Simple felt dreadlocks!

As well as meeting loads of fun and dedicated fibre enthusiasts one of the best things about attending any international felt event is the sure fire knowledge that you will learn something new.  Many of you know that I love dreadlocks or felt cords but up until now they have definitely not been on my list of top ten easiest felted items to make! 

Funky felt necklace

Since attending Charlotte Buch’s workshop in Silkeborg I have been experimenting with a technique of hers which allows you to insert multiple cords at the lay out stage without any prior felting to keep them seperate, this has proved a eureka technique for me!!!  Probably I heard somewhere else how to do this (have something way in the back of my mind!) but until I actually saw the results and tried it for myself I couldn’t imagine how many possibilities this would open up for me.  While I was taking a break from finishing the rug I decided to apply this method and try to felt a dreadlock necklace without taking all day making the cords, it worked and only took about 50 minutes from start to finish!  The only difference in the finished item is that the dreadlocks are more ‘crinkly’ looking than if they were partially felted before inclusion, this lends quite a funky feel to the finished piece and I am now full of ideas about how to alter already felted bags and plains of flat felt etc. to update them and add a bit of extra interest.

Felted closure

 

I also adapted a technique learnt from Evelyn Refsahl during my short jewellery workshop for the closure, I still find these a bit fiddly to make but hopefully I will get better in time!

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Sculpture progresses and fun morning with friend

Apologies for my lack of posts over the last few days.  The internet connection has been extremely sketchy, must be something to do with the fact that our weather has broken at last and amazingly for this time of year farmers (and the golf course) had actually been praying for rain!

I have been working on fulling and shaping the sculpture that I started at the end of last week.  This first experiment in creating a tall column shape should give a good indication of whether I need to make my felt thicker, use a different resist, have a larger space to work in etc., all the nitty gritty things that will help me when planning and executing pieces larger than my own actual height and width!  When I started fulling and shaping I initially worked the felt around a long piece of electricity cable housing.  I had intended on having this diameter as the finished width but discovered that the felt needed to shrink further to become stronger and self supporting so I put the work aside to see what on earth I could find to hand with a slightly narrower diameter to enable me continue the shrinking process.  I returned to the scuplture the following morning having discovered the perfect fencing stake lurking in my garage, no problems now working the felt around the wood and beating it with a wooden spoon to finish firming up the felt!  Pictures to follow when the piece is totally finished.

Yesterday I spent a fun morning with friend and artist Rosin Markham.  Amongst other materials Rosin sometimes works with gorgeous undyed raw wool from a variety of different sheep breeds.  She very generously gave me samples and locks from some wonderful looking kinds, hopefully I will be able to take pictures later today and you will see the crimp and texture which should translate wonderfully into some finished felted work.  As Rosin had never worked three dimensionally before I showed her how I work around a resist and she laid out a simple round vessel in graduating shades of undyed Icelandic wool.  Meanwhile I decided that this was a good morning to get started on an ocean inspired bag which I am making as part of the current ‘felted bag swap’ on Ravelry.  I tried out a new shape which with a little tweaking will be perfect as a basis for exploring a new complex felt bag design, just need to add another flap or two but need to buy more laminate floor underlay first!  Rosin’s vessel was looking very good by the time she had to leave and my bag is now sitting on top of a rad drying while I plan and execute the dreaded cord handle.

Suzanne's necklace

You may remember I posted a good while ago about the necklace I made my sister Suzanne for her birthday.  She and my mother came over for a coffee on Sunday morning and I snapped a shot of her wearing it for my records, note the fact that she didn’t want her face to be shown, false modesty in my opinion but it does make for a good photo!

Felted accessories, our Friday workshop with Lyda Rump

Yesterday morning I drove Lyda back to the airport and after a quick call to Ikea, McDonalds (a girl’s got to have some junk food ocassionally doesn’t she??) and the library in Carlow I returned home to Clasheen ready for a hot bath and bed.  I am physically tired but mentally exhilarated after our weekend workshops and I am so looking forward to getting silly household chores out of the way so that I can start laying out some samples for my newest felt project.  I still have to finish fulling my complex felt sculpture but that is on hold for a couple of days until I get the house tidied and the well (STILL no water of my own) back in proper working order.  Now on to the ‘Felted Accessories’ workshop with Lyda on Friday.
We started the morning oohing and aahing over some of Lyda’s beautiful scarves and inventive felt jewellery.  These fun pieces of jewellery gave us the freedom to discover how different colours, fibres and fabrics combined together without the stress of laying out a bigger project and it was very satisfying to have a gorgeous felt accessory at the end of each experiment! 

Gold threaded fabric, turquoise beads and felt necklace strung on rubber cord

Lyda encouraged us to incorporate artifical fabrics into our layout and these had some amazing results in the finished felt, you either loved each piece or you hated it, no middle ground!  During the morning I suddenly remembered that I had a large artificial fabric wrap donated to me by a friend to repurpose and the metallic weaving combined with black was perfect to cut up into pieces to see what the result would be if it were felted into a background of short fibred merino.  As you can see from the picture on the left it formed a good bond with the wool fibres and crinkled nicely during the felting process!  I thought  it was interesting the way the mixed fibres in the weave affected the finished shape.  My lay out of wool and fabric for this piece was square but as I felted them together they shrank very much more in one way than the other.  This ended up as an interesting twisted rectangle shape which I further embellished with turquoise stones and strung on a black rubber tube.  My brief to myself over the weekend was to try our new things, to stitch or bead some work and to complete some projects and not leave them on the long finger for finishing later, whether you like this piece or not it is finished and it is beaded!

Argh, I am so annoyed and frustrated because when I uploaded this post for some reason the second half of my writing and the image to accompany it was deleted.   I don’t know what actually happened and unfortunately I have to rush to the bank so don’t have time to write any more right at this minute.  I will however leave you for the second time, this time with a picture of my merino, stone, fabric and bead pendant minus the longer and more instructive description! 

Beaded felt and stone pendant

 

Felt ornaments, beads and hair accessories

Yesterday was ladies day at the Golf Club and as I only had a couple of hours in the morning to attack a felting project I decided to convert some flat felt samples into smart and colourful Christmas ornaments.  Using this great tutorial from Betz White I slashed, manipulated and stitched a large felt ogee.  Unfortunately I couldn’t find my tailors chalk (no surprises there!) so it took me a lot longer than it should have to cut the lines.  This was a bit frustrating but I didn’t want to make any mistakes and the stitching did compensate somewhat as for once it only took a couple of minutes to get through this dreaded task! The resulting ornament is definitely pretty but until I find my chalk I am just going to string this with some large glass beads and enjoy it hanging in one of the trees in my garden.  Any more of these ornaments will just have to wait until I am properly prepared at the slashing stage although I might get inspired to cut a few out from paper as I try and destash my interiors magazines!

I did put up some images of the felt and ceramic necklace on Flickr yesterday forgetting for a minute that they would automatically link through to my Facebook profile so here is a close up for you to see the contrast of felt and ceramic. 

Close up of felt, ceramic and organza necklace

Hopefully the intended receipient won’t realise that the necklace is her Christmas present so the surprise will not be spoilt.  These large beads are strung on a copper coloured organza and this is an effect that I intend to replicate with a couple more necklaces using some gorgeous vibrant coloured lime ribbon that I brought back from Denmark. 

Felt hair bobble

Having routed out some pieces of flat felt my other project yesterday morning was this simple spiky hair bobble.  Just get a long piece of felt a couple of inches wide and using a sissors or craft knife cut lines into one long side but not right through to the other side (hope this makes sense!).  Starting from one end roll the felt up into a rosette shape stitching a couple of times as you go along.  The slashed ends form a funky anenome style design and you could add a brooch back or as I did stitch on an hair elastic to create a fun felt accessory!

Fabric and felt neckpieces, craft fair preparations

At the end of last week I made two fabric and felt neckpieces, basically a cross between a necklace and a scarf!  These were inspired by a piece of Lyda Rump’s that I saw in Denmark this summer and consisted of a long scarf of silk and linen pulled through large felt beads.  The two ends of the scarf were sewn together and a felt bead covers them and the whole ensembale may be worn wrapped once, twice or three times (if you have a small head!) around your head.  I used my short fibred merino to make the beads so they are exceptionally soft but even if you were actually allergic to wool it would be possible to enjoy the neckpieces as only the silk/linen mix scarf would sit at the back of your neck.   As soon as I get a chance I will upload some photos and you can see how simple but effective these are, a perfect present and a great way of combining some artificial fabrics with felt as well!

This week it is all about preparation for the craft fair that I am attending on Sunday.  I did mention before that I am only doing the one this year, Carmen is organising it and I really want to support the cause.  I have boxed up LOADS of books in my quest to tidy up the house and I am going to bring theses along as well (having of course asked permission) and sell them from beside my stand, hopefully I can make a little extra cash and sort the house out a bit more at the same time!  Here are a few details about the event …….

RAHEEN FAMILY RESOURCE CENTE

IS HOLDING OUR 2ND CHRISTMAS FAIR ON SUNDAY

DEC 6 FROM 10 AM TO 16 PM.

Venue: Raheen Community Hall, Raheen,

 Clonroche Enniscorthy

 

This year’s event promises to be bigger and better that last year’s craft fair. The diverse range of stalls include:

  • Handcrafted jewellery
  • Hand made felt
  • Festive Home made products
  • Festive Décor
  • Christmas trees
  • Clothing
  • Pottery and wood turning
  • Hot Drink and food
  • Hair wrap and face painting

Felt book, felt jewellery, pricing work and Clasheen Crafty Swap update …..

Following on from yesterday’s post about Carmen’s great new book ‘Dutch Felt’, I did an internet search this morning and discovered that it is available directly from the publishars Zijdar.  When I get a few spare hours (whenever that is!) I am planning on trying out Ria’s ‘Heart rug’ project incorporating raw sheep’s wool, silk fabric and merino fibres amongst others.  This looks like the perfect time to try once more some of the gorgeous Jacobs fleece kindly given to me by some neighbours this summer, I will keep you posted!

Orange and grey punched felt necklace

Carmen came over yesterday afternoon and her visit provided an excellent excuse to stop tidying the studio in preparation for the weekend workshop and sit down together and string some felt jewellery.  I pulled some of the colourful felt beads that I have made over the last while out of hiding and then spent some time selecting seed beads that would most do the felt justice.  I always find it difficult to finish projects like these and definitely it is the little things that make the difference, it was SO much easier to have a drink and a chat while putting some of these items to bed once and for all! 

The pictured orange, grey, black, white and hot pink necklace put some of my punched beads to really good use.  Normally I would not seperate these type of felt beads with anything, just string them together in a line but for some reason these screamed out to me to use cheery orange seed beads as dividers.  I like the effect and went on to make some earrings with the other punched beads that I had in my stash, you can check them out on Flickr and some are already up in my Etsy shop.

Speaking of Etsy, how do you price your work???  I am totally aware of the current financial situation globally and while I don’t want to undervalue what I am making I also definitely don’t want to overprice pieces and make them unaffordable to buy.  With this in mind I am constantly comparing dollar prices with euros, hopefully you will agree that $45 (E30.33 at todays exchange rate) is not too expensive for the necklace above, it does have 22 layers of merino in every bead and the felt pad which I punched them from took a full day to make! 

Turquoise and coral felt and bead necklace

The other style of necklace that I uploaded today is retailing at $40 (E26.93), I am trying to reflect the time and skill that went into each various piece as well as the artistic merit and uniqueness or sameness of each design.  These prices are an online special and only available through my Etsy store.  If I am attending a craft fair or other event the prices are a little higher to reflect the extra costs accosiated with participating and travelling to shows.

And finally for today ….. partners are at last assigned for the Clasheen Winter Swap.  Many apologies for the week long delay, things are just hectic here and I think that we will extend the posting deadline to accomodate everyone and allay frustrations!  There is still plenty of time to get your packages prepared, after all we are trying to destash as well as make a personal gift so hopefully there will not be too much shopping to do.

Exciting news re. felting wool, Clasheen Autumn Swap and last chance to view Sculpture in Context

There never seem to be enough hours in a day to fit in all the things that I really want to do.  Luckily my flu is now 90% over so I am starting to plough through all the paperwork and outstanding letters/emails etc. that built up over the 4 weeks while I was away from home.  My exciting news of the day however concerns the Icelandic wool that I will soon be selling from my Etsy store, I haven’t linked through this time because I need to wait until the wool arrives and get the images uploaded first!  The colours are fabulous and as well as offering different weights of the wool for sale I also intend putting some fun kits together with clear (hopefully!) instructions on how to make various different items.  The Icelandic wool is superb for structural work, bags, vessels, sculpture, light shades etc. and also could be used for warm scarves although would not be as soft as merino when worn directly against the skin.  Please let me know what you think about putting felting kits together, I was thinking along the lines of …..  beginners flat felt, simple felt vessel, felt purse, felt flower, felt necklace, felt brooch etc. and then a kit with instructions for a first nuno felt scarf using the fantastic short fibred merino I import from Filzrausch.  I would include all the raw materials including embellishments and any findings, clear but simple instructions and enough bubble wrap and resist where necessary to complete the project.  All comments gratefully received!

This Thursday is the deadline for all Clasheen Autumn Swap packages to be on their way across the globe!  If you have been one of our gang participating this time please remember to get your goddies out and then to leave a message of thanks and pictures to the Clasheen Crafty Swaps pool on Flickr as soon as you receive your own package.  If for any reason you are going to be a day or two late getting to the post PLEASE just leave a message on our message board.  Everyone understands if a delay occurs (so long as it is not every time!) and it just relieves the pressure on both ends of the swap.

Next Monday I will be taking down my felt ‘Cascade’ from Sculpture in Context so if you have not yet visited the Irish National Botanic Gardens in Dublin to view the exhibition now is your last chance.  Check out this article from the Irish Times.

Article in the Irish Times

Article in the Irish Times