Archive for the 'nunofelt' Category

Winter Song

Days shorten, children sicken, schools close and meetings pile up. Promises made, deadlines pass, apologies offered.  I wonder where the days have gone. Interviews completed, orders filled, deliveries made. Opportunities arise, boxes packed, bookshelves moved, all is good. Sometimes, what I need most of all is a few moments of quiet followed by a little perspective.

It has been such a busy fall it is hard to prioritize the excitement. SpiderFelt has moved down the hall at BallardWorks to studio 2D. I’m sharing a beautiful space with fellow feltmaker Linda Kjarstad. We have twice the space, twice the light and twice the fun. If only there was a way to capture the feeling of working with golden sunshine streaming on my shoulders; it makes the most monotonous work enjoyable.

With these new digs, we will be able to teach classes and host workshops with lots of elbow room to spare. Come see the new work we’ve been creating and start your holiday shopping by supporting local artists.

There were several large wholesale orders for felt soaps and kits that kept me in production mode in September and October. But just in time for tomorrow’s open studio, I finished a pair of new nunofelt vests or wraps, depending on how you wear them.

Out of the blue, I was interviewed for an article about felting that ran on the AP newswire, which means it was published in various newspapers across the country and will continue to run for the rest of November. It was enjoyable to speak at length about a subject that soothes and excites me every day. The author, Jennifer Forker, did an excellent job providing an overview of the various types of felting.

Unfortunately, this will be our last artwalk for 2011 as the building will not be open for the December artwalk. BallardWorks is located at 2856 NW Market St. We hope to see you tomorrow night.

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.

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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.

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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.

Experiments with Drape

A sales representative from Rimmon brought fabric samples to Seattle recently, giving me the chance to handle pieces I don’t normally see. While the prices were essentially retail, the variety was so much more than I have seen at our local fabric stores.

I experimented with a couple of bolts, buying the minimum 10 yards of something that had no label, just to see what it would do. The first fabric is a loose knit, that drapes just how I imagined it would; the fiber content is anyone’s guess. I nunofelted some basic merino with a squiggle of tencel for shimmer to see how it would react.

This started as two yards of fabric, but the felt cinched the fabric substantially, leaving me with a piece that is 38″ long, a little longer than 1 yard. My intention was to use it as a window covering for the small window in our front door, but once I draped it around the mannequin, possibilities seem to open up.

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.

Parent First, Artist Second

At this point in my life, I identify myself as a parent first and artist second. From the very first days of my daughter’s life, I knew that I would put the bulk of my energy into her. This was what felt right for me, and is not a judgment on anyone else’s priorities.

There are times, now that my children are in 5th and 3rd grade where it is a struggle to put them first. There is so much I want to do, so much a younger version of myself had expected I would have achieved at this point in my life. Yet, when it comes to choosing between spending a morning pulling weeds at school and meeting with a professional association of artists, my time goes to the garden party. When my son had a fever and a sore throat, I chose to keep him home for four days just to give him the extra cushion he needs to be fully present the following week.

Our children attend a public school in Seattle, underfunded by our district, as is the case across the country. Thanks to the efforts of our parent fundraising organisation, we manage to add music, art, PE and more to our children’s education, with the bulk of our dollars raised at our annual auction. Year in and year out, this is an enjoyable event, where parents and friends are invited to dash for desserts, dress in costume, cook for a crowd and grab a great bottle of wine for a deal. Donations come from all quarters: gift baskets assembled by middle school parents, mosaics created by elementary classes, trips, massages and more. This year, I am contributing two separate items: a felt flower workshop and a ruffled irridescent silk scarf.

This scarf is named Edith, in honor of our fearless auction chair. Two layers of ruby silk are held together with a narrow band of shimmering felt.

The auction will take place on Saturday March 26th, 2010 in the Wellness Center at North Seattle Community College, should you care to join us. The evening begins at 5pm with a fabulous potluck dinner, better than any catered event food. This is one of the things I most love about our school. I’m looking forward to a fun-filled evening putting my money where my heart lies.

Whidbey Island Felting Retreat

Months have passed since I stepped out with a group of intrepid felters for a weekend retreat on Whidbey Island, two hours from Seattle. We rented a large classroom space at an art school and three bedroom vacation rental a short walk from the classroom. We piled roving, pool noodles, bubble wrap and a sense of adventure into our cars for a weekend of experimenting and hard work.

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This was such an amazing weekend of fun, it is hard to put it into words. Besides the bags and bags of food, snacks and beverages; everyone brought their favorite felting books and bits of eye candy. We shared our personal stories, our dreams and our ideas late into the night, while working very hard during the day.

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The muse and inspiration for the weekend was Chris White’s book Uniquely Felt. We pored over the projects, dissecting the aesthetics and merits of each, imagining departures from the originals. I’m not sure which was more fertile ground: the evening discussions or the daytime experiments.

We collaborated, critiqued and assisted each other with the projects without getting in the way or interfering. I really can’t imagine how it we managed to assemble such a harmonious group of symbiotic personalities.

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Our classroom had lots of space and enough tables that we could each pull two six-foot folding tables together for a larger work surface than any of us had previously used. The classroom had kitchen counters with simmering pots of water and two sinks on one wall, making hot water and rinsing stations easy to access.

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With no time constraints, we pulled out all the stops trying ideas that were percolating in the recesses of our imaginations, just waiting for the opportunity to be made into felt.

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Some projects were a raving success, while others were a learning experience. I spent most of a day working on a wrap-around skirt idea that just didn’t work. Now I have a whole lot of felt yardage to show for it, and that idea has been put to bed. Should I ever want to try a felt skirt, I’ll know where to start and what not to do.

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The Unique Felters from left to right: Leah, Jean, Linda, Paula and Jeanette.


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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