Landmarks with Cas Holmes

Last weekend I attended the third module of my Diploma course at West Dean, this was by far the workshop where I felt most in my element and even got to use up some of my extensive scrap felt and fabrics collection. Win-win! 🙂

Cas Holmes is an amazing tutor, her years of teaching experience were clearly evident in how she catered to each individual student’s interests and level of experience. In just 3 days she had the measure of each of us and was supporting us individually. If you get the opportunity to work with her I would definitely take it, and go along with an open mind, she has a lot to offer and is very generous with her advice.

The weekend was spent creating stamped and painted fabrics before assembling them into a collage with no predefined idea of what they would look like when finished. Working on a composition without an end in mind was really liberating and, for me, a totally different way of working, although I did have a moment of panic when I looked at this piece and had no idea where to take it.

This is where it is currently. The other students tell me it is their favourite but I still feel it needs more work.

For the next piece Cas let us select a piece of fabric / paper from a pile in the middle of the room (I pounced on the sheet music) and then she gave each of us another piece that she thought we would find challenging (mine was the dark grey paper  arranged in vertical strips in the bottom half of the composition). I think Cas has me pegged a bright colour enthusiast – can’t imagine where she got that idea from 🙂

This is what it looked like after the initial arrangement.

And after some machine embroidery and couching on some more felt scraps:

What do you think, should I add the orange triangle on the left? Or something else? Perhaps some machine embroidery to the right of the orange triangle?

I liked this piece right from the start,

but I’m not sure about the flower at the bottom – should I stitch over it to make it looks less like a flower?

I also made a piece using Cas’ technique but with a predefined image in my mind. I have been working on a new body of work focussing on animals (more on that in another post) and thought these fish would translate well. These images are from my sketchbook, I was thinking of creating screen prints from them but I have already wandered back to felt and textiles 🙂

This is the piece I made at West Dean, I had intended to remove the tissue paper entirely but rather liked the textured surface and how it resembles splashing water.

However, the paper is very delicate and not very practical so I have started a similar piece using heavy weight silk instead, this is the back, getting ready to start stitching.

Boxy Hat and Some Dressmaking

Over on the Felting and Fiber Forum, Judith (AKA Koffipot) very kindly compared my chain and flame hats to David Schilling’s creations. I confess I had never heard of him before this discussion, although I did recognise some of his Royal hats, I thought one of them might have been princess Beatrice’s “toilet seat hat” as Ann so aptly described it 🙂 but it turns out that this is a Philip Treacy hat.

Looking through a gallery of his work I started to wonder if some of the shapes could be realised in seamless felt….? Looking at his hats has sparked a few ideas that I hope to realise in felt.

One of them looked like a gift-wrapped box and I wondered if I could make a small stack of felt boxes set at jaunty angles. This is the block for the base of the stack and a test run to see if I could make a felt box stiff enough to keep its shape when worn:

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Keeping with the resist theme, this hat used the book style resist I wrote about last week.

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Adding some hand-dyed cotton:

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I have also been doing some home work for the dressmaking course I started a couple of weeks ago, but I’m afraid I made a boob… cutting the last panel for my dress I forgot to flip the pattern piece to get a mirror image and didn’t realise until I had cut the piece out. Now I don’t have enough fabric to complete the dress so I will have to make some more 🙁 But I need to make some felt for Ruth’s screen printing course so I will just make a job lot 🙂

This is the dress I will be making (no changing my mind now if it doesn’t work!):

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The white will create the centre panels with the blue forming the panels down the sides.

I also made a start on the prep work for Ruth’s experimental screen printing class that started yesterday, I have made 2 screens, 1 large and a smaller square one.

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Pickle inpsecting my handiwork, he has been told in no uncertain terms these are NOT scratching posts!

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More on the screen printing course later…

For those of you reading by email, this is the link to the web page: blog post

Sorry, I still haven’t found a plug in that will automatically include a link 🙁

Happy Holidays!

Although I haven’t been able to blog much recently I have been working! Below are a selection of pieces I have been working on over the last few weeks…

These are a few brooches / pins inspired by a session with the Region 2 IFA ladies, they are just so much fun to make and one of the few things I can make relaxing in front of the TV 🙂
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I finally finished the icicles / snowy night wall hanging that I started nearly a year ago! This is a fairly large piece, measuring approx 3ft x 2 ft.

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I finished (and photographed) a new pair of gloves. I don’t know about you but I seem to be waiting for days if not weeks for enough daylight to take photos this month. Roll on spring!

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The fishy reef nuno felt made a reappearance from the UFO box too, this is how it looked a few months ago.

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Just adding some darker blue tones where the reef meets the water made a world of difference to the sense of perspective.

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Then I got a bit paint happy…

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It still needs some work, but it’s making progress, I foresee a trip to the sewing machine to add some tiny fish in the distance….

Some dyeing, the red and orange wool is corriedale that I expect will become a bag. The blues are merino which I have carded into batts and plan to use with the blue variegated blue silk pictured below.

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My technique for variegated dyeing is totally random, I just scrunch up handfuls of fabric and stuff it into a bag, hence I was surprised to see a distinct pattern on this piece of silk:

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I’m hoping to make a dress from the blue materials and combine it with some screen printing techniques from Ruth’s online class in January (click here for more information). If I can get the idea in my head to work, I plan to submit this dress to the Spinners Weavers and Dyers National Exhibition next year (no pressure Ruth! 😉 )

Whatever your faith or denomination I hope you have a wonderful break, filled with fun activities and surrounded by the people you love.

Finishing up C&G work

I’ve spent most of the last few days working on the last assessment pieces for my C&G work. My biggest problem is I can never make just one piece to demonstrate a skill or technique, I usually have a head crammed full of different ideas to try and it is really hard for me to stop at just one…. I really should exercise some self control but I don’t want to! 😉

This is a sample made from different  ways to needle-felt pieces of prefelt. This sampler has already spawned 2 new ideas that are WIPs, the first is a lattice style scarf the second is a bag with lots of texture on the surface. More on those in my next post.

In a similar vein, this piece was made by needle-felting different fabrics onto a prefelt base, I like this as it is but am itching to add some machine embroidery but will have to wait until after it has been assessed before I do that (I have been told by my tutor to refrain from embroidering my felt pieces). This piece is only the size of a postcard so I am already planning a similar piece on a much larger scale…

And a couple of vases, the purple one is Norwegian C1 while the green one is Corriedale. I made the Corriedale one to see if it would produce a firmer / stiffer felt but there isn’t a great difference between them, the Corriedale is only marginally firmer than the Norwegian. The yarns wrapped around the bases are the products of my hand-spinning, I like to think my spinning is definitely improving 🙂

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

Fabric Bowls

After making a felt and scrim fabric bowl a few weeks ago I have been experimenting with alternative ways of stiffening fabrics. The water soluble fabric worked well and has produced a moderately stiff bowl but I am concerned that if it gets wet it will loose its shape and possibly its strength too.

As an alternative I have been experimenting with PVA glue (commonly used in schools for art classes and also known as wood glue).

Here is a bowl made from 4 layers of rainbow dyed scrim, machine embroidery for decoration and PVA glue.

A close up of the embroidered centre:

However, it is still quite malleable…

I would like to stiffen it some more, but am not sure how, some possibilities include threading coloured wires through the fabric or spraying with a diluted mix of acrylic medium but I’m not sure I really like either idea. Do any of you clever people have better /other ideas?

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