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)
Congratulations to Lillian Johnson, you are the winner of the Big Giveaway! I will contact you on the email address you used to comment and you can tell me which of the bundles you’d like!
This ridiculous looking thing sits on a bookcase, in a plant pot with the top of its head poking out:
I’d pretty much forgotten about it until I started looking for something last week. I used to make similar looking heads out of air-drying clay as incense holders, they mostly look funny though, this is really ugly! I can’t remember how I’d planned to finish it, but I’m sure it wouldn’t improve it much! I’ve only given 3D needlefelting a try a few times, none of them have been very successful, but this first one I did is definitely my favourite, ‘Granddad’:
I’m not saying it’s based on my Dad or anything, but I saw his comb-over get wind swept more than a few times when I was younger!
I think the inspiration for this next one was a few of the teachers I had in Secondary School. I fully intended her to have clothes, but yet again, it remains unfinished!
Do those arms look like they’re on back to front?!
Probably the most shapeless legs ever!
The face is pretty terrifying close up:
I think the best part of this one is the hair, I was quite pleased with meself for this:
I hope they’ve given you a few smiles, if I ever get around to finishing them, I promise to show you!
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
Have you ever done any 2D needle felting? Let me know how it went for you in the comments section. Thanks for reading!
Hello, Leonor here. My guest post for today is going to be a simple “show and tell” as the weather here in London is too warm for complicated thoughts!
Some of you might be aware that I am a fibre artist by trade. Anything wool and I love it. I got into this business a little by accident, and making custom needle felted dogs was even more unexpected – basically, a friend asked me for a mini of his whippet, I took the challenge, and the rest is history!
I’ve now been playing with wool professionally for around 5 years, and I must confess there was one hurdle I was yet to conquer in my work – creating an open mouth. I’d tried once and it didn’t come out right, so I more or less gave up on it. That is, until I made Chico!
At first I was going to make his tongue out of polymer clay (the idea of finishing it off with a nice layer of glossy varnish to mimic moisture was very attractive to me) but then I decided not to. I liked the idea of a 100% fibre sculpture better.
I made the lower jaw separately, making sure the upper section was thin enough to accommodate both parts without looking weird. I added a layer of black around the edge to make it more realistic, and then a little white on the back for teeth. The tongue was made using two shades of purplish pink blended together. I made two mini tongues and chose the one that fit best.
I received a few reference photos to make this little guy, my favourite was one where he was sitting with his leg to the side and smiling. I just had to make him this way.
I love the detail of paw pads, the feet immediately look real. You can’t really tell from this picture, but Chico is er… anatomically correct. I like a realistic sculpture!
Below is a picture of the original Chico. The mini version is off to a Spanish island as a surprise for the whole human family. I hope they like it!
Have you ever created a needle felted animal? What wool did you use and how did you like your experience? Let me know in the comments section.
Questions? Happy to help, just leave a comment!
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.
I mentioned that we have tried out lots of different fibres at the well being centre lately, and the other week we tried out lots of different wool breeds too. We’ve used naturals before, but mostly for pods/vessels and lots together for hangings etc, but we made samples to get a better idea of what we could use each type for. Since I have more experience, I thought I’d use Herdwick and Lincoln tops. I used some flax and help tops with the Herdwick sample:
With the Lincoln I used Soy tops and Black viscose tops:
This is a close up of the Soy:
And a close up of the Viscose:
And this is what the back looked like:
Some of the others tried Texel, and had a hard time getting it felted. After the Botany laps unfeltable tops I had, I was a bit concerned. I’ve taken some wools from ‘Goody Bags’ and Botany lap waste in before now, so worried there might have been other unfeltables that got mixed up. My sample turned out alright though. I used some Viscose and Bamboo staple fibre on it:
It did get me wondering how much we automatically alter our techniques when using different wool breeds or mixes etc. I always think I felt the same no matter what I use or make, but maybe there’s a slight difference in pressure, or maybe it’s a matter of just felting longer, I honestly don’t know, but I’m going to be more conscious of what I do from now on!
We thought we’d have a go at needle felting before the holidays, so I made a little sample while testing out some fibres:
I didn’t get a photo of anyone else’s, and I don’t often do ‘figurative’ needle felting, it’s usually very abstract, which is why my sheep needs a bit more work! The body is alright though, I used some locks Zara sent me 🙂
And that light green bit is a bush, not a weird tail!
Last month I visited the San Diego Aquarium and a couple of tide pools while seeing relatives and touring the area. I’m always fascinated with the beautiful creatures from under the sea. When I returned home, I did some more research and came across the Blue Spotted Ribbontail Ray. You can read more about them here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bluespotted_ribbontail_ray
You can also Google them and see some really beautiful pictures.
I have seen other Stingrays in Sausalito, California, but nothing this beautiful. Of course, the colors made this guy pretty attractive to me. I thought it would be a fun, challenging project in felt.
Although I know the body is fairly flat, I started out with making a resist.
The eyes were a challenge because they have an unusual shape with a cutout (spiracle) behind them. I made tight ball which encased a glass eye and a rock for the spiracle portion, then covered it with the yellow merino.
I used one layer of corriedale as my base on each side, then used a white batt on the underside. To give the back some height in the middle I added extra layers. Once I was satisfied, I attached the eyes and a piece of a batt to attach a tail.
The tail was next. I used a corriedale core and covered it with a batt, then rolled it into shape. I tried to use roving to make the blue stripes, but the rolling moved it around to much, so I striped it off.
The tail also includes the stinger near the end. The tail is actually one and a half times the length of the body.
I had to do some studying of the anatomy to try to get it close to reality. The nostrils, mouth, nasal flaps and gills are underneath. I didn’t add claspers or pelvic fins.
Next was decorating. It took a long time to cut out the spots from handmade prefelt in various sizes. I placed a batt over the top taking care not to overlap to the underside which would stay white. Then came the spots.
There was a lot of rubbing before rolling. I used a gray roving to highlight the mouth, nostrils and gills on the underside.
Once the felting was near complete, I cut out the resist, the gills, mouth then finished the fulling. The eyes came last. They were a bit tricky. The glass bead and rock had moved during the felting. Removing the rock took a little doing and I ended up using a tweezers. A little needlefelting helped finish off the eyes and put stripes on the tail.
I wanted to show the ray in motion so I put two plastic bottles under the flaps while it dried, but even after drying as soon as I layed it down the ray went flat. Plan B was to use Modge Podge to hold the shape. It did the trick, but I wasn’t happy it remained white.
Here he is hanging on the wall near my work area. It’s hard to tell, but the wall is a light blue.
I sometimes wonder why I come up with these types of projects. I did enjoy the learning process though. What challenges have you had lately?