Inspired by Nature…..3D Textiles

My recent Forest Floor workshop for the ladies of Snape Textiles up in Bedale has reignited my interest in working with Tyvek fabric. It’s a material I hadn’t used for a little while but making a tiny seed pod a few weeks ago, as a sample for their class, has led to more, and larger, pieces and an idea for a new workshop I’m calling Inspired by Nature…..3D Textiles.

These pieces all start with a wire armature wrapped in hand painted Tyvek fabric which is then distressed with a heat gun.

What I particularly like about this technique is the metallic look that can be achieved…..although they are strong, and look as if they are heavy, these pieces actually have the weight and feel of paper.

The first Inspired by Nature – 3D Textile class will be held at Belchford Village Hall LN96LJ on the 22nd January 2022 so if you are interested in learning this technique, or want to know more about the workshop please get in touch via the contact form.

Forest Floor…..

I recently had the pleasure of running two consecutive one-day workshops for members of the Snape Textile Group up in the beautiful village of Bedale, North Yorkshire.

The group had booked my Forest Floor workshop which covers lots of different techniques for working with heat manipulative materials and creating the kind of stuff you find littering the forest floor such as leaves, twigs, bark and seed pods. With 30 ladies interested it was decided to split this fast paced class into two days to ensure all of them had the best learning experience and no one got left behind!

Real bark v fake bark

After each demonstration the students set to painting, stitching, wrapping and distressing (using heat guns and soldering irons) their Tyvek and Lutradur to create the various elements.

This is a sample based workshop and students are not necessarily expected to produce a finished piece of work by the end of it when it’s booked as a one day class. We do discuss how to pull everything together and create a suitable background but this is something that can be done afterwards at your own pace. If a group particularly want to see it through to the end it can either be booked as a two day class or we simply limit the amount of leaves made on the day to get a finished piece done. Yes, it’s those leaves that tend to hook folk in and then the time just disappears!

It was a full on weekend with the ladies producing an array of wonderful work and, hopefully, having a lot of fun in the process. This was the first time some had used a heat gun or a soldering iron but going by the response it won’t be the last!

Thanks to all for your enthusiasm, hard work and good company and a special thanks to Sarah Lowe for hosting me for the weekend. I’m looking forward to working with you all again at some point in the future.

Do You Recycle Your Coffee Capsules?

Do you recycle your coffee capsules? I’ve recently started doing this, on a very small scale I admit, by getting creative and adding them as inclusions to my felt. It got me wondering what other folk might be creating with theirs. This is a guest blog I’ve just written for the Felting and Fibre Studio on that subject…..

Recycled Coffee Capsules

2021 First Quarter Challenge…..

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!

I decided to make two sample pieces of surface decoration based on the hexagonal and using Bergschaf fibres but each sample would have different positive/negative space.

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

Channelling the Grey…..

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!

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.

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!

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.