Felting vessels

How does one make seamless felted vessels? 

Yesterday I took a class at New England Felting Supply with Carolyn Tebbets. It was a great intro into felting vessels and the beginning of 3 dimensional objects.

Working with a resist, we felted 6 layers of wool ( 3 on each side) and massaged our objects into shape. What a wonderful day having fun and making friends.

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Above are our class projects. Below is the packet I am massaging into my vase.

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And here are the finished projects!

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A new direction to explore in the highly addictive, fabulously fun world of felting!

What did I do this summer vacation?

As any student and teacher knows, each fall offers a chance to review what one did over the summer months. What adventures came my way?  How did I use those days to further my craft? What did I do exactly?

Normally I can’t explain what I did. Days flow into other days; books read pile up on the floor or are pushed onto book shelves with too many other books.  I count how many days I went swimming or how many friends I saw for lunch. . .

But these days, no longer a teacher, I get to think over my work.  So this is a kind of retrospective out loud–a kind of retelling what I did do– to the blogosphere. How did I grow? What did I learn? Where am I going from here?

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The above picture shows most of the most I did this summer minus a few key pieces.

One piece–Back to the Garden– is in the member’s exhibit at the Riverside Art Museum.

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That piece is my favorite because I worked at it with a variety of fiber skills: neeflefelting, nunofelting the flowers beforehand, embellishing with beads and embroidery. I went outside my comfort zone. It is also felted rather than nunofelted. It is light but sturdy and has a beautiful backside. See?

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What I learned from that work motivated me to try capturing images in felt.

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I loved the colors here and the way the felt moved the figures to make them dance.

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I knew that my work was changing when I started grabbing colors and different textures and testing them out in Summer Garden. With bits of silk, wool,  sari silk, handspun, locks, and-dyed cheesecloth, beads–a fiber artist’s palette– all placed on the table with just the concept in mind, I created my garden.

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I turned the scarf into a vest with felted in loops and vintage buttons and a practical garment was born. This vest was bought by a fb follower just hours after posting!

From there I experimented with art batts from Louise Player of Spincity UK who mixes together wonderful fibers into beautiful batts. Felters, check out her Etsy site!

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This came from one of Louise’s batts.

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This is another I called “Dark Night” that I turned into a vest with a horn button. It is nunofelted.

As I became more confident,  I just started playing with other wool fiber such as coldswold.

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Cotswold is rare in the US and possesses a beautiful curley texture. It is heavier than merino so it is better suited for colder climates but the texture is lovely– youthful, cozy. I love the feel of it.

I dyed my own cheesecloth for nunofelting to deepen the color and lighten the garment. It captures the wool in a supple way.

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I have experimented in other ways: some that didn’t work such as the tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright’s geometric design that just wouldn’t cooperate.

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This is the unfelted version. The felted version?  Better left unseen.  But mistakes and other oddities happen as one expands into the unknown.

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This is such an oddity. I tried a different shape. I may have rescued it with embellishment but we will see.

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Also the court is out on the two faced scarf made with the base of a prefelt.  I am not sure I like prefelts. The lime colored one is my first. We will see.

So, what did I do for summer vacation?
A lot of exploring, trying to capture images and dreams, learning to work with different fibers—and just having a lot of fun doing it!  Thank you as a reader for indulging me as I write myself into understanding what I learned.http://www.facebook.com/pullofthemoondesigns

The Mad Dye-r: Bengala Dye Redux

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Today I wanted to dye cheesecloth for my felting projects. So I decided to try the Bengala dyes from Loop of the Loom in NYC.  This time I purchased the fixer as the dye was very subtle last time.

For those of you who follow such things, Bengala dyes have been around a long time– think the caves of Lascaux.  These dyes are basically mud dyes or iron oxide and easy to use as they are eco-friendly. You can pour leftover dye into the earth ( or save it for another dye bath).

But once I had put all the cotton gauze and cheesecloth in the fixer bath, I decided to dye an old linen jacket from Blue Fish. It had stains but it is sacriligeous to get rid of Blue Fish so what to do?  I had read about turmeric in reading about natural dyes so I thought why not.

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So into the dye pot — 5 tbl. Turmeric and some 2 tbs. of New Mexican red chile.  Fifteen minutes to create the dye once the water has been heated and spices added. Then one hour to soak the garment. Then out to the yard for a rinse.

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Once rinsed off, the dyed cheesecloth dried off in the tree.

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And the details if the jacket came out just fine.

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I added 3 tbs. of apple cider vinegar as a fixative while the cloth was resting in the dye bath. I don’t know if that will work  to keep the dye from bleeding but we will see.  Some dyes will crock or stain when worn.  I am not sure if turmeric will crock  but we will see.

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Bengals dyes from Loop of the Loom

Meanwhile, lest you think I forgot about the Bengala dyes, I did not.  I used the fixer bath before dyeing this time.  This time I also focused on the dyeing and not on various shapes in the dyed cloth.  Once out of the fix bath, I rinsed
the cloth and then put it in the washing machine to spin it dry as suggested.

It was then ready for the dye bath: I chose two– akane ( reddish) and a grey color called Fukagawa.  I washed the akane into the gauze and cheesecloth. Then left it to dry on the spa.

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I also tried a bit of shibori dyeing with clamps and folding for patterns. 

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The clamps on the grey cloth material.

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And on the reddish cotton muslin.

Lots of sun will help fix the color of Bengala dyes, so there is nothing now to do but wait…

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To be continued….

Lazy Summer Garden

Taking bits of this and bits of that, I finished two projects. The first,  lazy summer garden, I went for an impressionistic view of a garden. Made with merino wool, hand dyed silk, handspun, sari silk, and hand dyed cheesecloth, it looks cheerful. I made two loops to pull it together with buttons if someone wanted a vest.

The other, Oceans, truly was an experiment with a large strip of mesh placed horizontally. The roving laid on it in strips and then mixes in tons of purple Romney Locks to deepen the color. The mix is a bit different but works well. The mesh I bought from New England Felting Supply works wonderfully as to form a connective tissue.  It all pulls together.

Who knew?

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Lazy summer garden above.

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Oceans below.  Note mesh and strips of roving below.

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Both together!

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Some experimentation and lots of color make for a beautiful midsummer morning!

Shibori Adventures

Have you wanted to dye but were nervous about the chemistry of dyeing? Worry no more.  I bought some Bengala dyes from Loop of the Loom in NYC  (the only place to purchase them outside of Japan) and went to work dyeing some 100% cotton gauze.

Bengala dyes are iron oxide or in other words: mud.  The process is simple– prewash your cotton or linen to get finishing off the fabric. Then fill a tub of water to just over the top of the clothes. Then stir with your gloved hands, mixing the dye into the cloth, and keep stirring until you get the desired color.  Then lay the fabric in the sun to set.

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Now there are a couple of additions to this process. In order to put the Shibori into the adventures, you need to fold and hold various things to create the pattern.

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This photo shows the circles. These were created by crushing the cotton in circles and applying rubber bands to keep the dye from totally penetrating the cloth. After you dye it and then dry it, you will cut off the elastics and have your pattern.

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The above photo accentuates lines. These were made by folding the cloth lengthways  many times and then putting elastic bands every four inches. Following the same process of dyeing and drying, you then take off the elastics and find your lines.

In another attempt, I folded the cloth many ways, securing with elastics, and poured the dye directly on the cloth. This created a deeper color and an interesting pattern

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I will return to dyeing with “mud” but this time I will use a fixer to treat the fabric beforehand. I have been assured that deeper colors will emerge with the fixer. Well, we will all just have to wait and see!  Meanwhile the subtlety of the Bengala dyes makes for an earthy, eco-friendly cloth of beauty.

Did I mention that the leftover dye can be poured back into the garden: from dust to dust– literally with Bengala dyes!

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