being conscious of the working depth of your needle and not speed stabbing will also reduce your rate of breakage.

How would parallel wire compare to twisted wire of the same gauge? For these samples at this gauge, I found:

  •  if taped the parallel gives less rotation of wool
  • depending on the wire alignment at the bend, it can give either a similar or stiffer flexibility to the twisted wire
  • if no tape is used and the sample section is straight, the wool can be compressed after wrapping.

The use of parallel wire may have an application depending on what you are creating. The ability to compress the wool along the length of the wire was interesting. I will keep it in mind but don’t have an application for it at present.

Dealing with the Pointy bits:

I found that the ends of the parallel samples were very pointy and sharp. To reduce this, I tried my rasp file to take off the point and then softened the edges with a metal nail file. This worked very well and maybe worth considering at least for the larger size wire.

13 Hardware Rasp and metal Nail file

Am I not getting enough sleep since I seem to be dreaming about wire?

  • possibly not, so I am now thinking about a studio in the garage…… ah, renovations!

Thinking of the garage:

In case I have been over investigating the wire options for armatures I have turned my thoughts to another topic. Glenn is on holiday and we are still in lock down so have to stay home. Instead of heading off on a vacation, we went to the garage at the end of our driveway, the detached and sinking one. We have been wanting to sort through the stuff that is in there and then try to fix the sinking walls and aesthetically dipping and twisting roof (someone did not put in an adequate number of roof trusses…you should not skimp on roof trusses!).  We had been pulling gardening pots and other essential stuff out of the garage when we, (OK, Glenn is doing the lifting) started hearing odd noises from the back corner of the garage. It grew louder when I adjusted the sonic mouse deterrent. (It’s a plug-in high-frequency sound generator that is said to be offensive to mice and drive them out of an area. It only works in straight lines so if your area is well cluttered it does not work as well.)

14 Squatters trying to make a run for it!!!

On further investigation we found we had squatters living in the garage, three of them had taken over the ruff-tote bin with air mattresses in it!! Well, they need to be evicted!!! NOW! Not only are they not paying rent they have shredded a foam sleeping pad, cardboard and chewed at the roof decking (there is a tarp on the roof so the hole isn’t leaking).

15-16 Odd, I was sure we saw three of them in the bin originally.

Glenn went back in to start to clean up the mess but heard more noise from the corner and emerged with raccoon number three.

17 Oh no here is number three

OK, now he can clean up… and is that another one?

18 Number four is added to the bin.

While Glenn returned to clean up I gave them a thorough lecture about their eviction and that they were not welcome in the garden either. I am not sure if I was successful since they fell asleep as I was telling them they had been evicted and were not allowed back in the garage.

19 Well they don’t seem too stressed about being evicted if they are sleeping through my eviction lecture!

Back in the garage a fifth squatter was found unsuccessfully hiding behind the leg of the shelf they had been living on. (Hiding is not successful if we can see your butt on one side of the shelf leg and a paw on the other side!) After more moving of the stuff number five was evicted too.

20 eviction number five.

Glenn has not had the extensive hunting by hand experience that I had growing up (snakes, a soft-shelled mud turtle, frogs, crayfish, mice, moles, voles and a squirrel). Unfortunately, the mind remembers how, but the back is very insistent that I am not bending and reaching to catch a teen raccoon, at least not at the moment. Glenn’s more limited snake and feral cat experiences have been greatly augmented by the eviction of five raccoons. Neither Glenn nor the Evicttees seemed stressed by the experience.

21 There are now five teen raccoons in my air mattress bin!

By the time he had all of them out of the garage and done a check for alternate entry points and blocked them it was getting late in the day and the temperature was getting a bit chilly. I retrieved one of the lids and put it askew over the racoon-lets to keep them warm. (I may be Evil and have evicted them but I’m not totally heartless)

22-23 Glenn secured the perimeter and I added a lid for warmth until their Mom comes to collect them.

The next morning I went to check on the evicted and found the lid off and the bin only holding chewed-on air mattresses. My plastic owl was also knocked over. So we can report the eviction was a success, so far no one has tried to move back into the garage!

24 Successful extraction… now I think I should have kept one for the soft possibly feltable fur.

We have another week to keep sorting through and clearing the garage before Glenn is finished his vacation. Then it’s back to having fun with felt. I may yet find some raccoon fur to add to my felting since we still have more stuff to move and sort through.

Armature experiment 2; Adhesion and Rotation of the wool on wire

Armature experiment 2; Adhesion and Rotation of the wool on wire

While making samples for the study group investigation of wire for armatures I have noticed that there have been differences in getting the wool to adhere to the wire and sometimes this seems to be leading to rotational movement of the wool on the armature.

While the rotational movement of upper quads on many of the leg samples would be reduced if a pelvis/hips had been added. I was still interested in investigating further.  Since there may be a shape I would like to make that does not terminate with a hand or foot.  Maybe a tentacle or spout?

The underlying problem may be adhesion to the wire. When twisted there is a bit of improvement in wool adhesion over the single untwisted wire.  This could be improved by adding a pipe cleaner (now called “Chenille Stems” since there are fewer pipe smokers who need to clean their pipes) which allows the wool something to grip as it is wrapped.

Sample 1; Untwisted 6ga aluminum wire with pipe cleaner on the loop half of the sample and Floral tape on the second half.

1 Pipe Cleaner wrapped 6ga aluminum.

One of our study group had been instructed to add tape to specific areas of her armature. I had at first thought this may be for added strength or stiffness to that section. Then, wondered if it was for improved adhesion to use the wool to strengthen the section with tape. I did a sample of a single 6ga/4mm wire with pipe cleaner on half the length and floral tape on the other half to compare adhesion. I had the upper quads on the leg sample to use as a bare wire sample.

Floral tape is a strange thing to work with. It is dry and a bit wrinkly until you give it a gentle tug, then it turns sticky especially when wrapped over itself. I did discover the stickiness does not last forever or even very long. So, only wrap the section you will be working on.

2-4  Pipe cleaner and Floral tape over a single wire

In sample 1; 6ga aluminum ½ Pipe Cleaner (loop end) and ½ floral tape.

Rotation is present, greater in the pipe cleaner section than in the floral tape.

Flexion test;     – both sections will make a sharp bend but are vary stiff due to the gauge.

I am also curious to see if with a weaker gauge wire if a duct tape or gorilla tape may give restrictions to bending in the section where applied. I may try a sample with the floral tape over the top since I suspect the adhesion will not be enhanced with duct or similar tapes.

5 Duct Tape and Gorilla tape. (Gorilla tape is an extra sticky extra strong version of Duct tape.)

I sampled with 18ga aluminum so it would show flexibility more than the 6ga I had been using. Note that the aluminum I have presently at this gauge is intended as picture wire and it is not coated. If you are selecting aluminum, try to perches the coated wire since it will not leave dirty marks on your fingers.

6-7 Residue from uncoated aluminum and what was on the empty plate (in case you were curious).

The two wire samples were about 10 inches long, which I divided into approximately 3rds. 2/3rds I twisted together and one-third was left single.  I put a small open loop on the single end and the fold on the other end created a longer loop. I wrapped as tightly as I could the middle section with gorilla tape. This covered about half of both single and double twisted 18ga wire.

8-9 bare wire and gorilla tape and sample covered in wool for flexibility test

In sample 2; 18ga aluminum ½ single/ ½ Doubled with center 1/3rd wrapped in Gorilla tape.

Rotation is present and seems equal in all sections.

Flexion test;       –  single could make a sharp bend

                            –  Taped section could make a curved bend

                            –  Doubled could make a sharp bend


For sample 3, I used 18ga aluminum as before,  ½ single/ ½ Doubled with center 1/3rd wrapped in Gorilla tape. This time I added floral tape over all sections in hopes to increase adhesion

10-11 Bare-wire, wire with tape added (about 6 wraps)

12 Test bending with tape to see how the tape was resisting making a sharp bend.

13 covering wire and tape with Floral tape with the hopes of increasing adhesion and decreasing the rotational movement of the wool around the wire.


In sample 3; 18ga aluminum ½ single/ ½ Doubled with center 1/3rd wrapped in Gorilla tape. Floral tape over all sections in hopes to increase adhesion.

Rotation is minimal to not noticed across all sections.

Flexion test;        – single could make a sharp bend

                             – Taped section could make a curved bend

                             – Doubled could make a sharp bend


14 Sample 3 with wool, checking flexibility in all test sections.

The use of tape may be helpful in spots where you want to allow a curve but not a sharp bend. The amount of tape (number of wraps) will change the amount of flexion in the wire. If you want to use tape to restrict a sharp bend, more sampling may be required. While the gorilla tape adhered to the wire and itself, the wool did not adhere well to it without the addition of the floral tape. The use of the two tapes together may have merit in a particular application.


The Rotational movement component may not be a problem when working on a large or thick figure or object but may be more problematic on fine legs or other skinny appendages. In this case, the assist of floral wire may be very helpful.  Another future investigation for thin appendages would be to investigate the use of waxes to assist adhesion.  Wax has also been used to create surface smoothing as seen in some felters’ bird legs. Although that may partly get beyond the parameters of wire, it may be well worth further investigation. unfortunately, I will leave that for another day.

PS; while Glenn was spellchecking (if there are more spelling errors blame me I think I have broken his spelling), he suggested I try the sticky cloth medical tape it may give an improved adhesion over the bare wire. I suspect it would likely have a bit more flexibility than gorilla tape and be a bit more expensive than floral wire. (Drat now I have to go look and see if we have any medical tape!!)


Mer Hands and Armature Study Group

Mer Hands and Armature Study Group

This past week in Ottawa was cold, with a few days that were not overcast and gloomy. We even had a little snowstorm and lost power for a few hours.  Since I couldn’t work on the computer and the lighting was off for colour work I tried to wash the dishes, no hot water…. Ok, how about cleaning up the dust bunny I spotted in the dining room the vacuum is right there… oh….. I will get the broom… Well, it was not all bad, I didn’t have to vacuum and Glenn brought home Fish and Chips as a treat for dinner!

 1 Ice on the window to inspire you!

So when the sun came back I made the most of the good light and blended some yellow-ish skin tones for Mr. Mer. I was focusing on his hands and building up his forearms (lots of arm curls and extensions to build up the biceps/Triceps now wrist curls to build up the extensors/flexors in the forearm) I suspect he would just like me to add a bit more fibre to him so he can skip the exercising!

 2 Mr. Mer, Miss Mer and Mrs. Mer.

It has been a while since you saw the understructure for Mr. Mer but the armature for the hands is floral wire doubled over and twisted. The rest of the body is 12 gauge aluminum. The armature was then wrapped in part of an alpaca bat I had used with all the Mer’s.


The top layer is blends of Corriedale in cream, yellows, greens, blush and browns aiming to be similar to the underside of a northern pike with a suggestion of skin tone. I want to layer over a few more tones but I think he is heading in the correct direction.

 9 its hard to see with the wet window but there are gusts of snow on the other side of the glass

Today has been bleak and snowy, but not as cold! So I finished off my notes for the study group on armature wire. I have the outline written. It took a while to try to source locally some of the wire gauges we will be investigating. I also made a list of some of the online options. I wound up with five pages for the outline and shopping notes! I got them off to the registrar so she can send them out as registrations come in. The OVWSG study group web page is now live! The first few fellow studiers have signed up! I hope the rest of my wire orders come in soon!! We are starting 23 February 2021 running weekly on Wednesday (Zoom meeting 7:30 pm to 8:30 pm Local Ottawa time) until 17 March 2021. Because we are Zooming we can be accessible to more people. Please take a peek if you would like!

 10 Mr. Mer is demonstrating how well his new fingers work by holding the first wire order that has arrived. (Approximately 10 gauge Aluminum.)

 11 This is an assortment of wire collected locally in Ottawa at; Dallerama, Home Depot, Walmart. I also found some 12 gauge aluminum wire at McBead Creations but it’s not in the picture! (the 11 gauge steel is what I used in the Quadra-dents and is too stiff for most armatures. But does make excellent weapons!)

I hope this will inspire others to try study groups as a way of learning remotely while we are still stuck at home. At least the commute to work is quick for some of us? And hopefully, the rest of us are having fun felting!!

12 Mr. Mer shows off his fingers

2020, Just a bit Mer to go.

2020, Just a bit Mer to go.

Glenn and I have been travelling as far as Oakville once a month, to take over running errands for his parents and give his eldest brother, who is closest, a break (there are 5 brothers). We are second closest at 5 and a half hours away. The rest live in the US so are on the wrong side of the border to come and visit.

This last trip we checked the hotel was still open, Yes.  Packed up the car; extra grocery cooler bags, suitcases, and fibre related to the Mr. Mer project. One quick look at the garden and off to Oakville!

1-2 Silly lungwort, silly strawberries, it’s not spring, it’s December!!!

After MUCH debating about what kind of fish Mr. Mer actually is. I suddenly realized he was a pike! A Northern Pike! So off to the internet to get reference images! I carefully looked at fin placement, size shape and colouring.

 3 the reference photos

 4 wires were placed for the lower fins.

I pulled out the measured wires (floral wire,22 gauge I think) and started to lay out one side of the fin, mixing tones as I went.

 5 side one of the fin. (wire still to be added)

Added Fibre to the wire and then stuck the ends of the wire back into Mr. Mer just above the tail fin.

6 lower underside fin

7 Getting ready to start upper back fin.  

 8 using 3 of the 42 gauge triangular needles. These are quite nice. I would like to get some in the 333 configuration these are the 222’s.

9 I also used the 38 which suddenly felt aggressive compared to the 42’s!

 10 I started laying in the dorsal colouring. I was hand blending and tearing the fibres into short unorganized sections which I laid on in thin washes.

11-12   I tried attaching only one side of the fin wire for the hip fins.

I had worried all this addition of fins may have been a bit overwhelming for Mr. Mer, but he found a spot to blend into on the couch and started reading a postcard (he seemed interested in the picture from Dubai)

13-14 Mr. Mer refused to wear a mask but he did have a lot of poking with a needle and may have felt that boosted his immunity.  (I did not have a mask that would fit him). I think I will wait for the kind of needle that has the vaccine, fewer barbs in those!)

Parts of Christmas are already in Oakville, they even had more snow than we did! I spotted the mouse angel and the Christmas card from was that just last year?

 15-18 A bit of x-mas has already arrived.

 19 back to work defining fins and covering that butt.

20 the sun finally comes out shortly before it’s time to set.

 21 He had a swim around the computer desk in the hotel room.  Then I had a nice float and some stretching exercises in the hotel pool. Just to prove I don’t actually melt in water, So far…

 22 The mostly empty hotel

 23 The greatest shock of 2020 thus far is I now float,….. in a pool that is saltwater….as long as I hold on to the rope.  I wonder if this new skill will last into 2021?

Have a fabulous week and a nice relaxing X-mas!  I hope you get lots of Fiber, spinning wheels, wonderful inspiring books probably about felting and maybe a loom or two.

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!) Pet Two Part 3 She is Naked! We must fix that!!!

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!) Pet Two Part 3 She is Naked! We must fix that!!!

Felting Alfresco (outside! Its Summer!)

Pet Two Part 3 She is Naked! We must fix that!!!


Now it’s time for me to start adding a bit of colour! this is where we left off last time.


this is the understructure of the manta ray next will be laying colour on top of the structure, like a gresi painting.

12 1-2 laying in the T line so she is an oceanic manta

If you have taken art classes, either commercial or fine art, you may have had a teacher that reminded you that paintings with large black spaces are not as effective as deep shadows with suggestions of something within the shadows. So not a solid black but layers of dark blue, green, charcoals and browns with maybe a bit of pure black. I mixed the darkest charcoal with a very dark green and blue. I also started to add some of the lighter greys in thin wisps over top to give that dappled light effect.

 3-5 base layer of simplified pattern and fibres I was working from

 I kept a zip-lock sandwich bag of mixed greys which I could then make lighter or darker as I needed.

676-7 Zip-lock of greys, a bit of mixed colour sitting on her shoulder about to be added in a thin layer over the dark sections.

Distracted by Princess Auto flyer, the snap ring plyers I have and use to bend the ends of the wire are very tiny and not as smooth as I would like. So I will be off to check these out at next weeks’ sale. I will likely also replace my old wooden bench (the one I was stuffing unskirted raw wool into bags on) while I’m there.

 8-9  This is Next week’s Princess Auto flyer! Another great place for fibre related tools, really! It is where I found the Bee combs! (Yes!! We got the Bench!! However, they were out of the cool plyers)

I added the Dorsal fin, I made the basic shape and added it just above the base of the tail. I then build up the sides of the fin to give it more of the correct shape.

1011 10-11 added the Dorsal fin then built up the sides

After checking with the photo reference I brought the darkness around the edge of parts of the wings


12-13 Bringing the colour to the edge and just around.

Next adjusting the angle on the lower part of the white shoulder markings and adding white to cover thin areas where the understructure was showing through. So far she does not have any under spotting but I may revisit before the end of the entire project.

1415 14-15 Final touch-ups on the back of the mantel.

16-19 looking good, but she will need eyes so she can judge that for herself

Time to add eyes!  Hmm, I think we need a bit more extension on the eye orbs or she will not be able to see around her Cephalic fins. I surrounded the pupil then used the super sharp scissors to cut off the excess. (I found these again at Dollarama, for 4.00 Canadian, they have worked very well so I bought a couple more pairs).  I may leave her for a couple of days then re-evaluate the eyes, they are not quite right yet but close!

  20-24 Adding eyes and the nice scissors from Dollerama

I think the heat was getting to her since she started her photoshoot by stealing my glasses and mask!

  25-27 Mantas seem to be curious and playful and maybe a short-sighted

Oddly, the glasses seem to fit her.  Unfortunately, the mask does not quite cover both her mouth and gills.

So on to the photoshoot!!!


28-29 She seemed a little static in her poses, so l let her loose in the garden to have some fun.

     303132       3335343736  30- 37 A quick swim through the front garden (wait till she finds out there is a back garden!)

I took her out to buy butter tarts and to show Ann. It’s good to get out and meet new people but she forgot to wear her mask!! I think she will need to quarantine before she can play with her Mer-People!!!

38-40 Felting is better with Butter tarts

I hope you have enjoyed the creation of my adolescent female Manta Ray. I still have more to do with this set of sculptures so please keep checking in on how it is going. Have fun and Keep felting!!

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