Yesterday I started working on my first larger sculpture of 2010. As mentioned before I have planned various shapes and sizes over the last few weeks but luckily I didn’t have enough laminate underlay (to use as a resist) to start working on something particularly big yesterday! I decided to work on a modified shape born out of the sculpture I made last summer in Denmark and set to making the resist and weighing out the wool. For the type of work that I wanted to create a symmetrical resist shape is best. You cut your shape several times and then stitch the various layers together down the middle line using strong thread. For arguments sake just imagine three circles stitched together down the diameter, if you fanned the resulting semicircles out you would have six sides to create your sculpture with. Next you prepare six dry circles of wool weighing each layer to ensure the felt will be even, then you start laying and wetting your wool flipping the semicircles as you go until all the various surfaces are totally encased. For my piece yesterday I worked on a modified figure of eight lying sideways, the curves on the bottom edge were a bit extended and there was a small protrusion on the outside top edge. It took me a while to prepare the stitched resist and as I was working I decided to remove one of the ‘leaves’ to leave me with a five sided template. I decided to use natural white and apple green Icelandic wool with some green and white silk hankies and throwsters waste to add detail and surface interest. It took several hours to get the resist stitched and the five layers of wool prepared and dry felted lightly to help the fibres come together, these were then stacked like pancakes in preparation for covering the resist and wetting out the wool. To be continued …….. with some pictures!
It is amazing how many ways there are to felt a ball. Today I needed to make a couple of felt balls and although they are always trotted out as a beginners project for me they are far from it! I always seem to have difficulty starting them off without getting creases but no more, Australian feltmaker Anita Larkin’s way worked a treat. You lay a few very light layers of wool down on a bamboo blind (I used merino) at right angles to each other and then dry felt for a few seconds. This dry felting is done by placing the palm of your hand of the fibres and moving it gently away from you and back towards you, then do the same from a 90 degree angle. You now have a flattish square of fibres which you fold over at the corner to make an angle, exactly like folding a won ton. Starting from this angle now fold and roll the whole wad of fibres into a ball making sure that the last wisps are as smooth as possible on the outside. Dunk very quickly and very gently into hot soapy water (I use natural olive oil soap) and start to rotate LIGHTLY in your hand. Almost immediately you will feel a skin forming on the outside of the ball, the inside will still be dry and any small creases can now be covered with a light wisp of wool. Work the ball in your hand and on the mat dunking it a couple of times in the hot water as you progress to start working the inside as well. Before you can say ‘felt’ you will have a great ball, amazing! Make sure to rinse it out in hot water and there you go.
Speaking of Australia I mentioned before a great Australian website for felting and sewing supplies, Essential Textile Art. Today I placed another order for various types of sari fabric to incorporate in my nuno felting. I am going away on a felting course to Wollknoll in a weeks time and hope that the fibres will be here on my return. My new Etsy shop is now set up and I will be frantically making some nice pieces to sell as Christmas presents, as soon as I have the items up I will post a link here on the blog! Remember, sign up to Buy Handmade if you want to support artists and craftspeople from around the world.
Swap update: We now have swap participants from Ireland, Germany, Spain and Denmark to join in the upcoming exchange that I am organising. To keep it simple for the first swap the theme will be Autumn and the deadline to join will be 21st September. Swap buddies will be allocated then and your package needs to be posted to your buddy by the 14th October. We will exchange one handmade accessory, one seasonal receipe and a little something extra. Obviously everyone is into different forms of craft so you may make your handmade item anything that you would like to recieve yourself using Autumn at the theme. If you don’t work with textiles there is no problem, just let me know if you would prefer to exchange a piece of art (hand made cards, wall hanging etc.) or some hand made edible goodies and I will pair you up with someone who would like to receive there items. To sign up and for those of you already signed up please email me with your likes and dislikes and let me know if you would be happy to receive gifts other that textiles if necessary and I can forward your preferences on to your swap buddy when the draw is made. If this swap goes according to plan we might consider Christmas as our next theme! To check out other current swaps visit SwapDex, be careful you don’t get hooked.