Where has the time gone?

Gosh, I can’t believe it has been 3 weeks since I last posted. It has been a hectic few weeks of working on my City and Guilds assignments and chasing my own tail.

Here are some of the C&G things I have been up to as part of my Artybird course.

Do you recall the “Alien Signpost” piece I started a couple of months back? After much debate (no two people had the same idea about how I should cut it or hang it) I settled on the portrait version with the “torn paper” edge along the bottom.

It is a large piece (173 x 92cm / 5’8″ x 3′) that I think would look fantastic in a stairwell (shame I live in a bungalow).

I’m really pleased with how this piece turned out even though the integral hanging sleeve is in the wrong orientation! Note to self: don’t bother with integral hanging sleeves on abstract pieces, you’re always going to want to hang it on a different edge to the one you have planned! 😉

More recently I have been working on an assignment based on John Constable’s Cloud Studies. I confess I hadn’t appreciated just how prolific a painter he was, many of them are described as sketches but still stunning in their own right. Our assignment was to prepare some pastel drawings on different coloured backgrounds and then use those colours to make felt samples.

These are my pastel sketches.

 Dark blue paper

Light blue paper

Brown paper

All these sketches were derived from the same Constable painting but each has a very different feel, I think the middle one feels like the skies are clearing after a storm and has a freshness about it, while the other 2 feel like the storm is still building.

I was also very drawn to a painting of cirrus clouds, I just love the sense of movement and direction the white lines give this sketch.

And these are the pieces interpreted into felt, firstly with Norwegian wool:

And merino:

Next time – I revert back to my childhood and use wax crayons…

The Aliens Are Coming!

Alright, of course I am teasing, but Mr TB has nicknamed my latest offering the “Alien Signpost”. This is by far the largest piece of felt I have ever made, it was about 1.5 x 1.2 m (5 ft x 4 ft) when first laid out. It has proved to be quite a challenge, firstly just reaching the middle to lay out the surface decoration but also when trying to move it / roll it up, it was just such handful!

It also took an incredibly long time to lay out the design too, about 8 hours including the time it took to card the wools for the background.

When finished it will be a felt hanging and was based on a monoprint I made on some handmade paper last year.

It is still at the prefelt stage, I allowed it to dry out so I could deal with a couple of prefelts that weren’t adhering as strongly as I would like and needle felt some finer details before fulling. This is what it currently looks like:
I am expecting the colours to become muted during fulling as the paler background colours migrate to the front.

Busy Week

It’s been another busy week but unfortunately not in a creative way, my day job has been going more than a bit crazy. It’s been as much as I can do to make myself eat something before crashing into bed each evening. This weekend I have really thrown myself into textiles to make up for an otherwise rubbish week. It has been a very productive weekend though…

Mr TB was out on a stag night on Saturday so I put the evening to good use, watching trashy TV while applying wax to an apron I rainbow dyed with blues and greens that morning:

This is the batik pattern I have been doodling, it’s taking a surprisingly long time, 4 hours so far and I’m only half way finished…

I plan to over-dye this with a deep purple and then spray with plasti-dip spray to waterproof it so I have a felting / dyeing apron (no more soggy felter’s middle for me!).

I have finished a couple of C&G “samples” that I started last weekend, the assignment is to explore natural wools with a view to creating a wall hanging but to my mind these pieces are too large (approx 40 x 60 cm / 16 x 24″) to be samples and I like them as wall hangings in their own right:

Do you remember this piece of ice-dyed felt from a few weeks ago?

I turned it into a bag, this is the front flap: 

Inside the front flap:

I plan to do a lot of hand embroidery on this piece, mostly blanket stitch around the edges and bit of embellishment on the front flap. If I can get it finished in time I will submit it to the Yarns in the Cathedral exhibition in May.

And finally, some blue tits have been showing a lot of interest in the bird pod I hung a couple of weeks ago. I can’t decide if they are nesting in it or just stealing the cat fluff I put in it as welcome present…

Linking up to nina-marie, off the wall Friday

The Beach – prefelts

After months of pondering, collecting images of sunsets and finally sketching ideas in watercolour I have finally started laying out the fibres for this painting. My new drum carder arrived last week so I have been itching to use it, this felt picture is the perfect foil for my new toy. 🙂

I have decided to tackle this picture as a mosaic of prefelts with inlay for the silhouettes and Kapiti Island. The mosaic technique should give a clean straight line for the horizon although I will actually use 3 strips for the background, the yellow one will be cut in half length-ways and stitched either side of the blue prefelt.

The prefelts were constructed from 2 layers of yellow or blue fibres followed by batts of mixed fibres from the drum carder.

Here is the roving all laid out ready to felt.

And the prefelts all stitched together.

Hopefully I will get to spend a few hours tomorrow adding wisps of roving to the base to bled the blue band and the lower half togeher and making the prefelts for the silhouettes.

Planning for The Beach

It’s alright, I haven’t lost my few remaining marbles, sunbathing on British beaches in November really isn’t my cup of tea. I will leave that sort of activity to much hardier souls. The Beach, is a new felt picture I have been mulling over for several months, it is a piece that is quite emotional for me so I want to get it right. About 18 months ago Mr TB lost his mother (Bev) after a long battle with cancer, it was tough for everyone, but especially him being on the other side of the world (he is a Kiwi and most of his family still live there). One of my abiding memories of Bev is that she loved walking and would take their dog, Josie, to the local beach in Otaki almost every day, Josie loved it, always finding the most enormous branch to proudly carry along the beach and into the surf. Ever since I started working with felt, I have had this idea that I would like to depict this idyllic seaside scene in a painting for my father in law as a reminder of those happy times. We are flying back to NZ in Dec so I had better get a move on!

Finally, after much ruminating I have started sketching out some ideas in water colour, what do you think? Do you have a favourite?

Mr TB has already suggested that I choose another silhouette for the dog, although this is a typical Josie pose, head down, tail wagging in that “play with me” posture dog’s have (she always wants you to throw these enormous tree trunks that I can barely lift) I can see his point, it isn’t immediately recognisable as a dog.
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