I am often asked what inspires the pieces I make, the truth is inspiration can strike anywhere, sometimes it is the materials themselves, the pattern on a piece of sari silk or the tassels on a charity-shop scarf for example. Nature is another great source, the textures of a patch of lichen or orange-crimson autumnal leaves against a bright blue sky. Memories from holidays or previous careers such as watching cells growing in a petri dish from my days as a “lab rat”.
As some of you may know, I used to SCUBA dive a lot and frequently draw inspiration for my felting from the underwater world, for my new collection I couldn’t resist the gloriously colourful world of nudiranchs (pronounced noo-dee-branks). I confess I have been slightly obsessed with these little sea slugs for more than 20 years but the usual response when I try to describe them to non-divers is, “noody-what?” Their name means naked gills in latin and refers to the fern-like gill structures you can often see sprouting from their backs.
I love them because they are so outrageously colourful and don’t seem to care who sees them strutting their stuff in the magical aquatic world. I can’t think of a better muse to create a fabulously colourful set of wearable art, deep down, who wouldn’t want to be a nudibranch? 🙂 If you google “nudibranch photos” you will get a taste of their fantastically beautiful world and the colours will be much less washed out than those in my photos.
The Pink Dorid nudibranch was my muse for this hat and gloves set.
Now I just need to find a human who is as exuberant and fun-loving as a nudibranch to wear them…. 😉
I have been considering my developmental options since I completed a City and Guilds certificate in felt-making in 2014, very high on my list is a BA degree but it is a big commitment both in time and money. I am very fortunate to live only a few miles from the University of Creative Arts in Farnham so went along to an open day on a reconnaissance mission.
It was quite an eye opener, I hadn’t really considered the need for a portfolio or how my sketchbooks appear to anyone else. I have a tendency to work out my designs and ideas directly in wool, my sketchbooks are primarily used to work out template designs or jot down ideas for future projects, they read more like a technical manual than an artists sketchbook 🙂
That was a couple of weeks ago and I decided to continue with the “stories of the trees” brief that Fiona Duthie set last year, with my main focus being on bark. It is still very early days but my sketchbook is already looking much more colourful!
I treated myself to some inktense blocks (they work on fabric too), these are my first couple of “getting to know you” pieces working with them and already think they are wonderful!
This quarter, the FFS challenge is to add dimension to our felt, on the face of it I should find this challenge easy, almost everything I make is 3D in nature but that rather seems to defeat the purpose, after all, surely a challenge should be just that! 🙂
Last weekend I had a mini epiphany; I really like the effect of shibori felt like the brooch below but using the “tie in a stone/button/marble technique” is not very practical when you are creating a 3D object over a resist as you need extra felt to stretch over the inclusions and it invariably makes the surrounding felt uneven too. I woke up on Sunday morning and my first thought was to create these cup shapes separately and then attach them to the main piece of felt. Is it really sad that I am now dreaming about felt?
This was the piece made with the separate resists. It was very slow work making these 7 little cups and I’m not sure I will use this method a lot but it was interesting to try and I’m happy with the result.
This box is quite large, just shy of a foot square and 5 inches tall.
I wanted to make a small bowl inspired by this pine cone, it started out as a bowl but I clearly wasn’t concentrating while laying out the flaps and spikes so it became a pod instead… 🙂
Finally, I started working on a new vest top that I have been thinking about since attending a dress-making course with Cristina Pacciani at the beginning of July, it still needs some shaping in the back and around the collar but you can already see all the texture from the silk and felt ropes laid under the silk. Originally I was going to make this in royal blue chiffon but then decided white habouti would better showcase the different textures.
What are you planning for the 3rd quarter challenge?
It has been a couple of weeks since I last posted here; I had a lovely week of walking in North Devon followed by an inspiring 3 day workshop, making a seamless dress with Cristina Pacciani. Since returning, I have been furiously trying to finish the hat tutorials for the online workshop I will be hosting in August, in-between attending job interviews and completing a mountain of paperwork needed for my new day job.
I’m getting a bit stir-crazy, utterly desperate to make some felt but trying so hard to be good and remain focused on finishing the tutorials! It’s funny how not being allowed to make anything is making my creative juices flow faster, my sketchbook is now overflowing with ideas that I haven’t had time to bring to fruition. Once the tutorials are finished I foresee a massive spurt of felt-making before I start my new job on the 25th… 🙂
I will post more about the online workshop in a few days, once the finer details have been ironed out but in the meantime here is some eye candy from the last couple of weeks 🙂
Since Wednesday I have been working on a new jacket using the felt tweed technique Galina posted a link to on the Forum, after making a couple of samples last week, I dove in, designing a template from an old coat. Even using dress-making paper, it was a struggle to get the expanded template to fit on the sheet.
Laying out 2 layers of merino over a resist for the torso:
Adding the yarns, this was quite a challenge, especially when I came to flip it over and had all the long lengths from the back, that would be used to decorate the front, got into a bit of a tangled mess. After some patient de-tangling it all came good in the end…
The sleeves were somewhat easier (no resist involved).
And the (nearly) finished jacket, all sewn up. It just needs a couple of buttons (nothing in my button tin suits this jacket) and possibly straightening the bottom edge; currently the front right hand side (left hand side of the photo) hangs slightly lower than the left. What do you think? Asymmetrical clothing appears to be back in fashion but I’m not sure this qualifies, does it just look a bit untidy?
Given that all the yarns I used were synthetic (mostly acrylic) I was impressed by how well they embedded into the felt, there a just a handful of small loops that I will stitch down by hand.
A close up of all the lovely textures!