Fourth Quarter Challenge

As some of you may know, the ladies of Felting and Fibre Studio post a felting challenge each quarter. For this quarter the challenge is to create something with an autumn theme. I am definitely inspired by the colours of the trees at the moment, just driving to work I want to say ooh and ahh at all the beautiful colours. I am so lucky to have a drive that takes me through deciduous woodlands and along tree lined roads.

I have to admit that I am not at all inspired by Zed’s suggestion that autumn evokes thoughts of damp and decay! Yuck!! I will stick to the lovely autumnal colours of the trees 🙂

Here is my autumn leaf-inspired shawl. It is constructed from rainbow dyed cotton scrim with a thin layer of merino top laid out in different colours with streaks of yellow bamboo fibre as an accent colour and to give some sheen. To this I added about 40 leaf shapes cut out of prefelt and embellished with yarns that I needle-felted to represent the veins on the leaves.

On the reverse I laid out a similar pattern of merino tops and bamboo fibre but without the leaves that took soooo long to cut out and needle-felt with their wool veins.

All of this was wet felted together and I love the result. The yellow bamboo has worked really well and adding a thin layer of wool to both sides of the cotton scrim gives it a lovely soft and warm feel while being thin enough to still drape beautifully.

Is it perverse of me to like the reverse side (without the leaves) better than the front?!!

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.

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.
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