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Experimenting With Felting

Experimenting With Felting

Today we have a Guest Post by Lyn from rosiepink.

Experimenting with felting is the best way to learn, and you learn just as much from things going wrong as you do from things going right.
After making ‘The Fingerpost‘ picture, shown below, I was full of enthusiasm for the ‘chopped up bits of felt look’ and I wondered if I could make a small decorative  pod with it.

2_DSCF1053 Fingerpost Land's End Textured Felt ArtSo I spent ages getting sore fingers chopping up pieces of scrap fulled felt …

DSCF1080 - Copy… then I arranged some of it onto one side of my circular resist.  I had to use tweezers as the felt bits either stuck to my fingers or flew off to the other side of the table when I tried to place them – it was a painstakingly slow job and my eyes went a bit wobbly with the concentration.

DSCF1089 - CopyI then applied two layers of white merino wool before flipping it over to start painstakingly applying little bits to the other side.
This is when the alarm bells started to ring…

DSCF1094 - Copy…I realised at this point that I was going to have a white band running around the middle of my pod … unless I could perhaps pull the white fringe of merino wool from the other side v-e-r-y- snugly around to squish the layers together?
So I carried on to eventually complete the second side.

DSCF1096 - CopyAww – I thought it looked pretty – a bit like a plate of ‘dolly mixtures‘.

I had real nagging doubts about the success of the project but I knew that I would learn something from it so I carried on. As I started to wrap the white merino ‘fringe’ over one part of the edge, some bits fell off from another part.  It was a struggle and it ended up looking like a bag of potatoes.

After I’d applied all the layers of wool, I had an embryo pod that was the thickness of a car tyre. There was no way I could roll it in a bamboo mat, so I listened to the radio while I rubbed… and rubbed… and rubbed until I thought it would be ok to remove the resist.

I cut a hole to remove the resist then turned the pod inside out to full it.  As I did so, several colourful bits of felt flew off the pod – it looked like a boxer spitting out teeth – and lots more pieces were loose.  It was unworkable.

I could see what I’d done wrong.

I should have fulled the pod a bit after removing the resist before attempting to turn it inside out.  It might have been better too, considering the amount of shrinkage of a pod, if I hadn’t put the coloured bits on the resist so densely.

It’s frustrating when things go wrong but valuable lessons can be learned from the experience.  I don’t give up on a piece easily, and I usually keep the felt to re-use, but this pod was definitely a lost cause and as there was nothing I considered salvageable for re-use, I consigned it to the felting box in the sky.

at the bottom of the bin

Make Textured Textile Art by Stitching Into Nuno Felt

Make Textured Textile Art by Stitching Into Nuno Felt

Today we have a guest post from Lyn

Last Sandcastle of Summer
Last Sandcastle of Summer

The inspiration for ‘Last Sandcastle of Summer’ came from a recent day-trip to Sandbanks in Dorset.

Day trip to SandbanksWe’ve enjoyed weeks of glorious weather and I love wriggling my toes in the warm sand and watching the sun sparkle on the sea, but the weather’s broken now and I’m not looking forward to the cold of winter. When I got home I looked through my old photos and found some of my grand-daughter playing in the sand.

making sandcastlesI wanted to capture the last of the summer in a picture so I started to lay out merino fibres to make the background beach, sea and sky. I didn’t want to add details such as boats or other people so to add interest I placed three strips of fabric across the wool fibres.

The pieces of fabric were cut from loose-woven scarves that I’d found in charity shops. The blue/white scarf shown on the right has been my favourite for making skies and I only have a couple of inches left – I’m desperately trying to find another!

fabrics sand sea skyThis is the resulting piece of nuno felt, after drying, finished size approx 36cm square – I didn’t worry about the edges because I knew it would be trimmed and placed behind a white mount before framing.

nuno felted backgroundI made a paper template of the shape of the child then tacked it, with large hand stitches, in place on the nuno felt. I also pinned a piece of lightweight interfacing onto the back of the felt – it helps with stitching and with moving the felt around on the sewing machine table. With the feed-dogs down on the sewing machine and a darning foot fitted, I used black thread to make a quick outline of the child.

I removed the template then I cut scraps of organza into small rough triangles and attached them to the nuno felt using fine fusible web. The shadow was formed with dark grey organza and the skin areas were covered with a few pieces of very pale grey.  The hat and clothes have layers of organza – bright on the bottom and darker on the top – in autumnal colours to signal the end of summer.

Tip: unless you like cleaning the sole plate of your iron, use plenty of baking paper under and over the felt during ironing!  Also, the felt needs to cool down before moving it as the fusible web will be stronger after a rest.

Then it was back to the stitching.  It’s all very quick and ‘rough’ – except for the face because the profile needs to be sharp – and the eye was stitched by hand.

To add textural and colour interest, I gently abraded the top layer of organza, on the hat and dress, with the tip of a craft knife.
The lovely ‘quilty’ texture is achieved by the machine stitching on the nuno felt.

close up abraded organza
The finished picture has been mounted with white board and the size of felt that is on show within the mount is 31cm x 22cm.

If you have any stitching on felt pictures that you’d like to share, please leave a link in the comments – we’d love to see them!

Cheesecloth Meets Merino Wool

Cheesecloth Meets Merino Wool

Today we have a guest post from Lyn.

***

I was lucky to win some of Ruth’s hand-dyed cheesecloth in a recent giveaway post – scrummy isn’t it?

hand dyed cheesecloth - Ruth Lane - small image

I really liked the pattern in the dark green piece, top left, so I cut a 27cm circle from it, then placed it on top of 2 layers of white merino wool fibres that had been laid out to form a rough, slightly larger circle.

I used white merino so that after the nuno process the colours of the cheesecloth would remain the same, although they would be slightly muted because of the migration of the white fibres.
To reduce the dulling effect of the white fibres,  I very carefully shaved the superfluous fibres from the top of the dry nuno felt. Shaving is a tricky process as the ruched fabric can easily be damaged.

shaving the felt - small image
I then messy-stitched the piece of flat felt into a rustic bowl.  I love this kind of stitching and it’s best described as stitching done with your eyes shut – different coloured threads, short stitches, long stitches and rows of stitches that meander wherever they choose.

rustic stitching - small image
I thought the centre of the bowl looked pretty without stitches, but it wanted to buckle a bit, so I cut a circle of stiff, iron-on interfacing – the exact same size as the centre of the bowl – then ironed it to the underneath of the bowl.  I used the base of an upturned tall glass tumbler as an ironing board.

The finished rustic bowl:

rustic nuno and stitch bowl - small image

Nuno felting is an easy way to add interest to a plain item.  This pod was made with a 20cm circular resist.

pod with cheesecloth - small image
I used four layers of merino wool on each side of the resist, then placed a circle of cheesecloth on the top of the side that would have the hole cut into it.

cheesecloth on last layer of pod - small image
The cheesecloth added colour and texture to the top of the pod.

pod with cheesecloth close-up - small image
Thank you Ruth.  I’ve now got two lovely items and plenty of cheesecloth leftover for my stash.

First Quarter Challenge 2014 – Lyn’s Entry

First Quarter Challenge 2014 – Lyn’s Entry

Our Guest Post today for the First Quarter Studio Challenge, is from Lyn.

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I’ve enjoyed this challenge and I’ve learnt a little about one of America’s most influential artists. Some of Jackson Pollock’s art is interesting, yet some pieces remind me of kitchen counter tops – for example, ‘Lavender Mist’:

lavender-mistI wanted to find a Jackson painting to inspire me so I hit ‘Google images’ and quickly found one I liked.
It was headed ‘Abstract art by Jackson Pollock, oil painting on canvas’.
Enthusiastically I chose my colour palette:

Jackson Pollock merino wool paletteAt this point, I would like to have shown you the painting that was my inspiration, but (blushing ever so slightly) I can’t.
I have since discovered that it’s really a ‘Pollock-style’ painting that’s mass produced in Asia.

So, moving swiftly on, here is my Pollock-style felt picture – finished size is 18″ x 15″.

felt in the style of Jackson PollockI made a base of two layers of white merino topped with one layer of rusty-red.  I started the fourth layer by making a border all around with the same red, then working inwards with ever decreasing ovals, I put down dusty orange,  gold, yellow then white in the middle.  The fifth layer was a repeat of the fourth.  On top I placed strips of blue, rusty-red and slate in a representation of broad brush strokes then drizzled some strands of silk tops along some of them.  Finally, I dotted on wool nepps to represent drips of paint.

After ten minutes of agitating the wool fibres, I folded the edges under because I wanted the finished piece to have quite straight edges, as a painting on a canvas would.  They were looking good and straight during the felting but they warped during the fulling because of the uneven layers.

Happy though I was with finished piece, I decided to cut it up with a rotary cutter and re-arrange the slices.  I stuck the slices to a board, took a photo, then added a border to make it look like a painting.

framed felt in the style of Jackson Pollock - mk iiNow, where did I put the phone number for the Tate Modern……

Third Quarter Challenge – Lyn’s Entry

Third Quarter Challenge – Lyn’s Entry

Today’s post is by Lyn from rosiepink

Yacht Heeling
Yacht Heeling

I enjoy the Studio Challenges because they encourage me to try different things.  Karen’s challenge for this quarter is ‘Mixed Media’  and after spending a day on Lepe Beach during Cowes Week, I just had to do a yacht.

My husband likes painting so I thought a joint project would be fun.  I gave him a rectangle of machine-made white felt  (45cm x 33cm /18″ x 13″) and asked him to paint a sea/sky background using water colours.  I thought water colours would look good on white felt, sort of fuzzy and pretty, and it did look good … but as it dried the paint sunk right down into the felt!

He painted the background again… then we sadly watched it fade as before.

We stared at the felt, and had a think, then decided to try watered down acrylic paints.  It looked lovely but we weren’t going to stand by and nervously watch.  We decided to be proactive.  Out came two hairdryers and we blow-dried the watery paint on the felt as quickly as possible.  Success!

I cut a hull and sails from beautifully textured, shiny dupion silk then laid the pieces onto the painted background.  Yuk.  It didn’t look good.  So I tried other ideas such as using scraps of handmade felt and various fabrics.  Nothing seemed to work so I pushed it to the edge of the table and even considered abandoning the idea.

My room was a real mess because I’d got out so much of my stash searching in vain for just the right thing.  I took a deep breath and started to tidy, and that’s when serendipity happened.  A scrap of lightweight interfacing material somehow landed on the painted sea.  It looked good.  It wasn’t too heavy, as the other fabrics and felt had been, it would be easy to stitch into place and I could colour it.

yacht spinnaker in the water - small imageI cut out the shapes I needed then ran ‘messy’ free stitching over the interfacing until I was happy that it looked like a yacht heeling.  I considered leaving the interfacing unpainted (and I wish I’d taken a photo at that stage) because it had a delicacy about it that I liked, but I’d planned on having a colourful spinnaker so I applied water colours to the interfacing.  I used an almost dry brush because I thought that if I made the colours too solid they would overpower the background.

When I’d finished, my husband added a little more white acrylic paint to the bottom of the spinnaker and the hull of the boat.

I liked working on the joint project but it wasn’t easy on my ears.  My husband sails so he felt obliged to impart his knowledge by frequently pointing out that my stitching of the yacht wasn’t anywhere near technically correct!

Thank you Karen – I’ve benefited a lot from your challenge.

Running A Small Fibre Business

Running A Small Fibre Business

Today our guest writer is Lyn from rosiepink who, with her daughter Annie, has run a successful small fibre business. They are also the authors of the excellent books, Creating Felt Artwork and How to Make 3D Felt Vessels Using Flat Resists.

*****

I like to buy small packs of assorted fibre-goodies because it’s an economical way to try different fibres and materials, and a good way to build up a varied stash. As a felt maker, stitcher and general fluff lover I can never have too much of various bits ‘n’ bobs in every colour to dive in and out of.  I like to include coloured scrim in my felt, and a few years ago I couldn’t find much available to buy, so I bought a roll of un-dyed scrim and my daughter and I made a batch of small pieces in a big variety of colours to play with.  It was a fun day, with lots of tea and laughing.  Then people asked if we sold it.  So we had a go!

We sold bundles of hand-dyed scrim and then expanded to offer small packs of wool in several colour choices.  The scrim bundles were well received by people who wanted a wide variety of colours of hand-dyed fabric to use as textile inclusions, and the packs of wool were popular with people who wanted a lot a colours but not a lot of wool.

hand dyed scrimAfter three years, we decided to take a change of direction and wanted to concentrate our spare time on making and designing things rather than selling the materials, but it was a great small business experience.

Small packs of unique or varied textile items are a good product for a ‘kitchen table’ business, and if you have thought about taking the plunge, hopefully sharing our experience will help to give you a checklist of things to consider before you start, and show you what was involved for us to run a small online fibre business.

Before you start a kitchen table business, the first thing to consider is space.  The making of the bundles of hand-dyed scrim used not only the kitchen table, but the rest of the kitchen and the room next to it as well.  The wool was bought in bulk from a well-known company and the making-up of small packs of wool needed a whole room.  When you’re done with producing the packs, you then have to find storage space for them.

Are you fit enough?  Dyeing a few pieces of fabric is a relaxing pastime, but producing a great quantity is hard physical labour.  And rolling up a few balls of wool is pleasant, but will your shoulders and wrists still feel the same after doing it for eight hours?

But don’t worry too much, after a few weeks of walking backwards and forwards to the post office to dispatch your sales, you’ll soon get fit!

Merino woolYou’ll need a good head for figures to calculate the retail price of your packs.

First, add up how much the materials for your packs cost, and remember to include: the cost of the raw materials and the postage you have to pay to get them; packaging materials; listing and selling fees; paypal or other bank charges.

Then work out the cost of your labour, based on the hourly rate you choose, for: sourcing and purchasing the raw materials; producing the packs;  photographing and listing them for sale; dealing with orders and enquiries; packing and then posting.

You will need to keep an account of all the money that comes in and all the money that goes out, because once a year the taxman will need to be informed.

However, despite the hard work, it’s lovely being your own boss and spending your working day surrounded by fabulous fibres!

Thanks a lot for all that information, Lyn 🙂  If you have any questions about running a small business, please leave them in the comments. If you have any suggestions for future articles, please use the Contact Us page.

Book Review: Creating Felt Artwork

Book Review: Creating Felt Artwork

Creating Felt Artwork: a step by step guide

This is an excellent, information packed, 60 page, full colour e-book by Rosiepink fibre artists Annie and Lyn. Using one of their own pieces, ‘The Meadow’ as a guide, they show you a step by step process and give you all the information you need to make your own beautiful, unique felt artwork. There are lots of nice, clear photos throughout, and simple but detailed instructions with lots of excellent tips and advice. Before the main part on how to create your felt wall hanging, there is a great section about finding inspiration, how to interpret your ideas into a design and planning your artwork.

The information in the main step by step guide is excellent. It starts with a detailed equipment list with lots of hints for using inexpensive items you’d find around the house, and advice about preparing your work area. The instructions for how to lay out the wool for your design are very clear and detailed, and there are lots of photographs to illustrate each stage. There’s a very detailed explanation of the whole felting process and valuable information about choosing other fabrics and fibres to add to your design.

The next section teaches you how to enhance and embellish your artwork with simple machine embroidery. This part is packed with information and advice too. There’s everything you need to know about stabilising your felt artwork and choosing the right colours and types of thread to work best with your design. There’s information about techniques to create the effect you want and how to add detail. This section also has advice about adding hand stitching and how to use machine and hand stitching to create effects and texture and also about using other fibres for adding extra texture and detail.

Once you’ve finished your felt art wall hanging, you’ll want to display it. There is a great section on how to back and hang your artwork simply and effectively, with clear instructions and photos. But if you’d like to display your artwork a different way, there is also a separate section on alternate ways to display your artwork and how to care for it.

There’s information and tips throughout the book for techniques to help you realise your own design and create your own unique artwork. This includes how to make and use prefelt for more control over your design; how to re-use spare felt in the same way; using yarn and small drafted sections of wool for design, and adding other fabrics and needlefelting to enhance your artwork.

So, what if you’ve followed all the instructions and you’re not happy with the way it turned out, or maybe you made a few sample pieces to try out your colour choices and don’t know what to do with them? There’s even a section for that, with some great ideas on what to do with spare pieces of felt.

And don’t worry if you’re an absolute beginner and have never tried felting before, or don’t really know what all the felting terms mean, there’s a glossary at the end with everything you need to know and an appendix with a complete step by step guide to making felt, with lots of clear photos.

This really is excellent value for money. It’s an invaluable source of information and advice about creating beautiful feltwork and enhancing it simply with easy tips and techniques. And the great advantages about being an e-book is you can have it instantly and zoom into the photos for even more detail 🙂

If you’d like to own a copy, visit Annie and Lyn’s website http://rosiepink.typepad.co.uk/rosiepink/creating-felt-artwork-ebook.html   It’s also available on Craftsy http://www.craftsy.com/project/view/Creating-Felt-Artwork/43696

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