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.
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!
Before I discuss the new way that we learnt of making cords at the Anita Larkin workshop, I just want to say that all the techniques we tried over the weekend ultimately unite and allow you to create exciting scupltural 3 dimensional pieces of felt! At first it seems that learning how to make cords is very basic at a workshop for people who have all felted before but you are never too late to learn new techniques. Most of you are familiar with making cords and probably everyone has their favourite method. How many can there be you might ask but I certainly learnt a totally different method from Anita than any I had seen used before. Lay out a long layer of very fine fibres in a diagonal and then lay a second layer on top of these in the opposite direction, also diagonally. If you want to make a thicker section lay some more layers in that place and then dry felt the fibres by lightly moving your hands over them as with wet felting. Using your spray bottle VERY lighlty wet along only the edge of the fibres and then roll them gently into a log shape. If you are going to be attaching this rope to another piece of felt leave the ends dry for the moment. Using the minimum amount of warm water lightly wet the sausage shaped fibre log and with soapy hands roll it very lightly on your bubble wrap, blind or sushi mat. As far as I can see the biggest difference is in the way the fibres are laid on the diaganol and the volume of (or lack of) water used. This seems to make a very solid and strong cord. Shapes that were started as in the previous post may be added on at any time once the cord starts to hold its shape or the cord itsef may be attached to another piece of felt that you are in the process of making. Next post I will discuss inserting wire into felt and wrapping a solid object in felt. I also want to post a few more images of work that I have completed recently to keep the blog a little bit visual!
I have just returned from an inspiring weekend workshop (organised by Feltmakers Ireland) with Australian sculptor and feltmaker Anita Larkin. We were learning several different techniques, making balls, making cords, covering an item and creating pieces with multiple layers (via multiple resists). If this sounds like work that you may already have done WAIT UNTIL MY NEXT POST! Because of the need to conserve water in Australia Anita works in a slightly different manner, so obvious once you see it in action and I will explain a bit more tomorrow as soon as I have caught up with some urgent work on the Irish Green Gathering.