I can’t decide whether to call my latest pieces, made from World of Wool Superfine Merino and Viscose fibres, a collar or a necklace? Weighing less than 1oz they are my lightest yet, and I really don’t know I’m wearing them, but they are perfect for dressing up a plain outfit.
The grey/pink version is held in place with a hand painted, embroidered and beaded Tyvek brooch while the grey/yellow has a matching felted flower (with a nod to Pam de Groot’s “splash”)
Where did January go? With the lifting of Covid restrictions and things starting to get back to normal the time is passing in a blur. It’s terrific to be takings bookings for classes once again and I’m looking forward to working with new groups this year. It’s also going to be great, after two years of cancelled exhibitions, to be showing my work at the Quilt & Stitch Village at Uttoxeter in April and the Big Textile Show at Leicester in October.
At the Waltham Textile group we normally have a biannual exhibition of our work but, due to Covid, it was cancelled in 2020 rescheduled for 2021 and then had to be cancelled again. It’s now been confirmed for August but in the meantime I’ve sold my main “Leaf” themed piece made for that show so recently made this mixed media “Monstera” to replace it.
I bought a 40cm x 80cm canvas with the intention of painting Monstera leaves on it and then adding a 3D Felted leaf. After drawing a template onto paper and offering it up to plan the layout I changed my mind about painting onto the canvas. It’s not something I’ve done before and the surface appeared to be a bit too textured for the look I wanted to create. Instead I sketched the leaves onto a piece of white cotton fabric, outlined them with an Inktense pencil and added a little shading. The aim was for very simple, very smooth, perfectly formed leaves looking more like curved metal than the foliage on my cheese plant. I think this was influenced by the very smooth metallic looking Tyvek seed pods I’ve been making lately.
The Monstera in our lounge looks a bit neglected, to the point that I couldn’t bring myself to photograph it for this post! Its been with me for more years than I can remember, moving from house to house, and I thought it would be nice to make a piece of work inspired by this plant….or should I say the plant it used to be!!
I don’t consider myself a painter but I do like painting on to fabric. If you need to paint precise lines a good tip is to use aloe vera (by far the cheapest) or acrylic medium instead of water when applying acrylics on fabric. This keeps the paint where you want it to be and avoids it bleeding into other areas. I managed to get a tiny bit of black paint on the lower section of the fabric but stopped short of starting all over again when I realised the felted leaf would cover it up!
My paper template for the painted leaves was 13” x 18” so to make the felted leaf I multiplied by 1.4 enlarging it to 18.5” x 24” to allow for shrinkage. Layer one was a very yellowish green Merino (might have been lichen but not certain). Layer two was a combination of various shades of grey with the yellowish green running down the centre. This was topped with a layer of dark green Merino and Ireland Viscose all around the edge and snippets of gold Viscose down the centre. These images don’t give a true representation of colours but you get the gist.
After wetting out I measured the fibres and found they had spread to approx 20” x 27”. At the fulling stage, every now and then, I put the original template on top to check for size and ensure I was keeping to the right shape.
Once it had shrunk to the correct size it was left to dry. The next stage was to add wires to the back of the leaf so it could be shaped. This could possibly have been done with directional laying of the fibres and lots of fulling but I wanted the option of posing the leaf once it was attached to the canvas and wires are a good way of doing this.
The wires were spaced out and attached on the reverse using a zigzag stitch which also formed the veins on the front side. You can see that bright yellowish green colour on the reverse of the leaf. Once that was done it was just a matter of cutting into the felt to form the individual leaves and the characteristic little holes of the cheese plant before attaching to the canvas.
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!
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 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.
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.
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.
This Rock Pool with Seaweed is approximately 33cm x 38cm. It has been made using Bergschaf fibres for the background and rocks, Merino for the seaweed and Angelina for the water. The barnacles are hand embroidered Colonial Knots.
This is my latest commissioned piece entitled Towards the Wolds. It’s based on one of my favourite views looking east down Shearmans Wath, towards West Ashby and the rolling hills of the Lincolnshire Wolds.
Shearman’s Wath is the site of a late Neolithic Henge. According to Historic England…..”the buried remains are situated 330m north of Thimbleby Mill on the glacial sands and gravels of the flood plain edge, some 150m east of the River Bain. The monument, which has been reduced by ploughing, can no longer be seen on the ground. It is, however, clearly visible from the air, and has been recorded on aerial photographs since 1970.”
The Wallhanging is approximately 42cm x 64 cm, created from 23 micron Merino fibres, Wet Felted, and embellished with hand and machine stitch. I’ve enjoyed working on this piece and very much looking forward to seeing it hanging in it’s new home!