Two naturally printed felt vessels

Following on from my first vessel of 2014 I've felted two more since the beginning of the week, this time they've been naturally printed. I had some lovely pomegranate skins and pith left after I cooked a big lamb, date and pomegranate tagine, what better use than to add them to a pot and let their colour influence a couple of bundles?

Here's a picture of the first vessel prior to printing, it's a combination of Portugese merino, mohair locks and a silk/linen blend for surface embellishment. On FB earlier in the week I mentioned that the fibre was bamboo, not so as I discovered once I printed it, I thought it felt a little different laying it out! Anyway, the giveaway was the fact that it appeared to take colour from the pot well. Bamboo, being a cellulose fibre, usually remains white after printing adding an interesting look to the felt (which I like), silk on the other hand is a protein fibre and takes the colour well so even thought this was a silk/linen blend it didn't really achieve the effect I had intended. Not to worry, here's the finished vessel.

I like the reverse

and side views better.

The second vessel is more of a bowl shape, I used the same Portugese merino with loads of Firestar on the outside (for sheen) plus the same silk/linen blend embellishing the inside.

I used a combination of different eucalyptus and blackberry leaves for this one, you can see a blackberry leaf in the inside centre with this birds eye view.

I particularly like the strong contrast of the reddish eucalyptus against the golden tones of the pomegranate on the base. Next time I'll bundle differently but use the same materials, I'd like to get those colours on the top of a bowl!

 

Marvellous Michigan, felt, fun, friends and ice cream!!!

I am so excited to be heading back to teach and stay once more with Dawn, Morry and Micah in Plainwell MI, it really does feel like my home away from home!!! Sue, Shirley, Kristi, Peggy, Patty and a few others who’ll remain nameless all know that although I don’t have a sweet tooth I’m OBSESSED by the wonderful Plainwell Ice Cream, Art and Judy watch out, I hope that you have a tonne of butter pean in the making as I write this post. In addition to sorting out loads of FeltUnited stuff and many silk salvaging trips to Goodwill and the Salvation Army store, most importantly Dawn will be hosting my MI workshop ‘Wrapped in Felt’ on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th May. This is the first weekend of my upcoming US trip, what a fantastic way to kick off this amazing visit!

Sue and Shirley with their marvellous large felt vessels!

Sue and Shirley with their marvellous large felt vessels!

Aren’t these vessels felted by Sue and Shirley at last year’s event just fabulous??? I can’t wait to see what ideas they both come up with this year! I’ve created an event page for the workshops on FB and the full details of what we’ll be covering are on here on the workshop page of the blog. Amongst other things I’ll be sharing a way of felting vessels using an open instead of a closed resist, when I first tried out this method at Dagmar Binder’s 6 day masterclass in Scotland last year it was a totally ‘DUH’ moment for me. It’s revolutionised the way I think of resists now and made it so much easier to create shapes that I was struggling with or could only conceive in my mind before. There’ll also be the opportunity and facilities (for those that want) to make some small natural bundling experiments on silk and felt using leaves, onion skins, tea leaves and rusty metal. This is a wonderful and totally non toxic way of adding another dimension to your textile art, I love having a selection of my own naturally printed fabric to select from when I’m planning a nuno felting frenzy! Speaking of nuno felting, as with last year, participants are free to lay out a large piece of felt, maybe a wrap, wall hanging or yardage for a vest and then I’ll explain the steps that need to be taken so the piece may be felted in the dryer and brought back to class the next day felted, fulled and ready to share with the group! Obviously if anyone wants to felt their piece by hand during the workshop that’s also possible, the tumble dryer method though takes all the hard work out of the process and allows one to enjoy the designing and laying out process so much more!!! There’s a public laundry (is that the correct word in the US?) just up the road from our venue for those people staying overnight. a trip to Plainwell Ice Cream in the evening is also essential for anyone from out of town so I’ll leave you today with a picture showing some of the amazing flavours available for you to enjoy!

Yummy flavours at Plainwell Ice Cream!

Some of the yummy flavours available at Plainwell Ice Cream!

 

Felt bowl, room to improve!

I should have started a commission yesterday but after a long morning trying to sort something out on the phone (getting passed from pillar to post then just when I was getting somewhere being cut off accidentally!) I decided to call it a day and shelve the start of the project until today.

Gathering my materials, goodies from Merridee!

Instead, I decided to felt a little open topped bowl using some grey and rust coloured needle felt which was a gift from Merridee and combine this with some light chocolate coloured French landsheep wool and an unusual shiny metallic woven net knitting tape (at least I think that’s what it is), also a gift from Merridee! It was quite interesting working in colours that I wouldn’t usually put together, initially I decided to felt a wide topped bowl using the open resist method and I wanted to include a piece of my eco printed silk as detail on the silvery grey inside. I’m guessing that I need a lot more practice with this method determining the size and shape of my template because the finished bowl is not as wide at the top as I expeced and I also think that I should have used fewer layers of wool but started out with a much bigger resist. In addition to these issues, the eco printed silk didn’t combine well with the prefelt so I pulled it off mid way through the fulling process and the metallic mesh didn’t gleam as much as I expected once the bowl was fully felted.

The outside is now the inside

I think that this is primarily because the French wool is 28 micron and therefore quite hairy, I do like the texture of it however and as I was working and shaping the bowl I decided to turn it inside out and have the design on the inside and the simple brown edged grey on the outside. The French wool felted really easily and was gorgeous to lay out, I think it would be wonderful for large totes or weekend bags so if you’re interested in ordering any it’s code numbet 1464 from Wollknoll!

Anyway, enough for now as I really have to get the sleeveless jacket started, here’s a picture of the finished bowl, it’s much better this way out even if it does look a lot like a flower pot.

The finished bowl, not quite what I expected so plenty to work on

Wall hanging and felt vessel on days three and four of Dagmar’s workshop

Being inspired by Dagmar’s fine art wall hangings on exhibition in Odense, Denmark during ‘Felt in Focus’ 2009 I swore then that I’d take a workshop of hers when this was one of the projects that would be offered for participants to explore.

Working on the back of my natural white wall hanging with ‘The Modest’ felting roller from ‘niki & niki’

Thanks to US friend Susan (who didn’t manage to get into Dagmar’s 2 day Irish workshop!) who alerted me to the 6 day masterclass at Big Cat Textiles, I booked asap and in turn alerted our mutual US friend Merridee, the die was cast and the three of us all had a marvellous time!!! I knew before I headed to Scotland that I wanted to make my wall hanging in natural white with various undyed fibres for the surface decoration, this left me free to make decisions about what attachments to add and how I wanted the piece to appear structurally after I had time to mull over all the different options. The soya, silk, linen, milk protein and sea cell fibres that I used on the surface gave a nice tone on tone effect and opting for a simple style meant that I was free to try a complimentary vessel with a spiral attachment on day four.

The almost finished wall hanging, sorry about the poor quality photo

Working with an open rather than a closed resist for my vessel was a eureka moment for me!!! Strange isn’t it? Dawn uses this method almost always for her beautiful hats and it never once occurred to me to do so for a vessel. It’s a hang over from reading somewhere (a beginners felting book I think, early in the days) that it was always preferrable to totally cover the template, something to do with the pressure the edges are put under during the felting process. Well anyway, chatting to Dagmar and actually trying an open sided resist has totally changed my perspective on how I’ll felt vessels in the future, I loved the way I could manipulate the shape and the quality of the open edges was very uniform and smooth! I’m not saying that I’ll always use this method but I can now see my way clearly to felting some vessels that I’ve been itching to try but to date have only existed in my imagination, watch this space. Finishing my vessel by the time day four’s advertised time was up meant that I had several hours free that evening to measure myself (with help obviously!) and work out how large I needed my template to be for the sleeveless vest with attachments that were scheduled to be felted during the fifth and sixth days of this marvelous workshop. I’ll leave you with a picture of the finished vessel, note the subtle colour and texture from soya fibre inside the neck. Next time, the vest.

My large felt vessel with spiral