Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Quick Workshop update..

I totally forgot to post about this on here (I remembered on Facebook)!  On the 17th February I went along to Oak House in West Bromwich.. a beautiful Tudor House where I worked for 10 years until turning full time felter, and have been in love with since I was 8!  They were having a fun day to celebrate some exciting developments on site, and had asked me to come along and create a piece of felt to commemorate the event.  It was to be a communal felt, mostly made from a local mule fleece that I'd spent days cleaning and carding, supplemented by other domestic wool; natural Jacobs and dyed Shetland.

The day went well.. there was a steady flow of interested people watching, talking and lending a hand when they wanted.  I was very happy when it came time to start rolling to find that I had 8 eager little helpers and a couple of mom's too.. many hands really do make light work!

The thing that really made me smile is that not one child passed by my table without popping a bubble on the 'oh so tempting' bubble wrap :)

I don't have any photos from the day.. it was just to busy to stop, I didn't even get a drink or bite to eat.  And it wasn't fully felted at the end of the day, so I brought it home for a couple more hours rolling, throwing and pounding.

The finished picture panel..  A Tudor Rose
I added my favourite curly Wensleydale locks around the edge.
Measures 40" x 25" and just under 1cm thick
The mule felted well.. I had actually expected it to be slower.  Maybe it was the extra hands speeding things up.. Whatever, it has formed a strong, thick felt. 

I've sewn small brass curtain rings on the back so they can hang it if they wish, or use it as a table centre.  Not sure where they plan to display it eventually, but it will be there somewhere.. I shall have to go along in the summer and see where it's ended up :)

Buttons fresh from the kiln..

Last night was the last week of term at pottery class.. I was so excited to get my goodies out of the kiln.  Over the last couple of weeks I have been making a set of 8 porcelain buttons (amongst other things :) .. hoping and planning to use 4 of them on this jacket.  I think I actually squealed when I saw them come out of the kiln in my teachers hand (glad she didn't drop them)!  They are just what I was hoping for.. and I hardly dared to hope that they would turn out as I wanted on the first try!

Porcelain buttons with cobalt oxide and transparent glaze.
They measure about an inch and a half across
After pinching each button into shape I pressed it against a small bronze statue I have.. A replica of an ancient Greek Etruscan horse.  I'm not really 'into' ornaments but I do have a few favourites, and this is one of them.. a gift from my mom many years ago.  I didn't want uniform buttons so I'm chuffed to bits that each one is different.

This is how they looked freshly made..
still undried and unfired
I really like the effect from using oxides and transparent glaze..  Also coming out of the kiln last night:
LOVE this bead!  Iron oxides and cobalt on porcelain..
going to make more similar

And I got my first 'proper' sized mug :)  This one was hand built and is a bit wonky (lets say quirky :)..  but I like it.. and it fits perfectly to my hands.. the handle is comfy to my right hand and the rest of the cup fits perfectly into my left hand :)  There's a benefit of making my own mugs that hadn't occurred to me!   I have a big bag of dark red clay in the boot of my car to play with over Easter.. more wonky mugs will follow I am sure :)

I pressed a fern leaf and pieces of fir tree from the garden into this one..
the oxides are strongest in the indents, I sponged it off much of the higher area

Aaaagh the buttons are too big!  Back to the drawing board!

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Celebrating the Solar Eclipse, Spring Equinox and Super Moon with FELT

This was a rather exciting week here in the UK.. not only was Friday the Spring Equinox (and what a wonderful first day of Spring it was!) but we had a solar eclipse.. also on Friday, preceded by a super moon on the Thursday night.

I decided to honour the heavens with my work on Thursday and Friday.. making a vest, similar to the Jacobs one in the last post but different..

For this one I used black and white Shetland fibre with lots of Wensleydale locks.  I had a clear idea in my mind.. and had scribbled a quick sketch on a scrap of paper the night before :)  I wanted an eclipsed sun motif on the back, a silvery silk mother moon riding just above the heart, locks fringing the collar front and bottom edges and white Shetland lines running up from the bottom.

Quick planning sketch
I decided to use just 2 layers this time so it will be a more supple felt than the Jacobs.. white on the inside natural black outside.

Front: laying out one side, wetted then covered with bubble wrap
Front: laying out second side to overlap the first.
I decided to add white lines running in from the arm hole here..
designs almost always evolve en route :)
Back: building the eclipsing sun motif
Well rolled.. armholes have been cut and healed..
still loads of shrinkage left to go 
After rolling for ages (don't ask me how long.. 2, 3 hours) I added more heat and
started alternating throwing, massaging and rolling.. while trying it on Sally from time to time to check the fit and
see which bits needed more work
Drying.  The silk full moon  and the white line details show up just how I hoped :)
 An eclipsed sun  from prefelt and Wensleydale locks
How I LOVE curly locks!

I'm planning to add a branch button closure this week.. I'll post an update with all the buttoned vests / jackets later in the week :)


Monday, 16 March 2015

Long Jacobs Vest

Last week I felted a long vest from Jacobs wool in natural brown, grey and white..  And I was a good girl.. I SAMPLED the fibre before beginning :)  So a year spent doing 'Fibre of the Month' really has paid off and taught me a lesson is seems :)

JACOBS sample
As with last years samples this was 3 layers laid down over a 20cm x 20cm square and fully felted.

Finished size: 13cm x 17cm
Shrinkage: 35% x 15%

SO.. time to begin :)  I wanted this vest to be long.. to be the same thickness as the back on my knit & felt Jacobs vest.. and to have the same motif on the back.  I also wanted a curly wensleydale lock fringe around the bottom, so decided to make it open ended. 

The resist was almost 5ft long from shoulder to hem.. though I had allowed a couple of inches extra to stop the locks from tangling and felting.

Laying out the front..
I laid out one side, then I put bubble wrap over
and laid out the other side to overlap the first
The back with design and curly locks

I couldn't remember how many fibre layers I used for the back of my knit/felt vest, so I guessed at 3 layers..  But this felt feels quite a bit firmer/thicker than that.  The previous jacobs felt was made from a fleece I had cleaned and carded.. and the batts split into quite fluffy layers.  I'm wondering whether I had in fact only used 2 layers.. or whether it's a difference in the fibre itself.. if the first lot was softer/finer..   I'm not sure.

But the shrinkage was just what I expected from the sample!  Always good news :)  It took 650 grams of fibre to felt this.. I did trim the front flaps  and arm holes though.. probably lost a few grams there.

It reaches to a couple of inches above my knee

Just needs a couple of nice buttons..
big branch ones I am thinking..
I love curly locks :)
Pleased with the stand up collar too..  first time I've felted one in 
I must be a bit masochistic because I can't help thinking it would make a nice coat if I added sleeves.. what do you think?

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Nuno Jacket Progress

I've added sleeves to the nuno vest from my last post..  but totally forgot to take photos as I was felting them :(

The sleeves echo the inside of the jacket and collar..
White merino with lines made from dark denim blue merino
and offcut ribbons of white mawata silk
Pinned, then hand stitched inside and out.
Using Sally made it SO much easier to fit the sleeves properly!
Just needs nice buttons now!
You can glimpse inside the slit cuff..  the same fabric nuno felted on the inside.
I love wide, slit cuffs.. they look so elegant as you move.

As you can see I have yet to iron it.. get the creases out of the sleeves :)

More to follow when the buttons are added (I'm making some at pottery which I hope to use, but they shan't be ready for a couple of weeks).

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Sally's Debut Performance

Last week I set to making my first vest / jacket using Sally :)  

My first step was to wrap Sally in cling film to protect her from the wet felt :)
Laying out the inside decoration.
Scraps of mawata silk hankies, strips of dark denim blue merino fibre
and fine cotton yoke
Outside decoration.
Fine cotton sari fabric with prefelt circles, strips of merino fibre and
a simple pattern 'drawn' on with the dark denim merino fibre.
It was soooo much easier not having to use my own body to fit on :)

I started felting sleeves.. but stupidly didn't realise that the rest of the bagged white fibre in my merino box .. actually wasn't the same as what I'd been using. A bit frustrating..  BUT my fibre order is due to arrive today and work can recommence :)   I'm working on buttons too..  so, more to follow.

I've had a go at making myself some felting tools at pottery class..  brought 'em home from the last lesson but haven't used them yet.

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Under the Beech Tree - March

Wow.. February went by really fast!

1st of March and the
beech tree is bathed in morning sunshine :)
Bare branches now..  the fierce winds
have stripped the last hangers on
Beyond the beech tree.. the first snowdrops

Gemstone - Bloodstone

Flower - Jonquil

According to the old adage March 'comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb'.

In Anglo-Saxon times this third month was called Hyld monath - stormy month, or Hraed monath - rugged month.

Mothering Sunday - March 15th

Solar Eclipse - 20th March 2015.  Starts at 7.41 UTC and ends at 11.50 UTC. 

In Norway and the Faroe it will be a total eclipse.. where I am in the UK it will be a partial eclipse follow this link to find out whether you can see it where you are.  Quite excitingly this is also Spring Equinox..

Some Folkloric Traditions and their origins..

11th March - Penny Loaf Day - Newark, Nottinghamshire

For three nights Hercules Clay dreamed that he saw his house on fire. So convinced was he of impending doom that he moved his family out. They had no sooner left the property, when a bomb fired by Parliamentary forces during the English Civil War, destroyed the house. As thanks for his lucky escape, Hercules left £100 in trust, to provide penny loaves for the poor of the town.

25th March - Trichborne Dole - Trichborne, Hampshire

This custom dates back to the twelfth century when Lady Mabella Tichborne lay sick and dying. She asked her husband Sir Roger to establish a gift (dole) of bread in her memory for those who arrived in Tichborne for the Feast of the Annunciation. Not thrilled at this prospect, Sir Roger said he would provide flour for the bread from as much land as his wife could encompass. A determined lady, she managed to crawl round 23 acres, an area still know today as The Crawls

Well.. that's my March musings.. hope you all have a lovely month xx