April 6, 2017 § Leave a comment
I get a bit fed up over winter. I think I should be hibernating, but alas that’s not really an option in the modern world.
But luckily now I can safely say that it is Spring! The sun is shining, and I saw a bumble bee in my garden – which is wonderful considering my garden is in fact just a sad little yard and doesn’t have any flowers in it… yet (I WILL plant flowers, I promise you, bees!)
I work at Tyntesfield, which is a lovely National Trust property with a Victorian house and huge garden. There is plenty of wildlife there at the moment, deer, buzzards, kestrels and plenty of bees and butterflies. Its getting busier as the weather is nicer, so I am in work a bit more at the moment.
I have had a few days off this week, and yesterday I went on a cycling adventure to Dyrham Park, which is another National Trust place. Its about 9 miles from Bristol (where I live) and it does involve cycling up two horrifically steep hills. Worth it though for the views at the top.
I stopped for a cup of coffee and some cake before cycling home again.
For anyone interested, I followed cycle routes 4 (which follows the Bristol Bath Railway Path), 410, and 17. I found some interesting things along the way, including this derelict building, which had something to do with mining. I did read the sign about it, but that was yesterday, and I have now completely forgotten what it said.
Today the sun was still shining, so I finally got round to doing some much needed wool washing. I was given an enormous mystery fleece by a friend’s mum and its been sitting in my shed for months.
I only got through about a third of it today as its so big and I need to do some house cleaning now.
Here’s some drying on the washing line –
I have got some things I need to make. I’ve had a bit of a felting break for the last couple of weeks, but its time to start making again!
June 20, 2016 § 1 Comment
I have been doing this felting thing a while now, and it is interesting to see how my work has developed.
When I started needle felting, about four years ago, I worked pretty much exclusively with processed merino wool. I didn’t really consider the fact that there were other options. Merino wool is the most readily available breed of wool for felting. It comes in all different colours, and the roving you can buy commercially is perfectly smooth, evenly coloured, all the fibres are straight. It’s kind of perfect really.
But then, when i was looking into ways of getting large quantities of wool for less money, I started to look into buying raw fleece and processing it myself. I documented this process here on this blog. I have learned to wash, card and dye wool and learning this changed everything. I always loved felting, but when I began processing fleece I really fell in love with wool as a material. It is so diverse, in texture, colour, crimp, length. I have worked with Jacob, Shetland, zwartbles, Oxford, mule, charollais, and this is only a miniscule selection of sheep breeds out there. Natural coloured wool is beautiful, and hand dyeing it is exciting and a bit like magic. It is not perfect like the merino I used to buy, but I really like that!
I feel like I have only really touched the surface of what wool has to offer. I am still learning, I have started spinning yarn. One day perhaps I will get some sheep. I think there will always be new things to learn. It is so exciting and I just want to share my passion for wool with everyone I meet.
I have recently taken a break from wet felting and gone back to needle felting badges, but using only wool that I have processed myself. I am really pleased with the results, and I have already had some fun commissions to do!
Here are some photos –
A selection of badges I have made.
These guys are of to America soon!
A hippo made from some wool I dyed that went a bit wrong, but it was the perfect colour for a hippo!
All of these creatures are made from hand processed wool, and you can buy them from my shop!
March 10, 2016 § Leave a comment
I have a few wool related things I have been doing lately.
I have been needle felting, and dyeing and carding.
Today I carded wool for about four hours. I had several colours that I had dyed yesterday, and then a lot of undyed white.
I’m planning on making some kind of lizard hat, so this is in preparation for that.
Annoyingly, I’m not quite sure what breed of wool this is. It’s from the batch of for fleeces I got from a farmer in Devon. He said the sheep were Oxford down and mule, but I have used mule before and I thought it was coarser than this. And it didn’t seem the same as the other fleece I was using, which I assumed was Oxford down. But maybe I was wrong.
It’s lovely wool anyhow. Nice and soft. I shall do some experiments to see how well it wet felts, and then I shall make some hats out of it!
Here’s all my hand dyed wool. The orange already made the tiger hat, and I might make a leopard out of the yellow. Lots to do!
And then, following the experiment from my previous post, I decided to needle felt a face onto the strange thing I had created.
And this little monster was born. He’s amusing, but I’m not sure of his purpose right now. My cat seemed to like him though.
March 3, 2016 § 3 Comments
… But that doesn’t mean you should give up.
Today I made this –
This was an experiment that turned out well.
I had seen pictures of other people’s felt, where 3D parts had been added on during the wet felting process. How do they do that? I thought to myself. So I did an experiment.
The spikes I made separately, leaving little tufts at the end, which I attached to the main body before the whole thing was properly felted.
The first time I tried this it went terribly wrong
None of the spikes attached well, and the whole thing was a floppy shameful mess. However, I was determined that it would work, so I tried again.
In the second attempt I left longer tufts on the spikes, and rubbed the join with soap and bubble wrap before rolling the whole thing a lot.
And that time it worked! Woo!
I’m not sure if I will actually do anything with this. I wanted to test the method before using it in a hat, without wasting to much wool for experimenting, so I made something small first.
I may well turn it into a monster!
We shall see!
January 27, 2016 § 1 Comment
Is it a monster?
Ok, so really old song, but its totally relevant, because I have been making monsters!
Not posted in a while because I have been busy with a number of things, including trying to finish my Masters and also working a lot at a National Trust property (in the ticket office, so nothing too exciting, but still fun and a super lovely place to work) I have been making lots of things too, just forgetting to post anything to here.
So here is a couple of things I’ve made in recent months.
The first is this goat-person. Loved making this, the fleece I use was Oxford down, which I washed and carded myself. It felted so beautifully, it was a bit like miracle wool!
He’s a bit scary, but that’s what I like!
Something else I make just the other day is this monster hat.
I wet felted around a random shaped resist, and then needle felted some detail on where I felt it was appropriate, and this crazy creature emerged. I like to think of him as a shamanistic monster headdress!
I may well wear it out in public just for fun. It has better visibility than the goat, but vision is still obscured by teeth! I like to think it may catch on in fashion, but somehow I doubt it!
I liked making this – roaming free with organic felty shapes was fun and rewarding. I want to do more of it. I liked not knowing what it was going to look like as I made it. I knew it would have teeth, and that was about it!
I will take it for a walk soon, take better photos.
October 28, 2015 § 2 Comments
I know what it is I wish to make. I have an image in my head, mostly. Or sometimes I have an idea, and the image is unclear.
I find it fascinating how the work evolves as it is being made. This is something that seems to be true of the medium of felt. Part of the joy of making felt is its unpredictability – the experimentation that is necessary to make anything specific.
Part if the design is up to me, but a lot of it (this is more true for wet felting) is up to the environment, and the material itself. So I make a shape, and from that the rest of the thing is born.
So yes, I can decide to make a hare hat, or a badger, or some wings, but it will always come out slightly different or not as I expected. Often much better than I expected.
This is very true of the project I have been working on today.
I wanted to make a mask. a bird mask.
So I cut out a bird head sort of shaped resist, and wet felted around it with grey.
It came out looking a bit like a knights helmet, which I liked realy, but as I began to put the detail on it changed. somewhere along the line I started adding fur, and before I knew it I was making the whole head furry.
I never consciously decided to this.
Here is the finished mask, photographed with the wings on Troopers Hill, Bristol.
I think the creature I have created is melancholy because he wishes to fly, only he can’t because his wings are so small.
June 18, 2015 § 2 Comments
Jokes aside, I like making needle felted toadstools. I have done a few different things with them, put them on mobiles, had them growing out of wizards hats etc.
They are good because they are quick to make, but also bright and eye catching.
On a seemingly unrelated note, the other day I was wondering around Bristol town centre when I happened to walk past The Island (an arts centre that I have so far never been into) and they appeared to have some kind of frame stall set up. I stopped to have a rummage around, and found a basket of little cheap gold frames. I’m a bit like a magpie, I love glittery things, and I am inexplicably fond of of the colour gold. Not actual gold, like the metal, but things that are painted gold. I have gold boots and a gold bike helmet, and sometimes I even wear them together!
Anyway, I bought 4 of the smallest gold frames, thinking that I would put little pictures in them and put them up in my house. By the time I arrived home I realised an even better idea – I could put felting in them! (Strange it took me that long to come to that conclusion really) Not just any felting either, but 3D pieces coming out of the frame. A few days later I started work on the first one, a simple idea but an effective one, I hope. Toadstools growing out of the frame.
There’s not mushROOM in those frames…
I don’t know any more mushroom jokes…
I think it was a successful experiment. I have two frames left, and I may buy more if I can come up with more ideas of what to come out of them. I was thinking an octopus or deep sea creature would be cool.