Sunday, 29 December 2013

Recent Pieces

I haven't really done much since the craft fair a couple of weeks ago, but I do have a few pieces I finished before that I haven't posted about. This first one is another Diary.

It didn't sell at the fair, so I altered it and added a strap made from braiding I bought recently and a delrin clip closure. I didn't have a chance to get a photo though, I gave it to my Dad for Christmas. One thing I worked on over a period of time was another woolly vessel. I embellished a wet felted vessel I made a couple of years ago with lots of wool, angora, mohair and alpaca locks. I attached them by needlefelting, then wrapped it up and put it through the washing machine.

I made this nuno felted piece quite a few weeks ago, but didn't get a bright day to photograph it. I haven't decided what to make out of it yet.

Have you made anything over the holidays or took some time to relax?

Monday, 16 December 2013

Craft Fair and Some New Pieces

I did my first craft fair on Saturday. It was only a small one, the nice people at the LGBT Centre in Manchester asked me if I'd like to take a few things to sell between the Carol Service and Christmas Dinner at their Festive Funday. For the past couple of weeks I've done a lot of blanket stitching, a lot of printing and a lot of cutting out of tags and business cards. And who'd have thought writing and attaching tags could take a whole day?!
I didn't think to ask what size the table would be and not knowing which items might be popular, I decided to take pretty much everything I've ever made! Ann from The Felting and Fiber Studio talked about getting ready for a show a few weeks ago, well I don't drive, so I have to walk or get public transport everywhere, so over the last couple of years I've relied on my 'granny trolley' to cart things about:

Using a shoe box, old toaster box and a couple of smaller cradboard boxes, I managed to fit in: 7 x A5 Diaries/notebooks;  8 x A6 notebooks; 3 x iPad/gadget cases; 10 x camera cases; 6 x glasses cases; 4 x credit card cases/pouches; 9 x coin pouches;  7 x coin purses/wallets; 2 x mirror cases; 2 x ring pouches; 4 x placemats/coasters; 23 bookmarks; 4 x felt pieces; 2 x shoulder bags and a woolly vessel. I think I took too many things! This is one of the diary covers I finished in time for the fair:

This is an iPad case. I was going to use the felt for a diary cover, but it didn't shrink as much as I expected, so I searched online for the dimensions of the most popular tablets and made this. It has rainbow felt on the front and back and also a piece of neoprene stitched to the back:

This is another piece of felt I made last week. I made two the same, and sold one at the fair:

It was a great experience doing the fair and I met so many nice people and got lots of compliments. Although it was only on for about an hour I managed to sell more things than I have in the last 9 months on etsy :) I'm looking forward to my next one.

Monday, 9 December 2013

More Sculptural Felt, a Craft Fair and Some Diary Covers

I've been working on some sculptural felt and bamboo pieces lately. I've used different shades/breeds of natural wool tops and both black and white bamboo tops. This first piece has a base made with a variety of brown and grey scoured wools and natural wool tops that I carded into a batt. On top of that are twists of grey merino with white bamboo top. When it was almost felted, I cut and rolled and folded, then fulled to get the texture and effect I wanted.

This next piece was made with brown Finnish wool for the base, twists of dark brown Corriedale and black bamboo were positioned on top. This was also folded and fulled to get the shape I wanted.

This piece was made mostly from English 56's, the base was two layers, then I added some thick twists to the top to help define the ridges I wanted. I added 2 very fine layers of 18.5 mic merino over the top, then positioned some black bamboo over the raised parts where the twists were. When it was almost felted, I folded it concertina style, secured with sewing thread and finished felting by rubbing, and rolling one end at a time to get a twist in it. It's about 8 inches long. This is the back:

This is the front:

Close up of the texture on the inside of the back:

And a close up of the bamboo:

I've mostly spent the past week getting ready for a Craft Fair this coming Saturday, it's at the LGBT Centre on Sidney Street, Manchester if you're in the area! There's Christmas Carols around 12 noon and a Christmas Dinner around 2pm as well as the craft fair.  I've printed tags and business cards and have made and cut out felt for 5 Diary covers. I've only got 2 finished so far, but it takes about 8 hours just to position/reposition/double check the closure straps, and then blanket stitch around them and all the edges (I'm up to episode 24 of Prisoner Cell Block H!) This is an orange one that I finished first:

And this is a green one I finished yesterday:

Keep an eye on my etsy for loads of cheap 2014 diaries in case none of them sell :)

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Nuno and Bamboo

I found time last week to make a notebook cover from the bright flowery nuno piece I recently made. The finished felt piece turned out bigger than I'd expected and I did play with the idea of making a passport style shoulder bag. Maybe if I'd had a nice button or some Delrin clips I would have, but in the end I thought a book cover would look nice. This is the front:

And this is the back:

I usually leave the natural felt edges on the inside front flap, but when I worked out the best position of the felt for the cover, it ended up on the inside back :

So the 'neat' cut edge is on the inside of the front.

I've been mostly working on some ideas using natural wools and fibres recently. As much as I like nuno and brightly coloured Merino, the natural shades of wools and fibres and the different textures and properties of the wools and fibres and how they work together is a bit of an obsession for me :) I made a few pieces with different bamboo fibres this week. Some were just samples as I worked out the crinkles of ideas and played with the fibres to get the look I want. This is a sample piece I made using black bamboo blended with black merino:

This piece worked out just how I imagined and wanted it. It's 18.5 mic Merino with bamboo staple fibre for subtle shiny texture:

What have you been working on lately?

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Fourth Quarter Studio Challenge

Over on The Felting and Fiber Studio Site, we have quarterly challenges. It's just something to get us thinking, sometimes take us out of our 'comfort zone'. This quarter's challenge is 'Autumn'. I know it isn't Autumn everywhere, the idea developed from 'monochrome' to sections of the colour wheel to 'Autumn' since I was thinking of burgundy, reds and oranges. For once, I didn't leave it until the last minute to start on my piece for the Studio Challenge! I was hoping to take photos of the whole process of making the batt for the top layer, but I've moved all my stuff downstairs and it's really dark so the photos didn't turn out. The oranges, rusts, yellows and reds associated with autumn are one of my favourite colour themes, so I have a nice collection of embellishments in these colours. I made a piece large enough to make a book cover out of and have plenty of felt spare to make closure flaps and straps:

I don't usually add wisps over my surface embellishments, but I wanted a look of them being more 'submerged' and part of the surface than on it. Some yellow cotton gauze:

A red and yellow piece of silk:

A dyed lock of Bluefaced Leicester:

I also nuno felted my new fabrics this week. I only managed to get a clear photo of this one so far, it's very dark again today. This is a nice patterned grey/blue and pink georgette fabric.

It didn't attach very well in some places, it's a bit 'slick', but where it did attach, it rippled nicely:

Have you made anything for the Studio Challenge? Lyn has and so has Teri Berry

Monday, 11 November 2013

Meet the Artist/Supplier

Over on The Felting and Fiber Studio site today we have a very special guest post from Sara of Sara's Texture Crafts. She has very kindly done a video for us talking about her love of textiles, fibres and wool and how this led to what her business is today. She also describes a typical week behind the scenes and what inspires her. It really is an excellent video. Come and watch it :)

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Recent Things

I made some mixed white wool batts on my drum carder recently. I like to use different wool breeds together because they felt differently to each other so you get interesting results and it's different every time. I made 3 batts altogether and used Lincoln, 23 mic Merino, 18 mic Merino, Norwegian, Texel, Cheviot, Devon, Teeswater and Shetland wool tops.  I also added in some carded mixed lambswool and Falkland fleece for texture, and Border Leicester, Mohair curls, Bluefaced Leicester, Wensleydale, and Alpaca for crimp and curl. I also added some silk for extra shine.

I thought I'd use the batts as the inspiration to put together another wool and fibre pack to sell on etsy, using white/natural as the theme. I added some cotton scrim and some of the 'luxury' embellishment fibres I have: Bamboo staple fibre, Egyptian cotton top, Ingeo, Banana, Ramie, Flax and Milk protein fibre. And also some silk fibres: silk threads and throwster's waste, silk carrier rods (don't they look so ugly before they're soaked and separated?!) and one of my favourites, silk noil. I love the way it felts, but I also love the way it smells and sounds as it's separated and stretched out :)

I went to Abakhan on Wednesday for some supplies (they were out of delrin clips!) and couldn't resist getting some gorgeous georgette fabric in a few designs. This is one of them:

I also couldn't resist the braiding, so got 3 designs:

I hadn't had chance to do much over the last few weeks so I decided to make time on Friday and laid out and felted a nuno felt piece with one of the new fabrics I bought. I knew I should have added some wool around the edges of the fabric, but I laid it out upside down, with the fabric on the bottom and knew I'd mess up if I tried to flip it :)

I picked colours from the fabric to make a muti coloured patchwork back:

It textured really nicely:

Monday, 28 October 2013

New Felt Diary Cover

Before the black Merino and multi fibre notebook cover I made recently, I'd started to make a greeny blue one for a diary. The first batt I was happy with on my drum carder was blues and greens so I used this for the top layer. As well as Merino, I added some texturey Icelandic wool, and locks of Bluefaced Leicester and Wensleydale that I dyed a few years. I added lots of surface embellishments: silk fabric, cotton gauze, organza, silk top, silk throwster's waste, some synthetic curly fibres and some more of the dyed texturey, curly wools.

It was too large to get a decent clear 'after felting' photo, but this is almost all of it:

This notebook took even longer than the black one as it was the first one I'd made like this, using felt off cuts for the straps and hand sewing all around the edges:

I machine stitched the smaller strip onto the wide closure strip.

And I machine stitched the two pieces onto the back.

But I finished all the edges with blanket stitch.

I kept the natural edge of the felt for the inside front flap, I like the little detail of pink and yellow on the silk at the top.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

New Notebook Cover

I thought I'd make myself a cover for a ring binder notebook I've started using for notes about batts, fibre packs and etsy listings. I made a piece of felt a few weeks ago from merino and embellishment fibre blends. I used lots of different fibres: Milk Protein fibre, Hemp, Flax, Ramie, Banana, Bamboo top and fibre; Viscose top and fibre, Trilobal nylon, Acrlic laps, Plastic fibre and Egyptian cotton. This is the whole piece after felting:

I recently made another notebook and made the straps to go through the Delrin clips from felt, and it looked really nice, so I thought I'd do the same for this one. This is the front:

It took hours to sew (at least 9 episodes of Hawaii Five - 0!) because I machine stitched the straps into place on the back, but hand sewed everything else and finished off the edges with blanket stitch.

I left the natural felt edge for the front inside flap.

I cut the back flap to size and used the offcuts for the straps.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

New Drum Carder

At least once a year I've contemplated buying myself a drum carder. But after seeing the wool blends Ann from the Felting and Fiber Studio carded a few weeks ago, I seriously considered it, and after looking at a link Judith gave me to ebay, I bought myself a gorgeous handmade Ash drum carder from the Classic Carder company. I wasn't very good on my first few tries, but I soon got the hang of it :)

I thought I should have an 'aim' instead of just going mad and making lots of nice coloured batts, so I decided to  work out roughly how much wool I'd need for one layer if I'm making a piece of felt big enough to make a cover for an A6 notebook. I got my template out, chose a coppery bronze colour theme and then laid out the different coloured wools in different proportions.

I then gathered all the colours up, weighed them and kept notes. I'd usually think to do this after the fifth time of laying out colours, so I'm impressed with myself :)

I added some small amounts of flax and soy top to a couple of the lighter colours, and it's not obvious from the photo, but I added black bamboo to the natural brown merino.

I was impressed with how it looked after just one turn through the carder, but I wanted it more subtle than it had turned out, so I put the wool through again. I really like how it turned out the second time.

I've been thinking for a long time about making up 'experimental' or 'inspiration' fibre packs to sell on etsy. Working out what to put in there to make it worthwhile with our postage prices was difficult, but Marilyn recently suggested selling wool aswell to make it more of a kit. I had a think about how to do it and came up with the idea of including just enough wool to do one layer, a nice blend for the top. I thought this batt would be perfect for the first one as it's the same colours I used for my coppery bronze piece that so many people liked. It gave me an excuse to get out my favourite shades of organza too.

I measured and weighed the organza, picked out some matching cotton gauze, novelty art yarns and silk throwster's waste like I used on my coppery piece, and also made another little batt to make sure there was enough. But now after lots of weighing and measuring, the pack is finished. I did more maths than anyone should do in a year working out roughly how much organza, gauze, yarn and silk is used on a heavily embellished felt piece :)  I just finished writing the description and added it to my etsy shop.

  Let me know what you think of it, is it a good selection of fabrics and fibers?