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Cuffs and Stuff

Cuffs and Stuff

A couple of years ago a friend alerted me to the wonderful Australian magazine simply called “Felt”. It’s only published twice a year but I look forward to it eagerly as it’s always crammed with interesting photographs and articles including artist profiles and project tutorials.

One of the artists featured in the latest edition is the Canadian born feltmaker Christianna Ferguson. Christianna’s work is very colourful and textural and, as well as teaching and exhibiting, she also creates what she calls “more functional art: scarves, purses, cuffs, tea-cosies and wearables.”

Examples of the colourful and textural work of Christianna Ferguson

So, having read about her work, when I turned the page and saw the tutorial for making her fabulous little Nuno felted and hand embroidered cuffs I had to have a go!

The fasteners are particularly cute and make an interesting feature but I struggled to get them as firm as I would have liked. For an added twist I’ve included some hand stitching and a bead to my fasteners. I added some hand embroidery to my green cuff but wasn’t happy with it…..looking back at Christianna’s examples I can see that my stitching wasn’t subtle enough! I much prefer the grey one which I left plain.

The good thing to come out of this exercise, having made two in this style, is that I’ve been reminded how much fun cuffs are to make. I designed several Nuno felted & free motion stitched cuffs for my sales tables last year and this has encouraged me to get on and make more.

Some of my earlier cuffs – can’t help but think of bacon rashers when I look at this photo!
Nuno felted and free motion stitched cuffs

I also got thinking about other possibilities and how much more sculptural I could make my cuffs. The next set are based on the design of one of my bangles, using a felt ball as the fastener and keeping the little beaded element.

The bangle that inspired the cuffs
The slits have been filled with half balls and metal buttons

They were all fun to make but I’ve come to the conclusion that I prefer the irregular shaped, Nuno style with the stitched edging (from last year) so I’ve come full circle! These are two I started this morning…..

Pre-felts laid out and wetted prior to felting
Using differential shrinkage creates an undulating surface

And this is them finished. Christianna said that when she makes hers “each cuff feels like a little piece of abstract art” and I couldn’t agree more. Although I love creating larger pieces of work there is something very satisfying about making these little cuffs and ending up with a totally unique, wearable item.

Bubble Texture

Bubble Texture

My best-laid plans have gone awry, so I am going to show you a short piece I did back in 2012. Texture seems to be a popular topic so this should fit right in. Although this is an older post if you want to comment or ask about it you can.

People seem to be interested in how to make bubbles in felt. I know there is more than one way but this is how I did it. This is the storey of my bubble hat. I had made a renaissance hat form Chad Alice Hagen’s hat book. I t was to show a group of ladies that were taking a hat class with me. It is a big hat made on a resist that is shaped like a big droopy mushroom. When you finish it you make wrinkles in it and clothespin them till it dries. The problem is it looks great if you push it all forward and take a picture but from the back, it doesn’t look very good. I am sorry I don’t have a picture of it at that point.

What I did was use a shibori dying technique. I used felt balls but marbles or crumple tinfoil will work the same. I started in the middle. You pull the felt around the ball and tie it off as tight as you can. Move out from there repeating the wrap and tie. When it was all done I dropped it in a simmering dye bath. I let it boil for about an hour. When using this as a dye technique it is usually done on a non-felting fabric so you open it up later and flatten it out you have a die pattern. When you do it to felt at a boil it felts more and the bubble shapes stay in. Making bubbles takes a lot of felt. The hat would fit my dog now. If you put your hands in like a puppet it makes s great Muppet monster.

What To Do With All The Little Bits Or Fun Batts

What To Do With All The Little Bits Or Fun Batts

I am very busy getting ready for the first Farmers market of the season and forgot it was my turn to make a blog post. I thought You might like to see this one from 2012 again.

Ann

Last week I sorted out my wool and put all the decent size pieces on the new shelves. this left me with a lot of little bits. I usually keep bins of little bits to use as accents. Now I had way to much of that too.  I sorted it all, picked out the stuff I really wanted to keep and put the rest into 4 piles for carding.

I have a large carder, a Patrick Green Cottage Industry Carder.

A friend came over and we carded it into a 4 fun textured batts.

pink/red/purple batt

orange/yellow batt

brown/gray/black/white batt

blue/green batt

The batts came out really nice and will be great for felting or for spinning textured yarn. I didn’t think I had that much until we fluffed it up to card. It is amazing how much you can compress wool when you’re stuffing it into a little storage box.

Tyvek Brooches

Tyvek Brooches

Later this month I will exhibiting at an arts and crafts event at the Baumber Walled Gardens near Horncastle so I’ve been making various small items, including these Tyvek Brooches, for the sales table.  Since it’s invention by DuPont, Tyvek has found uses in a huge range of situations. The fact that it is much stronger than paper and many fabrics, as well as totally waterproof, has led to it being used as a replacement for these materials in many applications.  It is widely used in the construction industry but you may be more familiar with seeing it used as packaging, FedEx envelopes are made from Tyvek paper.  If you don’t have the envelopes you can buy packs of Tyvek quite cheaply from Amazon.

Tyvek paper is extremely strong and durable and great for creative crafts as it can be easily cut, coloured using any paint medium, heat distressed with an iron and stitched by machine or hand.

I made my first brooch using this material when I was looking for a contrasting texture to use with my wet felted collars.

To make a brooch I normally cut out a piece of painted Tyvek in an oval shape approximately 4” x 3” and lay it between two pieces of tracing paper.  You can use baking parchment or copier paper but I find I get a clearer picture of what’s happening to the Tyvek when I use the tracing paper.  Once it starts to react to the heat things happen very quickly!

With the iron on its hottest setting I hover over the Tyvek, just touching the paper but with absolutely no pressure on it.  The heat causes the paper to shrink creating bubbles on the underside and ridges on the top side.

Bubble side

When the paper is peeled back you will find that it has stuck a little but it cools down quickly and can easily be peeled off.

Ridges are created on the top side

The underside of the Tyvek bubbles to create a pebble effect

The next step is to cut out a piece of felt slightly smaller than the brooch and attach it to the back using a hot glue gun.  This allows me to add the hand stitched knots

Another piece of felt is cut out and has a brooch back sewn onto it before being stuck in place, again using the glue gun.

I love the fact that each brooch is totally unique as this method of working means that non of the designs could ever be repeated. My only problem is letting them go as I love them all!

2nd Quarter Challenge Piece Finished

2nd Quarter Challenge Piece Finished

I finished off the natural vessel I showed felted, but not shaped or fulled, a couple of weeks ago:

It’s made with various wools, I took a range of naturals to the well being centre and I think the first two (inside) layers are Portuguese Merino from a batt, and the next two are brown Finnish. I took lots of locks in too, mostly Swedish breeds/crossbreeds from Zara in lots of shades, but I might have used a few BFL locks too:

If you saw my post last week, you might be interested to know how the thing which looked a bit like a pizza base turned out. This is my entry for Ann’s 2nd Quarter Challenge, which is “using fabric as a surface design instead of a base”, but Ann then added “As an extra challenge to you it can’t be a sample and it can’t be a book cover” 🙂 Luckily, I’d already had an idea which would fit the challenge, since we’d been doing ‘extreme nuno’ and vessels at the well being centre, I’d planned to combine the two at some point, and Ann’ challenge gave me the push to do it.

I cut out a template, sort of bowl shaped, but not for any reason, I just wanted something big and not square. Then I started adding strips of white fabrics to it: synthetic chiffon, muslin, scrim and cotton gauze. I then added fine layers of Rambouillet. The photo I showed last week was where I’d wet it all down and had started to felt it. This photo is of the piece felted, you can see the resist starting to curl from the shrinkage:

As soon as I started to full it on the bubble-wrap it really puffed up!

I removed the resist and carried on fulling, I turned it the right side out, and realised I’d accidentally made a felted cow stomach!

Close up:

I did a bit more fulling and tried it on a balloon to shape and removed it see if it was fulled enough:

It wasn’t, so I did a bit more fulling, , this isn’t the best photo, but you can see the shrinkage, it started out the full height of the netting:

I rinsed it and left on a balloon to shape and dry. This is how it looked finished:

Another side:

This is some nice ruffley chiffon on the bottom, between some Cotton Gauze and cotton scrim:

The chiffon ruffles up so nicely:

This is an area where I overlapped different fabrics:

And, since the thought behind the idea was that it’d make an interesting lampshade, here it is on a lightbulb (btw, if you tell someone to look at how cool something looks on a lightbulb, warn them when you’re going to take it off, apparently some of us forget and ‘blind people for hours’!)

Close up:

Different angle:

So, did I fulfill the criteria, Ann? 🙂

Year End Round Up

Year End Round Up

I hope everyone’s enjoying the Holidays 🙂 I have one more scarf and scarf sample left to show you. This first one is a grey marl Merino on hand dyed cotton gauze. I blended up 4 shades of 18.5 mic Merino, 2 greys, a duck egg and black. It wasn’t very easy to get photos, they kept turning out blue!:

The sample is a fabric which might look familiar as I bought 3 scarves with the same design in different colours. I think this is the first time I tried it with 18.5 mic Merino:

Whenever we do posts looking back over the year, I think I haven’t done much, but then get surprised! I think there was a definite theme of texture and surface design for me this year, so, here’s a slide show of some of the things I’ve enjoyed making this year:

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Thanks for reading over the past year and leaving comments, I hope to see you in the New Year!

Relearning to Crochet

Relearning to Crochet

I’ve been trying to think of projects that weren’t labor intensive since I’m having back problems again.  My son and his family gave me a set of ergonomic crochet hooks for my birthday.  Then for some reason I started getting crochet posts in my Facebook news feed. I’ve been intrigued with some more complicated textures and dimensional stitches.  But I haven’t crocheted in years and figured I’d start with the basics.

I do have a book on crochet, but the Internet is loaded with tons of videos that keep calling me.

I’ve been practicing, but not have gotten my tension mojo just right.  So, bear with me. For these samples I used a medium weight (worsted) acrylic yarn I had on hand with a 5 mm, (UK 6, US H8 hook.)

Next to making the chain (ch) for a sample, the Single Crochet (sc) is one of most basic stitches.

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Next I tried the Double Crochet (dc).

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Then I made a sample with the Half Double Crochet (hdc) which I don’t remember ever seeing. A little more intricate and I liked the added texture.

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The Triple Crochet (tc) is more open and less dimensional.

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Then finally, the Double Triple Crochet (dtc.)  Very open and airy.

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While they aren’t perfect and I’m getting the tension a little more consistent with daily practice, I’m far from making a project.  I try a new stitch everyday to keep my hands on fiber and learn something new.  Which I’ve learned helps spark creativity when you learn a new skill.

Have you tried something new lately?

White Nuno Texture

White Nuno Texture

I took some close up photos of the white textured nuno piece I showed last week. I used a few different types of cotton fabrics: some cotton gauze-single pieces and folded over, some scrim, cheesecloth, some natural muslin, somecotton fabric from an old sack which was thicker than muslin, but thinner than calico (any ideas?). Here are close ups of the cotton parts:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used some synthetic chiffon, I liked these ripples:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd even closer:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also used some silk crepe:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used similar fabrics on a larger piece, and also used some bleached Muslin (very white pieces) and a scrap of crumpled habotai silk:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can see the textures better on an angle:

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI really like the extreme textures and wonder what other single colours would look good.

Finding Composition and Design in the Tropics

Finding Composition and Design in the Tropics

I have been in Florida visiting my mom for the last week. I didn’t have time to do any fiber art but I certainly found a lot of inspiration everywhere I looked. I also found lots of elements of composition and design. I like to take photos of different color schemes, different shapes, line, texture as well as other elements of design. So I thought I would show you some of what I saw in Florida. I always think it is good to occasionally give creating a rest or a vacation so that when you come back to it, you will be relaxed and have gained new insight from your travels.

Tropical plants have lots of color. I found many green and red complimentary color schemes.

And a variety of lines.

Textures were everywhere.

And then I was inspired by different shapes (and more color).

What elements of design do you see in these photos? What photos do you take when you’re on vacation? How would you use these photos to inspire your work?

Don’t forget to sign up for Teri Berry’s Concertina Felt Hat Class. Registration closes on October 31st!. Sign up here. 

 

Textures

Textures

Do you remember my green thing from the other week? Well, I finally got around to finishing it off. It started off as a fine, wispy, flat piece with lots of commercial art yarns through the layers. I gathered it and stitched through to secure then re-wet and finished fulling it. I usually work them on bubblewrap and my felting board at this stage, but I just put it in the washing machine with a quick wash, and it came out pretty much the same. I did finish off the top between my hands though:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI thought it’d make a nice hanging decoration. This is a closer look:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love all the textures on these pieces with the yarns emerging through the wool and the surface embellishments:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can see the ripples better from this angle:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe back looks good too:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATalking about textures and emerging, this is a piece Cath made at the Well Being centre. She didn’t have anything particular planned, just wanted to make a piece without too much thought for the fun of it. Felt is great for that, it’s like a whole load of therapies rolled into one and great to lose yourself in for a while. She used some grey Merino, tassley yarn and some fabric strips:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA slightly closer look:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe fabric strips look different depending on their angle:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore texture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI did finally have a go on my spinning wheel last week, hopefully I’ll get a chance to spin some more and take some photos for next time 🙂

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