Thursday, July 29, 2010

Adventures in Wet Felting

The night before we left for Nancy's house I was laying in bed trying to fall asleep, but too excited to even close my eyes! I've been fascinated with landscapes and little plots of land with houses on them recently...and I came up with the idea to make a felted "geode" pincushion "farm" of sorts.

Here was my grand start with different shades of blue wool and wet felt the layers in an irregular ball/egg shape. Next I was going to take different shades of green and keep adding more and more layers of wool on top of the blue until I got a nice flat/smooth rock shape...big enough to be a decent sized pincushion. When you cut it apart I wanted it to resemble the aerial view of some farmland with a little pond. Something I could add a little house to and/or trees...and maybe embroider some tiny flowers or little garden perhaps.

When I explained my vision, Nancy was so kind to do some carding for me and blend these luscious colors of wool for me to use on this experiment.

Unfortunately, it has been a while since I've wet felted anything...and apparently I had lost my touch. I think now that I wasn't using enough soap, but I was really having trouble getting it to felt tightly to itself. The more layers of wool I added, the more squishy the underlayers were becoming and I was just making a big mess. Nancy worked on it for a bit, and I tried some more, but finally we just rinsed it out and let it dry overnight to see what would we could do with it in the morning.

With a fresh start, I decided to needlefelt it a little bit to tighten everything up (carefully needlefelting into only the outer layers and not into the blue center which would distort the colors when it was cut in half). I felt so good about my progress at the time that I needlefelted several additional layers of greens to bulk it up for a decent size pincushion in the end.

The piece I brought home still needed to be wet felted to secure all the layers some more. In hindsight, I wish I had just wrapped it up and felted it in the washer and dryer a few times. That would have really solidified it, but I did it by hand. I really thought I had felted it to the point it could be felted no more...and let it dry overnight. It was then ready to be cut apart. I managed to cut it almost in half (one side was a little bigger than the other) and things were looking good. I wanted to gently wet felt each side again to round the "cut" edge a bit. So I did just that. I didn't like how the edges were coming out, so I took the smaller of the two and wrapped it in some fabric and proceeded to felt it in the washer & dryer...hoping something interesting would happen. Well...interesting? yes...expected? no. The layers on the inside sort of "bloomed" and here is what happened.

I like that it rounded out the edges...but now my pond was taller than my land! So...that didn't work as planned. It still works as a small pincushion though, a good one actually, with a flat bottom so it won't roll around. I will still need to do something to it to give it some personality.

The other half mistake...

I felted it by hand for a while, and some of the inner layers still didn't seem to be felted to each other as much as I would have liked. I thought I would toss it in the washer/dryer like the other half to see if that would round everything out smoothly. Unfortunately, I must have been thinking about something else at the time...because I forgot to wrap something around it first! So these 3 pieces are what I pulled out of the washer...

The blue core of the pincushion came out of the green part entirely, and there was even an extra little piece of blue that appeared out of nowhere as well...but everything was "rounded" out quite nicely! :) oops!

My revised plan is to still salvage a landscape out of the flat green just won't be a pincushion (because it's nowhere deep enough). Now that it's purely a decorative object, I have room for adding more stitching and a bigger house! I will have to give the embelishment some more thought. My pretty little round lake is too small to be a good pincushion though. Maybe it will be the center of a 3D flower? Hmmm... It has the makings of something interesting...just not what I planned. :)

Fiber Fun with Friends

I had the most wonderful time last week at Nancy's house! We spent several days in her studio just playing around and creating. Here are a few of the experiments/projects I worked on.

Nancy invited us to pick out a few frames from her stash and give them a new life with a fresh coat of paint. "Frames of Distinction" I think she called them. :) There are layers and layers of different colors of paint rubbed onto the larger one, and I'm really pleased with how it came out. I can already see the piece that I will make to go in it! The smaller one is so delicate with its detailed edge, and will eventually need a very sweet piece of embroidery to live in it...or a nice, soft black & white photo in the meantime.

We each made a little stitch sampler one evening as well, and mine was variations of the fly stitch. The two other darker pieces of linen were our paint rags from earlier that day and will most definitely be the start of something interesting in the future. :) What is that orange thing doing there you ask? I'll explain more in a moment...

Lastly...we made some wonderful "fiber balls" (or "ort balls" or "tribbles"). The name for them is still under debate, but making them was a delight! We started out with a ball of yarn or wool roving and/or fabric, whatever was laying around that we didn't particularly care for, and proceeded to wrap layers and layers of more wool roving, orts, fabric strips, yarn...anything really that would wrap around the balls. As they got closer to their final size, we picked more pleasing orts & threads & bits so that there would be interesting layers of color and texture on the surface of each one. After we worked on our little samplers, we tried stitching on these balls with our different stitches...and that was great fun too! I'll have to keep adding more layers of stitching on them so that they will continue to develop and get more and more interesting. My thought is that they can live in a pretty bowl and when I need something to do I can whip one out and add a little more character to it at any time. Fun huh? :)

The dark bluish green ball in the back was an experiment with needlefelting some roving over a ball of yarn. It actually started out the same size as the yellow ball to the left in the photo, but shrunk rather drastically after I wet felted it and put it in the dryer! I plan to add some embroidery to it as well. It needs some personality...

OK, now to explain about the flower in the first photo...Nancy had this bit of orange, felted "cord" that was a leftover scrap from something she had made a while back. She gave it to me to put in the center of a ball, but I just couldn't bring myself to hide it away...never to be seen again! And I don't even like orange!!! So, I coiled it up and stitched it together as the start of a 3D fabric flower that will be a part of my growing fabric flower bouquet. :)

I played around with lots of different buttons, and finally chose a ceramic one with a pretty blue-green glaze on it. A nice contrast to the yellow-orange of the wool, I think.

There was one more felting project I attempted at Nancy's house, but it will require a post of it's very own, so stay tuned! It has taken a few unexpected turns...and needs much explaining. :)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fresh New Pendants

A few new pendants fresh off the vine...

Anyone hungry for a snack?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Orange is Everywhere!!!

Aren't these gorgeous! I seem to be surrounded by so many different shades of orange recently. Not my favorite color in the box...but I couldn't help but drool over these beauties in my mom's front yard!

And squash! Who knew squash could be so interesting??? My dad shared some with me that a friend gave him on Wednesday. Aren't they cool? The ones I get from the grocery store are so boring compared to these. I'll never be able to look at a squash the same way again...

Art Dolls - A Round Robin 3

These dolls are getting more and more interesting as we near the end of our Round Robin exchange! Each one is taking on it's very own personality with more and more people putting their stamp on each doll.

Doll #5: This gorgeous creation is my mom's doll. When she came to me she had a rather manly, protruding jawline and no facial features. That really worried the first thing I decided to do was perform a little plastic surgery on her. I didn't take a "before" picture...but let's just say the surgery was a great success! I then proceeded to stress and worry about ruining the doll if I gave her the wrong face for an entire month...and finally stitched and painted it on the day before the swap. Whew! Call me the Queen of Procrastination!

I also ended up making her a little skirt out of some buttery yellow fabric so that she could be officially deemed "decent"...and fully clothed.

Only one more doll to go before I get my own doll back! :)

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summertime Necklace

Several Months ago I created a "Springtime" necklace for my dear friend Nancy. She encouraged me to make a another piece that was similiar because she liked it so much and thought someone else would as well! :) It has taken me a little while to build up a little collection of beads that played well with each other and get it finished...but here it is! There are a few more green beads in this one, but I'm really pleased with the overall result.

This type of necklace is a prime example of how I like to work at the torch when I'm making beads. I like to have a collection of colorful glass at my fingertips that I can experiment with, and that is exactly what I do. Sometimes I have a particular shape or color in mind...but I'm always flexible with my plan. The glass will tell me what it wants to be once I start shaping it. :) Then I just play! A few beads will end up being true "learning tools" that will never be turned into anything...but more often than not I'm pleased with the tiny treasures that come out of the kiln the next morning. And putting them together in necklaces like this make my heart happy! :)

Thursday, July 8, 2010

An Interesting Tree

Have you ever been so struck by the beauty of God's creation that you couldn't help but stop in your tracks and catch your breath? I came to an abrupt stop in the middle of a little country road (after quickly checking in my rearview mirror to make sure that nobody would hit me) just to gawk at this huge, interesting tree. It doesn't quite translate in the photo...but it was marvelous! With it's bark peeling off, the bare white branches were in such stark contrast to the deep blue, cloudless sky...and all around me was open fields of lush green farmland. Oh, how I wish this little stretch of road was on my daily commute! :)

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Evergreen Necklace

Despite the fact that it's been really hot and it seems like the grass all around me is wilting...I always enjoy working with my favorite color...GREEN!

This necklace, simply titled "Evergreen", is 29" long and currently for sale at the Art Market Gallery. Jot me an email if you would like more information about it! :)

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pink Hydrangeas

My pink hydrangeas were blooming a couple weeks ago in the front yard! I couldn't resist snapping a few close-ups for inspiration...

I think this pendant turned out really beautiful, and it got a good home today! :) Thank you!