Archive for the 'needlefelting' Category

For the Love of Color

Last week, I was invited by a magazine to send some felt geodes to their offices to be photographed for the Spring 2012 issue. It was a good reason to finish felting the geodes I’d needled this summer while my studio was officially closed.

The geode kit has been a popular item in my Etsy shop for several years. Currently, each kit contains 1 oz of wool, 2 felting needles, a 3″ foam square and instructions for needling and wetfelting a geode. However, when I create geodes for sale in my studio, I use more wool than offered in the kits because they just seem better that way.

Incidentally, the black walnut cutting board is from Gray WorksDesign. I love the footed design and the curved sides. More than simply functional, it is a beauty.

After a bit of tweaking, I’ve decided to reformulate the geode kit, swapping out a few colors and increasing the amount of wool. This will mean a small price increase, but I think the results are worth it.

This new collection of geodes is available in my Etsy shop and in my studio this Saturday during the Ballard ArtWalk from 6-9pm. Should you be in the neighborhood, make sure to stop by BallardWorks at 2856 NW Market St.

Felt Plants on a Blanket

Last year, several intermediate teachers planted a native garden on the west side of our school, after much planning, grant-writing, research, design, digging and prepping by students, staff and parents. The teachers integrated the work into the curriculum on many levels. The children took ownership and intense pride in the project.

To further extend the learning the following year, my daughter’s teacher suggested the students transform sketches in their science journals into a felted illustration. One of our school’s strengths lies in seeing how students learn through multiple media. Illustrating a plant on paper and then working it in felt allows a student to see a plant again and again through different lenses.

Each spring, our school holds a large auction to augment insufficient school district funds, paying for half our librarian, PE teacher and art teacher salaries. Each class contributes a collaborative creation for the live auction; these works of art are usually the most popular items.  In the past, artists have worked with the students to create mosaic planters, a fused glass tile installation, watercolor paintings and photo collages. This year, I volunteered to turn the needlefelt illustrations of the native garden into two afghans.

Starting with a box of recycled felt culled from fulled sweaters, the students designed their pieces paying attention to the shape of the leaves, flowers and the gesture of the plant. They worked on blending the corriedale fibers to create a broad color palette. A team of four parents worked with our class of twenty-eight nine and ten year old students for six periods to needle their designs. The students were asked to complete three pieces: two panels for our blankets and one to keep.  Several students finished six designs, then volunteered to tamp down the work completed by their classmates. After thoroughly needling each piece, the completed designs were fulled one more time in the washing machine.

Next, I worked with another parent to arrange the pieces, paying close attention to color and style. We separated those pieces worked on heavier wool felt from those worked on finer merino and cashmere; there were enough to make a large blanket with the heavy pieces and a smaller throw with the lighter pieces. We basted the heavy pieces to three yards of wool suiting bought at the fabric store.

With one week left before the auction, it was apparent just how much work remained to finish the two afghans. In swooped my mother to save the day. She took the largest blanket back to Vancouver, where she worked on it with her heavy-duty sewing machine. She stitched each piece to the wool backing, using a decorative quilting stitch, then drove it back to Seattle the day before I had to hand it in, giving the kids a chance to see their handiwork assembled in its final form.

Meanwhile, I pieced and patched the smaller throw, sewing the cashmere pieces to each other using a zigzag stitch. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Heidi of Haute Goat for her expertise and helpful consultation, not to mention her walking foot.

In the end, the pieces sold for $1250 and $650 at the auction, purchased by two parents in our classroom. Thanks to to the parents who generously donated their sweaters to the cause and to Mary Jo Dawe, Renee Derby, Edith Fuchs, and Sarah Kopf-Patterson for their blood, sweat and tears.

Hatching Plans

It has been months since I last wrote about my felting projects, which isn’t to say the studio has been quiet.

There are lots of projects cooking, but delays abound so I haven’t been able to write about them. More soon. Promise.

T is for Turtle

The same weekend that gave life to the pink pig, I began building an enormous pile of felt balls. It seemed like a good way to occupy my hands as we watched movies. First, I tightly wound a handful of roving into a rough ball shape. Next, I gently needled it to hold the stray fibers in place. By the time the weekend was over, there were twenty-three balls ready for designs.

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Starting at 10am on Sunday, I began embellishing the balls with stripes, polka dots and letters; my imagination was supplemented with a couple of books of illustrated poetry on the bookshelf outside my studio.

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Once every ball was adorned, I wetfelted each one for several minutes to solidify the design and firm up the ball. Then the whole set was tossed in the washing machine for a rinse and spin cycle. The lights went out in my studio at 11pm.

I plan to bring the assortment to Rising Stars where I will be exhibiting some felt art pieces for the Greenwood Phinney ArtWalk this Friday, May 8th and Saturday, May 9th. There were also be some kits available, for those inclined to make their own squishy spheres.

P is for Purse

For my daughter and son’s birthday party last weekend, I created two new kits. My intention was to have something we could do together as a fun activity and give the children something durable to take home.

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The first project was a needlefelted purse kit. The light rain was a good excuse to stay under the shelter. The girls wasted no time pulling out the contents and getting started. Several of them are enrolled in a creature class with Coco Howard at school, so they were both familiar and comfortable with the tools.

sophie_isobel

The girls wrapped roving around a foam square, layering an inside and outside color, then needled the foam until it was firm.

braid

The handle was created by braiding a length of handpainted merino roving and then needling it to either side of the block. The purse is felted in the washing machine, making this a very simple kit for fiber fans.

By the end of the party, after running around in the woods, playing pogo, chasing balloons, running around in the woods some more and then eating cake, several girls were ready to felt their purses at home.

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This kit will be available for sale shortly in my Etsy shop. You can see it in person at Rising Stars as part of the Greenwood Phinney ArtWalk on Friday, May 8th and Saturday May 9th.

Pig on Parade

A weekend away with the women in my bookclub gave me the time to try another needlefelt sculpture. One of the ladies brought a Japanese needlefelting book, so while watching Rachel Is Getting Married, I worked creating my first pig.

pink_pig

Proportion and balance are my biggest challenges in needlefelting creatures. It is hard to gauge just how much wool to use for the different body parts. The head was too large once I attached it, causing the pig to fall flat on his face.

Once I returned home, I slit open his back end, inserted a rock and then covered the opening with some more roving. That was enough to restore his equilibrium, as long as his legs are spread apart.

To make the tail, I felted a bit of roving into a rope, wrapped it around a paintbrush and then pinned it in place. Once dry, I removed the pins which left a coiled spring. Perfect!

Eggs and Chicks

This is a quick post to share the work that preoccupied me last week as I prepared for a visit to see friends and family in Colorado, both blessed with two little ones.

easteregg_trio

First, I made a pile of felted easter eggs, experimenting with different rovings pulled from a sample box. From left to right, a handpainted merino roving drafted into long, thin bits and wrapped many times around styrofoam egg; solid merino roving with tiny bits of bamboo fiber; and an assorted bunch of merino/silk blend rovings (not recommended for future egg experiments).

chicks1

Then came the needlefelted chicks bursting from their wet felted eggs. It was very difficult to keep the chicks small, so I had to felt a purple egg large enough for an ostrich chick around an extra large rock.

Tickled children and parents all around; a project worth making and sharing.


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