Thursday, 25 April 2013

Reflections on a reflection

I am discovering how tricky reflections are, as I reflect on the complexities of photographing a reflection.

I have decided to use a reflection of a tree in a small stream as the inspiration for my felt panel.

I came across this reflection on a cold but bright April morning, and was entranced. I snapped away , but with my limited photography skills and equipment I could not capture both the image and its reflection in the same photograph. This was easily achieved by some kind of vertical panoramic melding technique by the photographer .

Reflecting on these images the next day , I decided I needed to return to take some close ups if I was going to develop this as a felt idea. Good idea , but now on reflection not nearly enough.

What has become apparent to me is that a tree reflection in water critically depends on where you stand when you look at it , or actually when you in this case take a photograph . Although I think I knew this in my head , I did not behave systematically enough , during my entrancement and now have lots of fantastic photographs , that don't line up .

This is all made a bit more complicated by the fact that the numbers of branches in the tree is more than in its reflection. Analysing this it is , I believe it is a combination of the narrowness of the stream, the width of the tree and the viewing angle. All this has slowly become apparent to me as I try to sketch and paint the image. How have a managed to make it so complicated before I have even thought about how to felt the image.

To illustrate my point here is the reflection and the tree separately at slightly different angles.

And finally a pastel interpretation if the whole piece
Now to convert all these wild ideas to a felted panel from European wool!

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Distance learning

On Friday , by the wonders of modern technology, there has been a three way conference call , two ArtyBird distance learning students and one tutor, Kate Horner. The wonderful technology , or perhaps the users did not allow a video conference call , but that was not a problem.

So we learned that there are 18 other students like ourselves , distance learners, from all around the world. We discovered that , the distance learners, because of our relative isolation tend to produce very individual work. Nice to know. We discussed the problems that you might encounter when felting a rug. I wish I had this conversation a few weeks ago , but never mind. It was also good to learn a little bit more about the City Guilds verification process and get a little more insight into the purpose behind some of our design activities.

We also discussed the whole design process and how long it can take and what a significant contribution it can have to the cost of a finished item. My panel design was discussed as well, I think the way I am going I will never manage to a finish the design process let alone make a panel. Time will tell !

I have made two new star pictures this week. One is a disaster. For some reason I really over felted it. Then not only was it too small but all the vibrancy of the colours had been lost. So after my inspirational conference call. I started again, Recalculating , and checking and checking again before I started. I choose a different nebulae as well . With the totally uninspiring name of NGC 5189. This time I have controlled myself and the piece is not felted to death. I was able to test out mounting a felt piece using stretcher bars that artist use for canvases. The purpose of this change in mounting is to make something light that can be easily posted.

Here she is fully mounted hanging on my living room wall.










Sunday, 14 April 2013


On Friday I spent a lovely day felting with a friend. In fact the friend who taught me to felt. Truthfully we spent most of the day talking so we were not so productive in terms of felt actually made but we shared many ideas on how to do things . We discussed the incorporation of stones and pebbles , under here are some shiny glass stones. It will be interesting to see how they glint though when it is felted.

We did a small test of using prefelt under fabric to create bubbles.

This has worked I think, and probably works better if you use felt instead of prefelt. Eventually this will become a hat.

The remaining question for Friday was how to make waves in felt on a small scale . It is quite easy to visualize how to do this on a huge felted piece . Here is an example we like.

You can see more like this at

But how to make the same effect on a small scale. I thought with use of prefelt and embellishing but I am not sure this would give sharp enough lines.

Meantimes I have a draft brief from a very fussy client , myself , to complete for my course so I think that takes priority for now and waves will have to wait. But if we could crack it it could fit very well with this years Felt United's theme of water.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Beautiful morning

I have been away from home walking in the UK Lake District , a favorite place of mine. The weather has not been typical. Snow was lying on all the fells above about 300m and the skies were clear . It was freezing at night and like being in the Alps during the day. I only thought about felting , but do have some inspirations that I am working on for a panel. More in a later blog . For now some photos capturing the beautiful weather and scenery at Grasmere early one morning.

The fells reflected in the lake. Image not complete due to the thin layer of ice on the lake.

The cracking ice being washed up gently on the shore.

Geese in flight from the island.

A still and peaceful reflection.

Monday, 1 April 2013


Well I could not wait for the weather to warm up to make my rug. The way it's going it could be weeks before spring returns and I can felt outside. So I decided to ignore the weather instructions .

I cut the pattern and then the prefelts and laid then out with some fibre shapes on the pattern which was covered in bubble wrap

I made a border and then the squiggly edging using long lengths of merino. I made the edging out of all the colours I as used , pretty randomly . Final touch some green prefelt shapes in the 4 corners.

Then I had to fill in the gaps. This was difficult and tedious , poking the fibres between the shapes and lines. I think I had fallen into my usual trap of not keeping the design simple enough.

At last it can be covered in mule batts and felted. I used about 6 inches high of random fibre.

Felting was hard work. It was difficult to get it soapy enough I think because there was still lanolin in my hand washed mule. And it was difficult to get it all to mesh together. Eventually after seemingly hours i rubbing , i moved on to rolling. Rolling and rolling and rolling. First by hand , then on my swivel chair and finally on an ordinary chair. Ths way all my effect went into the felt not into the chair swiveling. I walked on it and I beat it with a mallet. Lucky I have solid concrete floors.

What a mess I am working in!
Eventually it was as felted and shrunk as I could manage. Not quite as thick as I anticipated but felted back to front.

Considering its inspiration was the shadows and grasses on a river pool I struggle to work out why it reminds me of cactuses.