Sewn felt bag

Internet connectivity difficulties persist so hopefully this quick post will beat the rot, it is also FREEZING upstairs where the computer is and I am trying to save my oil for keeping the downstairs warm incl. my studio!

Sewn felt bag with red leather handles

 

I am trying to felt as much as possible during the day, 1 to utilise the fibres in my stash, 2 to continue making Christmas presents, 3 to experiment with different designs and 4 just for the hell of it because I love to!  Part of the benefit of limiting myself to the materials at hand and being confined to base is that I find I am trying to make sure every piece of felt ends up in a finished product and not just the pieces that I am happiest with.  The bag on the left was felted on Tuesday afternoon and started as yardage for felt slippers (tutorial and kit in the making).  When I assessed the design yesterday morning I actually thought that it would be a pity to cut it up too much and decided it would make a much nicer bag for carrying files, books etc.  if only I could get my sewing machine out and bite the bullet on the stitching side of things.  At the time I thought that I had one set of black leather handles left but imagine my surprise when I discovered that I had no black left but instead the most perfect red imaginable to finish this project!  One bag later and not too much stress with the sewing machine I now am planning some Icelandic wool cushion covers and some more bags with both felt and leather handles.  As you know I usually only felt bags using a resist but there is something soothing and mindless about creating felt yardage and for some reason the mood I am in with all this snow this activity seems to suit me perfectly and I think that stretching myself with a bit of sewing in no bad thing either!

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Latex soles for felt slippers, cold spell continues and Happy New Year!

Last night I decided not to light my wood burning stove first thing this morning and try to get some household chores out of the way as a less expensive way of keeping myself warm!  Needless to say it wasn’t long before I decided on a little textile diversion and in the continuing absense of water had a go at painting latex on the soles of some warm felt slippers which I had made for myself earlier in the year.  Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will realise it is these little finishing touches that I find very difficult to get out of the way, add in a touch of sewing and they really are my worst nightmare come to life!  Anyway, I made the slippers last spring using some gorgeous gotland (which someone has now told me might shrink further as I wear them) and I had promised myself that I wouldn’t wear them until I had added a latex sole for extra durability and waterproofing qualities. 

Painting latex on the soles of felt slippers

They also need one stitch at the back of each heel, this is to hold the tongue of felt (just visible in the picture) into a nice decorative curl, somewhat Turkish looking is what I am aiming for.  I havn’t used latex before but believe that I need to paint about 5 layers to achieve a really good sole, Tone from Ullform in Norway also said that she sprinkles a layer of ground maize (hope I have that right!) over the final coat and that this adds quite a bit of grip to the bottom of the sole. 

The heavy wind and rain from yesterday has finally abated, now we just have sleet here and snow on the mountains surrounding Clasheen.  Thankfully I managed to speak to the friend who services my Rayburn and he gave me a couple of tests to carry out which indicates that my central heating system is actually working.  I still don’t have any heat in the rads however but have now got a man organised to check the pump in the well tomorrow morning so hopefully if we can get the water going and the pressure tank up and running things might get back to normal soon.  I can only keep my fingers crossed!  Obviously from all the messages that I am receiving many of you from all over the world have your own weather difficulties, some actually having drought and excessive temperatures, the exact opposite to what we are having here.  It is nice to feel part of a wider community although obviously I would prefer if no-one had any problems in the weather department at all!

Finally I would like to wish everyone a happy and peaceful New Year.  Enjoy any festivities that you have planned for this evening and hopefully we will all have a fantastic time felting and enjoying our various art practices throughout 2010!

Felting techniques and swap update

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.

Bag lady swap and podcast news!

Back from a couple of days R & R in Austria I have just finished lining the bag that I have been working on for my first swap as part of an online Flickr group ‘Bag Lady Swaps’.   The challenge was to create a bag using any technique that you had not previously used or something that you felt uncomfortable doing or lacked confidence in trying.  As I have mentioned before sewing is just not me but I hope my partner will be happy that I took on the challenge!  Firstly I created a nice piece of felt with her favourite colour blue as the background.  I tried to make the blue look watery and the surface design of white and pale pink waterlillies was added using some hand made lustrous silk and merino wool pre-felts, the lining is a striking rich blue silk.  I really enjoyed creating the felt for this bag and intend making a larger wallhanging in the same theme, as soon as the package is posted and I know that Sylvia (she lives in Denmark) has recieved it I will post some images here on the blog.

Tomorrow morning I will be recording an interview about my experiences with blogging, this will be published later this month in an on-line Podcast.  To be honest I really need to update my knowledge about all things relating to social networking and am really excited to have booked in to Podcamp, an ‘unconference’ taking place in Kilkenny on 27th September.  Why not check it out and see if you would like to join us!

Nuno Felt

Sari Loom ends and Merino

Sari Loom ends and Merino

It is very interesting keeping tabs on the different searches people do to get to this blog and something that comes up time and time again is nuno felting.  Obviously there is great interest in this technique so I am just going to post a picture of a piece I made recently for everyone to see.  The silk fabric that I used was from the sari loom ends I had ordered from Essential Textile Art in Australia a little while ago and I must say that it was a pleasure to work with.  I have been debating whether to add a few beads or embellishments as highlights but have not actually made my mind up yet as the  end piece is beautiful just as it is!  Sewing is one of my all time pet hates (even adding a few beads!) and I am really trying to get over myself on this issiue.  Recently I joined several groups on Flickr and have just signed up to make a bag on ‘bag ladies swap’ , check out the discussions on this group and maybe some of you will want to join, if seems GREAT FUN!!  sorry that this post is really short, I will be back in full swing next week as soon as the Irish Green Gathering is wrapped up.