Finishing the nuno felt tunic and Art@work

Thanks so much to all my inspirational ‘fibre friends’ who left comments on the blog and Flickr, as well as those of you who emailed me directly with advice and inspiration about finishing the sides of my nuno felted tunic. It is truly amazing to think how small the world is when you ask a question one day and within a couple of minutes of asking replies start to come in from the other side of the world! I wish that I could have some of you right here in my studio, I guess if that were the case I wouldn’t have to keep asking the questions!!  Hopefully I will get a bit of time next weekend between canvassing (for Alan’s campaign of course) and actually put needle to fabric, this is the bit I dread the most but needs must and I am determined to finish the tunic and get it to the wearable stage.

Alan is off to a meeting shortly and I am going to take the opportunity while he is out to sit down and prepare my submission for Art@work. To quote Philip Delamere (Arts Officer at Roscommon County Council) “the Art@work residency programme has continued as a significiant outlet for contemporary arts practise to be integrated into the fabric of the community throughout County Roscommon.” You may remember recently that I paid a site visit to the participating businesses for 2009, now I need to put my thoughts to paper and decide which images to send and support my submission. The collaborative project from 2008 has just won the ‘Best Sponsorship by Small to Medium Enterprises’ section in the Allianz Business to Arts Awards so congratulations to the Arts Office of Roscommon County Council and participating businesses Arigna Fuels, Bank of Ireland, FDK Engineering, Feelystone, Gleeson’s Guesthouse and Molloy’s Bakery. The artists involved in 2008 were Michelle Browne, David McCarthy, Catherine Donnelly, Carl Giffney, Cathal Roche and Rebecca Walter, well done to everyone.

Why didn’t I use a resist for my nuno felted tunic?

Usually I love making anything with a resist but for the nuno felted tunic I decided to work with one of Lizzie Houghton’s designs and stitch up the sides at the prefelt stage.  By doing this I would be able to create a 3 dimensional tunic with invisible seams without having to fiddle with cutting out a plastic resist (I am short of time at the moment).  As with a lot of my work I changed my mind as the piece evolved!  I loved the organic shaped edges down the sides as the felt progressed so decided to continue felting and make these a feature once the tunic was shrunk fully.  Now my problem is that because sewing is really not my forte I need to make the decision exactly where to stitch, how to cut or sew the sleeves so that they are deeper and what exactly to do with the sides!  One of my ideas is instead of stitching I might punch small grommets along the two sides and lace them up with thin felt cords.  Anyone think that is a good idea??  I kind of like the thought that I could wear the top with a little cool section down the sides, not too much flesh exposed but enough of a gap to make it cooler if we ever got a warm summers day here in Ireland!

Pictures of nuno felt tunic in progress and great news re. Sculpture in context

Here are a couple of images of my nuno felt tunic in progress.  I laid out the Filzrausch wool very finely on a base of light cotton fabric making sure to keep the brightly coloured circles and stripes large enough to be visable in the felted article.

The fabric side of my nuno felt tunic

The fabric side of my nuno felt tunic

Unfortunately the images don’t do the felt justice as the weather outside is very dull and the light inside was against me!  I am very happy with the texture on this side of the top, it is nice and crinkly with straight but wavy edges, hope you can understand what I mean!  You know from previous posts how much I hate sewing (although I really admire and appreciate others work!!) so I am just trying to think of the best way to stitch up the sides and elongate the armholes a little. 
The fibre side of my reversible nuno felt tunic

The fibre side of my reversible nuno felt tunic

I used a template from Felting Fashion as a guideline and feel that for my shape, being above average height, I could have cut out the armhole section about 3 inches deeper and longer.  Ah well, I will just have to experiment and eventually will get a template to fit me a bit better, isn’t that half the fun of felting, the experimental kind of stuff!

Great news on my ‘Sculpture in Context’ submission.  The large felt hanging  ‘Cascade’ that I submitted has been accepted for the exhibition so now all I have to do is make hundreds of flowers to go towards the work.

Experimenting with nuno felting

Felting time is very precious at the moment as almost every waking hour is spent helping Alan in his local election campaign.  This morning he had an appointment to officially register with the returning officer so I was thrilled to get started on a nuno felt sleveless tunic that I have been planning ever since I got Lizzie Houghton’s new book, is it really only 3 days ago that it arrived??  Anyway, yesterday I did a very small sample piece using cotton and the short fibred merino from Filzrausch before felting a nuno scarf using ponge silk.  I was amazed how easily the Filzrausch wool migrated through the fabric, if I had been asked to guess I think that I would have thought that it would felt too quickly and therefore not be a good fibre to use for nuno.  This morning I laid out a very simple design on natural coloured cotton and after a bit of stopping and starting (to go out and drive the canvassers) I managed to finish the prep work and start the felting process.  Because of the large size, at least 50% bigger than I want the finished top to be, I laid out everything on one of the plastic mats that I bought from Mehmet Girgic.  At the moment my felt is lamost fully shrunk and I am just letting it dry out on top of the Rayburn.  In the morning, time permitting, I will sew up the sides and then finish the felting process.  Watch this space for some photos of the finished item, I hope that it will be reversable!