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.

Exciting News!

Yesterday I was offered a sales table at my work’s annual Xmas market / fair. I am so excited, this is the first time I have tried to sell my work face to face, I have been bouncing around like a child on Xmas eve! At first I was worried that I would not have enough items, but looking around I realise I have loads of very saleable felt and willow goods that I have made, it is just that most of them need final details or care labels. I spent most of last night stitching care labels onto toys, scarves and hats so I had about 20 items ready to go.

This morning I sprayed 5 willow sculptures with wood preservative, they will take a few days to dry but are also good to go. This afternoon I have been mounting textile art onto mountboards and canvases and putting the pieces on mountboard into cellophane envelopes, that’s another 20 pieces ready to go. I am amazed by my own nervous energy, there are things that have been sitting in “nearly finished” piles for months that are suddenly finding their way to the finished pile. It is amazingly cathartic to see so many pieces finally complete.

I also found time today to repeat the wet felting of my stags at sunset picture that I have been needle-felting recently, the black is much more black now and repeating the wet felting has removed the fuzziness and tiny holes you get from needle-felting. I just need to decide how to hang it now…

One of the pictures I mounted was the sea hollies wall hanging, I think it looks great mounted on a canvas slightly smaller than the felt, giving the impression that it is floating away from the wall.

And I even managed to finish felting a handbag:

The Big Knit

Unfortunately I only found out about this today and the deadline for submitting the mini hats is Oct 31st! So I have been furiously crocheting since I got home this evening and have managed to produce 2 little hats.

What’s the Big Knit all about? Innocent (the smoothie people) will pay 25p to Age UK for every cute little hat sold on their bottles of smoothie. The principle behind the idea is that hundreds of our elderly die needlessly from hypothermia every winter and a wooly hat is one way to keep warm. Obviously these little hats are just a symbol (too small to fit on a human head) but the funds raised will be used to buy equipment such as hot water bottles and human-sized hats for our older folk to use. If you are interested here is more info here with patterns and an address where to send the completed hats to.

Here are my 2 offerings, a little owl and a turtle:

I have stitched a Teri Berry Creations care label inside each hat in the hope that whoever buys them finds this blog. If it was you, please leave a comment I would love to find out where my little critters have found a new home. :o)

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.

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