Felting matters

Felting matters

Saturday, 12 April 2014

MAKE or BREAK...

Just a quick posting today to mention the 'MAKE or BREAK' show that I'm taking part in over Easter. It's on at The Depozitory, 23 Nelson Street, Ryde on Good Friday 18th April & Easter Saturday 19th April, open both days from 10am to 5pm.

This is a wonderful exhibition space, created from a converted chapel.
It's spacious and bright with amazing light and views across the Solent. I shall be sharing it with a number of island artists including Sue Paraskeva, Neil Tregear & Edna Coatsworth. Admission is free, with lots of free activities for all the family. There will be demonstrations & workshops going on throughout the show, plus story-telling with Ed Boxall...



April has to be my favourite month of the year - not only full of the delights of Spring but this year Easter is late and falls on my birthday, so I'm really looking forward to this special weekend...  

And if you are in Ryde over Easter do come along 
I can't promise cake but maybe I can tempt you with some birthday chocs !!  



PS. It was a great show, great venue!
Thanks to everyone who came along, and thanks to everyone 
who persuaded me to sign up for FB at long last...



Saturday, 22 March 2014

ALPACA SHOW HAT...

One of the main events in the UK alpaca calendar took place last weekend. The British Alpaca Society's National Show was held at the International Centre in Telford, Shropshire. Spring Farm Alpacas and  West Wight Alpacas were both showing their prize winning alpacas and alongside the competitions in the show ring was one for an alpaca hat. 

The hat could be knitted, crocheted or felted as long as it was made from UK alpaca fibre, so I decided to enter a felted alpaca style 'sorting hat' ...


I used a beautifully soft beige baby alpaca fleece (sourced from the island) 
that I'd been saving for a special project, with a dark brim and 
different coloured highlights.

Both Spring Farm Alpacas & West Wight Alpacas did brilliantly well in the 
show ring with many of their alpacas 
winning in their various classes and there's more photos here 

They came away with new champions and many rosettes…


including this one for my hat!

It came 2nd out of 30+ entries and needless to say 
I was really thrilled...!  






Saturday, 1 March 2014

EMBELLISH Autumn Bag...

Last Autumn the lovely people at Artwear Publications in Australia asked if I would design another project for them. This time a felt bag for EMBELLISH magazine with the emphasis very much on the finished decoration.


It was September and here in the UK the leaves had just started to turn, so I 
decided on an autumnal theme, with a falling leaf design in my favourite colours 
ochres, rusty browns and olive greens, with a touch of turquoise.
The magazine was due to be published in March when it would be 
autumn in Australia, so it all seemed to fit…


The bag is made from a piece of flat felt and this can be either 
wet felted or felted using an embellishing machine.

It is a very simple project!

It looks complicated, but the detail is all in the embellishing
 and you can have great fun trying out 
different coloured threads, stitch styles 
and adding beads & buttons.

Find out how to make the bag in the March issue of EMBELLISH

There's all the step-by-step instructions and lots of photos too
and they have even featured a close-up of the 
bag on the front cover...







Wednesday, 12 February 2014

FLIGHTS of FANCY...

At one of the Christmas shows last year I met Nikki Brown an artist who creates the most amazing miniature fairy shoes from polymer clay, each exquisitely made with such precision and tiny detail... And of course we fell into conversation about fairy wear, specifically shoes & slippers and the possibilities of making some from felt.  I had made some fairy slippers a while ago which I called my goblin boots (these now belong to Nikki) - I knew these ideas could be developed further.

So I let my imagination run wild and made these...


A pair of fairy slippers (or pixie boots) felted together in one piece from 
fine layers of Merino. Once cut from the resist and separated into two
 the slippers were individually shaped by hand. 


A pointy fringe was cut around each opening and the off-cuts made 
perfect little felt leaves to decorate the sides. 
I wanted to create an fairly free, organic effect with hand stitching 
using thick threads and simple bold stitches. 
The finishing touch was the soft green suede for the leaf shaped soles... 

While I was making these slippers the words of a poem by Keats I'd 
learnt at school kept going through my mind

"Ever let winged Fancy roam, Pleasure never is at home...
Open wide the mind's cage-door
She'll dart forth and cloudward soar..." 


He was writing about letting the imagination run free because in truth
the reality of life is so temporary! 

Beauty will fade away, pleasure is short-lived, 
it's only our dreams and imagination that are ever-lasting.


What better way to enjoy daydreaming and the occasional flights of fancy 
than by musing on a pair of felted fairy slippers!!!!



As we all know fairy feet rarely touch the ground!

These slippers are designed to be purely decorative and definitely 
not recommended for tip-toeing over mossy stepping stones 
and skipping along damp forest foot paths !

A complete fantasy...  


And another pair are waiting for decoration! 


Saturday, 1 February 2014

FELTING - large scale!

For a while now I've been wanting to felt some large pieces of fabric with the eventual plan to make something wearable, like a simple waistcoat. I've always been limited by the size of my work tables at home but at the start of the year, while things were quiet at Oliven, my felting friend Soosun & I took advantage of the large workshop tables for a day of experimenting... 

I did some preparation and dyed a large 2 square metre piece of cotton scrim using Dylon. Although I have done lots of natural dyeing (usually outdoors) for my knitwear, using cold water dye was another first for me. I always avoid anything potentially messy but it was SO easy! Not even a tide mark in my sink. And the scrim came out a brilliant Flamingo pink - total coverage, no streaking.

Using this as a base for my fibres I was able to spread the 2m x 1m scrim out on the large workshop table and laid out fine layers of Merino on top...

I then used a mixture of threads (see 'Textured Treasures') silks, fibres and snippets of fabric to build up the final layer of textures.


This was a day of experimenting and an opportunity to try out the electric sander just to kick-start the felting process. KC has used it before when felting scarves and it proves invaluable working on this scale. It would have taken so much time hand-rubbing over such a large surface area. No photos available for this stage - I was too busy concentrating on what I was doing!

Then I began rolling, only stopping when the fabric started to shrink alarmingly...

The finished piece measures about 60 cm x 120 cm and the felting is still rather soft for me -  I would have preferred a stronger finish but it would have been so much smaller.

I will work over the entire piece now with the sewing machine to give more surface decoration. This will also help bond some threads but most have felted in well enough.

The scrim base certainly gives the felted fabric a strength, it's light-weight and drapes beautifully. It's ended up rather small and I'm reluctant to cut into it now, but it does make a rather nice wrap.


I've learnt lots... And I have another 6 metres of scrim ready
for the dye pot - tropical green & purple

but the pink is SO cheering for this dull time of year!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

SPRING FARM ALPACAS...

Last weekend found me on the mainland, deep in the Sussex countryside at Spring Farm Alpacas, home of Vicki & Chris Agar and their herd of prize-winning alpacas. 

I had been invited there to hold a workshop specifically to show a group of alpaca owners how to felt alpaca fibre. The 110 acre farm is in a wonderful location, close to the Ashdown Forest in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Vicki has over 80 alpacas at the moment including many show champions.

 

When I arrived on Saturday afternoon the 'girls' were being bought back 
to the farm to spend the night in the barn...
 ...see the wide range of fleece colours - click on the photos for more detail.
Everyone of these amazing animals are treated as individuals, with their own 
identity and character. They even respond to their own names! 
They are handled with such care and kindness by 
Vicki and her dedicated team. 
They are incredibly friendly, inquisitive and very difficult to photograph!

On Sunday morning I met with a lovely group of ten enthusiastic ladies. 
Many were new to wet felting so making lattice scarves was a perfect 
introduction, taking the beginners through the basic felting techniques and 
getting them used to handling the fibres. 
It is also a relatively quick process - laying and wetting out, then rolling, 
throwing and shocking the felted fibres in the final stages. 
Physically quite hard work, but easily achievable in just a few hours! 

Here is everyone at the end of the afternoon with their felted scarves - 
just in need of a final rinse to remove all the soap before drying.

And here are a couple I made earlier so you can see the effect when dry.


Made from alpaca fibre in natural shades of grey with a black/silk blend
and pale fawn with browns.


These lattice scarves are light-weight yet warm, with a very distinctive 
organic look and feel. Their characteristic twisty locks & fringes are 
quite reminiscent of their original owners!
 
It was a really great weekend at Spring Farm Alpacas and I'd like to thank Vicki & Chris for being such generous hosts. 

Everyone created a wonderful scarf - totally unique, practical & wearable - and hopefully this will inspire them to continue making felt using the fibres from their own alpacas...  

For more information about the alpacas at Spring Farm follow this link






Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Happy New ETSY...


At the top of my list of New Year's resolutions was to re-launch 
my ETSY shop for 2014...



The shop was originally opened a few years ago when I first started up the felt business. At the time I was expanding the workshops as well as designing & making felt for the different shows, and I quickly realised that I couldn't keep up with everything so the ETSY shop had to close...

Now seems a good time to re-open as I'd really like to try and reach a wider audience with my felt work. I plan to keep my on-line FOLKSY shop open for the moment selling my packs of Merino tops and kits as the ETSY shop will be purely for felt designs like these...




So I hope you will take a look by following this link!

Not only will there be plenty of special opening offers, but I will be giving some extra surprises and give-aways to my first customers...

The page view total on the blog didn't quite reach 100,000 today - just a few 100's short - but I'm certainly not complaining. I'm just amazed at how many people do check in here everyday, especially over this busy holiday time, so again my sincere thanks for looking 

And a very HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all...!!!






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