Sunday, July 12, 2009

Onwards and Upwards.

Well, an update on what I have been up to. Finished the mermaid. Then a dear friend of mine, Carole and my mum, Suzanne decided to organise our own little exhibition. We called it Eclectic Collections and held it in the beautiful Botanical Gardens in Coffs Harbour, over the long weekend in June. It went very well. Much better than we had expected. We had about 200 visitors a day.
We all worked very hard creating new pieces and we had quite a bit in the end. We wanted to be
like a gallery exhibition and think we managed to achieve that.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

I've done and please don't let me do it again

Okay, at last I am free again. This is Derketa, the Babylonian mermaid I have been working on flat out and to the exclusion of all else. She lived in my dreams and sometimes my nightmares for months. She is DONE. And remind me if I ever have another insane moment like that, never to go there again. My arms and hands will never be the same. It took a long time. I have learnt a lot. But she is beautiful, her facial expression is so serene and calm.
I measured my youngest daugher's dimensions for the arms, legs, head and height, she is about 5ft tall. I made a wire skeleton, or armature, I think it 's called. Then wrapped that in torn up wool jumpers and strips of left over thin quilt batting.
Then I needlefelted the whole thing, she is mainly corriedale with a small amount of tussah silk.
The head was made on a balloon and stuffed with alpaca, this was before I realised what a waste of alpaca that was. Oops.
Never to make something that big with one felting needle again. I couldn't use one of those tools with a few needles in it because of the wire.
Plan ahead better. I had no idea how I was going to display her when I finished. Thanks, John (Grandpa) for the help with that.
Use slightly finer wire as what I used was hard to manipulate.
Projects like this metamophorsis by themselves as you work on them. That was weird.
Talk to someone who knows about creating life like faces. Thanks Mum your advice about the face and the armature was invaluable.
I also learnt how patient my husband and children are, as she lingered in the lounge room for months, even though I have a studio. Thanks all.
I entered this creature in the Lilly Pilly Art Show in Coffs Harbour, in the fibre section and was very excited, to win second prize. Yay, me.
Love to know what you all think.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Spinning myself to sleep

As you can see my spinning has improved quite markedly. The first sample I must have done 12 months ago, when I first got my second hand traditional Ashford wheel, (thanks Leeanne). If you look in the earlier posts there is a photo of my wheel and other early spinning samples.
Since then I have tried to spin on a regular basis. It is a very peaceful and calming activity.
I enjoy the rhythm of the wheel and treadling a great deal. It does tend to send me to sleep. I find myself nodding off over the wheel, if I am spinning in the evening.
But then I am a bit the same when I knit. I have sometimes jerked myself awake with the needles still resting in my hands. Which is fraught with danger!
The second sample is spun from Romney roving, naturally coloured. Love it. I don't usually name yarns I produce. But the name for this one popped straight into my head, Wild Rice. I am thinking about putting it on Etsy to sell. I am very happy with the consistency of the spinning and the plying. Let me know what you think.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

She spins, She knits

I have knitted for as long as I can remember. Now I can spin, thanks to the ladies at the Coffs Harbour Spinners and Weavers group. So, I dyed some 22 micron merino, Landscape dye, Jade. Then I spun the wool as best I could, I plied 2 strands together and achieved a bulky yarn. Using a free pattern from the Garn studio range, I made this for my 12 year old daughter. I am quite pleased with the way it turned out and she loves it.
I really have the spinning bug now. I have now started spinning some beautiful, dark grey romney marsh roving and a lighter tan colour romney and I will ply that together. I think if I make enough I will sell some of the finished product.

Monday, March 2, 2009

BALL FELTING, or felted balls

Sometimes getting used to using the blogger tools can get complicated. I have lost posts in the past and now I have realised they have been saved in a place called "Drafts", how cool is that?
This is a little tutorial in balls, felted balls. These are great fun and real easy for kids to make.

I like to use corriedale, but merino will certainly work well. The first photo shows how you need to spread the wool out and then you start to roll in the edges. I roll it in the palms of my hands, as though I was making a pastry/playdoh ball. Squeezing it firmly at the same time. When you have a basic ball shape, takes strips of the roving and wrap it around the ball in various directions using whatever colour takes your fancy. I pull them firmly around and then rub the ends into the ball where I want it to finish. This helps hold the wool in place. Continue to do this until you are happy with what you have and the ball is a third larger than you want. Felting tends to shrink things by about a third.
Then using old tights, pantyhose or stockings push the ball into the toe and make a knot tightly behind the ball to keep it in place. A few balls can fit in the leg of a stocking, just remember to tie knots to keep them in place. Then place the lot in the washing machine and add dishwashing detergent, a few squirts . Wash on a hot cycle only using the washing cycle, check the felting after 10 minutes. This can be done by undoing one of the knots and peeling back the stocking to reveal the ball. The ball should have some fibres meshed into the stocking and the ball should be firm.
After they are felted enough, take the stocking with the balls in it outside and slap it firmly on a solid surface. I use the house wall, and do it about 50 times. Then rinse in cold water and take the balls out of the stocking, shape with your hands and leave to dry. TAH DAH. Great for juggling and if shaped flatter, they make excellent pin cushions.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Dear Little Dog Gone

Here is a very small needlefelted West Highland Terrier. I made him from corriedale, in memory of my dear Aunty Kay's little companion. He has turned out quite cute, which of course, he was in real life. The other photo is of a mermaid I made for an order a while ago. I prefer corriedale for needlefelting as it goes together quicker. She has mohair for tresses and beautiful Japanese seed beads for her embellished tail. Not a great photo I know. Maybe I should have some photography lessons. Then again, if I just read a few photography lessons then I am sure I could improve.
Feel free to ask any questions you wish about needlefelting. It is a very restful way to felt, not as physically demanding as wet felting that is for sure.

Dye another day

I love dyeing wool. I buy the wool, fine merino and use landscape dyes to make up whatever colours I like. It is great fun. I try to have a dyeing day, so I can get everything out and spend the whole day making a huge colourful mess. The photo on the left is the landscape dyes, obviously, the one in the middle is my Mum, she likes to dye too. The one on the far right is only some of the colours you can create.
The landscape dyes are very easy to use. You don't require mordants or any other chemicals, and they will also dye silk. So I use them to dye the silk chiffon I use in the nuno felt shawls I like to make.
I find I get the best colours when I don't think too hard about what I am doing. I like a sprinkle of this and a teaspoon of that, putting together green, yellow and a pinky red is one of my best.
I attended the local spinners and weavers group the other day and one of the girls had recently attended a natural dyeing workshop in Sydney. I was sooo jealous. The colours she had produced were lovely. I didn't realise you can get such variety. Of course it is a lot of work. But I am tempted. I have a lovely garden with heaps of plants, I would love to see what they turn out like.
You also need to use something as a mordant, so I think I will look into it a bit more first.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Butterfly Award

Thankyou so much to the lovely lady who awarded me with the Butterfly Award. Darlene, who has a great blog, Artticulation I have not received any blog awards. So I am very honoured.
Here are the rules for receiving this award

1. Put the logo on your blog
2. Add a link to the person who awarded you
3. Nominate 10 other blogs for this award
4. Add links to those blogs
5. Leave a message for your nominees on their blogs.