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A new picture: A lighthouse

A new picture: A lighthouse

I seem to be in picture mode. I wanted to do something with water but not necessarily as the main feature. I thought about a beach and that was my intention as I started but as was looking for pictures and some of the cliff-top pictures really took my eye.

I used a nice thick piece of wool prefelt that I bought at the Almont Fiberfest a few years ago. It is 4inches by 6 inches, 10cm by15cm  I think it is wet felted on a flatbed machine. It is course wool and more solid (felted) than the thin needle felted prefelt we usually get. It is much closer to being felt.  I would love to get some more but don’t know where to find it.  If you know let me know.

I start with what is farthest away, sky and water. When I do sky, it’s always cloudy and I have to do a google search to remember if the sky is darker or lighter near the horizon. The wool I used for the water has a few bits of sparkle in it. I think that’s what is making the white dots in the picture.

 

Then some land and the rocks. I used a mix of 3 grays so the rock wouldn’t be flat.

Added the lighthouse and the path

 

Then I used throwers waist to make the white water around the rocks and some whitecaps. At this point I gave it a light felting mostly to sink the silk into the felt so it didn’t look so much on the surface. . There was still more needling to do though. I added the top of the lighthouse and started the stitching.

 

And as usual when you start stitching you start unstitching. The grass stitches here were much too small. The path needed changing as well as being far too straight it was much too wide.  you can see how all the extra stabbing pulled the piece in even though I was poking up and down and not sidewise.  I stretched it out.

Back to stitching. I am using 4 colours for the grass, 2 shades of gold and 2 of green.

 

I added some small blue dots for flowers.

 

Then the foreground grass

 

Then some french knots for more flowers. I used a couple of shades darker blue for the foreground.

 

 

This is a close up of the stitching.

 

That’s a lot of pictures but I hope you enjoyed seeing the progression.  Stitching really helps a picture pop. And as I promised picture without Sheep. I can do it. LOL

So a week has gone by since I wrote up this post ready for the 4th of February. After a comment from a friend, and looking at it after a break from working on it,  I decided to fiddle with it more.  First I ripped off the path it was far too white, I remade it with some light gray. I did want it to be distinct but not a lightning bolt from Zeus. I added a tiny little dock, not easy but that’s what I get for working small.  And the sky was too much open space so I added some birds, again very fiddley. I did add some slight shading to the lighthouse but it doesn’t really show in the picture the wight really reflects.

so here it finished again. I hope you like it.

 

 

 

Needle felting a toadstool

Needle felting a toadstool

Is it too late to wish you all a Happy New Year?

I haven’t properly picked up my felting needles in quite some time. I can’t tell you why, but my mind just hasn’t been “in the right place” to make anything particularly unique.

Things changed when I got commissioned to make a mushroom sculpture. It was just simple yet challenging enough for me to see if this would finally open those creative doors. The client wanted something similar to what I’d made before, so all I had to do was look at an old photo and start felting. I’m not copying something that needs to look exactly like something else, but it’s also not mindless felting. Perfect.

This is the old mushroom she saw in my online shop and wanted another of (sorry the resolution isn’t the best):

I really enjoy looking at past work because I’m often surprised at the fact this is mine. Do you get that feeling with things you created a long time ago? I am particularly chuffed when I get that “oh, that’s pretty” feeling before it registers it came from my brain.

Now, for the new sculpture. I gave my client a few fabrics to choose from, but she went for the same as the first one. Not surprising, as she really liked the original item and was very motivated to have a mushroom like it.

I started with wire wrapped in wool to make the stem. The top was created with leftover wool felted into shape, then I sewed the fabric to the top and some tea-stained gauze to the bottom.

The base looks very messy, so I’ll be adding some wool to cover it.

Then comes the fun part: assembly!

I chose some hand dyed mohair locks, plus some natural Wensleydale ones and put it all together. After that, I sewed the beads and stones here and there. Here’s the finished item:

The finished object is just different enough for me not to feel I made a complete copy, and the familiarity helped make the felting process easy enough for my Lockdown Brain to not feel too flustered.

Finally, not related at all, but here’s a photo of a lovely Edinburgh sunset for your enjoyment.

Have a lovely weekend and thanks for reading!

A picture in progress

A picture in progress

I have been working on a picture this week I made the “blank” a while ago just a general ground and sky for a starting point.
I wanted to make a rock wall so I added the grey and started adding rock outlines with some nice grey yarn. I nearly forgot to take a picture.

After the wall, I needed to add a gate so the sheep can get in and out but not escape.

I added a little definition to create some depth to the mid-ground. I thought the horizon was not very interesting so I added some tree place markers. they are not the finished trees.

I think at this point I will wet felt it again. I am hoping it will improve the wall by incorporating the rock outlines. I am ok with the way it looks, but think it will be better after wetting and felting. I will then add some green curls to make the trees more dimensional and then some seep too. I think I will use curls for the close sheep and stitching for the ones farther away. I want to put some sort of vegetation/flowers in front. Not sure what though. I will have to search my inspiration file to see what I want to do.

This last weekend one of the local guilds held their annual spin in, in Chesterville.

There were lots of spinners

And lots of Vendors

I buy a few things.

I got a nice ball of Peace Fleece roving. It is roving and not top and it was on destash, so I thought why not give it a try, purple of course. I just missed and interesting green that I would have got as well.

 

I also bought some foot butter. You never know what you will find at one of these events.  but it looks like it will be easy to apply to my poor dry feet.

I bought a little sheep medalion/hangy thing from Isabell Rollin. It is an original design by Isabelle Rollin with copyright pending I just bought the smallest size she had to hang on my basket. . She had bigger medallions and some nametags she would add your name too and some magnetic scissor holders and other stuff. They were just so cute. There were other things like spindles and rug hooking frames too.

 

 

 

Making a raven (and the mistakes in the process)

Making a raven (and the mistakes in the process)

Around December of last year, I was asked by a friend and customer to make a life size sculpture of a raven. I’d never done one before, so it was an exciting challenge to accept.

My husband, a professional painter and sculptor, helped me create a template. I then created the core with needle felting foam rectangles, which I cut and glued to size. I then covered the foam with wool.

Feathers were another challenge for me, I researched quite a bit online to see how other people were making them and tried a technique whereby you add wool top to fusible interfacing, add a wire in the middle and steam iron everything together, but the interfacing was just too white and showed through. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of these, they would have looked very nice in a differently coloured bird. This part stumped me and took ages to resolve.

I left the feathers conundrum to simmer in the back of my head and moved to raven feet. I made mine out of wire that I covered with pipe cleaners and then wool.

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Although the feet looked nice enough, they were not too lifelike. As it turns out, the wire was also not too sturdy for something this big, since it became clear it was too soft to hold the raven’s body at the angle I wanted. The poor thing stood too much like a duck!

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It became clear I needed to replace the feet, so I did some surgery: I cut the original wire out, then added a sturdier one and repaired the cut site with more wool and felting. I had an idea to use polymer clay on the feet at first because I thought it would look more lifelike but it was an absolute fail: clay, once hardened, has obviously no yield and therefore can’t be posed, which can be a problem depending on the surface you’re placing your sculpted animal on. Back to wool it was.

Enter a magic technique I had never tried before: wax.
Adding wax to wool makes it look less like fibre and more like a proper part of animal anatomy. See below:

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You can see by one of the pictures above that I got the feathers to work eventually. After much musing I cut felt sheets to size and put the sewing machine to work to add the central stem you normally see in real feathers. Some of them still had wire in them for structure.

Because I really love how the feet looked after adding the wax, I couldn’t wait to play with this new-to-me material on another part of the corvid: the eyelids.

Here’s an image of my raven without eyelids. The poor thing looks too startled and weird to be real.

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Now behold, with eyelids!

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What a difference. I wonder how I made it without using wax on sculptures this long.

After making more longer feathers for the tail, my corvid was ready to be unveiled. Photographing black wool is notoriously difficult so I apologise for not having more professional-looking pictures to show, but I believe these show you the end result well enough.

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This chap has been named Huginn (old Norwegian for “thought”) after one of Odin’s ravens. I think it suits him.

I felt sorry to send Huginn to his forever home. After spending so much time (5 months!) working on him on and off, I really built a connection with this character. I’m glad he’s receiving much love and will even have a custom-built dome to keep him protected against the elements…

Let me know what you think of him in the comments, and if you’ve any questions about the making process I’ll do my best to answer them. Thanks for reading.

Dyeing some yarn

Dyeing some yarn

A year ago a friend who also owns a small fibre business asked me to dye her some Autumn-inspired rainbow yarn for her to knit with for her own client. I was happy to oblige, and very pleased with the end results. This is the picture of the leg warmers she made. Her name is The Crimson Rabbit on Ravelry and here is her profile.

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Now, repeating a colourway when you have no written data on how you accomplished it the first time can be a bit tricky, but not impossible. If you’re used to the same dyes you sort of develop an eye to recognise them, and this is more or less what happened in this instance.

You can see the yarn starts out a very light yellow and progresses to a slightly more orange-toned one. I mixed some dyes up, eyeballing the colours and dipping a corner of kitchen roll tissue in the liquid to determine when I was happy with the mixture. I did the same for each colour. I was lucky I recognised the yellow-brown dye at the end or I’d be in a lot of trouble to reproduce that particular one.

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This is what the skeins look after they’d been steam-set and dry. I think it looks quite similar from the original one, don’t you? Winding these two skeins back to functioning yarn took me (I kid you not) around two hours. I had divided and tied up each section previously by weight, and boy it’s a lot more work to put it all back together…

Now, since I know my post is a little late (sorry about that) and a bit on the thin side, allow me to share a couple of images of the park near me when the cold arrived. Our friends over in North America will no doubt think this type of cold is cute, but I sure felt it in my bones…

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Finally, another exciting commission: a raven! I was asked to make this and it had to specifically be a raven, not a crow. Not sure exactly how to tell the difference between the two, I did some internet research and, a few documentaries and image searches later, I think I’m a bona fide corvid geek now…

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What exciting stuff have you been up to in the fibre world? Share away, I’d love to hear it.

 

Painting with wool

Painting with wool

For today’s blog post, I am sharing with you a workshop I went to, where Dani Ives was teaching how to paint with wool. If you haven’t heard of Dani’s work, I highly recommend you check out her website.

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Portrait of Luna, copyright Dani Ives (taken with permission from the author)

Before we get started, what exactly is “painting with wool?” It is a 2D needle felting process whereby you pick a theme, copy the design onto flat wool sheets or another type of fabric, and then proceed to “paint” it with different colour wools using felting needles.
This term was coined by Dani Ives when she realised she was essentially using wool the same way painters use paint to represent an object.

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My “classmates” before we started

I was asked to bring an image to reproduce. My main goal with this workshop was to learn how to do 2D pet portraits, so I decided to be ambitious and chose a photo of my cat Marshmallow.

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I’m being ambitious but not overly so – her eyes are closed

After transferring the image onto the felt fabric with an ordinary pen, it was time to pick the appropriate colours to use. I confess this is the part I have the most trouble with, because you have to think of the colour not only “as is” but also have a little sense of how it will look after it’s been blended with the others around it.

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We then proceeded to apply the wool onto the surface and needle felting it in place. You need to keep the reference photo at hand and look at it often, as it’s very easy to get carried away and start using artistic licence – you don’t want to do that when you’re going for a faithful reproduction!

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There’s more hours put into this than I want to admit

This is a slow, laborious process. Obviously you will get quicker as you become better but I sure took long to reach the above phase.

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This is my current progress. It’s slowly coming together. I can’t wait to see this finished.

Finally, I had to share my fangirl moment, a picture of me with Dani Ives herself!

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Have you ever done any 2D needle felting? Let me know how it went for you in the comments section. Thanks for reading!

More From Jan Scott

More From Jan Scott

Canvas 3: arctic Fiber Gold, Qiviut!! Now that is Canadian

Now I was on to canvas 3. I had been looking and thinking of quintessential Canadian topics, I considered moose and had selected a couple reference photos that I may do at some other time but just wasn’t quite what I wanted. Then I started thinking about the arctic. Muskox!!

My brother Dave is a Geologist, he has worked up north most of his career. He told me of being on a mapping traverse and stopping to sit on a bolder. He had been innocently enjoying his lunch when he heard a Whiffling sound behind him. So he turned to see what it was. It was a muskox squinting at him. He seemed to be trying to figure out what Dave was, likely hoping for a sexy new female muskox and not an interfering male one. He got a little closer and seemed to realized it was only a geologist having lunch, did a snort, looked indignant, turned and left. INSPERATION!! I will do a muskox. (But without Dave and the rock).

I kept to the same work process as before, Research first; off to the internet to look at lots of muskoxen, eastern arctic, western arctic and Greenland. I looked for various pictures with details I wanted. Coloring, body shape, horns, feet, nose, eyes. I spent hours having fun surfing Google images. I made of folder of the ones I thought most helpful.

When I had a good selection of reference photos in my file, I grabbed a scrap of paper (which now I can’t find to show you) and did a quick composition sketch to fit the 12×12 square format. I wanted the muskox to be emerging from the background. So I would need the head and shoulders forward and land for the muskox to stand on. Ok I will need a background to work this from. I am not fond of getting wet if I don’t have to so needle felting is my preferred method of working. I made a gray brown back ground so I can add foliage and muskox to it. I used a felting tool I purchased at the fiber festival Twist. It is perfect for background work! You can get it here https://halcyonyarn.com/felting/68862190/10-needle-felting-tool-_-aluminum

For the background I used some of the leftover fin-wool form Miaka’s great fish cat cave https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/2016/02/25/the-great-fish-creation/ and some Shetland in a gray brown. I measured out the felt so that I had enough to rap around the stretcher bars of the canvas and secure it to the frame.

Next was to build up the core of the muskox and base. I had used an armature in the frog but here I was only working with part of a muskox, so the front legs and one back one have an armature, as well as the neck, head and horns. It was very handy to be able to tilt his head up so I could work on his chin!!!

 

I continued using Rideau Arcott for my core wool. It was free, unfortunately it was also dropping veggie matter all over the floor. But it made a good solid base for the muskox and the promontory he is standing on. I added the armatures in as I built up the structure. The flexy neck was really odd in this under layer form.

Next I went to the living room and started searching for the colours I would need, I used alpaca for some of the black and reddish brown as well as merino Shetland and assorted bits I wasn’t sure what they were anymore. The pull it apart over and over again blending technique really worked well here. I used the photos to try to get a realistic colour. I started adding the colour layer from the Hooves and nose first and working up the body. I blended only a bit at a time and re-blended to create more so there is uniformity in that I am using the same base colours but the exact percentages are changing as I mix each batch. I was not blending to the point of a uniform colour so the individual colours still showed as I used them which lets the eye blend them. I also considered the light source as above and slightly behind the muskox. So you have was lightening of the colours from both sun damage and visual lighting conditions to consider as I worked up the fur.

To create the fur effect I used a combination of securing the fibers at one end and the fold over technique to get the shaggy fur look. I used a single needle and a tiny bit of black blended alpaca for mouth and eye details. It was amazing how little fiber could create so much detail.

Mounting: With the canvas removed it was easy to use double sided Carpet tape to position the piece and then sew it around the stretcher bars. I again used the indentation of the stretcher bars to give myself more height for the piece. I carefully adjusted the foot and attached it to the promontory then adjusted the head down and made final adjustment to the horns. This is the show and tell presentation at the guild. Sorry that Froggy is giving you a cheeky butt view.

 

 

 

 

Tidying up Treasure.

Tidying up Treasure.

In an attempt to find more storage I had to clear out some junk that should never been stored in the first place. I am sure everyone has some of this. While I was rummaging I found my old tiny needle felting machine. Its a small converted sewing machine. I had forgotten I even had it.

I used to have a larger one but I sold it when I moved more into wet felting hats and scarves.   Instead of having a sponge pad for the needles to poke down into it had a plate with a hole for each needle. I really didn’t enjoy using it. You could hear the needles hitting the edges of the holes as you tried to move the fabric around.  You need to move the fibers and base around slowly while needling to cover an area. I was always sure the needles were going to break and either jam the machine or fly. I didn’t want to have to wear safety glasses as I worked.

I have the big cityscape I made with the little machine framed and for sale.  It has almost sold several times.  With someone trying to decide between it and another piece and the other always went instead. One day it will find the right home. Today I would do more wet felting and less needle felting but all the little machine would probably still be the easiest way to place with the little windows. Not the best shot of it  but I have no place to hang it or even lean it properly to take its picture. framed it is about 36 inches by 24 inches.

 

Anyway I am glad I found it . I think it will be useful for tacking things down and adding smaller pieces that tend to move around to much in the wet felting process. Of course part of that problem is me being impatient. I think I am going to see if I can make a better guard.  I wonder if anyone I know works with clear plastic and I could maybe commission a clear guard attachment.

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