Archive for the 'felt' Category

Shades of Green

One of the experiments I tried at Whidbey was using a loosely woven apple green cotton scarf I found as at a thrift store as the base for a nunofelted piece. I paired it with merino roving handpainted in shades of moss, grass and pea green by Faun at Handsandotions.


The scarf started out 60″ long, not nearly long enough to make a long nunofelted scarf. It was wide enough to split vertically, then lay out end to end. I put down some pieces to span a deliberate gap in the middle, making the piecework a design feature.





Note: I found this unpublished post in my draft folder. At this point, I’m not sure why I didn’t publish it. This is one of my favorite scarves, one of just a few I decided to keep for myself.

Bless This Home

A customer admired my felt flowers during the most recent artwalk. He picked up a brilliant yellow flower with a purple center attached to a headband. “Can you make this in reverse?” He was inspired to present his sister with a purple lotus as a housewarming gift. “Anything is possible,” I told him happily.

Aiming to please, I created two flowers so he could select his favorite. When he came to pick up the finished flower on Sunday, I asked him to tell me more about his sister. When she returned to the US after spending a few years working in southern India, she began a tradition of painting or making a purple lotus blossom for loved ones when they moved to a new home. According to local tradition in her community, the flower represented the cleansing of a space, offering the dwelling new breath. Finally, it was his turn to offer something for her new home.

As the school year draws to a close, I am wrapping up operations in my Etsy shop and studio. My trusty sidekick will package any kit sales that happen while I’m away. The rest of my inventory will be offline until I return. While I will have some access to email, it is nice to spend the evening in bed with a book instead of waiting for the churning of a slow connection as it trolls for a satellite signal. It may be wishful thinking, but I’m packing six books for the four weeks I’ll be away in New Hampshire. I look forward to making a valiant dent in the pile.


Romney and cotswold locks felted to a merino base

Romney, rambouillet, blue faced leicester, mohair and tussah silk fiber on an icelandic base

Cotswold locks on a merino base

Rambouillet locks on a merino base

Many thanks to Catarina Hoekman, Kate Treseler, Kelly Rogers Flynt and Linda Kjarstad for their invaluable help laying out and felting these pieces. Thank you to Ginny Huber for the icelandic fleece.

Two Plates

Currently, there are two projects pulling my attention in separate directions with equal force. In preparation for teaching a nunofelt workshop in my studio last week, I felted four nunofelt garments. Starting with a well fitting piece I own, I created a paper template, then sized it up based on the shrinkage rate of a sample swatch to create a large plastic template.

The result was this piece which fits me to a tee. I loved being able to make small adjustments to the fit, felting a little longer under the arms and across the back until it fit me perfectly.

Working with this template as a departure point, I made a rosewood version two sizes larger. Continuing to work with the same template, I felted a red and black vest, slit open in the front. The last piece was a black and plum asymetrical vest with a triangle front slit. There are dozens of variations floating around in my brain I can’t wait to try.

Incidentally, the mannequin is standing in front of a painting by Robin Siegl, one of the enthusiastic students in last week’s nunofelt workshop. If you are interested in taking a nunofelt workshop, the particulars are listed on the Classes page.

However, this weekend I brought a trunk full of wool back from the Lopez Lamb and Wool Festival. Since buying three fleeces from Island Fibers in February, I’ve been waiting anxiously to get my hands on some more raw wool. Three Romneys, and a Cotswold and four Rambouillet crosses later, my trunk was full on the ride home with fifty pounds of wool.

With so much to do and less than four weeks left in the school year, I’m offering a work/trade proposal to any willing hands available to work as my assistant for a day in my studio. Come felt with me and I will teach you the process and pay you in SpiderFelt credit to be used towards anything in my shop.

Ruffled Up

Three weeks ago, I participated in a Felted Clothing Workshop taught by the incomparable Tricia Stackle. She taught the basics of nunofelting, calculating shrinkage rates, translating the shape of a garment into a template and extrapolating the template  into a large resist.

With thirteen students enrolled from various backgrounds, Tricia was a wonderful teacher giving everyone just the right amount of attention. Students created either a  seamless tunic or a skirt. Some students finished two projects over the course of our three days together, while others plodded along methodically, completing a single garment.

After finishing my sample swatches with merino and silk chiffon, I decided to work with a design I’ve tried many times in my silk scarves: ruffles and ridges. Working with four yards of fabric, I ended up short on the front with sporadic ruffles. While I didn’t plan it this way, I think it made for a more interesting piece in the end.

On the third day, Tricia invited us into the dye lab where we experimented with different levels of dye saturation. My skirt cooked into a very soft dove grey. I’m thrilled with the result, and forever grateful to Tricia for modeling the grace required to pace us through our projects.

Watch out for Tricia’s sculptural felt furniture this summer at the Bellevue Arts  Museum ArtsFair.

Standing Out

At a loss for what to contribute to last week’s ArtWalk, I decided to pull two incomplete felt pieces out of retirement. Too short on time to build something new from scratch, I decided to see what I could do with something long abandoned.

Since I am not a painter by training or inclination, my primary complaint with the original composition was just how flat it was. Hoping to take advantage of the inherent strengths offered by fiber art, I built my piece out to give it depth and texture. Leaf shapes were cut from a piece of barely laminated nunofelt, then handsewn over the background tree trunk.

I wish the background were wider to allow for more of an exaggerated swoop in the shape of the upper story. Overall, I’m pleased with the texture and colors in this piece.

For the second piece, I turned to a sample made two years ago, preparing to teach a summer workshop for kids. Using various fibers in my stash, I built surface detail by needling  romney and merino locks, bits of silk noil and some clean wool from my Lopez fleece.

I wanted the handstitching to be a more prominent part of this piece, so I positioned the knots on the surface, and chose a contrasting color to stitch the noil in place. Happy with the general shape of this snag, I left the trunk exposed.

Unsure how to display two pieces of art with greater depth than most work, I called in Nate Stottrup, a talented artist down the hall from my studio for some advice. He suggested a weathered wooden background to offer a visual transition from the wall to my work. I bought a used pallet from the Re-Store, pulled it apart and rebuilt it, with the help of my home carpentry team, into something new.

Bringing these pieces to completion was much more difficult than I expected. There was lots of angst and casting about for my muse. When I finally figured out what to do, it was like being struck by lightning. While I received positive feedback from the visitors to the ArtWalk, I am eager to present both pieces to our local  Surface Design Association chapter for their critique.

Three Sheepskins Felted

Several weeks ago, I wrote Three Bags Full, describing the booty I brought home from the Madrona Fiber Arts Festival. My most prized purchase was three bags of raw wool from Lopez Island. Hoping to perfect my process after two previous attempts to felt a raw fleece last summer, I bought three bags of dirty wool from Maxine at Island Fibers , each weighing about 3lbs.

The first week I was back in my studio, I began working on felting a new set of sheepskins into a merino base. I couldn’t wait to get my hands into those stinking bags of fleece.

After working on two by myself, I invited a friend to help me with the third so she could see how it was done. Because I love her so, I saved the best fleece just for her. While we were photographing the three fleece together, her cat stepped in to check out the new throws. I’ve caught my cat sleeping on the sheepskins living on my couch, though she has had no interest in the commercial sheepskin given to use when my eldest child was a baby. She must sense just how animal friendly these sheepskins are – no hides attached.

The white fleece has an amazing texture;  the crimp is intoxicating. The locks are a medium length, maybe 4″ long. They stayed intact throughout the felting process, producing a wonderful sheepskin once it was fully washed and rinsed.

The darkest fleece was by far the softest, perhaps a first shearing from a dark lamb. There were very few light spots on the tips and no white hair at all. The greyish brown fleece is soft in a wooly way, but far more coarse than the other two. The locks are also quite long and didn’t attach as well to the merino base. Since it is hard to keep our hands from fingering the locks while sitting on the sofa, we end up finger-combing it incessantly, pulling out bits of wool. I’ve been pocketing the loose fibers to stuff a pillow.

My only regret is that I didn’t buy more fleece. I would love to have them all over my house, one for the seat of my desk chair, a couple for cushions at my studio and then maybe a few to sell. There is some wool left in each color, but not enough to make a decent sized sheepskin. Since I’ll be returning to Lopez Island in May, I’ll have to hold tight for a few more weeks. In case you happen to be in the area, Lopez is hosting the First Annual Lopez Lamb and Wool Festival on Saturday May 14th. There will be a sheep drive down the main drag in Lopez Village and a lamb dinner prepared by Matt Dillow of Sitka and Spruce. What better reason do you need to make a trip to the island?

Flickr Photos