Archive for August, 2009

Fall Felting Series

Starting in the third week of September, a new series of felting classes will be starting at Space to Create, an art studio in Ballard.

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The first two classes are introductions to the method, perfect for anyone interested in learning how to wet felt, which is distinct from the other two more popular versions of felting: needlefelting with a barbed needle or fulling a piece of knit fabric.

Full class descriptions are listed on the Events page. Registration can be done by phone or email with Space to Create: 206.784.0401, spacetocreate@spacetocreate.net. There is a discount for students who register for the full six-class series.

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While it is not necessary to enroll in all six workshops, it is a great way to try a broad variety of felting techniques and determine whether this is an art you would like to explore further. Three women signed up for the series when I taught it last spring. It was wonderful to work with them each week, to see their personal style expressed in each project we tackled. We had so much fun felting together that we planned a weekend retreat in June. Watch for that story in an upcoming post.

A Third Year in Photos

The applications for the Phinney Winter Festival were due today. Once again, I spent several hours combing through my photos, trying to decide how to best represent my work for the juried application.

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The Winter Festival was a great event last year. With one year behind me, I will concentrate my production on kits, soaps, felt flowers and pebbles as most people are looking for a small gift for a friend, teacher or co-worker.

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Comparing last year’s mosaic to this year’s compilation, I was amazed to see just how many new items I had to contribute to the application. With the exception of the felt soap, every other picture was new to this spread. September will be SpiderFelt’s the third anniversary. Feels like some celebrations are in order. I think I’ll buy myself something handmade on Etsy.

Wrap it Up and Roll it Out: Recycled Felt Pencil Roll-Up

One of the things I like to do with each sale in my etsy shop is include a small handmade card. Typically it is a little leaf, colored then painted with watercolor pencil crayons. It adds a little bit of time to the packaging, but I enjoy receiving a note when I buy something handmade, so it seems I should return the favor. Every buyer deserves to feel like they have bought themselves a gift, right?

However, there is no getting around the fact that towards the end of November, when time is in short supply, it would be handy to have a bunch of cards made in advance. As I prepared to leave my house, packing up my pencil crayons and cards seemed like a project I could bring with me to the cabin.

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The only problem was how to keep all the pencils together and still make them available. Inspired by a knitting needle keeper I’d seen a few years previous, I sewed a pencil keeper out of recycled wool sweaters. The striped ribbing keeps the pencils in place when I’m carrying the bundle rolled up.

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One of my knitting friends gave me a lovely olive green sweater that was machine knit side to side. It had an interesting construction that I was able to use to my advantage. I sewed some twill tape into the seam and then threaded it through a button hole to wrap around the bundle and tie it shut. Wrapped up and ready to roll!

Composed Mondrian Felt Boxes

A friend presented me with an interesting design challenge. She wanted some sturdy felt boxes for storing her daughter’s toys. While she had seen something workable in a container store, she preferred to spend her money on a live person, so I got the job.

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The boxes I’d made previously were sewn from a single piece of flat felt, with finished dimensions around 6″ square; the new boxes were meant to fit into cubby holes 13″ square. Taking into account shrinkage rates, I didn’t have a work space large enough to create a single piece of felt that large.

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The design that worked in terms of structure and size was sewing many smaller pieces of felt together with reinforced side seams. The box in the top left is sitting with the seams on the inside; I preferred them inside out as the corners were more defined.

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Visiting my friend a few months later, I was delighted to see the boxes in action, filled with blocks, puppets and balls.

Learning Curves & Ruffled Scarves

My camera was out for repairs, so I haven’t been able to document the latest batch of scarves as they dried. This gave me some distance from each piece and allowed me to look at the series as an evolving process. Figuring out how to make the multi-petaled ruffled flowers was fun, so I decided to see if I could apply some of the same ideas to scarves.

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I started with a pure felt scarf made with merino roving. It is hard to detect in these bright photos, but the roving is composed of several shades of white, grey, brown and navy with a definite orientation. The base of the scarf is laid out vertically, while the ruffles are laid out horizontally. I love the effect, though this piece is quite heavy since I wanted to make sure there were no gaps in the felt.

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Wanting something more fluid, I worked with a piece of irridescent silk next, bunching it up in the middle to create a center ruffle. There wasn’t nearly enough extra fabric to create a real ruffle, but it was still a neat effect.

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By the third piece, I knew I had to use a lot more silk and really bunch it up to get full ruffle effect. Unfortunately, it didn’t adhere in all of the right places so some of it is a bit pouchier than the rest. But this was an experiment, so I was both thrilled and excited with the results.

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The fourth variation was an attempt to use some pieces of recycled silk hacked out of a friend’s dress; the pieces were asymetrical and not uniform in length. I wanted to create horizontal pleats, which worked in part of the scarf. Some of it is great, but as a whole piece it doesn’t work.

I don’t know how many people blog about their failures, but it seems important for me in this case. These four scarves were a real challenge because I have a hard time accepting process and the idea that we need to work through an idea to get versions we like. Time seems to be in such short supply that I don’t allow myself the freedom to experiment with something that might not work out. I did all sorts of things other than getting started because I was afraid. Now I’m excited to try them all over again, to make them better and continue with variations that occurred to me as I was working.

Three Weeks of Island Life

In a bunch of snapshots, here is how we spent three weeks on a remote tropical island northwest of Vancouver BC. Every summer we do the same things and yet every year it is totally new. We met new friends, hiked to new peaks, overcame our fear of ‘hiking’ and no longer consider it a bad word (as long as it is accompanied by the word ‘ice cream’), defeated Mexican wrestlers and much more.

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There was swimming at East Beach; this shot was taken as the wake from a tug pulling two barges of saw dust rolled up on shore.

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Collecting crabs on Laurel Beach for the twenty-fifth year in the row. I did it and now my children do it. I’m sure that is the same bucket I used too. Maybe even the same crabs. Definitely the same beach.

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Playing Monopoly in the cabin when the tide is too low for swimming and the crabs aren’t interesting anymore. Definitely the same monopoly board.

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Swimming laps around the dock at Maple Beach never gets boring, especially if you remember the goggles and the life jacket.

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Our family catch for this year’s fishing derby was one shiner. We contributed lots of marshmallow and rehydrated apple to the marine food chain over the course of our visit. Those are definitely the same fishing rods – mine is the yellow one, my brother used the green one. My dad did a grand job of jury-rigging the reels, and baiting the hooks to make two kids happy.

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Hoping to find a little time for felting, I brought enough supplies to last me through a month of solitude. Instead, I quickly attracted a posse of helpers eager to felt soap, explore needlefelting and felt flowers. We felted 72 felt soaps, 12 felt flowers and six felt geodes. I forgot to photograph the brown cat made for a little boy’s birthday (hopefully his family will capture it in its native habitat for me). The kids were entranced with needlefelting;  they created insects, sleeping bags, balls and Mickey. Each child placed an ‘order’ for their favorite creature from Laurie Sharp’s book WoolPets. I told them six hours spent on the feline was all I could muster this summer, but there might be something in their future.

The highlight of the summer was the day we walked across the island and back, and then some, roughly an eight mile trek. My children are not what you would call intrepid hikers. But I think I have them figured out now: break up the walk with several intermediary destinations, throw in some ice cream in the middle and a carnival halfway followed by a bbq, drag along a pair of friends and another mom who knows every camp song in the book and we’re golden.

Keats Camp is a traditional summer camp on the opposite side of the island, facing Gibsons and the rest of the Sunshine Coast. They hosted a great carnival in between two sessions when all of the counselors were at camp, but no campers. The counselors put a ton of enthusiasm, energy and fun into the event: dressing up in costumes, luring the kids from one activity to another, throwing everything they had into the day.

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At this station, a pair of counselors impersonated Mexican wrestlers. They had the posturing, the accents, the moves and the stamina to take on challenger after challenger, in the full sun. I don’t know how they did it considering the heat and the brutal attacks launched by the kids.

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We played on a tire swing hanging from an enormous big leaf maple while the boys successfully bobbed for apples.

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Everyone had to try out the skate park and then join the classic three-legged race, trip and fall.

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It seems I manage to capture a bizarre insect each time I go away from home. I would love to know what sort of butterfly this caterpillar will become. Look at those eyebrows! He reminds me of something right out of Roald Dahl, our favorite author this summer.

Thanks to my parents for putting up with us and putting us up for so long. For washing our clothes by hand, baking countless loaves of bread, smashing mussels, supervising dock swims, leading beach walks and just being there. It was a great time.

Ruffled Again

Still can’t get off the ruffled flower kick. I brought a bunch of them to a bbq with the plan to sew the pinbacks on so I could sent out a consignment. A woman following her curious toddler asked me if I had ever sewn the flowers to barrettes. Her sister was a dancer she said, with very thick hair, and she was always looking for bold flowers to pull back her hair.

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I told her confidently that yes, I did have barrettes on my flowers; and then as soon as the kids were in bed, I ordered some large and extra-large barrettes on Etsy.

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This one I gave as a birthday present to a dear friend whose youngest daughter was celebrating her fifth. I’ve always thought that mothers deserve more acknowledgment at a child’s birthday party since we did all the hard work so many years ago. Shouldn’t a birthday be recognized as a birth-day?

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An alligator clip was plenty for this felt lily with its pointed base. More flowers with barrettes and even elastics are on their way into my shop. My camera has been out for repair, but a little bird told me it is ready for pick up. Now all I need to do is find that dancer with luscious hair to model for me.


Flickr Photos

Garage sale armchair upholstered with #felt #sheepskins for a client. Teeswater fleece from Wild Rose Farm on Whidbey Island.

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