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.
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.
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.
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.