mostlyshadesofpurple

Creations in Felt


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Re-visiting


I have recently gone back to a previous design for one of my vessels as I had a new idea for connecting the edges. When originally using the leather string to ‘stitch’ the sides together it bothered me that this created a wobbly edge, which was difficult to straighten. What I now tried instead: I used two thin pieces of wood (in my test piece they are actually coloured lollypop sticks) in which I made holes at the same distance as in the felt. I then ‘clamped’ the the two felt edges between two pieces of lollypop sticks and threaded the leather string through.

I have to admit that this was very fiddly! But I think it is worth it – the result is neat and straight, a much cleaner finish which is likely to keep its shape under pressure much better than the original solution. And of course I am on the lookout for alternatives to the lollypop sticks – other forms of wood, or even metal…?

Handmade felt vessel, 100 % Wool, 20 x 20 x 15 cm, wood and leather string

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Still here…

…and still making things! Starting this blog almost two years ago was very much a tool to keep me focused and keep the momentum going. It encouraged me to try out new things – and following the general advice to have a regular pattern, to keep up a discipline of e.g. weekly posts – prevented me from letting things drift. So, when I missed the first week posting, then another and another I did feel a bit guilty at neglecting this self imposed regime. But once I realised that I didn’t need the pressure of the blog any longer to carry on making things, being creative, I let myself off the hook. I have reached the point where I enjoy making things, doing crafty stuff (and some artsy stuff) without the constant need of having to document it. In short – creativity is fully integrated into my life again and that means an awful lot to me after having put this on hold for so long!

So, here some images of what has been in the making:

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Some of the felt panels which started a while ago have developed in unexpected ways and will be combined into a ‘totem’ like wall hanging.

And this is the ‘artsy’ bit 😉

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Linen with bleachmarks, embellished with handmade wool felt and recycled beads, machine stitched lines (approx 40 x 30 cm)


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Seitensprung…

…is german for having an affair (literally ‘jumping sideways’), being unfaithful. And that’s a little how I feel: After my intense submersion in the world of felt for the last year I have recently slowed down and started looking around at other areas of textile creation. And it’s great to open your mind and discover all these other worlds that exist and where so much creativity goes on. And so – as already mentioned previously – I looked into making marks with bleaching and – most recently – done a textile workshop combining painting and stitching. I have also started knitting again and even sewing a piece of clothing – both things I hadn’t done in years. It is all hugely enjoyable and adds so much to what I have already learned. This has been a time of reflection and discovery and orientation – and I can’t tell where it is going to take me. However, when I recently picked up some of my felt panels it just hit me how wonderful this material feels, how I enjoy the physical sensation of handling it and – above all – how great it is to work with the material when cutting and re-assembling as it doesn’t unravel as any other fabric does! It is still my real love and that’s why I felt (no pun intended :-))a bit unfaithful…

Still, I am not going to abandon the new things I have discovered but will try finding ways to integrate it all eventually.

So – what really excited me was an attempt to combine the bleach marking with some shibori techniques. As using bleach is obviously the opposite of dying fabric I was curious whether the folding and tying techniques used in shibori could be incorporated when working with bleach. The great thing is that you have an instant result as the bleach removes dye from the fabric within seconds.

What I did:

I wrapped a piece of black cotton around a cardboard tube and then pushed the fabric from both sides towards the middle very tightly. I then applied bleach with a brush over the creased fabric lengthwise once and repeated this using discharge paste (a specially developed paste to remove dye). This is the result:

I absolutely love the pattern this created – it reminds me of flames in the night… (the orange is the bleach effect, the grey comes from the discharge paste)

I am also carrying on producing more felt panels with the aim of creating a wall hanging eventually and have made first attempts to add some stitching:

And the latest project – coming out of the latest workshop – is a felt panel that I first painted with acrylic paint and then started to assemble with  other pieces of painted felt, cotton and silk. This is a detail:

 

So – lots going on even if not on the blog… 🙂


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Nothing new

I initially made this experience early on when studying Ceramics: I would be tasked to design a particular item and would proudly attempt to realise an idea thinking how unique my design was! Only to find that someone as long as 2000 years ago had already been there and done that…! What an eye opener and how humbling – and it led me quite quickly to the recognition that there are no new shapes and forms to find, the only thing I can do is bring my own approach to a challenge, find my personal touch and maybe find a unique or different way of combining certain elements.
The same has just happened after my last post – I naively thought I was being original in considering combining my felting with other elements of fibre art. Until I had another look at the amazing ‘500 felt objects’ book and found several artists who have long done what I have only just discovered. Of course – what else did I expect?!
Although I have looked through the book a few times before I only saw what I could relate to at that point, recognising what I could link to my own experience, but now – having looked around a bit further and learned a little more – I can see and recognise more and I am sure this is bound to be an ongoing process. Isn’t it fascinating – all these doors opening once you start taking the first step! (Note to self: as a ditherer of epic proportions there is a lesson to be learnt here – sometimes you just have to make a start without knowing where it will lead or nothing will ever happen!)
So – after these thought processes and dilemmas about where to focus my energies and mainly inspired by other textile designs such as this and this (and of course others) I have decided to start making various smaller felt panels, different colours, patterns, ideas and see where this leads me. I may combine them into one piece for a wall hanging, I may use them individually or combine them for smaller objects – or something different altogether that I can’t see yet!

By the way – inspiration really is all around us…: 

grass square(recently spotted during walking the dogs) 🙂


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Widening Horizon

 

Bleach marks 5

Bleach marks 5

When I discovered felting just over a year ago it opened my eyes to a completely new world and I threw myself into it with total enthusiasm and singleminded focus. This new discovery grabbed me completely and – wanting to learn as much as possible about it in as short a time as possible – I developed a form of ‘tunnel vision’. I guess this is inevitable up to a point. Being now a bit further down the road and having allowed myself to draw breath and look around  again I have started to notice that there is so much more in the world of textile and fibre art! I am still discovering more and more new and different, magical worlds – and so many artists who create breathtaking pieces. Thanks to Pinterest (yes, I am addict too!) my horizon is constantly widening, extending with no end in sight. Amongst other things I have for instance discovered shibori (a traditional japanese technique of dyeing involving folding, stitching, tying the fabric), I am admiring countless examples of inspired contemporary quilts – and so much more.

All this led to me being ready to try something very different: I recently attended a workshop learning about using bleach to mark/decorate fabric. A local artist – Mary McIntosh –  offered a day introducing us to this fascinating technique. It was incredible fun and really exiting to find that with the simplest ingredients – such as household bleach and various objects (stamps, brushes, sponges etc.) you could get such instant and bold results.

 

MMC detailThe general idea was to use the treated fabric and add machine and/or hand stitching to emphasise the patterns as seen in this detail from one of Mary’s panels:

Whether I am going to do that with my pieces of fabric I haven’t decided yet but what suddenly struck me was that I could of course transfer some of the newly acquired techniques and ideas to felting as well. It occurred to me that in particular the stitching would work very well with the softness and thickness of felt and create a three dimensional effect which in the case of fabric can only be achieved with adding padding.

stitched felt

 

I have made a first little tester which looks encouraging – and the added bonus is that the strength of the stitched felt is vastly increased which opens up yet new areas of use…!

My Conclusion for now: the journey has only just begun 🙂


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Spring weather and other excuses…

felt bag turquoise3Spring arrived with a vengeance a while back – and that of course meant that things needed to be sorted out outside, clearing up the stuff that had accumulated over the winter, dumped and left because it was too miserable to spend any length of time outside. So, I did some of that… and then I got a bit stuck with my latest object. After the previous bag – where I abandoned the original handle idea  – I still needed to come back to it and give it another try as I wasn’t quite ready to let it go. It has been a slow process as I needed to work out how to realise the drawing and make it work on a practical level. I am not entirely sure that this was the only reason though, as I also kept asking myself whether I really wanted to make bags just because other people would like me to? I am probably not the only creative person who struggles with the question whether to make stuff that sells or just do what they are interested in… The dilemma is that , yes, of course I want to make what I enjoy, I want to learn, develop, explore my skill, expression and find my language – but can I afford to just produce for my own pleasure? Even if I don’t have to make a living from this it would be helpful to cover some of the cost of the materials, never mind freeing up space. And yet, once I start thinking about the commercial side of it my whole mindset and approach changes and I lose the essential openess, receptiveness to the material and process. And there is the danger that it becomes repetitive because I start copying something I made before and the wonder of discovery and learning is reduced. So is the answer  to just do your own work, find your own way, learn and become better at what you do and ignore the rest?

While pondering these thoughts I carried on trying to find a solution for bag number 2, finished it and vowed to myself that I would not make more but go back to just doing what I am really interested in. And then everybody loved the bag, saying they would definitely buy one like that and where does that leave me now?? It is such a great boost and I find myself faltering and thinking ‘I guess I could make some more if people like it so much…’
Maybe there is just no final answer to the question…

felt bag turquoise1

Felt bag turquoise with beads

 Materials: 100 % wool, up-cycled beads / Size: W:25 cm, H: 25 cm (excl. handle)