Productive weekend playing with surface embellishment on felt vessels, stiffening experiment number one underway too

Continuing with the theme of sculptural felt for my ArtL!nks work, this weekend I played around with surface embellishment.  Between Friday afternoon and Sunday night I felted one small vessel incorporating a plastic net (the net that my clemintines came in) at the lay out stage and another medium sized one with leather and seed bead embellishments, these I stitched to the vessel prior to the final drying and shaping.  An email from Connie in relation to beading felt prompted me to create the stitched piece, I need to collect another roll of laminate floor underlay and 50m bubble wrap in Kilkenny on Wednesday so until then I can’t start on my largest vessel, playing around with surface design and starting to experiment with stiffeners and fabric paint seemed like a good way of continuing the project while having fun at the same time! 

Little leather leaves, seed beads, white vessel and sewing tools

The idea for adding the leather leaves and seed beads was inspired by a purse I saw in one of the Stampington magazines, I will explore my untidy studio and upload the name as soon as I get my hands on the magazine!  Because I made the vessel in pure white without any prefelt cutouts it was nice just to concentrate on the form and enjoy feeling the wool felting under my hands.  Once the vessel was felted and shaped I started to stitch the little leather shapes around the brim.  Felt is a wonderful medium to stitch into (if the felt is thick enough and not paper thin) because for most sewing projects it is possible to hide any thread ends and loose ends within the fabric thus leaving a totally clean reverse to the stitched side. 

Stitching on the first leaf

It didn’t actually take as long as I anticipated to stitch on the leaves and now the vessel has a balloon inside it once more to keep it in shape until it is 100% dry, I will post a photo as soon as this is last stage is completed.

The other sculpture/vessel entailed stretching a plastic orange net around my resist, laying three layers of brown merino on top of this followed by one layer of yellow fibre.  I didn’t trap the netting at all and hoped that the torn edges in some spots would add the the surface interest, the plastic incorporated well but I am not totally sure if I am happy with the colour combination and design now it is drying, possible less plastic would have been more in this little sample! 
Little plastic orange net and merino sculpture/vessel

This morning I have created and stiffened a medium sized vessel using Icelandic wool, loads of soap and cold water a la Anna Gunnarsdottier.  More about this vessel next post, stiffeners again and tools we all use for fulling our felt.  Thanks for all your comments to date re stiffeners, much appreciated!


4 thoughts on “Productive weekend playing with surface embellishment on felt vessels, stiffening experiment number one underway too

  1. Good morning Nicola,

    I’m so enjoying living vicariously as you explore all of these different mediums and techniques, and finding what you like, don’t like, what works, etc. It’s great that you’re doing so, too, the exploration that is…I think so often we get hung up in not wanting to take the chance that something will not turn out if we stray too far off the beaten path, but actually we learn as much, if not more, in the process of experimentation. My hats off to you (all 50 of them:-)

    Love the leather leaves. Looking forward to seeing the paint applications, too. My lands, no moss growing on you!

    Big hugs,

  2. Hi Nicola,
    Your Orange netting is inspiration; strange because I have a book by a basket maker whom I met at college by the name of Lois Walpole. She sews together these orange net baskets weaving in and out of them whilst on a ball of some sort and when she has finished they keep their shape completely. You might like to order the book from the library so you can read how she does it. Not sure how many layers she chooses though. Hope this helps Tricia x x

  3. Hi Nicola, great to hear youv’e shaken off your cold. Your vessels are amazing … I love them. Looking fwd to seeing them in the flesh.

  4. When in doubt, I Google…….

    The above is a very dense but interesting patent article about traditional hat making and they seem to suggest that Shellac is the most common thing used but they are trying to get a patent for something they invented….I wonder if they ever did ?

    The above link is other felter talking about their experience with stiffeners . Seems like using a corn-starch stiffener on in side of vessel and perhaps coating whole item in a fabric (or leather?) water proofing might be an interesting experiment ? Only question for me would be how toxic are the ingredients in the water proofing sprays … Scotchguard spray?

    Someone brought up using the stuff they use on concrete…don’t recall the name but….again, I see a problem with using something as earth friendly as wool only to cover it with something toxic . Part of the appeal of wool for me is that it is biodegradable….(but not if covered in petrochemicals . )

    I have made some very hard felt….accidentally , just by hard felting it….rewetting and then putting in the drier, ( for to long for to long for a scarf but it ended up making great dragon wings. Problem is that you can’t control the felt and tends to come out a bit lop-sided., some areas harder felted then others…but it certainly is hard . I wonder if stuffing vessel with rags to help retain it’s shape while in the drier would help, (I tried plastic bags but took it out before it hardened enough because I was afraid they would melt ) . Next time will try the rags and see how it works .

Please comment if you feel like it, I love the interactive nature of my blog!

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