Sunday, 9 September 2012

My colours

We all have a favourite colour (mine is purple).  Colours can reflect moods and feelings, or remind us of places and seasons.  There are some colours that suit us better than others.  When I open my box of wool and start a project I don't tend to know what colour combinations I will use, I just let the colours speak to me.  

I made both these pieces at least a year apart, and when I made the second piece, the chicken tea cosy, I didn't have in mind the bag that I had made earlier.  So, these colours are simply a combination that I seem to be drawn to time and again, 'my' colours!  I suppose they are quite autumnal with the rich oranges and reds, autumn is my favourite season, whilst the greens are quite fresh and vibrant.  I've experimented a little with texture here, adding some fancy wool and bit of silk, also mixing up the fleece microns.  Both are made using the resist technique: where I lay out the wool on either side of a piece of thin plastic (the resist) and then remove this plastic once the item is felted.  It is possible to do some really amazing things using resists, including multiple resists, for example see these pieces by artist Martien van Zuilen.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Little Owlets

Owls are everywhere these days.  I did a sewing workshop at the Canberra Craft and Quilt Fair a couple of years ago with BeBe Bold, who sell beautiful Japanese fabrics.  They have a great Owl pattern that is just perfect for using up odds and ends of fabric, and of course, felt!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Mad hatter

I'm always rather ambitious when I start things, and always want to know everything at once!  So, a hat making workshops a few months after I began felting? Bring it on!  In fact, it was a wonderful experience, I learnt so many things in the one day, thanks to a marvellous teacher Pam de Groot.  I traveled to her cosy workshop in the Blue Mountains near Sydney, where I spent a blissful day not just learning to make a hat but learning about the design process, taking ideas and inspiration and turning them into an object.  Pam is a not only a gifted artist but also a very good teacher who seeks not just to show you what to do, but to nurture your creativity and turn your wacky ideas into reality!  I also learnt a lot about shrinkage, making dreadlocks, attaching dreadlocks, making 'quality' felt (even and tight), hat construction, colour and how a little bit of silk really can go a long way to great effect.  Here is the result of my efforts - an original design but very much based on Pam's work (we started with modifying a template of hers to fit my idea of the front 'turn-up').  This was initially flat felted using the template (resist) and then when we had done a LOT of rolling finished with a hat block.  You can see more of Pam's hat's and theatrical headdresses on her blog, they are sure to inspire.  Pam also wrote a nice little blog post about the workshop and my hat - 'what a cracker'!

The photo of me wearing my hat below is Pam's photo from her blog - taken just after the hat was made (still wet with pins in!)

Monday, 30 April 2012

From a photo

Each year, the CRF hold a club competition.  In 2010 we were each given a sealed envelope with a photo inside - we were to use this as our inspiration!  Here is the pot-luck photo I was given.
Perspective, colour, shapes, opening, depth, intrigue, layers... so many ideas!  I knew I wanted to make something like a Matryoshka (russian doll), and for it to have a geometric feel - nested boxes.  However, I was quite a novice with limited experience to draw on!  But one thing I had learnt was to felt a ball... Then, looking closely at this picture, you see there is a ball on the table - perfect!  Here is my interpretation of this photo.  I'm proud to say I won the club competition with this piece, and got to keep the 'Ashes' for a year!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Great balls of felt!

I was shown a great technique to make felt balls like these by former CRF president Lynn Petersen, at one of the first gatherings I attended.  Felt around a ping pong ball or similar (I have since used a cat toy with a bell inside!).  Firstly wrap a small piece of bubble wrap around the ball and secure it very loosely with a little tape.  Add some wool in a couple of layers, then start to massage the ball, dry felting only, until it reaches a 'pre-felt' stage.  Then, make a little hole and remove the bubble wrap.  Continue to felt the ball, now adding a little soap and hot water.  Felting the ball this way gives it a very nice even and firm finish, and they are just so tactile.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Inspired by underwater worlds

The Great Barrier Reef is the world's largest living structure.  Its ancient magnificence makes our 21st century existence seem a mere 'drop in the ocean'.  Yet our oceans are under threat from the excesses of the 21st century: pollution, over-fishing and climate change.  The fear that 21st century Australia might be a century of devastation to the reef and our oceans is what inspired this scarf. 

This was my entry for the Great Canberra Scarf competition 2011 at the Royal Canberra Show and the prose I wrote to go with it.  My scarf won third prize.  The theme was 'Images of 21st Century Australia'.

I have found myself returning to this ocean design, which I first tried out very early on in my felting journey. My inspiration came from a trip to the Great Barrier Reef in 2010, where I learnt to scuba dive.  Scuba takes you into an underwater world, where you are swimming with the fishes, not simply admiring them from afar.  This was also my first attempt at nuno felting.  I was guided in making my first nuno scarf by Wendy Bailye, at a more advanced workshop at the quilt and craft fair where I learnt to make my first flower. I chose a beautiful hand-dyed blue silk as the basis for my scarf design, that would form the 'water'.  My idea was simple; there would be fish, seaweed and bubbles!  The way in which the silk bunches and ripples when the wool shrinks in the nuno felting process echoes the waves in the ocean.
The fish are the key element of the scarf, and are very simple to create in felt.  The key thing to remember is that they shrink a lot, and that you should make them nice fat fish so they won't end up like eels!  Here is a quick photo I took this evening to demonstrate how I would lay out a fish...
A few months ago I revisited this theme and tried something new: a dress!  I bought a very cheap blue cotton dress at the National Folk Festival a year ago, and then I felted a design onto it.  I worked with cold water initially to stop any shrinkage before the fibres had bound together, as this was much harder work to felt than silk (a tip I picked up somewhere that is useful for all nuno felting).  This was the result: made entirely by wet felting, no sewing, modelled by moi at the Canberra Region Feltmakers annual exhibition and fashion show held at CSIRO Discovery .  Don't miss their 2012 exhibition 'Metamorphosis': 24th-27th May.  

Friday, 30 March 2012

It started with a flower

I have been felting since 2010, in the little spare time that I have.  I feel at home with this craft, it has so much versatility, colour and creative potential.  Simply the process of caressing the wool into an object of art is magical, warm and fuzzy.  So, this is where it all began.  An inspiring workshop at the Canberra Craft and Quilt fair with felt artist Wendy Bailye, where I made my first proper felted piece, a flower.  The instructions for these flowers are online here.  I look forward to sharing my creative journey on this blog.