Saturday, April 30, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 30. Tiny Trails

Tiny Trails
Today, I'm taking a cue from artist Dotty Seiter who makes large works and chops them into pieces, allowing each one to take its own direction. Love this, went to a bag of pieces I'd done previously and got busy with the scissors. This was originally a long strip of black alpaca wool onto which I wet felted an assortment of maroon, red and citrusy colored wool bits. I separated the band into differently shaped pieces and waited until something came to mind. With an assortment of embroidery cotton and beads available, I grabbed one piece and played with it to see what would happen. No visualized outcome, and without any sort of plan. Simply playing. I find this process to be the most fun and enjoyable and how it turns out is how it turns out. Having a good time with the journey. Thank you, Dotty!

Tiny Trails (2" x 3") is made of wet felted alpaca and assorted sheep wool, cotton, and a variety of beads.

Friday, April 29, 2016

April 2016. Felts. day 29. Red and white

Red and White
Experimenting again with process. There are a lot of tutorials out there that show how to make a flower all in one piece and still have the look of separate petals. Here, I made each petal individually with layers of cherry red and thin wisps of white for veining and color variation.  The whole piece is then assembled with needle felting and a few stitches added in to hold the tiny beads in place. A big piece, it measures about 7" (about 18 cm). Theme for the day...think big! 

Happy Friday and how many red things will you see today that surprise and delight you?


Thursday, April 28, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 28. Orange Oyster Shell

Can't have too much orange everywhere!

I keep feeling drawn to orange. Maybe because of its brightness, luminosity, or vibrancy. It seems to show up everywhere, but isn't that how it works? If we focus on something, it seems to appear every which way we turn. I had an orange shirt as a kid that I wore until it disintegrated. It had a zipper down the front, with a big, round metal pull which made the most satisfying sound as I zipped it up. If no one was around, I'd unzip it and re-zip it just to feel that vibration. Hehehe, what we do as kids.

Orange was the dreamsickle I'd pick at the swimming pool snack shop, with its tangy outside and creamy white vanilla inside. It was also the color of Tang, that kicky citrus powder to mix into water for an instant zippy drink. Orange was the color of flowers I'd see, with the sun hitting them at just the right angle, that they seemed to glow from within. It seems like a happy color with a high frequency that cannot help but delight.

Maybe that's another reason why I am drawn to art that has orange. Take a PEEK HERE at Laurie Mueller's paintings, whose many shades of orange make the scenes she paints glow. This page shows a collection of paintings all in one place so it is fun to spot the gorgeous orange that is in many of her works.
You can also find her work HERE.

Today's piece reminds me a bit of all the seashells (mostly oyster shells) I've seen this week. I love their craggy outsides and the smooth insides. This would be an orange version of oyster shells.

Orange oyster shell is made of wet felted wool and assorted glass and seed beads.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 27. Ode to a starfish

Ode to a starfish
Went to the Eastern Shore for a few days. Stayed in the village of Easton, a beautiful place with colorful shops, restaurants and B & B's with interesting histories. One of the galleries had a mobile made from a delicate, white starfish with silver-wrapped sea glass of luminous shades of green, aqua and white. I love how it moved in the breeze, the bits of wire sparkling in the sun. However, I felt a bit sad to see it was a real starfish, its stiff arms outstretched in a permanent, perfectly even radial design. Think I'd rather have a fake starfish, or better yet, a piece of driftwood to hold all the sea glass strands. Anyway, it got me thinking about these little creatures and marveling at the way they move. This piece is in honor of the amazing starfish.

Ode to a starfish is made of wet and needle felted wool, cotton, gold thread and assorted beads.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 24. Hon

A Hon
I recently learned about Hon Fest, a big annual event in Baltimore that celebrates the warmth and affection the people of Baltimore have for their neighbors and others. At our recent art show, I set up a mini needle felting activity within the Studio Intrepid set up by local artist, Dan Grogan.
Dan is a painter, providing drawing material for show visitors and encouraging them to have fun making art.

Artist Lora Collins joined us and needle felted a "hon," a face with a giant bee hive hairdo (photo above). Incredible! It was an instant hit among the group at the art table and others who had stopped to watch all the activity. She added a pin back to the Hon and headed out to the show. Being newer to this area, I was not familiar with Hons or the big festival held each year to celebrate them. Take a peek here to see what this huge festival is all about. Don't you just love the color, style, and playfulness of this event? Something to enjoy for sure.
This photo from official HonFest site


Saturday, April 23, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 23. Batch of Blossoms

Batch of Blossoms
Did not get to making a new blossom, so I've set out some of the recent ones and made them into a batch. Still working on the photographic process, which still needs a bit of tweaking.

Looking to the outdoors for inspiration on color, shape, form. We have a bleeding heart bush, the blossoms of which always surprise me with their tiny delicate bits. Makes me think I will be doing some micro felting in the next few days. May need to rig a magnifying glass to my head in some way.

Batch of Blossoms made of wet and needle felted wool with assorted beads.

Friday, April 22, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 22. Purpley Things

Purpley Things
Yesterday, I noticed our azaleas are coming into bloom. The house we're in is surrounded by azalea and rhodo bushes so when it gets to be late April, the place explodes with color. I combined the colors I saw in two bushes to do these little guys and added a little sparkle with glass beads in the center. Shot in my new cardboard/tissue paper/taped up light box. 

Purpley Things are made of wet and needle felted Merino wool with glass beads.

Artist Dotty Seiter has a most amazing way with words...I bet she can come up with a better name for these flowers than the name I picked. Hey Dotty, any ideas??? 

Check out Dotty's post today with the brain imaging. I'm now picturing fireworks-type images when I am doing creative work....

Thursday, April 21, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 21...Pink Sea Star

Pink Sea Star
Have been thinking of starfish lately, so this one is a take off of something that is a starfish/flower hybrid, with a touch of silver tossed in. 
After having seen a short video on how to build a quick light box for shooting art work, I gathered the materials and assembled one this afternoon, in the hopes of getting better photos of the work. Still have quite a way to go, but I did get someone's ok on the fine quality of the finished box.
Cooper checks the dimensions of the light box
 My personal assistant hopped right in when I went off to gather my lighting and let me know he thought the box was A-ok. 

Pink Sea Star is made of wet felted wool with cotton, silver thread and vintage pin.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 19. Flower Tutorial

Today, I'd thought I'd post pics of the process I used to make these little flowers yesterday. Working with felt is, for me, a very soothing and relaxing process. I love the feel of the wool, the range of colors and knowing there are infinite possibilities in simply playing with the materials and enjoying the unfolding. I will always be grateful to my dear friend Cynthia in New Zealand, who introduced a very hesitant me to working with this magical and delightful process.
Step 1
Step One

I set an old towel out on the kitchen bench. Next, I placed a large piece of bubble wrap on top. Gently pulling the wool apart, I made small circular shaped puffs, laying the wool layers on top of each other in a perpendicular manner so the fibers will mesh and grab a hold of each other during the felting process. I did them in different sizes as they will be nestled inside each other to make a realistic looking blossom. I used Merino wool, putting a golden yellow down for 4 layers and then adding wisps of red and magenta on top for subtle shading.
Close up of Step 1
Step 2
Step Two

I used an old chocolate syrup bottle, filling it with hot water and a few squirts of washing up soap. Next, I made all the puffs wet and mashed them down with my hands.
Step 3
 Step Three
Next, I put a piece of plastic on top of the wet felt pieces. I then put soapy water ON TOP of the plastic. This made it easier to rub my hands over the plastic to felt the wool.
Close up of step 3
Step 4
Step Four

After putting water on top of the plastic wrap, I rubbed and pressed down hard on the felt, using circular motions. The combination of hot water, soap and friction causes the fibers to intermingle. I rubbed for about 5 minutes. Felt nice to have my hands sliding around on the slippery, soapy surface. Some people prefer not to get their hands wet during this step (wrinkly, pruney-looking fingers) so if you prefer, you can put rubber gloves on. Just be sure to keep the surface wet so your hands glide over the plastic smoothly.
Step 5  Testing the felt
 Step Five
Here's where you want to test the felt to see if the fibers are felting together properly. I pull up gently in the middle and see if the layers are all intermingled. If you can pull way up on it, give it a few more minutes of rubbing. When I see that it looks like a small tent, I feel it is ready to go to the next step.
Step 6  Getting Ready to Roll
 Step Six
Now remove the thin plastic you had on the wool pieces. Replace it with another piece of bubble wrap, bubble-side DOWN. I always have tons of this around as it comes in packages people send me. It can be used practically forever, until all the bubbles have popped. 
Step 7  Roll it up
  Step Seven
In this step, I used a swimming pool noodle and cut off a piece the size of a rolling pin. It makes a great, waterproof roller for doing the felting. Setting the noodle piece at the end of the plastic, I rolled it, pulling the bubble wrapped flowers tightly around it. I have seen people use pieces of PVC pipe, old wooden rolling pins or even dowel rods.
Rolled and ready to go
Step Eight
Next, wrap the towel around the whole bubble wrapped roll.
Step 8   Exercise those arms
Roll the whole thing back and forth. I do it for about 100 rolls. It's mostly a quick wrist action, rolling the roll just a few inches away from me. Then, unroll the towel and the bubble wrap. Turn the noodle 90 degrees,  and reroll the whole thing, bubble wrap first, then the old towel. Roll again for 100 short, quick rolls. Unroll the whole thing, remove the noodle and rotate 90 degrees again. Here, we want to roll the wool in different directions to felt it evenly.

Picture are rolling out some pastry dough on the bench top. You'd roll it out away from you, then you'd rotate the dough 90 degrees and re-roll to get a nice, big even piece (rectangular or circular). Same idea with the wool.
Smoothing the edges
 Step Nine
Unroll the whole thing and pick up one of the shapes. Pull at it to see if it is all felted together. If not, do some additional rolling. If the pieces do seem solid, remove the top bubble wrap. Squirt some warm, soapy water on the plastic and start rubbing the individual pieces across the bubble wrap. I place my hand over one of the little circles and rub away from myself. Next, I rotate the piece and continue rubbing it back and forth until the edges are solid and nicely rounded. If you have a snaggly bit, rub and it will meld into itself.
After rubbing edges on bubble wrap

All circles have edges smoothed, rubbed out
Close up of all rubbed into circles
Step Eleven

Next, I cut small snips (about 5 or 6) at the edges of the circles, cutting toward the center to indicate separate petals. Each cut made was about 1/4" (a bit more than 1/2 cm).
Small snips to create petal shapes
 Step Twelve
Next, add more soapy water to the bubble wrap. I used one finger to rub where I had made a cut, sliding the flower away from myself about 10 or 15 times. This creates a wider space between the petals and rounds the cut edges.
Rubbing petal edges
All petal edges rubbed and smoothed out
Next, after all pieces are rubbed and smoothed out, put all the wool pieces into a bowl and add boiling water. Stir with a spoon, then lift out and put into a bowl with cold water.  Stir and keep alternating a few times between the two water temps. This shocks the wool and helps with the felting process. 

After that, put all wool pieces into a bowl with cool water and add a splash of vinegar. Stir well. The vinegar will help remove all traces of soap from the fibers. Next, remove wool from water and rinse with plain water.

Grab the handful of wool pieces and slam them into the sink or on a bench top. This is the Fulling process which helps strengthen the wool. Do this several times.

Next, I put all the pieces of wool onto a clean towel and rolled up, to remove the water. I used a hint I saw somewhere recently and that was to place the wool circles into muffin tins (regular sized and super-mini muffin tins) and set them in the sun to dry. They will take on the shape of the tin and be nice and rounded.

Allow to dry fully.
Final touches with needle felting
 The last step I did was to use a bit of needle felting to assemble the flowers. Putting the largest wool piece down first, add the next sized one and stab until the two are joined. Stabbing will also pop the edges of the flower up for added appeal. Keep adding however many pieces you'd like for each blossom. I used 4 for these medium sized flowers. Really large ones would have many layers.

Finally, sew on a brooch backing. Add beads to the center for more sparkle.
Final pieces
 I believe it actually took me longer to do this tutorial than doing all the steps of the actual felting process! All in all, a lot of fun. 

Anyone have ideas on steps you'd add to this process or things you've done differently that have yielded good results? Please leave a comment.....

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 18. Red n White

Red n White
Today, an experiment of sorts. A felting buddy recently told me she uses a CD as a template to make flowers. The floral brooches she creates are simply amazing...delicate, rich in color with lovely, overlapping petals and glittering beads in the center. Without wanting to know all her special techniques, I asked for a few tips so I could play with a different approach to making the flower petals. 

I used the CD as a template, wrapping the wool around it and rubbing the whole thing gently against the bubble wrap to mingle all the fibers. After that, had to trim around the edges and go from there.  I found it cumbersome to use the template so went back to just creating small circles separately. Nice to be able to experiment and play with new techniques. Never know where it will lead or how it will all turn out. One big fun adventure, anyway.

Sometimes deviating from the regular path yields surprising new results. 

This piece, Red n White, is a commissioned piece made of wet felted Merino with stone beads.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 17. Sea Rose

Sea Rose
Yesterday, got out all the blues, greens, and some purples in the Merino and started layering them. It doesn't show in this daylight photo that the base color of this piece is actually teal. I took several photos, but it still looks like a predominantly blue blossom. Pulling out thin tufts of several colors and layering them before wet felting resulted in a blend of subtle shading, almost like putting a watercolor wash over a painting. Popped a few deep red beads in the center for decoration. Looking at it reminds me of the colors you'd see in an ocean painting, with the various shades of blue and green hinting at the water's depth and the amount of sun reflecting off the surface.

Sea Rose is made of wet felted Merino with stone beads.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 16. Another Big Orange Flower

Big Orange Flower
Everywhere I look on the web, I see lots of tiny art. Paintings the size of thumbnails, sculptures on the ends of pencils and posable teddy bears, the size of a sugar cube. Honestly, I like working small but I'm not sure how some of these artists can pull this off! I have great respect for their ability (and their incredible eyesight) to work on such a small scale.  And after seeing so much little stuff, I started leaning in that direction. 

This week, though, two people asked me why I haven't considered working on a larger scale. Not sure, but I like the idea of working on bigger projects. I guess my only hesitation is about where to store any finished pieces.  I saw a photo last week of a life sized whale made of felt. I couldn't believe it. An incredible work to be sure, but it was stored in a warehouse. And that is a lot of wool! Think of the moth protection you'd need for something that magnificent in scale.

My version of working larger is today's Another Big Orange Flower, which measures 10" across (25.4 cm) and is made of wet felted wool and glass beads. One of my biggest brooches to date.

What scale do you enjoy working on most? What scale poses the biggest challenges?

Friday, April 15, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 15. A Rose

Roses will be coming soon. Right now, all the daffodils are out, swaying in the breeze. When I was in the supermarket the other day, I stopped by the floral shop which was right by the entrance. Dozens of bouquets were wrapped in colorful papers ready to be scooped up and taken home. Roses in every color and scent....I often stand there for several minutes taking in the color and scent...a blissful encounter for the senses.

A Rose is made of wet and needle felted Corriedale and Merino silk with glass bead.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 14. Punchy Sunflower

With all the warm sunshine and blue skies, it won't be long before all the giant sunflowers appear. I'm always amazed that putting something so small as a sunflower seed in the ground yields something so monstrously large and incredibly beautiful. Truly a wonder. 

Last summer while driving through the surrounding areas, I went past many properties out in the country that had sunflowers near the road. As tall as a man, and often bigger, these flowers seemed to gaze out over the road, taking in the views of the changing skies, passing cars, and cows grazing across the road in the next field. 

Last year, I planted sunflowers in a small stretch of garden right in front of our house. Definitely not enough space as they soon grew taller than the garage and got so heavy, they tipped over and started growing horizontally across the footpath, much to the irritation of my family who had to step over this feral batch of flora as it reached for sunlight. The giant blossoms turned and looked a bit like sunshine heads on big green snake bodies. Would make for a good hallucinatory scene in a movie....flower faces biting at ankles walking by. Oh, back to felted flowers.

Punchy Sunflower, an alternatively colored sunflower, is made of wet and needle felted wool with silk throwsters and glass beads.

What's your take on sunflowers?

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 13. Succulent Blossom

Succulent Blossom

Sold this little one over the weekend at our art exhibition. Most of the flowers I've seen lately have several colors throughout the petals. This one reminds me a bit of a blossom you'd find on a succulent plant, mostly one color with subtle tones of a second color.  I really like succulents for their exotic flair, unusual shapes and the ease of low maintenance. 

Growing plants indoors, for me, has always been an bit of a challenge. My mother's green thumb did not end up in my genetics. I was fortunate to grow up in a house filled with luscious green things of various varieties in every room. I'd watch my mom mist, water and dust her plants with loving care and they flourished. My plants didn't survive very long, so I decided succulents might be the way to go. I left mine in the care of a friend when I went on a long trip one summer, and came home to a tray of dead things. I didn't even know it was possible to kill succulent plants. 

These days, I stick to growing things outdoors and have had much better luck than having plants in the house. 

Succulent Blossom is made of wet felted wool with needle felted wool added. Brooch pin on back.

What are your favorite kinds of plants and why?

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 12. Big Orange Flower

A big flower brooch I made for the show we had this last week. I love the bright orange in the center of some of the daffodils I've seen in people's gardens the last couple of weeks. Started with the bright orange and tossed in some magenta silk bits and purple beads. Not a very realistic looking blossom, but bright and a bit of a preview of all the luscious colors on their way in the next few weeks as it warms up even more.

Big Orange Flower is made of wet felted wool with needle felted silk throwsters and purple glass beads.  Flower tutorial coming soon.

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 2016. Felts. Day 11. Big Red Flower

Big Red Flower
Our big four day art exhibition just ended yesterday. A lot of people ventured out and came to see the show, despite all kinds of crazy, all-over-the-map weather. In one corner of our show area, a studio intrepid was set up to invite visitors to make art. Dan offered drawing, Anita and David had a torn paper collage station set up and I added a needle felting activity. Show visitors grabbed a barbed needle, a piece of foam, some fluffy wool, and proceeded to make things like brooches and small animals. It was great fun offering a variety of materials and having a place where adults and kids could sit and create something special.

Today's piece is a Big Red Flower, made of wet and needle felted wool.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 2016. Felted Creatures. Day 10. Purple Rabbit Guy

Purple Rabbit Guy

The artist guild I'm in is having its Spring show right now with close to 60 artists exhibiting over the weekend. Works in all media are included and its been fun watching visitors mingle with show participants and discovering new works. One painter created Studio Intrepid, setting up a work station where visitors could sit and make art while at the show. Part of my show duties include being at this studio set up and inviting people to experiment with art materials and create a mini work to take home. 

In addition to the drawing materials that were available, I brought in my needle felting supplies and worked on some new pieces. Several visitors had questions about the process and pretty soon, I had them take needle in hand to create their own little felted pieces. They found it very relaxing and in a short time, were able to walk away with some tiny souvenirs of the new process they'd just learned. 

Purple Rabbit Guy is a collaborative work of needle felted wool, legs courtesy of Tina and other bits felted by various visitors. He's wearing an orange Merino scarf as the temps have dropped once again and to help keep him warm during the 5 minute snowfall we had yesterday.


Friday, April 8, 2016

April 2016. Felted Creatures. Day 8. Tweaking Once Again

Tweaked buddies
Back to tweaking works previously done. Ever work on something, put it aside and later take it out, realizing it looks very different than you remember? Sometimes the work is tucked away for so long, I'd almost forgotten I'd done it in the first place.

Pulled these kitties out that I'd done recently and added more texture. Might do an experiment by making something over a long period of time, working on it weekly over several months. I've followed the work of painters who continuously modify their work and I'm fascinated by observing the transformations. The works become more complex, richer in color, texture and composition. Watching the unfolding is something to see.

Retweaked Kitties are made of needle felted wool.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

April 2016. Felted Creatures. Day 7. Mini Orange guy

Mini Orange Guy

Have been doing what Dotty Seiter and Sheila Delgado do with some of their works...put the pieces away for a while and then bring them back out for some additional modification. Good to look at things with a fresh eye. New ideas show up and the works begin the transformation process once again. 

Tweaked this new little kitty and he's in better shape now. 

Mini Orange Guy is made of needle felted wool.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

April 2016. Felted Creatures. Day 5. Another Fluffy Fish

Another Fluffy Fish
I love fish...always have. They come in the most amazing range of sizes, colors and shapes, and have been an infinite source of inspiration to me for a long time. I have collaged, sculpted, painted, and printed fish in almost every material imaginable. It's been fun doing them now in wool, creating a different surface and texture than you'd normally see on a fish. 

What is your favorite kind of fish?

Another Fluffy Fish is made of needle felted wool.

Monday, April 4, 2016

April 2016. Felted Creatures. Day 4. Wild Feather Day

Wild Feather Day
Feels like the going-out-like-a-lion Winds of March have shifted into April. Blustery to the max! This little owl closely resembles the way I've looked all week while running my errands all over town. Kind of like being in San Francisco or Chicago. Invigorating!

 While I stayed home yesterday preparing for an upcoming art exhibition, my husband took two of the kids into D.C. to visit the Botanical Gardens. They stopped along the Mall to snap a few photos. It was tricky for me to identify which kid this was in the photo. Styling by the wind.

Wild Feather Day is a 1" tiny owl needle felted of wool onto a wet felted wool spiral brooch. Maybe the spiral is the wind?


Saturday, April 2, 2016

April 2016. Day 2. Felted Creatures. Tiny Owl

Tiny Owl
Working on a tiny bird today. As a kid, I had an owl collection so this is a nod to everyone who loves owls.

Tiny Owl (1") is made of needle felted wool and nestled in a brooch made of needle felted alpaca and Merino, with seed beads.

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 2016. Felted Creatures. Day 1. Rabbit, Rabbit!!!!!

Rabbit, Rabbit!

Happy April Fool's Day. Time to say, "Rabbit, Rabbit," again, as it is the first day of the new month. I did a posting last year about a ritual I do (and many others, as they have told me) which involves saying the above phrase to bring good fortune in the new month. When I was a kid, my math teacher reminded us to say the special phrase before getting out of bed on the first day of each new month. The secret to good luck all month long, was to say it before allowing your feet to hit the floor. I've jumped out of bed a few times, realizing too late, that I had not said the magic words! Not to worry, she had told us. On day #2, we could save ourselves by saying, "Tibber, Tibber." Being 13 years old at the time, that was good enough for me. Especially if I had  a math test that week.

Here's to a great month filled with all kinds of great surprises, delightful events, fun opportunities and tons of good fortune in all forms.

Rabbit, Rabbit is mouse sized and made of needle felted wool. He is perched on an antique chalk painted box in front of a painting by artist Marie Louise Baingo.

Big monster crab I started yesterday is in the works. More tutorial pics coming later today.
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