The 2021 first quarter challenge from the Felting and Fibre Studio going out to all felters, spinners, weavers, stitchers, knitters, crocheters and mixed media fibre artists is to make something inspired by the decade 1900 – 1909.
Normally, with so many possibilities, I would spend quite some time looking at the different options but this time I knew instantly where I would be taking my inspiration from. It would be the book Art Forms in Nature which consists of stunning illustrations by the German biologist and professor of zoology, Ernst Haeckel. These illustrations were first published in 1904 and so fit the brief perfectly!
Haeckles illustrations have provided a source of inspiration for many designers and artists over the years starting with the Art Nouveau movement and continuing today.
A recurring shape seen throughout this book is the hexagon, hardly surprising as it’s everywhere we look in nature……from the basalt pillars of the Giants Causeway to honeycomb, it’s also found in the eyes of insects, tortoise shells, algae, fish scales and microscopic Protozoa…..the list goes on and on!
The first was a very simple form which can be open or closed.
The second was created using exactly the same template and resist but what was negative space on the top layer in the first sample became positive space in the second, creating a totally different look.
If you are interested in joining in this particular challenge, or any future challenges, or if you simply want to see what others have created you can find details on the Felt and Fibre Studio website
With the temperature dropping dramatically over the past week it’s no surprise that my last make of 2020 and my first of 2021 have been scarves. The beauty of both of these is that they are reversible so you have one scarf…..several possibilities.
2020’s last project was a fringed, reversible cobweb scarf made from a fabulous Superfine Merino blend called Champs Elyse from the Italian company DHG. The reverse side is a patchwork of hand dyed Margilan silk. I particularly love this and have been living in it for the past week as its incredibly soft and lightweight and goes with almost everything I wear.
As with so many of my projects, the colour scheme for my new year scarf changed and developed as I worked. Originally it was going to be a combination of colours inspired by the Champs Elyse.
Having laid out the central fibres in blue and green I ditched the multicoloured idea and I’m so pleased I did as I prefer the simplicity of this final scheme with this particular shape. It’s difficult to get a true representation of the colours in a photo but on the blue side I’ve overlaid with a very deep purple Viscose. This has created an extra depth of colour that I’m really pleased with. Apologies for the mismatched brooches…..I grabbed what I had for the sake of getting photos and posting this evening! I will be making a couple this week which will be more appropriate for the ruffle scarf.
The past couple of weeks have been very grey, damp and overcast but, unlike a lot of folk I know, I love being outdoors when it’s like this and have even found myself volunteering for extra long dog walks!! Don’t get me wrong, I love the Summer but there’s something very atmospheric about a grey damp day and the smell of the soil and vegetation underfoot.
I think I’ve been subconsciously channelling the grey into my latest work because I hadn’t really thought about changing from a gold/rust palette to a grey scheme….it just seemed to happen.
Again, although I’ve not been dwelling on it, I also think that lockdown, and the resulting lack of opportunity for nights out and seasonal parties, has maybe left me pining for a bit of glamour.
The first grey collar was one of my mystery (unlabelled) fibre blends. It’s a little hairy but extremely soft. It’s the longest of the three which gives it scope for being worn in different ways.
The second is a blend of Superfine Merino with white Bamboo fibre which creates a fabulous sheen.
The third is Superfine Merino with white Bamboo and a dusky pink Viscose fibre. I love the silky effect that’s created by the Viscose and find I’m using this more and more.
I’m now working on shoulder bags to coordinate with the collars.
Nights out are on hold for the time being but we may as well be ready for when we can get that little black number on again!
One of my favourite workshops has to the Layer, Stitch & Burn which I will be running again at the Alford Craft Market Centre on November 16th. This class teaches a technique made famous by the American mixed media textile artist Susan Lenz.
The title sums it up exactly, we begin by layering our fabrics, we use free motion machine stitching to hold them all together and then we set them fire! OK, so we don’t go quite that far but we do apply heat to manipulate and burn away sections of our work which results in a beautiful lacey effect.
I first discovered Susan’s work via a video on YouTube where she was teaching how she made her “In Box” series. I had only just discovered there was such a thing as textile art and had started experimenting with my own projects, so to see a Textile Artist with a heat tool and a soldering iron was pretty exciting stuff! It inspired me to research further which led me to Margaret Beal and her book New Ideas in Fusing Fabric…..needless to say I’ve had an interest in manipulating fabric by burning ever since!
Originally In this workshop we made a square piece of work to fit a small box frame but there is also the option of using this technique to make several smaller pieces which can be used as brooches. These leaf brooches were made using the same fabrics that are supplied for the workshop and the same method but students can apply it to any shape or subject matter.
It’s very strange times right now and, understandably, lots of ladies are not yet ready to come back to classes. I’m just hoping that we get enough interest to run this workshop on the 16th……fingers firmly crossed!
These scarves celebrate my favourite time of year, the Autumn. All around us the leaves are now turning beautiful shades of red, orange and gold, there’s the crunch of leaves underfoot and the earthy smell of damp soil. It’s time for wearing warm scarves and mittens and what better excuse for making some Autumn inspired pieces. I couldn’t resist adding a few falling leaves to a couple of them!
I’ve had the theme “connected” running around in my head for while and decided to use it to experiment with free motion stitch. Each of these shapes has been made using FM on water soluble fabric. The shapes were then connected to a painted vilene background, suspended using FM.
It’s been a thrill to have a piece of work on display at the National Centre for Craft and Design and, although the physical exhibition has ended, there is the chance for a wider audience to see the NCCD Art Club show as it’s now available as an online exhibition.
The exhibition was in response to Covid-19 to “unite our community through creativity to help us all respond, recover and look ahead to a new world. Through craft, design, making and performing we’re encouraging everyone to unleash their creativity and improve their health and wellbeing at this time.”
There is a huge diversity of work on display and it’s interesting to see how the different artists have responded to the four main themes which were Inside / Outside, Creative Healing, Joy & Happiness and What’s your daily medicine?
I was thrilled to get a phone call this afternoon to say that my “Shadows” wet felted wallhanging has been accepted by the National Centre for Craft & Design as part of their Art Club open exhibition. It will be on display in the Activity Zone from this Thursday until the 6th September.
One of my favourite pastimes has to be creating wet felted jewellery. I love the sculptural aspect of felting and when this is combined with small wearable items like necklaces and bangles, each one becomes a miniature piece of sculptural, wearable art.
These pieces were created early on during the lockdown when I came to realise that I was never happier than when I was working with lots of texture and a very simple monotone colour palette. In truth I’ve always known this but somehow it’s been amplified with spending much more time in the studio and noticing that the more colourful work was jarring with me!
The Superfine Merino necklaces are embellished with stitch, beading and tiny pieces of Nuno and finished with metal chain fasteners. The great thing about this technique is that each piece is totally unique, you could never have two pieces alike.