Wearable Art…..

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.

Shadows…..

Although there were many negative sides to “lockdown”, for many of us, there were also lots of positives. On the one hand all of my classes, exhibitions and shows had to be cancelled which was very depressing. One the other hand, it meant I now had unlimited time for walking with Maddie, my staffy boxer cross, which was uplifting. I’m sure a lot of us started to notice things we would otherwise have simply passed by, like these wonderful shadows cast by the trees.

Shadows cast by the trees on my morning walk
The shadows which were the inspiration for the design

I decided to use these shadows as inspiration for an abstract wet felted Wallhanging. The fibres used are Merino and Viscose and it’s been embellished with free motion stitch, hand spun yarn (my first attempt at spinning!) and Colonial Knots. The finished piece is mounted on board and measures 42cm x 58cm. It will form part of my “Fabric & Fibre of Nature” exhibition at The Quilt & Stitch Show, Uttoxeter in April 2021.

Adding Free Motion Stitch
Adding hand stitched Colonial Knots
Shadows – Fabric & Fibre of Nature

Must Try Harder…..

They say the longer you put something off the harder it becomes. Well I definitely find that’s the case when it comes to blogging! I’m not a natural “writer” but even so I can’t believe it’s been more than six months since my last post! Note to self….must try harder!!

Back in April I created two pieces of abstract wall art for the bi-annual Waltham Textiles Exhibition. It should have been happening later this month but, as with so many events, will now be taking place in 2021, fingers crossed!!

This first piece will be mounted onto board measuring 50cm x 100cm. Inspired by sunsets it consists of various wet felted fibres, Viscose fibres and a mix of natural and synthetic fabrics. It’s all held in place using machine free motion stitching onto a painted Lutradur background. I love the textures that can be achieved when using this technique and I particularly like adding synthetic glitzy fabrics for a little bit of bling!

Abstract Sunset
Detail of Abstract Sunset
Detail of Abstract Sunset

This second piece was constructed in the same way. Rather than mounting it on a board, I think I’m going to mount this one behind glass in a black edged 40cm x 80cm frame.

Burlesque – Abstract Wallhanging
Detail of Burlesque
Detail of Burlesque

Needle Felted Animals…..

Since I began running workshops I’ve frequently been asked if I do classes for making needle felted animals. Up until now my answer has always been “no, but I can point you in the direction of someone who does”. It’s not that I don’t like needle felting, or animals, it’s just something I have never done and never particularly fancied doing…..up until now!

When I received a request for animal needle felting just before Christmas I decided the time had come to include it in my workshop programme. These are my first needle felted animal workshop samples and I have to admit I thoroughly enjoyed making them and feel I’ve really been bitten by the bug!

They were made using wire armatures, wrapped with core wool, and then “cladded” with blended and carded fibres. I can feel a few more hatching so watch this space!

The Big Textile Show…..

Last weekend went in a flash! I was exhibiting for the third year running at The Big Textile Show which is held over two days at Leicester Racecourse. This show has a wonderful, friendly atmosphere and is big enough to provide a great day out but isn’t too large that you feel worn out by the time you’ve visited all the stalls!

My stall at this years Show

The exhibitions, which were displayed on the first floor above the food hall, included Feltmaking, Weaving, Beading, Quilting, Lace Making, Rug Making as well as paper sculptures and so much more! There was a room full of inspiring work to fire up the imagination as well as many of the items being for sale.

The trade stalls were located in a separate building, which unfortunately I didn’t get chance to visit this year. From what I was hearing there was a terrific variety of stalls and lots of opportunity to increase the size of your stash! These are just a tiny few of this years traders…..

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to say hello and for all the wonderful feedback given by visitors to my stall. The Big Textile Show is always held over the last weekend in October so be sure to put the date in your diary ready for 2020.

My next show will be at The Quilt & Stitch Village, Uttoxeter Racecourse from 17th – 19th April so hope to see some of you there!

Roots….

My latest work, Roots, was made in response to a challenge set by the Waltham Textile Group who meet once a month at Waltham Windmill.  This is an exhibiting group and, like many such groups, we all aim to produce a piece of work to a particular theme.  The work will be displayed together at our bi-annual exhibition at the Windmill next August.  Our current theme, leaves, couldn’t suit me better!  There are absolutely no limitations for this main piece, it can be any size, any technique, 3D or 2D.  This freedom in itself can be a headache because there are so many directions you can go in……..consequently I’ve yet to start that piece!

Roots – a Waltham Textile Group Challenge.

Running alongside our main theme we also have other, more specific, “challenges”.  One of them is to produce three A4 pieces of work using three colours, each piece to predominantly feature one of those colours plus a little of the other two.  This can be any style, any technique and any subject matter. You can see how I approached this challenge in a previous post “work in progress” and Roots is the result of that challenge.

Originally I made three wet felted backgrounds to which I was going to add lots of texture with fibre and stitch.  The felt was put to one side for a few weeks while I did other things and by the time I went back to it I had changed my mind (surprise, surprise!). Instead of using the felt I reached for my roll of Lutradur, practising what I preach and using the techniques and materials demonstrated in my Forest Floor Workshop.  

Detail from Roots showing the Lutradur leaves

It turned out to be a very mixed media piece with felted pebbles, free motion stitched ferns and weeds and Lutradur leaves and forest floor.  The only items not hand made are three small brown Beech tree pods.

With this challenge finished its back to trying out ideas and working up samples for my main exhibition piece.  I’ve no idea how that will look as yet but I’m thinking along the lines of it being “abstract”…..that thought may change several times between now and completion!

Arts & Crafts Event…..

I’m delighted to be returning to the Walled Garden Baumber on The 28th & 29th of this month to take part in their annual Arts & Crafts Event.  It’s an opportunity meet local professional artists, working in a variety of materials and styles, and maybe discover that unique Christmas gift.

The WGB is a wonderful setting for an event like this and with the craft stalls being under canvass it will be a great day out come rain or shine!

As well as the craft marquee you will find ample parking, plant sales and a tea room serving delicious home made cakes and snacks.  The event runs from 10am until 3pm each day.

Work in Progress…..

Last year I joined a group of creative ladies who meet once a month at Waltham Windmill.  As well as working on our own projects we have a number of set “challenges” requiring us to work to a certain theme. This week I began one those challenges which is to produces three A4 size pieces of work using just three colours. Each piece is to have one predominant colour, plus a small amount of the other two. The format can be landscape or portrait but all three will be displayed together. The design, techniques and materials are entirely up to the individual.

My first thought was that I wanted my 3 pieces to be joined together and initially I was thinking along the lines of a leaf motif, using the veins to span the gaps between the work. The first design was for a very simple “spear” shaped leaf.

The second idea was to simplify it even more and loose the outline of the leaf. The background would possibly be heavyweight interfacing or Lutradur and the veins would be free motion stitched, spanning the gaps by stitching onto dissolvable fabric.
In the meantime I happened to take my dog for a walk in the woods at Hubbard’s Hills in Louth when I had a lightbulb moment! There were some wonderful exposed tree roots at the top of the hill and I suddenly saw these as being the joining element of my 3 x A4’s. The design now was for a “forest floor”.
Sketchbook page showing a design for piece of textile art
I realised that I would need a sturdy backing so I’ve wet felted these using Bergschaf fibres and they will be individually mounted onto stiff card…..at least that’s the plan so far! There will be little background showing on pieces two and three but far more on piece one so I included some thick cords under that sheet of felt to indicate buried roots.
Wet felted Bergschaf fibres
The tree roots above ground have an aluminium wire as their core, wrapped with wadding and strips of medium weight Lutradur before being painted grey.
Tree roots made from aluminium wire and Lutradur fabric
I’ve started making the weeds using free motion stitch on dissolvable fabric but I will look at alternative materials, possibly Lutradur, to introduce different textures, create more bulk and not least to speed up the weed making process!
Making weeds using free motion embroidery
The fallen leaves at the base of the roots will be FM stitched on Lutradur. Once they’ve been cut out using a soldering iron and heat distressed to make them curl they will be painted in varying shades of gold.
Lutradur leaves
I’ve managed to get a couple of other group members to send me images of their work in progress…..
Jacky approached the challenge by choosing blue, green and gold as her colours and using the “stack and whack” method to cut them up. After selecting her fabrics they were cut up quite randomly and then machined together in strips. The three sets were then layed on top of each other and sliced through again. The yellow and green shapes in the resulting strips made her think of plant pots and this led to her theme of “neglected pots and plants”. In this piece Jacky has added an appliqué cactus and free motion stitched the neglected straggly plants on the left. This one isn’t far off being finished but Ive been told the other two are still piles of fabric on the workroom table!
Carole has chosen to use a combination of plain and patterned fabrics in her chosen colour scheme of red, blue and yellow. Each of her A4’s feature a different piecing technique i.e. strips, curves and crazy patchwork. Again this is a work in progress but already you can see how individual members are putting their own mark on their work and how different everyone’s finished work is going to be. I will post images of the completed challenges next time.

Tile collar

I just love it when I hear someone has been inspired to have a go at a technique themselves!  Lea’s work is wonderful and it’s well worth taking a look at her other projects.

Lea's creative moments blog

I saw a blog post by Karen Lane of a nuno felted collar workshop she ran for the Belchford Felting Group using the “tile” technique and thought I would try my hand at it.

Recyled silks and fragments of an Indian open weave cotton and tinsel scarf

Framing the fabric tiles with merino roving

I then convered the framed piece with two fine layers of merino roving. Added some commerical felt flowers in one corner for embellishment and then covered the roving with a layer of navy Margilan silk gauze. After felting, fulling and leaving to dry, here is the finished piece …

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Pebble Necklace…..

I’ve currently got a thing for pebbles so thought it would be nice to create a Pebble Necklace.  This has been wet Felted using grey and lichen superfine Merino and white Silk.  It features hand stitched Colonial knots and is finished with a bronze coloured metal chain and fastener.

Wet Felted Pebble Necklace
Wet Felted Pebble Necklace