Painting With Fibre Workshop

In the first week of October I spent a wonderful week in the the southern end of the Lake District with Kate and June. It was so lovely just to spend a whole week dedicated to making felt and the creative processes behind it. I didn’t have any fixed ideas about what I wanted to achieve during the week but I knew I wanted to explore adding more texture to my work, so far I have been adding layers of prefelt and using yarns and silk fabrics to create surface texture but still felt most of my wall hangings were distinctly two-dimensional. I have great admiration for painters and illustrators but I have always been drawn to three-dimensional arts, initially paper crafts, then ceramics and more recently willow sculpture. I think it is a combination of the tactile nature of these crafts and the challenge of thinking from multiple angles and view points that attracts me.

Kate provided a beautiful flower arrangement for us to work from, I was immediately drawn to the spiky blue sea hollies. Even now I am uncertain of the Gerbera, although it does help to balance the final composition.

We spent a few hours carding merino top to blend the colours that we could see in the flower arrangement and an afternoon sketching with paints and pencils, thinking about colours and composition. As you can see it has been a few years since I last tried to paint / draw. I think I should stick to textiles and sculpture!

We took photos as the pieces were developing. Here I was rearranging pieces of prefelt to find a pleasing combination for the background. At this stage I was far from convinced that I would like the finished piece.

This is what my piece looked like at the end of the week, just needs a few final tweaks…

I have since added some pink wire to support the Gerbera petals and some needle felting and now just need to figure out how to hang / mount it. I am thinking of using an artist’s canvas but should it be larger or smaller than the felt? I like the idea of the piece appearing to float away from the wall.

I love the way the finished piece looks so different as you move around the room, unlike a conventional painting, the shapes and colours change as you view it from different angles.

Kate also introduced us to the clover needle felting tool, I had seen these before but couldn’t see any advantage over the wooden needle handle I already had. Then I tried it, and my needle-felting world changed forever! It is amazing, I can’t explain how, but it makes needle felting larger areas a breeze, somehow the sprung needle-guard makes you bounce up and down vertically on the felt. It is now my favourite felting tool! If you are thinking of venturing into needle-felting I highly recommend it.

Fast Flowing Water – Felt Art

This is another piece I have been working on for a few weeks, it was inspired by the fast flowing water bubbling and rolling over rocks in a stream I came across during a recent trip to the Lake District. I wanted to capture the sense of excited movement and silvery bubbles as they jumbled and tussled over the rocks.

This piece was constructed using a modified version of a technique on her Majesty Margo’s blog. She uses an embellisher to attach silks to the water soluble fabric (WSF) and removes the WSF before felting. I use a similar technique but use a sewing machine to join a wider variety of fabrics (cottons and synthetics as well as silks) and I leave the WSF in place while wet felting it onto a batt of wool roving (the WSF gets washed away during the felting process).

This is image shows some of the lovely textures, the fabrics are crinkled as a result of the wool shrinking behind them. The raised “blobs” are felt balls that have been squashed and rolled to create more pebble-like shapes.

It is still a work in progress but I think it will just be embroidery with lovely shiny and metallic threads to represent the silvery bubbles from here.

Stags Rutting at Sunset

I always have several pieces of work on the go at any one time, I find the creative process works best when I can flit between what inspires me most at any one moment. If something isn’t developing the way I had envisioned, I can put it down and work on something else instead. Coming back to it with “fresh eyes” a few days later usually reveals a solution. Here is a piece that I started nearly 4 months ago. It is an amalgamation of two photos, I loved the combination of the romance of the subject combined with the drama of the sunset.



This piece has been wet felted using the inlay technique (cutting shapes from pre-felt) for the stag silhouettes. As you can see I used Moy Mackay’s technique of laying the coloured wool roving over a white batt and as is often the case, the white fibres have migrated through to the front during felting process, reducing the intensity of the colours and detracting from the drama of the piece.

All is not lost, I plan to do some needle felting to sharpen up the silhouettes of the stags and correct the colours in the sunset.

Felt Ropes and Balls

I think I mentioned that I started a City and Guilds course in Feltmaking in August this year. It’s a distance learning course with ArtyBird, a textile school in Lancashire and so far it has been interesting, it has challenged me to work in ways that I probably would never have considered on my own, especially the design elements.

Part of this month’s assignment is to create ropes and balls, with a leaning towards making felt jewellery. So far I have created a necklace and cuff that I am proud of and a bracelet that I’m still feeling indifferent toward and a second necklace that was nothing short of a disaster. Here are the pieces I like and would be prepared to wear myself:

I still want to add some stitching (staggered blanket stitch) to the border of the cuff.

This is the bracelet I neither like or dislike:

And this is the disaster. It started out looking very promising with different coloured rope cores encased within a dark brown shell – it started life as a thick rope that was cut into discs and sewn together in a string. This is it before it became a mushy mess, all the colours are still clear and the discs haven’t turned into amorphous blobs yet:

I tried all sorts to get the discs to harden. Wet felting for over an hour, on and in the roller blind, rubbing on bubble wrap and the blind, felter’s rolling pin and finally the tumble drier. All that has happened is the colours have all blended together to shades of a dark brown, the discs have lost their shape and they still feel mushy!!

Not exactly jewellery (yet) but this is a multicoloured felt ball, perhaps with some beads and stitching it could make a nice pendant?

Felt Ropes and Balls

I think I mentioned that I started a City and Guilds course in Feltmaking in August this year. It’s a distance learning course with ArtyBird, a textile school in Lancashire and so far it has been interesting, it has challenged me to work in ways that I probably would never have considered on my own, especially the design elements.

Part of this month’s assignment is to create ropes and balls, with a leaning towards making felt jewellery. So far I have created a necklace and cuff that I am proud of and a bracelet that I’m still feeling indifferent toward and a second necklace that was nothing short of a disaster. Here are the pieces I like and would be prepared to wear myself:

I still want to add some stitching (staggered blanket stitch) to the border of the cuff.

This is the bracelet I neither like or dislike:

And this is the disaster. It started out looking very promising with different coloured rope cores encased within a dark brown shell – it started life as a thick rope that was cut into discs and sewn together in a string. This is it before it became a mushy mess, all the colours are still clear and the discs haven’t turned into amorphous blobs yet:

I tried all sorts to get the discs to harden. Wet felting for over an hour, on and in the roller blind, rubbing on bubble wrap and the blind, felter’s rolling pin and finally the tumble drier. All that has happened is the colours have all blended together to shades of a dark brown, the discs have lost their shape and they still feel mushy!!

Not exactly jewellery (yet) but this is a multicoloured felt ball, perhaps with some beads and stitching it could make a nice pendant?

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