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More Well Being Pieces

More Well Being Pieces

We got the boxes of embellishments and fabric strips out at the Well Being centre yesterday:

Cath started with some handspun yarn, dyed BFL and undyed wool locks (it’s upside down because I took it from my side of the table!):

Then she added some fabric strips, I think they were all silk:

Action shot:

This is it finished, but still wet:

I made some new wool tubes on the kebab sticks for my piece. The photos didn’t turn out as good this week, and I was a bit distracted as we had a couple of people in to learn about the group. I wrapped the wool around first then wrapped different fibres around:

It was felted at this stage:

I don’t know if you can actually tell from this photo, but I fulled it a bit more to shrink/thicken it:

This is the piece dried. It was getting late when I took the photos, so unfortunately not many came out. I used ‘budget filling’ on the 4th tube along on the bottom, I liked how different that one looked to the others:

This is the only close up which wasn’t blurred:

I also didn’t get photos of my piece from last week, sorry. Cath did, but my phone wouldn’t download the pics! Hopefully I’ll have them next week πŸ™‚

Well Being Centre

Well Being Centre

I think I’ve posted a couple of photos from the Well-Being centre once or twice before, but definitely not for a while, so I thought I’d take some to share today. There were only two of us in the class, so it’s easy to see the room better. This is from the window end looking towards the door, a massive sink is on the right:

I took these photos on my phone so they’re not the best quality, but the colours are a lot better. This is from the window end again, we usually have the equipment on the side table and if we get a lot of supplies out, we put them on the grey benches under the window.

Since there was just the two of us, we put it all on the side table:

The room is used by lots of different craft groups, there are supplies and examples of work all around:

Cath was making a coaster with lots of natural wools:

She’s trying to sneak some Gotland locks while I’m taking the photo!

Action shot:

I was working on a black and purple piece with lots of undyed fibres:

As usual we ended up chatting loads and I didn’t get any more photos, but I’ll try to remember to show the finished pieces next time πŸ™‚

Production Anxiety

Production Anxiety

Leonor’s post got me thinking – we don’t only just post ‘positive’ things here on the blog, for example, we’ll often make mistakes, get stuck, have inspiration block, or need ideas which we ask for help with – but we don’t often talk about the harder struggles of being creative or trying to run a business with our art and creations. I know that I’ve mentioned on a few occasions the difficulties in trying to find a balance between making things I enjoy, with making things which might sell. The reality is much harsher though. Sometimes the anxiety over it makes it hard to even function and produce anything at all. You’re so scared that even after lots of consideration, the thing you decide to spend your time doing will ultimately be a complete waste, that you spend that time stressing and worrying, and do absolutely nothing.

Add to that the pressure of coming up with something to blog about every 8 days, and I’ll admit that sometimes I really hate everything about felting and fibre arts. Once you’re committed to running a blog or a business though, it isn’t that easy to just give up and stop doing it. I was meant to do a craft fair last weekend, but didn’t feel up to doing it in the end. The people who run it and about 99% of the people who attend are always lovely, but still, the pressure to sell, and stand in front of people while they judge your creations can be quite overwhelming.

I still had my boxes packed up almost a week later, and was tempted to just leave them like that till the next fair in a month. But I thought I’d unpack them, do a bit of a stock-check, and take advantage of my best friend’s fresh eyes and endless ideas to hopefully give me some new perspective and enthusiasm for making and selling. I also thought that taking some photos of my current ‘inventory’ would provide some content for my looming blog post, which I hadn’t planned to be so ‘heavy’, but then I finally tackled the backlog of blog posts I’d been too anxious to read because there were so many it seemed like a mammoth task, and the post from Leonor got me thinking about my current anxieties and how bad mental health/well-being affects productivity and creativity.

This probably sounds ridiculous to many of you, hopefully a lot more than it resonates with anyway, but I’m fairly certain there are plenty of you thinking ‘OMG, I get like that ‘ or ‘So it isn’t just me?!’. I don’t have any advice for how to overcome it, sometimes all it takes is for someone (usually Ann, oddly enough) to ask if I’ve seen a question on the forum (which I also get anxious about neglecting) and I’ll go to look, check out all the other posts I’ve missed, then finding myself inspired by colourful posts of creativity and encourageing comments, come back to the blog to tackle the backlog here! Othertimes, like today as I write this, it takes a determined effort. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for reading, and apologies for the unusually serious nature of the post, but for once I didn’t have to struggle to come up with content, it just wrote itself. So, here’s some photos of colourful things I’ll be selling on my Winter Fair stall in a few weeks!

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Site Changes and Wet Felting for Well Being

Site Changes and Wet Felting for Well Being

You might have noticed we have an extra category on our menu bar: Shop. Recently we started to get very low on storage space for the blog, but we know from the stats showing which pages are looked at that it’s a valuable resource and we know that old posts are still looked at regularly so we didn’t want to remove any content, so our only option was to pay for an upgrade. One thing we got for all the extra money was ‘e-commerce’, the option to sell directly from the site securely, so that’s where the ‘Shop’ section comes in.

Shop screen 1We’re still working it out because there aren’t many options (and we’ve just found out WordPress will be changing it soon anyway) but after a couple of weeks, I think I’ve finally managed to sort my page out. Under the Shop drop down menu is my ‘Felt by Zed’ page, when you click it you see images of my e-book and tutorial covers and a ‘Buy Now’ button underneath them. Or at least, you should do, I’m not sure it looks the same on phones or tablets:

shop screen 2When the ‘Buy Now’ button is clicked, you get an ‘overlay’ pop up with all the info. If I knew how, I’d change the text to say ‘More Info’:

shop screen 3All the products are hosted on gumroad, and if you prefer you can go directly to my ‘shop‘ on their site by clicking on my name:

shop screen 4It has quite a nice layout design:

shop screen 5As most of you know, last year I got involved with a well being centre doing wet felting (I’m still very grateful for all the wonderful donations I received!). The organisers started to get another well being centre up and running in the New Year, and a couple of weeks ago we started the wet felting classes there. We’re planning to alternate between each centre for 6 week courses and have them more structured and with themes like nuno or resists etc. For now we have a loose plan for 6 weeks of taster sessions, depending on whether we get the same people each week or new. Last week we made nuno flowers, and this week we made soft, layered, decorative felt. We had an extra table this week which was good.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf you look near the top left of the photo above you can just see the bowl Jo (one of the organisers) made at the other centre a few weeks ago when we used resists. We were making these pieces as an exercise in laying the wool out thinly, building up layers, and using yarns and embellishments to create soft decorative felt. I’ve noticed in recent years that a lot of people learn to make one specific thing when they start felting and have fixed ideas about how it should be or what ‘works’, so I wanted to avoid that and encourage more experimenting and discovery about why things turn out the way they do. Here are some of the pieces being made:

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And this is my finished piece:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know I always say I hate pink, and that’s usually why my demo pieces are pink, I don’t want to waste the nicer colours, but it seems hard to make anything really horrible with felt, even in pink πŸ™‚ Some tassley commercial yarn with trilobal nylon:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAClose up of commercial loop yarn pulled apart, what I think is mohair yarn from Lyn, some different nylons and silk throwster’s waste:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd finally, how it looks when light comes through it:

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Apart from being told quite often that the whole wet felting process is ‘therapeutic’ or ‘soothing’, I learnt this week that just watching my layout being done is relaxing and mesmerising. Maybe there’s a gap in the relaxation market we can tap into? πŸ™‚

Creative Well-Being Site

Creative Well-Being Site

If you look at the forum, you’ll have seen my thread talking about an online Creative Well-Being site called Start2. It’s an online resource which has lots of exercises and activities designed to enhance your well being and improve your health and life. They can explain it better than me, so if you want to learn more, there’s a short video here: http://www.start2.co.uk/about-start2

You don’t have to register with the site, you can access it all without that, but registering gives you the advantage of uploading your work, saving your favourite activities and downloading exercises. You can keep all your work private or share it in the various galleries. The site has lots of categories with activities focusing on things like stress-busting and brain boosting, but you can also ‘search by subject‘ to find an activity for the creative mood you’re in.

One of the activities I started recently is the ‘Stitch Memory Journal‘. There are 3 exercises, each one a little more ‘advanced’ than the next, in a very simple way. You don’t need lots of supplies, just some scraps of fabric or felt, and some embroidery threads. Each exercise guides you through the activity with really clear explanations. What I found really interesting about these activities is that they get you to think the opposite to how you usually would, and really get your observational skills working.
The first one I did was a teasel. It sort of fits somewhere between Exercise 1 and 2 because I only used one stitch, but I also used a few small pieces of organza for the background and though you can’t see it, a small piece of brown felt for the centre of the teasel.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second piece I did is probably my favourite, because it looks like what it’s meant to be, but was very simple to do. It’s my representation of Silver Birch:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen I was going through the park taking photos for this activity, I hadn’t realised just how much it would really get me thinking. Instead of focusing on cramming in lots of detail, it gets you to think how you can simplify something. One of my favourite plants there is this ivy bush:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI used a nuno felt sample offcut for the background, then cut lots of discs from some green patterned fabric and various greeny shades of organza, then overlapped to build up the picture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI started planning my next piece. It’s only at the early stages of trying to get myself to not overthink it! There’s quite a bit of bright red dogwood (Cornus) in the park which I thought would make a good stitched piece. I played around with some photos in Photoshop. I used the Median filter to get some very simple areas of basic background colours:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd I used the Cut-Out filter to simplify the details to give me some ideas for stitches to use. This is one of them, but it needs a bit more thought til I can start:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIf, like me, you spend more time trawling through the site than finding an activity πŸ™‚ they have a facebook page where they give suggested activities: https://www.facebook.com/start2art/

Art Therapy Update

Art Therapy Update

We had a go at making nuno felted flowers yesterday at the well-being centre. I made a few samples to take in for ideas. Of course, I forgot to take photos, but I found one of them hiding in the middle of a photo, so apologies for blurriness:

green flowerIt was made with a square piece of cotton gauze with wisps of Merino on top,Β  I cut it around the prefelt stage and stuck the little leftover bits onto what would become the middle piece. I layered it up and put a little piece of organza at the back, a button in the middle and sewed it together. We had a good selection of fabric to choose from, I’d dyed some scrim and cotton gauze, and so had Joyce who runs the craft group.Β  Lyn, Teri and Judith sent lots of fabric too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe mostly stuck to reds, pinks, and purples for the wool, you can see a couple of the blends I carded from donated wool at the front:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere aren’t too many of the blends left now, they’re always the first to get chosen! Starting off laying out:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEveryone was doing something different, some people had a couple of medium sized pieces, some had a few smaller pieces, the red pieces are Jo’s, she made a poppy, and the smaller pieces are Louise’s:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShirley put a lot of thought into choosing some gauze and a piece of a mustardy viscose scarf I think Lyn sent.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASome people made larger pieces to cut out later. I think that’s fabric from Teri:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd wetting it down:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can see which piece will be the top of Jo’s poppy:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShirley picked different wool shades to match her fabric for her different layers:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’ll have to show you in a few weeks how they turned out. This is one of the pieces from week 1, they have a machine embellisher at the craft group, so extra detail was being added:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd lastly, here’s a piece made by Barbara from our first nuno week:

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More Art Therapy and Felted Knitting

More Art Therapy and Felted Knitting

It was the 3rd week of the wet felting group at the well-being centre on Wednesday just gone.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe’re going to put small sample pieces together to make up a larger wall hanging, adding to it as we go along. For the first samples we decided on a red/orange/yellow colour scheme for the felt background, and everyone had a bag of similar embellishments with a strip of silk, strip of scrim, and some cotton gauze pieces, then one type of fibre in various colours for everyone to use how they liked. The slideshow has some of the finished pieces, though they are all still wet. Even though it was the 3rd week some of these pieces were made by people who hadn’t been to the other classes, so it was their first attempt.

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Shirley, who’s been every week brought back the piece she made last week. She really liked a batt I’d made with lots of tiny bits of odds, ends and scraps. She embellished the felt with sequins at home, this is it with some beads she’s adding trying to decide what to use:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI did get around to felting the two knitted samples I made. The piece I made with the hand blended and handspun yarn doesn’t look too much different, but it is duller and fluffier:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt did keep some texture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up and link to what it looked like before:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe pencil roving knitted piece was much nicer and easier to felt. It grew quite a bit and flattened out quite a lot:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was quite chunky before, this is after felting, looking over the surface:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt didn’t lose all its texture

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd, a closer look:

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It felted really neatly, but I’m not sure I’ll find a use for felted knitted pencil roving. The weird thing was, both pieces felt itchy afterwards too. I wet felted them both by hand, nit in a washer.

Art Therapy

Art Therapy

I mentioned on the Forum a few weeks ago that I’m going to be doing some wet felting as art therapy at a well-being centre in about a month or two. The budget for supplies isn’t huge and will mostly go on wool tops, so I asked if any of our UK felters had any spare bits of wool or fibres they could donate so we had a nice variety of supplies. I was looking for anything really, especially those last little bits of wool tops that end up a half felted at the bottom of a bag. Teri, Galina and Lyn all kindly said they had a few bits they could spare. They weren’t really telling the truth though, they had a lot to spare! In fact, they were so unbelievably generous, I just had to show everyone! There were a few small odds and ends of wool tops and I had a few small bits too, so I carded up a few colourful and variegated batts:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThere were also some nice blended tops:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALots of natural and neutral wool tops, some of which I carded into batts too:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALots of gorgeous natural fleeces and locks:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd lots of beautifully dyed (by hand, I think) locks:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAn unbelievable amount of embellishment fibres:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALots of fabric:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd last, but not least, lots of yarn:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was talking to the others involved about what direction the group may take long term after the initial learning and exploring and expressing stages. Maybe being part of some local or national project or initiative, or taking part in some kind of exhibition, something that would give the group a theme to work on and an aim. I don’t have any previous experience of anything like that, and don’t even know where to start looking, I see events ‘featuring local community art groups’ all the time, but never see the initial invitation for groups to take part, so if anyone has any info that might help, even if it’s just where or how to start looking, I’d be really grateful πŸ™‚ You can contact me on the forum or using the Contact Form here, or even on Facebook. Thanks so much to Teri, Galina and Lyn for being so generous πŸ™‚

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