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Alisa’s First Quarter Challenge

Alisa’s First Quarter Challenge

I have a guest post for you today. Alisa McClain is a pretty new felter, she is in my local Facebook group. When she posted her piece for the first quarter challenge I asked her to do a post about it and she stepped right up. Thank You, Alisa

 

Hello!  I started felting in the early pandemic, and I’ve fallen hardcore in love.  It’s blooming and it keeps me grounded and joyous, and I am slowly developing more skills that allow me greater control, too.  I’m an experiential learner, for the most part, so I just keep doing and figuring things out.  I make art playfully, usually without a plan.

When I first saw these blogs about a first-quarter challenge, I didn’t intend to participate.  You see, my brain is pretty much an open browser with 1,000 tabs open at all times, and I always have a plethora of ideas vying for my attention and screaming, “Pick me!  Pick me!”

And, then one day I took a look at all the photos suggested in the original challenge blog from the decade.  The suffragette posters caught my eye.  Maybe I should make something feminist in petticoats?  That old Disney song starts up in my head:  We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats and dauntless crusaders for women’s votes.  But, I haven’t done human forms and probably can’t pull that off.  That skill is in the not yet pile.

The next time I looked through the photos, I thought about finding an aerial view of the area I live in and got lost in the history of my little corner of suburbia.  No aerial view though from 1900ish though.

And, then the third time I looked through the photos, I thought about nature through a microscope.  In the lounge of the ski hill I frequented in the before-pandemic times, there was an entire heavy book full of breathtaking pictures in a microscope.  Sometimes the wonder of nature just awes me anew.  While I was still thinking of those micro photos, I walked by this piece of art in my home by Wendy Feldberg that I had purchased the previous summer.

https://www.wendyfeldberg.ca/galleries.html

 

Wendy told me that she’d been quite intrigued by the history of the Ottawa River and that many of the labourers had died of malaria versus physical accidents that occurred on the river.  She had done a series of fibre arts featuring the cells of malaria; this one was malaria cells in a placenta.

Overall, I give the pandemic a solid thumbs down, but there has been beauty within it.  The blooming of my felt, yes, but also there has been a cementing of several of my friendships into a deeper, lifelong kind of bond.  I’ve had more time with my children.  I have had a chance (and been forced to, at times) to slow down and think through things.  There is a kind of beauty in this moment, in the midst of the horrors.  I thought about people that I’ve loved that have developed serious medical issues and how, sometimes, those issues forced them to consider what mattered in life, to prioritize, and also to notice a community of love and support around them.

So maybe that’s my theme:  disease and the beauty within it.  I wondered what was happening in the 1900s in the way of endemics or pandemics, and Google brought me to microscopic pictures of typhoid fever (apparently on the rise in Texas, an antibiotic resistant strain?  Enough already this weird time!)

So here are a few pics of the jellyfish-like bacteria responsible for typhoid fever.  I’ve made a jellyfish before that I like and feel proud of so I was pretty confident I could do it.

 

Of course, along with having a thousand tabs open at all times, I also sometimes fall down rabbit holes in which I refuse to sleep and, instead, decide to read extensively about subjects that will be pretty much superfluous to any conversational moment.  Did you know that Typhoid Mary was pretty much the original superspreader and that she was quarantined for over two decades after she ignored public health advice?  I mean, they did tell her not to cook but failed to provide any kind of alternative income stream for her, a woman in a time where women weren’t supposed to financially support themselves so maybe there is a structural issue with the collective safety net there.   I digress.  Moral of the story:  I guess wearing my mask really isn’t so bad.

I also got lost in the world of microphotography.  See, I already had ideas in my head, but now I feel like I need to felt a few of these, too.  There will be more noisy arguments between ideas about whose turn it is.  But, also, what a great problem to have!

https://www.nikonsmallworld.com/galleries/2020-photomicrography-competition (the above and below from those galleries)

 

But what did I make?

Oh yes, my typhus.  It hits the decade both on the microphotography front as well as a time when typhus was raging.  When it was almost done, I posted a picture for my friends and said that if they could guess what it was, I’d send it to them.  They guessed (before the legs) that it was a paddleboard, a kayak, a UFO and a comet.  Someone guessed it was a jellyfish, and that was the closest someone came.

 

And, now, I pretty much HAVE to felt covid, don’t I?  As I said, there is a certain kind of beauty in this moment…  if we can’t escape this pandemic or fast forward through to the end of it, we might as well look hard for the beauty that is blooming here.  Neighbours helping neighbours.  Pods looking out for each other.  The recognition that working from home can be a good option for many workers.  I know it’s not universal and I don’t mean to silver line the devastation that is occurring.  If I focus on the kindness, I get through this moment just a bit easier.  That said, you best believe I will be hugging the crap out of my friends just as soon as this over…  the kind of hug you just melt into.  I look forward to locking arms together instead of fibres on a way more regular basis, but for now…  I guess it’s time to pick the next loud-mouth idea.

https://www.news18.com/photogallery/world/covid-19-photos-up-close-with-the-deadly-coronavirus-2532875-2.html

Thanks, Alicia, microphotography is a really great place to be inspired. Has anyone else been working on the first quarter challenge? you can share it on the forum or if you would like to be a guest blogger just contact us.  we love guests.

 

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?

Needle Felted Flat Landscape Workshop 2019

Needle Felted Flat Landscape Workshop 2019

Ann told you about the workshop she gave on felted Flowers. So I thot you might like to hear about the last workshop I was teaching. This was the first time I had taught it and I was a bit nervous and excited (inner voice to self, take a deep breath, relax). In December you heard about the panic of making the Catalogue sample for this workshop. (https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2018/12/01/this-is-the-story-of-a-felting-emergency/)

As you may remember I have a background in both commercial and fine art.  Add to that the sivear dislexia which tends to change my way of approaching a subject or at least the way I tend to interpret it.

Last August the guild started to set up the list and order workshops that would run in 2019. There were a number of felting workshops but we had requests for felted landscapes in 2D. I had signed up to teach Inkle weaving as usual but Our Workshop coordinator was sure I could do the landscape and re-run a felted sheep class I had done over 10 years ago. I said sure and between working on the Catalogue for the workshops, restructuring the Guild library and a few Exhibition and Sale chores I started writing my notes.

I am pretty big on notes.  I want a student to be able to look back on them and remember what to do even if it’s been a year since they took the workshop.  For this one I felt I needed to include a bit on composition, perspective, aspects of different mediums of painting and finally how to deal with the felting itself.  So think small book rather than regular notes.

1

(picture 1 Name tags and a bit of back ground information )

I was going to teach them a different way to look at felt; treating it more like a water colour than an acrylic and using some of the work principles used in pastels and oil paintings.  Because of the time restraints of only 5 hours to felt I went for a smaller size, working in a 5×7 inch format.

 

2 (picture 2 the supply,  a stack of notes, a picture chosen and all ready to start )

I prefer workshops where you don’t have to go searching for a long list of supplies to bring.  So I try to have everything that will be needed to start your adventure included in the materials fee. The Introduction to inkle weaving workshop is the same, students even get the integrally important box of smarties. For this workshop smarties were not as important but they did get a 5×7 frame with white mat, a selection of needles, a mat to work on (I took a workshop from Megan Cleland who had used Dollarama Garden kneeling pads as work surfaces which were light and worked very well. The handle even held fibre I was working on!)

I had found some mid-weight felt at Michaels that was longer then needed for the project so we had enough to do  a name tag too. I started everyone off by making a name tag. Firstly, so I would remember their names.  Secondly, it would give them a chance to try the eye-hand coordination required to needle felt. It also let them get a feel for the differences between needles at moving fibre.  They had 2 each of the fine, medium and coarser needles and one spiral in a fine gage.  I had ordered a Multi-needle tool (it’s the flake clover needle holder from china) but it was not expected to arrive in time. it arrived Friday afternoon just before the Saturday workshop.

3(picture 3 transferring image )

We started by discussing different ways to transfer an image to the felt. Megan was teaching a variation on the light box using a window. This will only work well on thin felt. So if you want to work on a heavier ground or a dark colour choosing another method would be preferable. I mentioned the most common methods for scaling and transferring images including using a Lucy or projector, the grid method and the template method. (I also mentioned pouncing as an option, it is used with frescoes) Since I haven’t seen anyone teaching template transfer we went with that.  Its low tech and requires only scissors, permanent marker and an image.

I had selected a number of images ranging from quite simple to more complex since the class was to accommodate beginner and intermediate students. I had a couple students bring their own images too. With a bit of discussion they all chose there images. As they prepped and transferred there images to the felt I did a vary brief overview of perspective, how overlapping objects give the illusion of distance, how colour fades out as it recedes, detail in the foreground and less detail in the background and sky is lighter at the horizon and darkens as you go up. We discussed light and shadows and keeping your light source consistent if you are using more than one photo reference.

I also explained about thinking about using wool as paint.  Using properties from water colour , acrylic and oil techniques.

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(picture 4- 14 Slideshow Work in progress )

By that time they were ready to begin.  There was much poking but I don’t think anyone stabbed themselves. (I did have 3 boxes of bandages just in case) Most of the students had never felted before so were quite amazed as the wool started to turn into a picture. There was some reworking of areas to get the shadows they wanted but it started to come together.

15 (picture 15 Framing there work)

As you have probably found out yourselves if you put a frame on even a simple sketch it gives it importance, focuses the viewer and gives it the feeling of Art. As the students put there finished pieces into their frames it was fun to see them so pleased with their results. Two of the students had to leave early due to impending bad weather and lengthy drives home.I realized afterwords i missed getting a picture of there finished piece.

 

(picture 16- 19 Finished and Framed )

 

Ruth’s Holiday Card

Ruth’s Holiday Card

It’s holiday time again and we ran a holiday card exchange with members from the Felting and Fiber Studio Forum again this year. People signed up a little over a month ago. I ran the names through a random name generator gave everyone their partners name and by now all the card should be mailed. I got Ruth this year.   I usually just do one card but I hedged my bets and made 2 this year.

Here is how I made it. I started with 2 layers of white prefelt. I added the sky and then the snow.

Then I used some darkish green prefelt to cut out triangles for the background trees. And some light gray to add some shading so the snow wasn’t flat.

Then I added the foreground trees using some blue faced Lester curls fluffed out. The one on the left is the one that ended up as  Ruth’s.

And some silk for the clouds.

This is what they looked like felted but still wet. They are very lightly felted. I had planned on felting them more but I liked them as they were and didn’t want to distort them.

Then I added more curls to fill out the trees and to make them stand out from the background. I tried to make them all a little darker on the right side. Then some snow. The snow did 2 things: first, it added some nice high lights but it also made the branches look like the go side to side and not up and down. I added the locks up and down and it was noticeable.

I decided the silk was too shiny for clouds and covered them in a very thin layer of the light gray wool.

I liked the picture but it was lacking something so I added some French knot sheep. They were tricky to do because the felt was not firm at all. The thread didn’t want to stay where I wanted it but pull over or sink in. If I had been thinking I would have put some stabilizer behind it.

I needed to make it into a card. I chose to do a postcard. I made one up to the right size on my computer following the basic template. I used iron-on facing to glue the card to the back of the felt.

I trimmed it and popped it in an envelope and sent it on its way to Montana. I crossed my fingers it would get there in time. We were having rotating postal strikes in here in Canada. Fortunately, the postal gods were smiling on it and it did make it there in about 2 weeks. I still need to add some sheep or something to the other picture. I do not know what I will do with it. I may just frame it.

 

A show and Picture Progress

A show and Picture Progress

I had a show on the weekend. It was quite good. We put a big push on advertising on Facebook and Instagram and it looks like it paid off. There were more customers this year. It’s nice that everyone’s efforts paid off.

This is what my booth looked like.

I sat in the back near the mirror and worked on my Moy MacKay class picture. You can see it on the left of the table.  People were very interested and it helped to start conversations.

On the second day, I changed the table around a little to see if the little bags would go better.  It might have been a little better. people look at them a lot but they are not selling. Maybe the price is a bit high. I need to get my webpage set up to sell or get my Etsy page up and working.

This is what it looked like at the beginning of the day.

I added some more to the fences and some shadows for the ones on the left as the sun is on that side. added some purple to the left backfield to tone it down as it farther away.  The big thing I worked on mountains. The wool colours were running across, So they really didn’t look like trees. I added a thin layer of wool going the other way to make it look more like it is covered in trees. I used a greyer green so they will reseed more.

 

Now I need to add some shading to give the mountains some definition and mountainy shape. It’s coming along. At the moment I am working on the holiday card exchange. What are you working on?

 

A class with Moy MacKay

A class with Moy MacKay

Last week I had the opportunity to take a 2 day class with Moy MacKay. I went with a couple of friends and we had a great time.  We did the wet felting on day one. We had 2 pictures to choose from for the landscape.

I chose the one the left.

Moy demonstrated and explained to us how to work and what to do. We got to ask questions. She told us to take lots of pictures as we went because you see things in the picture that  you don’t see in just looking at it. Still I didn’t take enough.

First we laid out the background

Then we added the foreground and details. The house is prefelt and the flowers in the front are chopped up curls

We wet them down and gave them a 2 or 3 min rub and then rolled them for about 3 min one way and then the other for another few min and we were done. They are very lightly felted but that’s ok because they are pictures not hats.

That took the morning. After lunch we did another piece, a still life, flowers. We had a vase of red flowers and babies breath to use for inspiration. We were not to copy it but to use it to see how flowers look. You can see it in the group picture. Moy demonstrated again and explained again and then we only had about an hour to put the picture together and then a short time to get it felted before we had to be out of the room for another group.

We started with the table then the foliage and then the vase and then moves some leaves around. Then we added the flowers. The babies breath is nepps.

I quite like it at this stage. Not as much after it was felted.

On day 2 we started the embellishing. Moy talked about and demonstrated needle felting accents and refining the pictures. Also some machine embroidery and stitching.  we could try the machine stitching if we wanted but my picture wasn’t ready for that yet.   This is what they are like now. No where near done but works in progress.

This is after I straitened up the house and removed the mangled fence and added a new one.

This is where it is now.  I added windows and ivy to the house. I removed the cobwebs from the trees. I added some shading to the trees. I added in some stems for the flowers in front and another fence. I think the field behind the left fence needs to be darker because it’s farther away. It doesn’t show well in the picture but right now it is lighter and more yellow than the front field.  It needs a lot more work but I think I know what I want to do to it.

And the flowers. I forgot to take a picture of when it was wet felted but had no embellishments.  But here it is so far. I am not as keen on the flowers but they are alright. I may like them better after I work on them some more. The table needs straitening up and lots more texture. And notice the nepps have stuck. We had chopped up some green fibers as part of the foliage and I think the short fibers under them made them stick.

And lastly a picture of everyone’s works at the end of the second day. the flowers we used are beside Moy.

It was a great class. I think it’s given me confidence to try some more. Jan will be doing more posts for us and I hope she will do one about this class too. She will have taken at least a hundred more pictures than me and be able to show you her works in progress too.

Don’t forget to sign up for the holiday card exchange on the forum. Read all about it here: https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2018/10/10/time-for-the-holiday-card-exchange-again/

 

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some Needle Felting

Some Needle Felting

We’ve been needlefelting at the Well-Being Centre. We started last week when there were just a few of us. One of the members liked this painting of ducks that is on the wall:

This was how far she’d got at the start of this week after doing a little of work after taking it home last week:

I think I’ve mentioned it’s a basement room with strange lights and 2 tiny windows, so the light isn’t great. I started an abstract piece using some of the dyed locks we have:

Some of them are commercial dyed BFL from World of Wool. This is a green one:

And, I think this is some dyed locks Lyn donated to us when we were first starting out:

These weren’t done at the centre, but one of the members brought them in. She was a really good sport about us laughing at her first attempt. And we weren’t being mean, we know it’s just at a stage where it looks comical:

She started on a different one, and liked how that progressed so did a little bit more:

I’m looking forward to seeing them finished! She also brought in a nuno sample she made a few weeks ago, at the same time I made mine, this is the blended 18.5 mic Merino side:

This is the front:

And this is a close up of the texture:

I’ll have updates of the needle felting next time 🙂

Throwback Post: Felt Picture

Throwback Post: Felt Picture

Sorting through a pile of paper templates recently, I came across one I’d drawn for a felt landscape picture before I had a laptop to work from. And funnily enough, my sister has been thinking of getting this piece framed, so here’s a throwback post from August 2015, and if you have any suggestions for framing, which will protect it from moths, please let me know!

I had an idea over the week to do a piece of felt for my sister to say thanks for helping me at MakeFest. I saw a photo she took and thought that would make a great piece. I haven’t told her or asked her, so I probably shouldn’t post the photo without permission, but I made a simplified version on Photoshop as a guide:

field field picI don’t have a computer downstairs (or working printer) so I didn’t have a photo to work from, but I did draw a guide 🙂

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I marked out the bands on a template and did the first layer, I’m afraid some of the photos aren’t the best, it was dark and I had to use flash at times:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI then started on the second layer:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought it was looking alright until I got to the bright yellow patch near the bottom, it’s a field of bright yellow rapeseed flowers, and I really wanted to capture the almost bubbly look it had. I blended Nylon and silk throwsters and Bamboo, and it looked great, but made the rest look really flat:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo, then I had to go over all the areas with more texture. I blended shades, mixed in fibres, fluffed it all up and filled in the rows:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI realise now if I’d taken photos of the blends etc, I could have used this for the 3rd Quarter Challenge 🙂 My favourite part is the bottom, it was a hedge with lots of colour to it, mostly greens, but the new growth had shades of red. I used lots of different shades of nylon staple fibre for this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI added the details on next: hedges, trees, telegraph poles:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFor the trees I used black viscose top, I pulled lengths off, fanned out the top, then gave it a twist to make the trunk and branches. Then I added fluffy wisps of blended wool.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWet down:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFelted and still wet:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA few bits of yarn I used for tracks didn’t work, so I removed them. Here it is dry:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe back looks good too:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt’s completely the wrong shades, the original photo is more ‘acidic’, but I liked how it turned out. I’m not sure it’s my sister’s thing though so it might be back to the drawing board there 🙂

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?

 

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