Browsed by
Tag: felt art

Theatre Textiles Part 1

Theatre Textiles Part 1

After I had retired from full time work in 2006 I was finally able to join SNADS – our local amateur dramatic society. I live in a small market town in Dorset and SNADS was the main source of entertainment for our area at that time (as it had been since 1930, although newspaper archives indicate that it was around at least as early as 1883). I had seen most of the productions which they had put on since we moved there in 1999 and longed to join in, not only on stage, but behind the scenes. During any one year there are at least 4 productions – Pantomime in February, Spring Play in May, a Variety Show/Revue in the summer and the Autumn play in early October, and as soon as that was over, the round started again with preparations for the following year’s Panto.

We had a fantastic wardrobe mistress, but she needed help with costumes, especially at Panto time as there was so much to do.

My first foray into costume was to make a full head cat mask for the summer review. Two of our members were to sing Rossini’s Cat Duet and the director decided that it would be fun to have a disreputable tom cat watching them from the side-lines. I had recently learned to wet felt 3D items using a resist, so I made the mask from wet felted pieces and needle felted details. I didn’t want the actor’s eyes to show through and anyway, I needed to give the cat it’s proper “slit” irises. So I stitched into the eye holes a piece of doubled yellow organza and just painted the vertical slit. (It is quite possible to see what’s going on through organza if it is held close to your face.) How to give him a proper nose? I needled the correct shaped nose on the mask, then I painted on some artist’s gesso, let it dry and added some more. Gesso is textured so it was necessary to file the nose to make it a bit smoother, also the gesso is white, so I painted the nose with black enamel paint which I nicked from my husband’s paint store (he’s a model maker). After a couple of coats of that, Tom had a shiny(ish) black nose. Add some “bitten” ears and “wonky” whiskers and he was nearly done. The cat’s mouth was open – it allowed the actor to breathe and gave Tom naughty grin. Finally I gave him a pink tongue and white tips to his ears.

Disreputable Tom Cat

The next production that I was involved in was the pantomime Cinderella, written and directed by one of our members. I was asked by the wardrobe mistress if I would dress both the Fairy (“Fairy Nuff”) and Buttons’ dog, Beau. The director wasn’t quite clear about what kind of dog Beau should be, except that he was to be comic. So I did a sort of 3D needle felt sketch of the dog’s head as I saw it – black and white with one ear cocked.

“Sketch” for Buttons’ Dog

However I’d got it wrong – Beau was to be a black poodle. 

After some discussion with the wardrobe mistress, we decided that the actor would wear a black polo necked top, thick black tights and black gloves. I managed to find a piece of curly black faux fur to make a short jacket, with enough left over to make pompon for the top of the head and the end of the tail, the long dangly ears and wrist and ankle rings to simulate the correct style poodle cut. I was to make a full head mask. For this I made a wet felt hood using a resist and a further piece of flat felt incorporating some of the curly faux fur trimmed from the bought fabric. A lot of that moulted out though because it was nylon or polyester and very slippery. Enough was fixed in however to give the right effect.

I made a needle felted muzzle – again with the mouth open to reveal the red tongue and white teeth, and to allow the actor to breathe.  The nose I made in the same way as for the tom cat – shaped with the felting needle, gessoed and painted.  The muzzle was attached to the hood/face with stitching and felting needles.  Some of the flat felt was cut to represent the dog’s lips and attached by stitching and needle felting to the muzzle.  The “Disney-esque” eyes were again painted organza and were stitched on the inside of the mask. 

The ears and head pompon were also stitched on.  I added a piece of brown fabric and a belt buckle around the dog’s throat to simulate a collar and allow the mask to be firmly secured over the actor’s polo necked top.  I have worn this costume myself a couple of times in subsequent Carnival processions – great fun.

Beau

Since the actress cast for the part of Fairy Nuff had a figure which could easily cope with a glamourous costume, for the base I was given a basque that fitted her. She was to appear out of a compost heap at the edge of the stage, so I set to and made lots of autumn coloured leaf shapes – mainly oak – out of different brown bronze and gold metallic organzas. I sandwiched sparkly bits between layers of organza. I machined stitched around the edges and along the veins of each leaf and then cut out the shapes with a soldering iron. This sealed the edges and prevented fraying. Then, with the basque on a dressmaker’s dummy I attached large pieces of bronze organza for the tail, and then added the strategically placed leaves.

The wings were made from two lengths of flat wire (originally from a pop-up fabric laundry container) covered with more organza, this time creamy white but with sparkles and sequins added. These were attached to the back of the costume by stitching the wire to the shoulder straps of the basque and covering the join with some dark bronze/gold chiffon.

The crown was made from bronze Christmas decorations (that year bronze was in fashion over here – UK). I used bronze plastic icicles, some foil stars and some more organza leaves attached to a head band. I can’t remember what the wand tip was made from – possibly a bunch of tinsel.

I actually got a speaking part in this Panto – only a couple of lines but a step up from what I’d had before.
I don’t have a proper photo, this was before my husband had a digital camera, however I’ve managed to extract a clip from the video we had made of the show. It’s a bit fuzzy if enlarged but I think you can get the gist. I’m in the gold dress with my exclusive “Toilet Duck” perfume, and my punchline? “It drives the men Quackers!”

Guests at the Ball with “perfume”!

After this show, we had one final “adult” Revue and then we moved to where we are now based. Try this link it should show you the hall we left, Sturminster Hall, and eventually the Community and Arts building, The Exchange, which is now our home. https://stur-exchange.co.uk/about/
Unfortunately it seems that a second link, on the above page, may not yet be working – this is a new website in the process of being fully set up so here’s the brochure which was produced the year after it opened.

The Exchange Brochure 2008

The staircase balustrade is wrought iron made by a local craftsman and represents the river Stour which runs through our town. All the Rooms in The Exchange are named after rivers and streams running close by, and it is just beginning to open again to live theatre as well as community groups.

We at SNADS started off our return with an Adult Cabaret a couple of weeks ago, for once without a male Balloon Dance or a ladies Fan Dance, but there was a Pole Dance!

More about my exploits with SNADS (including an explanation of the picture of the wicked queen) later. Watch this space.

Second life

Second life

Anyone who tell you they don’t have a box, draw or even cupboard of failures or “ not going how I wanted to” is either in denial or hasn’t done enough yet. My tale is about one such piece. I don’t even have a full original photo to show you so dissatisfied was I. The picture below is the starting block. To explain the original context of the piece it was two logs of wood at the forefront with a tree and mountain scene as the back drop. The second picture is of the top of the piece. I am sure you can visualise them before the chop.

I already had in my minds eye where the piece was going ,as previously having done a rock pool scene ,I wanted to achieve something similar on a woodland setting.

Although in my minds eye I could see the finished piece getting there was unknown. The piece was a wet felt project using dyed silk to create the logs and silk and fibres to create the moss and ground. I then needle felted to create depth and texture.

After studying it for awhile I decided if I established the proportion in the top left hand corner the rest would flow from there. I knew I wanted it to be multi dimensional but wasn’t sure if it would work. I stand here honestly admitting I am not the best embroiderer in the world but best foot forward added grasses in wool yarn and stalk and leaves in silk yarn to the existing blue flowers which I added at the wet felting stage with nepps. Still at this point I wasn’t happy as it still felt “ flat”. I decided to see if I could have a play and make dandelions which I could sew on top separate thus creating the second dimension I wanted.

But how? Out came my trusty stash of bits and bobs where I found some green and yellow prefelt I had made. With my embellishing machine I added further wool in differing shades of green. I then made a template of a dandelion leaf and cut them out. A final run over with the machine to strengthen them and a trim up and they were ready. I did the same with strips of yellow which I sniped and rolled. Sewing the base tightly together made a very pleasing dandelion shape , well in my eyes at least. After positioning them on the piece I was happy and created the stem with string and couching stitch.

I was happy it was now taking shape. The only area I was unhappy with was the blue flower in the foreground was knocking the whole piece out of proportion. After a tentative test decided to remove part of it completely. With this area removed ( the area between the two logs) it made more sense.

I made more leaves on my embellishing machine in different shades of brown and green and along with stones ,which I had needle felted, I added to creat the woodland base. I also embroidered some clover with bullion knots ( don’t look to closely, I have already explained about my lack of skill and this was my first attempt at this stitch).

And so to the foreground. More leaves were made and added to the blue flower. I’m afraid this flower is not a true but made up flower but at least I had free reign to create. I added french knots to the nepps to add depth.

I must admit the piece is not yet complete as I am now adding french knots to create the moss and will be adding more stones and maybe another clover ( if I can master bullion stitch that is).

All in all I am quite pleased with the piece

My point is never give up on a piece. I find some times just moving a mount around a piece of work completely changes you appreciation of it and can send it off in a completely new and pleasing direction.

If anybody would like to see the finished piece I will give a quick update when next I post.

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.

 

 

A picture with some metal in it.

A picture with some metal in it.

It’s after the Christmas crazy and I feel all out of sorts. There is nothing I need to be doing.  Nothing to shop for, nothing to bake for. I do have some nice new teas to try but although they are delicious, that is not really doing anything. I want to yell I’m bored, but my mom wouldn’t hear me at her house and what’s the point of that. So, like many of you, I must kick my own butt and just get on with something. Start with housework, if that doesn’t start you thinking of things to do in the studio, nothing will. After several loads of laundry and digging out the corner of the bedroom where we toss things to deal with later, I had had enough and I grabbed a tea and my sketchbook and headed for the studio.

I know you are thinking but what about your hat aren’t you supposed to be sewing the flower into place and making leaves. Yes, I am but I don’t feel like it. I had a poke through some recent sketches I did. I can’t really draw but I can get the idea down and use it to work from.

 

I dug out some felt pieces I did as starter pieces. Picked one and started.

First I defined the house. It was just a roof and walls when I picked it. I forgot to take a picture, sorry. I added some windows and the roofline and the corner of the house.  Then, strangely I started at the front of the picture with some fence posts. Usually, you start in the back and layer to the front.

 

With the magic of felt, I just took a picture and then pulled them off and put them aside.

 

I added some sheep, I bet you didn’t see that coming…..LOL. You can see I decided the house looked more like a barn and changed the windows into a large door. I also by this time decided the blue was water and added a path along the cliff edge.

I defined the sticky out piece of coastline to help with the water effect and check the placement of the fence posts. I decided to keep them straight because the right-hand one is going to be short anyway. I added some different blue to define the sky and some white with a bit of sparkle for waves. There was lots of wool sticking out past the picture edge so I just folded it around the back.

Then it was what to do to finish the fence. This is where the metal comes in.  Originally I was going to use thread to be the wire but then I was chatting with Jan about wire and remembered I had this spool of wire.  It is a very old spool and I don’t know what kind of wire it is or what it was meant for. It is thin but strong and flexible. It is old, as you can see from the wooden spool but there is no rust. It has a 58 stamped into the top but it’s not the gauge.

 

I decided to make a real wire fence. I twisted two lengths together and cut 4 of them to stick out past the ends of the picture.  I folded them around the edges to hold them in place. I then couched them down with 6 strands of grey embroidery floss to be the fence staples.  I think it really works. The whole picture is only 5.5inches (14cm)by 4 inches(10cm).

 

I did think about making at least one strand of my fence barbed wire. I made one barb, to try it but you couldn’t really see it against the wool so wasn’t worth the fiddling.

My New Years’ Resolution is to do more felt pictures and to try to do them a little bigger. Do you have a Fibery New Years’ Resolution?

Rock Wall Picture Part 2

Rock Wall Picture Part 2

I had a whole day of no work and no grandchildren last week so I got my picture done. Although this is a good thing, I discovered all those little people’s interruptions are actually good. I rather overdid it with the needling and have aggravated my tendonitis again. I need a better needling pad. the one I have is quite dense. It’s good for travelling as it’s light and it does last well but it is too dense to be poking into all day. I know not to poke way into the foam but when you’re doing a picture you always seem to go into it a little.  I got several suggestions for alternatives. Jan had a nicer kneeling pad that I will look for not so dense but still lightweight. upholstery foam is popular and a new one to me was rice in a cloth bag. I may try this for home. I think it would be heavy to carry around. What do you use?

On to the picture.

When I put the rock shapes in I wasn’t very happy that the stuck up a lot from the wall so I wet felted it again. It looked much better, more subtle.

Before wet felting

After wet felting

 

After wet felting-close

Next for the wall was some moss and some shadows

 

Adding moss

Next was some shadow to the bottom of the rocks and to the gate.

Adding shadows -close

I added some sheep, I know you are all so surprised. I added the trees to the place markers and some vegetation to the foreground.

 

Sheep trees and vegetation

That looks ok but it is kind of bare on the top left and the vegetation is a little boring so I added some more trees, another sheep( you can’t have enough sheep) and some french knots for flowers on the vegetation.

Finished

Vegetation close

Vegetation close 2

I hope to get a better picture of the finished piece. The camera really doesn’t like the fuzzy white. the piece is 7 inches by 9 inches. It should have been 8 x 10 but when I refelted it I shrank more. it hadn’t originally been very felted because it’s a picture and didn’t need to be. Oh well, I will get a frame and Jan will help me cut a mat to the right size.

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

Happy New Year Everyone.

I hope you had a great time ringing in the new year and are enjoying the first day of a new decade.

Time to think back to what I have done and what I want to do.

Last year I did some experimenting with pots.

Did some more artwork

Took a few classes

And taught a few classes.

I took on organizing my guilds annual sale and exhibition with the help of an amazing group of people.

Next year, I am not really sure. I am chair of the sale and exhibition again this year.  I know I am doing more teaching (LINK) and I need to update and sort out my website.

Plans early this year are to get the pictures done for an online class. Jan is going to help with this so I have to get felting to have different stages so we can film more in one day. I am sure Ruth has lost hope of me ever getting it done.

I want to do more artwork with hand stitching. I really do enjoy sitting and stitching. It looks so nice on the felt. To that end, I made a few picture blanks between Christmas and new year. Sorry Its not a great picture I just did it quick while writing this.

Beyond that, I really haven’t planned much. Do you have plans for the year, big or small we would love to hear what they are? We would also love you to share pictures and chat about what you are doing over on the Forum. (LINK)

 

Second Quarter Challenge Almost Finished.

Second Quarter Challenge Almost Finished.

I will show you how things have been going with my second quarter challenge piece. If you missed my last instalment it is here. seascape-progress

I finished adding the green for the vegetation.

Next I worked on the flattened serf

First I tried this,

But no, and then this,

I might have been able to make this work by adding something to the edge of the wave but I didn’t like it

And finally I went back to silk throwsters waste. I also broke the water edge up into 3.

Next moved on to the foliage. I added green stitching here and there to give it a more vertical look. It doesn’t show much but does add to it. I added some handspun yellow that a friend Bernadette made up for me on the spur of the moment when I was moaning about not having the right yellow.

After this it was just a matter of adding more stitches. I did add more of the yellow to mingle them more and stop them being a line across the picture.

This is where I am, stitching away and I still need to add a little dark wool between the planks of the path. I had forgotten about that until seeing the pictures. They are more defined in person.

I was going to just keep going with the stitching.   The picture if you recall is quite plain but I was finding it boring, and to uniform in proportion. It needs something else. I wondered about a railing. Not this railing I think, it looks like a Japanese character (badly build temple maybe) or something.

I think I will finished the stitching  even if I add something else. Anyone got another idea? I have seven more days to be finished in time.

 

 

Seascape progress

Seascape progress

I have worked a little on my seascape so it is progressing. Last time I showed you the beginning 2nd-quarter-challenge-started/ 

After I felted it, the front wave mostly disappeared and the white for the flowers was gone too. I should have known I would need more. Oh well, onward I go.

I thought the best way to do the boardwalk would be to make some felt and then cut it up. This was the best match I had for the wood. It is not white but it’s not really beige either.

I laid out a small rectangle of the wool and of course that was much to flat so I added the next shade up and some black wisps.

You can see better when it’s wet.

After it was dry I cut it into uneven strips. The pictures above are taken in my studio and these are in the guild studio, much different light. There are fluorescent but also lots of natural light. in the guild studio.

And here they are just lightly attached. I needled them down more after. I may put some black or dark brown between the boards. I haven’t decided yet.

Next, I started adding the greenery. I wanted more texture. The picture had gone very flat and it made the boardwalk look like it was floating.

I will work on the lost wave and add some stitches to help the plants look more vertical and then flowers of course.  It should be done before the end of the month. Are you doing the challenge? How is it coming along?

 

A picture for exhibition

A picture for exhibition

Last week I missed doing my blog post because I had no power or internet. My area was hit by 6 tornados. We were not hit we had no damage.  Some areas near us were hit very hard, the large power substation near us was hit and some of the cell phone and internet towers too.

Before all that I did manage to work on my piece for the guild exhibition and sale. I  do not think I will get it done in time as it is due in a week.  The theme was a 100-mile inspiration. I decided to do a scene with the Parlement buildings. I am using 2 prefelt layers with a piece of cotton gauze in the middle for the background.

First I found a simple outline picture I could use for the outline of the building. I cut that out and tried it on the background.

I pinned it to another piece of prefelt and cut it out.

Then it was time to work ou the clouds.

After I took the picture and looked at it I realized I had made the clouds to symmetrical. Its funny how looking at a picture sometimes shows you more than just looking at it. I tacked all the pieces together with a few jabs of a felting needle

Next was adding fireworks as I am thinking it should be Canada Day.

Then I cropped the picture to see better how it will look.

I wet felted the piece and now I need to do some stitching around the building so it will show better.and my daughter said I should add beads around the fireworks like the sparkles you see with fireworks. I thought maybe some sparkly thread and a bead at the end of each firework.  What else would you add to this silhouette picture?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A felt Picture

A felt Picture

While making little bags I also made a small picture. i suppose it would count for the first  quarter challenge.  happy-new-year-prepare-to-be-challenged/ i hope to do somthing a little more challenging before the quarter is over.  I like little pasture scenes. I started with a piece of black prefelt and then laid the blue sky and pasture. I thought I took more pictures but it seems I didn’t.

This what the back looks like. I wrapped the coloured fibers around the prefelt . I use black prefelt because it will intensify the colours. If I used white it would take the colours towards pastel.

This is the front side felted.  I made the contours of the meadow by using a multicoloured roving I had. I think it lets you give the meadow some texture and shape without painstakingly adding tiny bits of colour. I added some clouds to the sky and some flowers to the meadow with some soft silk and little white blobs of sheep as place markers for the next part.

I added the sheep using some embroidery floss and french knots.

Then added the heads and ears. I used a grey for the sheep that are farther away. I think it worked.

At this point it could have been done but I needed something else. Your eye goes to the middle and it is empty. I discussed it over on the Felting and Fiber Studio Forum and I decided some trees were needed. I only know how to do one kind of tree that looks half decent so ever greens were next. I did them in a medium green and then when back with fewer strands and added some darker stitches to give them more depth.

Here it is finished. I had to trim the top off so it would fit in the frame. I always seem to make to much sky anyway so that worked out well enough.

I looks quite nice in the frame. The frame seems to pop it out. I didn’t realise how many scratches it had until I took a picture. I will have to paint it. It is not a great picture, ther was so much reflection. this was the best compromise between the light reflecting or having a clear shot of me in the glass.

I need to learn to embroider more then far away evergreens and sheep. A little cabin or a nice oak tree would have been a nice  addition to the picture. I am thinking of buying Moy MacKays book. Do you have a favourite art felt  or how to hand stitch  pictures or art books?

 

%d bloggers like this: