Sunday, 29 March 2015

The last post

When I started this blog is was to record my adventures and discoveries during my in-line felting courses with Artybird Carnforth. There were lots and lots of adventures and discoveries but now it has come to an end. After three years of distance learning and I have obtained a City and Guilds Level Three diploma in Design and Craft - Constructed Textiles ( Feltmaking ). What a mouth full !
I am not finished with felting, far from it, I am more enthusiastic than ever and I still feel the need to blog . I have therefore spent this last week building myself a website with a blog . Here I can properly show my felt work and write a related blog. This is where you can find me.
I do not want to lose any friends and readers, so please let me know if you need any help in finding my new location.
It's been a wonderful three years and it makes me quite sad to make this change but I feel I need to use this moment to move on and seek out new challenges and opportunities.
Thanks for reading this and best wishes to you all.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Facebook story

This week I have told a story installments on Facebook about a shetland vessel that I dyed. For those of you who don't do Facebook I am going to repeat it here.

I made a shetland vessel from white and moorit coloured fibres with the aim of stitching it and then dyeing it. I am actually still exploring the best way to felt with shetland and it seems onto devour soap and need loads of water.

Here it is before stitching.

I stitched it with linen and silk threads and thought it looked more stylish with a cuff.

Now to dye. My first thoughts was to use some of the onion skins I have been saving but I decided to save them for a less prototype project and use the dried up skins of two pomegranate that I have also been storing . I deviated from my usual practise of keeping kitchen and dyeing equipment completely separate and first blitzed the pomegranate skins with water in my food processor.

The vessel was then heated at simmering point with the extracted colour from the pomegranate and left to soak over night.

After dyeing it looks paler than I would have ideally like , with not much variation of colour between the wool , silk and linen,

But with the threads sorted and a slate plinth I am quite pleased with the final effect. Thanks to Dave Mercer for thIs photograph .





Sunday, 15 March 2015

Looking back

It's hard for me to believe that this is now my 151st blog post. I would never have believe that was possible when I very nervously wrote my first post in September 2011.

That first post was about the difficulties in making white felt on a white background , my trial piece to show I could make felt at the start of my first ArtyBird City and Guilds courses.

When I look at the posts I have made , the most popular with my readers is the one about making a pair of replacement slipper boots , the first pair made from merino had worn through.

Oh how I hated making these things , I just could not get the supposedly hard wearing norwegien wool to felt. But they have been much loved by my daughter and are worn out now . So much for the hardwearing. Before you ask - no I will not make another pair !

I have had more that 7000 views, and I think over 1000 of these are my mother who is my biggest , albeit silent in the public arena , fan.

I was very excited the day I got a comment , from a friendly felter who was unknown to me and I know I have viewers that I don't know from all around the world .

The purpose of my blog was to record my adventures and discoveries during my on-line felting courses with ArtyBird Carnfoth I think I have achieved this while having a lot of fun and learning a lot about felting . During my journey I have been greatly helped by Kate Horner from ArtyBird , and also enjoyed workshops with Miriam Verbeek , Andrea Graham , Judit Pocs and Lisa Klakulak.

As ArtyBird wins more awards for its felt making courses I am pleased that out there in the ether will remain my few words about my experiences with the courses for future students and friendly felters to read and I am pleased that I took the plunge and became a blogger.









Sunday, 1 March 2015

Exhibition piece - Part 2

As I prepared to post this post, I realised that this is my 150th post !!! I never would I have thought when I started blogging I would be still here after so long. Probably time for a review ? ! That will have to be next time. As first I have to complete the story of my exhibition piece.

So having prepared all my fabrics :

and having laid out my background.

It was time to start felting.


After just a little work!! I had this final felted piece.

I treated myself to a thermometer before I started dying and a few tests told me that what I'd thought was less than 60oC was in fact hotter. So with my Ithermometer I was able to control my temperatures to better exploit the red dyes in the madder.

Here is the final result.

Very textured, and very red !


Off in the post to be exhibited by Artybird Carnforth.



Sunday, 15 February 2015

Exhibition piece - Part 1

ArtybIrdcarnforth are having a spring exhibition in, not surprisingly , Carnforth UK. All week I have been preparing my piece.

My inspiration is this small part of Far Easedale Gill. The photo was taken on a cold April Day.

My piece will be made all in white and then naturally dyed. Just to be sure I have been doing some more dye tests. I was interested to see what difference pH would make to madder dying .

These results are not quite as different as I expected , but maybe I need a bigger pH change than from 5 to 7 . More work is needed I think!

I have also been preparing all my fabric and fibres which when added to the felt will build the texture and then the colours after dyeing.

Here they are all laid out on my table , not looking much at the moment but after felting and dyeing should be beautiful. I hope !


Sunday, 8 February 2015

A fantasy fish and a find

A number of months ago I was asked by one of my daughters if I could make a felted fish. I was pretty vague about by capabilities at the time . I knew if I was going to make a fish, it would have to be a fantasy fish , as making replica sea bass or trout is not for me. I actually knew I could make a fish I just did not feel inclined to do so until this week. When perhaps due to the dismal cold weather , I thought , why not try .
So here he is . One crazy fantasy fish . Just a prototype you understand. I will make the rest of his aquarium friends shortly !

And on a completely different track , I bought a little treasure trove this week. In the UK charity shops are quite a big part of all the high streets, here in the Netherlands such shops are very rare. There place is taken to some extent by the house clearance stalls on the market. Many strange bargains are to be had on these stalls , and you never know what you will find.
Last week on one of these stalls I found this.

The little sticker ' witte knoppen' means white buttons.
I thought these white buttons were perhaps a treasured collection made over years , now sadly unwanted. So I bought them for 3 Euros and I have brought them home to treasure , and maybe add to a few felted projects.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

Productive week

I feel I have achieved loads this week.

Firstly I got round to trying some of the techniques I learnt in December with Lisa Klakulak at the wonderful Atelier Fiberfusing. I was pleased I have not forgotten all the fascinating felting tips Lisa taught me and I am delighted with the purple pod I made.

I finished the presentation of some new jewellery and was surprised and pleased to unexpectedly sell some more earrings . I also started adding the beads to another set . My plan for all these to go into my Etsy shop, hopefully next week.


Artybirdcarnforth has planned an exhibition for April and I need to get my piece finished and with then by the 10th March. This is not so far in the future so I did a few pastel drawing that will form part of the inspiration for the piece .

As I want to naturally dye this piece I did a few more dyeing experiments. Onion onto BFL and with alkanent on some Gotland. Typically I prefer the felt design of the gotland piece but I am not so keen on the range of grey and brown I have produced. I like the golden colours from the onions a lot better.

When I look back it feels like a very productive week !


Sunday, 25 January 2015

City and guilds

As I come to the end of my three years studying with the City Guilds, with Artybirdcarnforth I know that I am keeping up a family tradition. I did not know this when I started. In the 1940s , after the war, when my Grandfather was no longer working in munitions , he returned to his profession as a dental technician by studying with the City and Guilds. He had kept his hand in with his profession during the war by making false teeth at the kitchen table, which was Ilegal at that time - hard to imagine that now !

My and my grandfather.

In the 1960s my mother who was a health professional , who had always had an interest in dressmaking and dress design , studied advanced dressmaking and design with the City and Guilds in Liverpool. She recalls a 6 hour practical exam while she was 7 months pregnant with my sister. That sounds a bit like a very hard version of the Sewing Bee. Her father was extremely proud that she also got a City and Guild qualification.

So what is this , City and Guilds , organization ?. Well a a little research shows their motto is " Believe you can ". I had no idea but I love the power of this motto.

Today the City and Guilds organization is a global leader in skills development offering 500 courses and operating in 81 countries . Founded in 1878 in London with the aim of improving the education of craftsmen , technicians , technologists and engineers. They wanted to create a institution in London and a system of qualifying examinations. In this respect I think , they have had a significant effect on the system of qualifications in the UK and probably the world , and the fact they still exist after nearby 150 years is amazing. Today 2 million people each year start City and Guilds qualifications.

So I am proud , and quite emotional in reality, to be part of this 2 million and to have kept up the family tradition.


Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Felted jewellery

Over the last few months I have quite some surprising success selling my felted jewellery. My pieces have been sold through Box of Beautiful Things, based in Carnforth , UK. I had made two collections , one using some shetland tweed and one based around turquoise beads.

Here's an example of the shetland tweed pieces.

I love the ridged effect you get as the shetland tweed is forced to shrink into the wool fibres.

The turquoise beads were matched simply with black fibres and some turquoise threads.

Now I need to make some replacement pieces. As usual my ideas change and I thought I should try and make something lighter and more summery. I therefore decided to start using some indian silk, I bought in Mumbai in 2013.

Pieces are still being made , but here a glimpse of work so far


Sunday, 11 January 2015

An old grey bag

At Woolfest in 2013 I bought some Gotland fibre . Beautiful carded batts in soft grey shades. Just perfect for a sturdy bag. Which I made and actually wrote 2 blog's about !!! Well I have to now be honest, this bag was not so good really as it was very thin across the bottom and a bit floppy.

For 18 months it's hung on my studio door handle , looking sad, and has never been allowed outside. So I decided to revamp it . I soaked it for a couple of days , and started re fulling. In a gentle sympathetic way you understand, not throwing it at the floor. Persuading it to shrink where it wanted it too.

I quickly cured the thin bottom , and then further shrunk the whole bag to give a more sturdy felt, it reduced in size by about another 15% . My records are a big thin but overall it has now shrunk about 40% Which I think is still debatable for a hardwearing felt . What do you think ? It has turned from a shopping size bag to a large handbag sized bag .

I decided to fit magnetic fasteners for security and remodeled it with more curves. A slimmer and firmer version all round. I even gave it a shave before it faced the world again.

Here is the new version.

And just for information here is the old one, looking strangely sepia!