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)
I showed you my ideas, concepts and sketches for my cityscape last week. Now on to the felting.
First I needed to make some prefelt for the buildings. I had a mixed brown batt already in my stash so I decided to use that as the buildings in my inspiration photos were variegated brown.
Once I got the brown wool to prefelt stage, I let it dry and then used my sketch to make pattern shapes for the buildings. I used tracing paper to trace the shapes and then cut them out of the prefelt. This is when my perspective began to go wonky.
I found a piece of hand dyed silk in my stash that looked like night sky. I put that over a piece of commercial white prefelt and then laid down the black base, trees and prefelt building shapes. I thought they were well positioned for the perspective I needed but with felting they must have shifted slightly.
Here it is after felting. The buildings are getting wonkier. There is a reason that I don’t usually felt man made designs. I have difficulty keeping the perspective correct and as I progressed in this process, they just seemed to get more and more off as I went. But I had hopes that with the addition of windows and doors, this would improve.
I did fold the extra silk fabric to the back and hand stitch it in place. This gives the edge a more finished look.
I eyeballed where the windows and doors should go and tried to get the perspective correct with them. But that didn’t really work out so well. In hindsight, it might have worked better to stitch my lines for the wooden siding first and then added the windows and doors afterward.
The book will be out in the fall of 2019 but you can pre-order it on a variety of online book selling sites such as Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
The emphasis in this book is on needle felting but it does have an introduction to wet felting as well. You can check it out here.
When the book comes out, I will do a give away for all of you lucky readers so look for it in the fall. If you already have my first book, then you will already have all the information that is in this book. But if you are a beginner and would like the basics to start with, this is the book for you!
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.
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!
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:
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.
Now behold, with eyelids!
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.
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.
I came across a couple of these pieces recently when I was packing up for a craft fair. It’s one of my favourite Challenges (My favourite was Ann’s Stewert Stephenson one) and these are some of my favourite pieces, so I thought I’d do a Throwback Post for anyone who missed it:
I didn’t get a chance to do any felting for a while until this week because we had a ridiculous heatwave here. I did manage to make a few batts for the Monet challenge though. After choosing some of my favourite paintings, or ones which I thought I might be able to use as inspiration, I made a simple montage:
I then messed about with it in Photoshop:
Using this for inspiration I made a couple of green batts; a purpley one; a purple and yellow blended one which looks kind of mustardy/mossy, and a mixed blue one. Looking at Monet’s style he mostly had a straight/dashy style, but some paintings or certain areas of paintings had a softer swirly style. For the first piece I made using the batts I laid out areas of different colours then added softer wispier swirls of wool and fibres:
I made this piece using the batts too. Neither of these first pieces copy Monet, they are just inspired by the colours.
I wasn’t very confident I could do an actual ‘copy’ of a Monet painting, but I thought I’d have a go of at least doing an impression of a Monet piece 🙂 I chose Morning On The Seine In The Rain.
I was actually quite surprised when this started to dry and it actually looked like something! I don’t know if it’s because I’ve stared at the original so much that I can see the similarity and that it’s meant to be it, but I’m pleased with how it turned out.
When I was fluffing up the fibres for the swirly piece, I thought I might have a go at needlefelting a piece too. Since I had all the colours out, and had really started to like it, I thought I’d do another based on Morning On The Seine In The Rain. I used a piece of thick commercial Merino prefelt as a base, and blended some texturey wools like Icelandic, carded lambswool and Devon longwool with Merino to get the colours and texture I wanted. I like the way this turned out too 🙂
If you ever want or need some inspiration to get your creativity flowing, click on ‘Challenges‘ in the Categories drop down menu on the right hand side. We have new ones every quarter, but you might find something you prefer, like this Monet challenge, in our archives 🙂
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.
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.
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…
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…
What exciting stuff have you been up to in the fibre world? Share away, I’d love to hear it.
First of all, happy Thanksgiving to everyone reading this in the US! I hope you had a nice celebration.
Today I’m sharing some rainbow-y fibre I created, plus a “throwback” item that I hope you’ll like.
Being an indie dyer means I get to play with dyes fairly regularly, but it had been some time since I adventured into the world of saturated rainbows. I think it was the grey London Autumn that got me inspired, I just needed to get a colour fix. Off to the dye pot I went.
One of the things I’ve been a little obsessed with lately is how yarns look when they’re in skein format – I love it when colours look cohesive and have a certain progression to them when displayed, so I went for a red “bottom” that would change as the eyes look up. Hopefully you’ll see that this was done consciously.
I knit this into a hat (complete with a pompom) that I think looks very cheery. It’s going to be a Christmas present so I hope the recipient likes it.
I hope you’re not fed up with bright colours yet…
Although not technically a rainbow, this wool top came out super bright and happy (to my eyes at least). If you’ve ever dyed wool top or roving you’ll know it can be an adventure to control where the colours go. This is superwash wool (it doesn’t felt) so it wasn’t as difficult to get “right” as non-superwash fibres, but I’m still perfecting my methods. Suggestions are welcome!
This being the Felting and Fiber Studio, there should be some felting, so here is a little Piglet I made a couple of years ago and gifted to a friend. I really loved creating this little guy and think he came out really well. I got to see the sculpture again a few days ago at a friend’s house.
Have you done any hand dyeing or needle felting lately? Share your experiences with me in the comment sections.
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?
I finished the needle felted piece I showed in my last blog post, and with some nice, bright weather I managed to get a good photos of it too!
I also finished another piece that I made using the same wools from Cathy which I showed in a wet felted piece previously:
The natural dyed fibres look far less ‘harsh’ than the acid dyed ones, I think. This is the same Turmeric dyed locks I used on the wet felted piece:
And, I don’t know what this was dyed with, but I think it’s Alpaca:
And one last needlefelted piece, I had forgotten all about this one! I was looking for a box to use and found one on top of a bookcase, it didn’t seem to have much in when I shook it, I was surprised when I opened it and saw this! I’m not sure if I’d considered it finished or just forgot all about it. I made it using scraps I’d saved, I think I got concerned about some of the threads which had got mixed up in the ‘wool for birds’ tub, after reading about how threads and long hair are responsible for pigeons losing their feet. It’s really soft and lightly needled:
I think I’ll be making felted soaps this week, we made one at the well being centre on Monday and I didn’t hate it! What are your plans for this week?
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 🙂