A break from all the felting machines!
We had a great day on Easter Monday testing out the felting machines. We added Ann’s new purple one from Georgia to the mix. But since we have had non-stop machine chatting I think we need a break from the sound of needles impaling wool at high velocities. So why don’t you join me for a day trip out to the Kanata Games Club one day spring Gaming (and felting) convention? Mr. and Mrs. Mer came with me, in hope of adding more detail and some skin tone to Mrs. Mer.
The Kanata Games Club used the same Church as before. It’s built on a hill and has two large halls one on the lower level with big windows. This time they were only in the upper hall since this is the first big gaming event since the pandemic restrictions. We all wore masks (the church is still masking) except the Mer’s who didn’t have masks of the correct size. I may have to make them some. Or maybe their fishy-er parts keep them immune. Can fish get covid? (better not think about that or I will never get to tell you about the day.)
We arrived and as soon as I was settled, he quickly wandered off to one of the big tables. The big round tables were full of people with brightly coloured games with many interesting little pieces. I found one of the smaller unoccupied tables by one of the windows.
1) Shortly after 9 am, I was happily left at a rectangular table with a Tim Hortons bagel and my felting supplies in a small clear plastic box. Mrs. Mer is reclining with bits hand blended skin tone.
I got comfortable for a nice long day of felting!
2) Mr. Mer was there to supervise and cheer on the gaming. Mr. Mer leans ageist a blue bag on the table in front are the small wool pad, the wrong beige, my phone and audiobook, and my small clear plastic box of tools.
It quickly became apparent that while I had packed almost everything I needed, there were two small problems. I realized I had brought a slightly different shade of base tone for her skin tone. Well, That can be fixed with a bit of extra blending. The second problem resulted from the ongoing rebuilding of my office into a fibre studio, which is messing with my ability to know where everything is (specifically my mini carders AKA small pet brushes have disappeared)!!! Oh well, I can blend a bit of this nice yellowy-ness with this tiny bit of raspberry red to the new base tone and that should be just about right. Without carders, I was blending tiny bits by hand which is slow when you are both sculpting more detail and putting on a colour layer. I am not a fast felter, I like to putter, consider, add a bit more wool, and eventually decide whatever I am making is complete. But hand-carding all that I wanted to work on today would be a bit slow even for me!
3) Skin tone base colour from blending white (re-carded world of wool core wool), beige and amber Coriodale, and a bit of red I think maybe merino.
4) Not fully homogenous blends one with a stronger white and one with a stronger beige undertone.
I spent a long time hand-blending bits of skin tone for Mrs. Mer. I used white, beige, amber and raspberry tones. The world is not made up of flat uniform colours, so not blending to a uniform colour will provide a more natural looking tone. Today I wanted to improve Mrs. Mer’s head shape and extend her skin tone.
Hubby came to check on me at the end of his first game and I explained the lack of carders. Luckily the Dollarama was just a bit farther up the hill at the closest mall, a bit far to walk, (there was still snow) but a very fast drive. He returned with a set of carders (pet brushes), a plug to charge my phone (it was dead again….) a couple of drinks and some candy(that will keep me felting!!).
5) Dollarama $4.00 carders (pet brush) with safety tips.
Recently at one of the local guilds socials, one of the pet brushes was being used to tease out the ends of locks. This is sometimes called flick carding. (Bernadette can show you how to properly flick card some time if you are at a social). The locks were not very long and there seemed to be a lot of poking of fingers as well as combing of fibre. The Carders/pet brushes, that I had just been given, have little white plastic tips on each wire, safety tips!!! The packaging says the covered tips are to protect the delicate skin of your pet, while it also makes it much safer for your fingers if you are flick carding locks.
Like full-size wool carders, these pet brushes have little wires embedded into a backing. some carders have wires that are quite stiff and some are more flexible. The same applies to pet brushes. For comparison Cotton carders (like the name implies are used with cotton which has a very short staple length compared to wool) have shorter more closely spaced wires and tend to be longer rectangular shapes than wool carders.
If you buy two of the little pet brushes you can use them exactly like you would a set of wool carders. It takes a bit of practice to get the movement of the carders to blend and mix the fibres but it’s worth the practice.
6-7) Close-up of teeth on the comb. note the bend about 2/3rds up the wire
You can see that one wire has lost its safety tip. it may have been missing when I took it out of the package and I just didn’t notice. I did not seem to lose any others while carding. I have heard of small pet brushes that had longer wires and larger safety tips that can come loose and disappear into the wool. So far this brand seems to not have that problem. (it will be worth keeping an eye on these to see if the tips stay attached over time.)
8-11) Examples of blending fibre to create skin colours
It’s nice to have a pallet of blended colours pre-made to pick from when you’re adding the top layer of colour. I am also doing a bit more detailed sculpture of her head and neck so a general mid-tone is also helpful.
12) MRS Mer laying on her back, double needles working along angle of the jaw (Mandible)
13) New muscle development below the occiput and above upper traps.
As with Mr. Mer, I was concerned with her ability to see where she was going when swimming. Unlike a full fish whose eyes would be looking forward and to the sides, her eyes in anatomical position would be looking at whatever is below her as she swam. This could allow for painfully swimming into things or being attacked by a bigger fish that she didn’t see coming. To alleviate this anatomical problem of blending fish and human anatomy I added an extra muscle on top of the upper traps to help her hold up her head for prolonged swimming. I will also beef up her erector spini in the back so she can also tip her torso up to reduce potential neck stain. The things you have to consider when felting are just amazing!!!
I worked along the underjaw and corrected some of the asymmetries in her skull.
14) attachment of SCM (Sternocleidomastoid) muscle, sculpting along the jaw and adding skin colour.
The gaming continued around us, with players switching tables as one game ended and a new one began. A few came over to see what I was working on, but most have seen me at previous felting/gaming events. Someday I am sure I will get to share my table with another felter!!
I took a break from her head and neck and worked a bit down her arms and started adding a bit of skin tone on one of her hands.
16) Mrs. Mer through her arm into the air while trying to stay modest and warm with the other arm/hand (I need to make her a shirt soon)
17) Mrs. Mer waves goodbye as it’s time to pack up.
I was in the middle of working on Mrs. Mer’s hand when Glenn’s last game ended. So it was time to pack up after about 9 hours of fun felting. We both had lots of fun and hope there will be another Felting ….errr …. Gaming convention soon!
If you do a lot of 2D or 3D needle felting and enjoy working with blended colour you may find one of the types of carders handy. Depending on how much fibre you need to blend at a time will give you an idea of which type of carder may be best for you. (carders give you a woollen preparation for spinning while combs give you a worsted preparation)
Here is a quick reference chart showing the amount of fibre needed and tool options to achieve that amount.
|Amount of fibre||Tools to consider||Notes, Pros/Cons|
|Smaller than a handful||Hand blending||-(if the staple length is longer than you want you can tare it or use scissors to shorten it)
Pros: free!, quick and easy to do for small amounts
Cons: can stress wrists and fingers pulling fibre apart as you blend it.
|A Handful or a couple of handfuls||Pet brushes used like wool mini-carders||-like mini carders quality varies by manufacture. Some teeth are very stiff some are very flexible.
Pros: cost $2.50 to 10.00 each (cheap)
Cons: some are not well made and don’t hold up to stronger wools or heavy use.
|A double handful||Wool carders||-designed to work with wool. Comes in various teeth counts (fine/Medium/course).
Pros: You can sometimes find a set secondhand from spinners.
Cons: new hand cards can be pricey but not as pricey as a drum carder.New Around $100.00 Canadian with shipping.
|A larger amount (a batt)||Drum carder||-designed to work with wool. Comes in various teeth counts (fine/Medium/course).
Pros: can create larger amounts of blended fibre than a hand carder.reasonably easy to use,
Cons: a bit harder to clean for some. Even second-hand 150.00 to 350.00, new; high 200s to much more for larger or electric versions. The smaller ones are moveable/ sort of portable. The bigger ones are better left in a work area)
18) 3 full-size hand carders, pet brush carders (my real mini carders will turn up as I keep shuffling things) and small combs; a set of Rodger Hockins and one bee de-capping comb in the interim location in my office/studio
If you do a lot of 2D or 3D needle felting and enjoy working with blended colour you may find one of the types of carders handy. Depending on how much fibre you need to blend at a time will give you an idea of which type of carder may be best for you.