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Archive for September, 2010

I left you with some pictures from a mushroom walk at my friend Joei’s last weekend. In addition to making the 3rd piece in the ” Hole in a Tree” series I made 2 other pieces during that weekend. Both were based on the same photograph of a trail which I was going to show you.  However, I apparently trashed the photo once I’d printed it out. Sorry, won’t do that again.

Moving right along….I started off making a small piece.  I had found the perfect resist dyed fabric in with areas of light and dark, just like the trail. Here it is laid out on the wool and base.

In my wool layout I tried to mimic colors I saw in the photo.  The gray follows the course of the trail. The upper green corners are where there was green, leafy vegetation.  The areas of pink are splashes of light along the trail. Lastly the brown and black are where I saw a tree and rock.

So, the wool layout first, then the face cloth, and finally the wools and fabrics on the surface. Here is another instance of my becoming so involved in the creative process that I forgot to take photos along the way.  So what I have to show you is the piece totally laid out and wet down.

I enjoyed the layout of this piece because I used prefelts (prefelts are partially felted pieces.  They can be purchased or made. Prefelts can be used for a variety of purposes like when you want nice crisp lines.  Or Joei uses them so the wool behind her very detailed images doesn’t show through too much). In this piece I used them for the imagery on the right side of the piece, the splash of light (yellow) in the lower right corner and the greens on the upper right  and top.  The tree and the roots are silk fabric.  The trunk is chiffon and some of the roots are this interesting, shimmery organza I found somewhere and had to have.

Then I got brave and once again decided to throw the piece into the dryer.  I was beginning to like this dryer stuff.  Did I mention in my last posting that I realized that the dryer would take over the process just when I started getting impatient?  I’ll be massaging away and then want to hurry things along and get that finished piece of felt now.  My “now” seems usually to be long before the wool is ready.  So, just at that point, into the dryer it goes and I go on to something else.  20 -30 minutes later, voila! and it’s ready to full.

Anyway, I kind of forgot about the piece being in the dryer.  I believe I’d started making dinner, or something equally important.  So about 1/2 hr. later , perhaps more, I pulled it out and here it is:

Can you see that it’s kind of hairy?  That is because it was in the dryer for longer than necessary.  It is hairier than I really wanted, but…oh well.  That’s what happens when one gets distracted.

Another picture of it:

Here are a couple of detail shots showing the prefelt area on the lower right. They give you a good idea of the ruching (crinkling of fabric) as well as the hairiness of the piece.

I must admit I had trouble with this piece.  I felt only lukewarm about it.  Joei, on the other hand, thought it a huge success.  As I thought about the piece and my process I decided I had been too literal as I was making it.  Instead of taking my feelings upon seeing the photo and transferring them into the fabric, I tried to follow the photo.  Like “painting by numbers”.  Well, there was only one solution to that.  Try again!

On Sunday I started on my third piece.  Again, I used the photo of the path. First I laid out my wool.  I used some Rambouillet batt I had dyed.  Each of the colors was a combination of 2 — the carding mill hadn’t thoroughly cleaned the machine between carding different colors and so I have a bit of color blending.  I didn’t want to use a full face cloth this time, but rather used the silk chiffon (hand-dyed) to designate areas.  I also wanted some of the wool showing.  Here’s the start of my layout.

By this point Joei’s studio is having a bit more of a “lived in” look to it.  🙂

You’ll notice that I used areas of brightly colored wool.  Not necessarily colors one would find in nature.  That’s also true of the silk I used.  I decided this is what I do best: more abstract, with colors and shapes representing what I see and feel from the photo.  It’s my way of distilling something to it’s simplest elements. This photo shows the start of the layout a bit better.

Now I’ve laid out more of my imagery using both silk chiffon and a few scraps of prefelt.

Wet down and into the dryer.  Full it and here it is:

Fulling, by the way is the last step of the process where the wool and fabric are subjected to more agitation, and often heat, so that the wool fibers begin to shrink.  It takes it from a more or less fragile state to a firm, strong piece of cloth.  It is also when the ruching happens, as the wool begins to shrink it pulls the fabric with it causing it to wrinkle and scrunch up.   Felting, the first step, causes the wool fibers to migrate into the fabric (at least in nuno felt, which is what I mostly do) and make the wool and fabric one.

And that reminds me of a joke my father used to tell.  What did the Buddhist say to the hot dog vendor?

Give up?

“Make me one with everything”.

Anyway….Here’s a recap of last weekend’s work:

And now I’ve got to go.  My friend Robyn is coming over today.  Guess what we’re going to do?  Yep, make felt.  And also hike and take pictures. It’s wonderful autumn weather here.  New England’s finest.  Gotta enjoy it while it lasts. And this post is quite long enough, I’d say.  Thanks for hanging in there with me.

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What a wonderful weekend I had!  As I mentioned in my previous entry, I went down to Rhode Island to make felt with my friend Joei, felter extraordinaire.  (There’s a link to her blog on the right, “Art Thats Felt”). Joei has a new, beautiful, well lit studio and I had the privilege  to work in there with her. She is just moving in, so it is still fairly empty and clean.

And we both made lots of felt!  While Joei worked on a piece much larger than she usually does, I made 2 small pieces and a larger one.  The first piece I made was the 3rd in the “A Hole in a Tree” series.  Refer to my entries of Sept 6th and Sept 15th to  refresh your memory of the first 2.  This was another not-exactly-natural-colors one.  I picked out as many colors in the lime green family as I could find in my stash.  I also found a perfect pre-felt which I had resist dyed by tying rocks (or was it  corks?)  into the fabric with rubber bands before dying.  When I finished dying and took the resists out I found I’d stretched the pre-felt fabric out of shape. But it was just that which made the pre-felt perfect for this application.

So I started out with a lime green back cloth.  The back cloth is my security blanket.  Joei says she found she didn’t need it and stopped using them. But I like having the added layer of fabric.

On top of this I added my merino wool roving.  I thought I was making it mostly green, and up close it looked mostly green, but from farther away there was a lot of reddish-brown and brown tones in it.

Here are the up close shots and it does look green, right?

You’ll notice the 2 very different textures in these close ups.  The top picture shows an area where I used batt.  The bottom shows roving.  Batt is a form of processed wool in which fibers go in every direction.  The fibers in roving are combed to all go in the same direction.  I thought I might get 2 very distinct areas on the piece due to this, but I didn’t notice much of a difference once I put the face cloth on and felted it. Here’s the face cloth:

It’s a very sheer piece if chiffon and can barely be seen.  Rather like a whisper than a statement.

And then I added my design.

During this visit I finally decided to try “dryer felting”.  In other words a clothes dryer does the felting part for you.  My friend Dawna has been trying to get me to do this for months and months.  She started using the dryer when she was having really bad back pain.  It was the only way she could felt.  And Joei has been doing it for a long time too.  I turned my snobbish little nose up for many, many months, but for some reason thought I’d give it a go.  So here you see my piece wrapped in plastic and ready to be rolled in a towel, then thrown in the dryer.

It came out beautifully!  And I learned something important.  Just at the time when I’m starting to get impatient with working a piece by hand, well….that’s when I can throw it in the dryer and let the machine finish it up.  My impatience doesn’t get in the way of proper felting that way.  Then out it comes and I finish up the fulling by hand.

Here it is. It’s wet in this shot and the browns show through with a lot of emphasis.

And another.  (My friend Patrice has asked for more pictures, so I’m loading this entry up with them). This time the piece is dry and the browns lessen.  That’s a good thing ’cause now the piece looks green, which is what I wanted.

Joei took me on a mushroom walk.  She lives in a perfect spot for them.  It’s forested, with lots of needles and leaves on the ground.  There is lots of moisture, perhaps because it’s old river bottom land.  Look at these cool ‘shrooms!

I really liked the top of this one.  It has a pattern like some kind of mosaic.

The stem on this one is quite beautiful. Full of scales.

There is more.  I made 2 more pieces.  But I’m too exhausted to keep writing.  I have spent most of the last 3 days cleaning, organizing, getting rid of stuff, etc. in my studio.  It looks great, but I’m too tired to go on.  I’ll try again tomorrow.  Good night.

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This week I’ve been working on more dye-ing.  I finally have dyed the last 4 pounds of fleece, which completes all that I have.  Yesterday it got sent off to the Mill for carding.  Here is a picture of these last 4 pounds.  Not all that exciting, but I’ve an idea for a black, navy and violet piece, thus some of the current colors.  The photo doesn’t show that the fleece in the upper left corner is actually a very dark violet.

I also have moved ahead on the next “A Hole in a Tree” piece.  This is the one in “surreal” colors: pinks! I believe last week I showed you a picture of both the background cloth and the face cloth. Here is the wool layed out.

In this next picture I’ve put the face cloth in place and laid out some prefelts and yarns to give the feel of both the hole in the tree and the surrounding forest.

Here is the piece felted and hanging on my studio wall.  Unfortunately the colors are a bit washed out.  In real life the color gradation and color changes of the wool show more obviously through the face cloth and are quite lovely.

Here are a couple of detail shots as well.  Perhaps they give you a bit more of a feel for the piece.

I’ve started felting the first ” A Hole in a Tree” piece. I don’t think I’ll get it done until next week however as I’m going away this weekend.

I have also been working steadily to get my stash of frames stained and poly-ed.  I want them ready to use when I need them.

Today I attended the first session of what promises to be a great workshop series.  The topic is email marketing ( I think we’ll touch on other social media as well). It is taught by Donna Saliter (www.intouchpromotions.com) who has quite a bit of experience and lots of knowledge.  I’m sure you’ll be seeing some of the results of my learning on this blog in the future.  So stay tuned.

I am excited to report that I am returning to my friend Joei’s for another felt-a-thon.  The last one, in January, was not only my first blog posting, but was responsible for me having this blog at all.  I have enough materials and ideas to more than fill my car. I’m sure I’ll get lots done, and have lots of fun too.  So, be sure and check next week’s posting to see what all went on.

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I started off my day by going for a hike.  It was perfect hiking weather, sunny, warm, slight breeze. I decided to take my dog and go up my favorite trail, a section of the Appalachian Trail that goes from North Adams to the Vermont border (and beyond).  I took my camera and found some wonderful tree holes and fungi.  Alas, when I pulled out my camera I found my battery was dead.  No pictures today.

However, I was really entranced with one tree hole, and I thought about it for most of my hike.  I decided to return to the studio and make a piece based on what I’d seen.  Then I thought about making the same image, but using the most unnatural of colors — like bubblegum pink, reds and lavender. That sounded like fun, so I decided to make one like that too.

When I got to my studio, I first set 4 dye pots going.  I had 4 lbs. of Rambouillet fleece I want to get dyed and off to the Mill along with several pounds of Icelandic that I dyed last week (or was it the week before? So easy to lose track of time). Then I started on the 2 new pieces. I’m going to try to photograph every step along the way.  I think it’s good for me to have documentation on what I do, why, and what I’m thinking at the time.

While I was working I had a delightful visit from a couple I’d met a few years ago.  We were on a hiking trip in Provence (France) together. Though they live not far away we haven’t seen each other since our trip.  It was such fun to catch up.

So first I picked out the backing cloth. The one for the “real” colors is basic black.  The one for the “unreal colors” is a pastel plaid. They won’t be huge pieces.  Hopefully after felting they’ll fit in 16″ X 20″ frames.

I started with the more “realistic” piece since the second piece would be a kind of take off on this one.  I picked out the face fabric, deciding that I would make the piece a whole cloth construction.  It’s a piece of silk chiffon that I dyed in a crockpot so it has a multicolored pattern.

I liked the colors and thought they would do a good job in bringing a forest to mind. Next I laid out the wools that would go under the face cloth.  Mainly browns, with some lighter tans and a bit of green.

I put the face cloth over this and then added the imagery.  I mainly used prefelts from my prefelt library.  Everytime I have a dye bath going I throw in some prefelt, so I’ve got a large selection of colors.  Some I’ve resist dyed, so there are patterns too. Here’s a shot of the prefelts I considered.

I added some yarns to give the feeling of a forest.  Voila!  Here it is:

Now it’s time to felt it, roll it and hang it out to dry. That will happen tomorrow or Weds.

Then I went back to the non-realistic piece.  I picked out the face cloth, again for a whole cloth construction.  You can also see the prefelts I have chosen.

By the time I’d got this far it was late, and I was tired and hungry.  I decided I’d done enough for today.  I have my work cut out for me for the rest of this week.

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