Friday, January 29, 2010

Second Act: Needle-Felted Scarf





When you needle-felt on cotton gauze and then finish by wet-felting...

...the wool can't shrink as much as when you use wool fiber alone.

This means that, even with vigorous felting, your shapes remain more 'true'...

...and you don't end up with a wonky piece which is narrower or shorter than you wanted it.

For me, it still doesn't justify the time spent on needle-felting, though. Har.

The first photo is the scarf all wetted out, after I used my electric sander on it.

The vibration of the sander (no sandpaper is involved!) helps the wool fibers to start linking with each other...

...making the felting process a little shorter.

I recently found a wonderful set of three 'sweater driers' at a church thrift shop.

The second photo shows my scarf drying on its top tier.

(This was a great $5.00 find, I think!)

Because this scarf has a thicker 'inner layer' of cotton gauze, it's quite substantial and warm...

...but still soft...

...great for the cold days yet ahead.

P.S. This scarf was adopted today by my 'boss' at the Home Care Network
where I work as a hospice volunteer. What a providential 'placement'!! Grin.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Needle-Felted Cotton Gauze Scarf: 1 of 2





You know how sometimes you bite off more than you can chew?

It happened to me in December...

...when I started a new scarf with great enthusiasm and vigor.

It was going to be something a little different.

I cut red cotton gauze into a bumpy, free-form kind of scarf shape...

...and started needle-felting wool all over it.

I added designs in contrasting colors...

...and it was going along swimmingly until...

...until what?...

...I don't even know what, but something took me away from it...

...and it's been languishing in one of my many (Yeesh!) 'to-do' piles ever since.

Until today, that is!

I decided that today was the day to finish this darned thing... time, the reveal!

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Monday, January 25, 2010

WIP: Pre-Felt Preparations





I've been getting prepared for my next batch of projects.

I made 8 batts in solid, bright colors...

(the 'finished' photo is missing the yellow one for some strange reason)

...and felted them to the pre-felt stage.

I want to have a quantity on hand so that I can create at will...

...rather than stopping to make one color at a time as the spirit moves me. Har.

I've been using Dr. Bronner's Magic Peppermint Soap in my felting...

...and I love it, but it's kind of expensive, so I decided to order a solid block of olive oil (castile) soap instead.

I had my daughter, H-2, shave it into thin slices with a cheese plane.

Believe it or not, this is the kind of thing she loves to do!!

You should see her play with candle wax!!! Yeesh!!!

I mix it with hot water, using a whisk, and I have a thin slurry of it in an
old Bronner's bottle, too.

I don't honestly know whether it will work out to be more economical in the long-run or not.

Do any of you felters out there have an inexpensive source for quality
castile soap in a block or bar that you would care to share??

Now, I just need to wait for the muse to strike!! Grin.

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Pre-Felt Passion!!





I've used pre-felts before (a little)... know, the partially felted wool sheets that can be used either as 'canvases' for needle-felting work...

...or cut into intricate designs...

...but still felt into the finished piece completely?

Somehow, though, until now, I didn't truly grasp the concept!

I think my previous attempts had resulted in pieces which were too thick or too well-felted.

They never really attached very well (always trying to fall off during the final felting process)...

...or they stuck out too far from the piece...

...never looking fully integrated.

For someone (like me) who doesn't enjoy the time and effort required to needle-felt shapes...

...pre-felts are the bomb, baby!! Grin.

I made some wool batts on my Cardatrice...

...and felted them just until they held together, but were still on the 'fluffy' side.

I used my rotary cutter to slice and dice them...

...then placed them in a geometric pattern on my yellow background batts (which were not pre-felted).

I soaped and rolled and felted as usual...

...and this piece was born.

I don't know exactly what to do with it yet.

I was thinking of using it for a book cover...

...but it could only be wrapped around a book...

...and held in place with a leather thong or something...

...because it's not big enough to sew flaps into. Sighhh.

Any ideas???

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Flat Felt: Inclusion Conclusion





I cannot take credit for today's post title... it came from the fevered brain of my dear bf.

He also meticulously crafted the paper templates for my lampshade pieces.

Well done, J!!

(Can you tell he's an architect?) :)

As you can see, these lamps look a lot better than they used to...

...and the light helps to bring out all of the lovely elements that are lurking in the felt.

I was amazed that I was able to get all 8 pieces from the one rectangle that I made.

I only needed to piece one small triangle on one of the sides.

I used orange thread to hand sew the pieces together.

You have to look pretty close to see it...

...but it gives them a certain je ne sais quoi that they wouldn't have had with white thread.

I need to make myself do more inclusion projects... I can learn how much fiber is really needed to keep them in place, yet still visible.

I'm thinking of this like they do with the medical profession, though...'s the practice of felting! :)
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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Flat Felt Part Two: Defining the Project





So, what on earth to do??

After considering (and deciding against) making a purse...

...since it would get too dirty...

...I was puzzling over the question with my wonderful felting guru, Kim.

She suggested that I make lampshades out of the felt.

How perfect!

I had been wanting new lamps in my bedroom for some time...

...but no one had taken the hint and gotten them for me at Christmastime. :(

The other week, while finally retrieving my Winter clothes from a closet...

...I found two uninspired ceramic lamps that no one was currently using.

These, I thought, would exhibit the felt in its best light! Grin.

For, as you can see (above), the felt doesn't look like much without illumination.

(It's unfortunate, but I think that in my zeal to make sure the inclusions were 'safely' affixed, I very nearly buried them!!)

Just wait until you see what a little 'star power wattage' does for these babies, though!!

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Monday, January 18, 2010

Project: Flat Felt With Inclusions-Part One





I received some lovely 'inclusions' in my swap package from my Dutch friend, Kim...


They are Lunaria leaves and 'nerve' leaves.

Since this is a new kind of project for me...

...I wanted to do two things...

1) To make sure that they were felted securely within the wool fibers, so that they wouldn't peel off...

...or work themselves out of the felt with use, and...

2) To make sure that they would really show, since they are so beautiful.

I decided to use white roving, to best exhibit the leaves...

...and I added some pearls for texture and romance.

I wasn't sure what I would use this felt for yet... I made a pretty large rectangle.

I was a little afraid of rolling the leaves...

...since they are 'crackly' and I worried that they might break...

...but somehow, the moisture, or the fact that they were encased in wool kept them safe.

Part Two is next...

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Saturday, January 16, 2010

Courgette (Zucchini) and Blue Cheese Soup



My friend Kim mentioned a certain soup in an e-mail the other day...

...a courgette and gorgonzola soup!

Of course, my high school French being what it is...

...I had to look up courgette. :)

Once I knew which vegetable we were tawkin' about here...

...I decided that I had to search for a recipe...

...since I had a bunch of lovely small zucchini in my crisper drawer...

...just waiting to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Here's the recipe as I made it... you can see, we ate it for several meals, it was so yummy!

You might think that the strong cheese would make a strong-tasting soup...

...but it is very subtle and delicious.

Feel free to halve this recipe (as written, it makes a huge vat 'o soup!!)

Cream of Courgette and Blue Cheese Soup


2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
4 medium onions, roughly chopped
2 crushed garlic cloves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1-2 tsp. dried oregano

6 small zucchini, trimmed and chopped roughly (peel if they are large or old).
About 2 and 1/2 cups of veggie or chicken stock

Approx. 5 oz blue cheese (or gorgonzola)

1 and 1/2 cups half and half
extra cheese for garnish


1. Heat the oil and butter in a large soup pan with the onions and garlic. Cook gently for about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened but not brown.
2. Add the zucchini and oregano, with salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium heat for 10 minutes, stirring frequently.
3. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil, stirring. Lower the heat, half cover the pan and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about 20-30 minutes.
4. Process the soup in a blender or food processor until mostly smooth (don't burn yourself!) Feel free to omit this step if you don't mind a chunkier soup.
5. Stir in the blue cheese or gorgonzola until melted.
6. Add the half and half and stir over low heat until hot, but not boiling.
7. Pour into bowls, garnish with extra cheese and serve.
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Friday, January 15, 2010

Fiber-licious Purse





For this purse, I decided to use a resist and then cut it open to form the flap and bag portions.

I wanted to use some of my strange fibers...

...and different merino top colors... add a little 'arty' interest for a change.

I used some curly locks and flax wisps...

...and decorated both the outside...

...and a little on the inside, too... coordinate the 'look' when the purse is closed.

When it was felted and dried...

...I sewed the resist opening in the flap with tiny stitches...

...and made a rolled strap from roving, using my sushi mat.

I sewed a snap onto it for a closure...

...and sewed the strap to the purse sides with strong thread.
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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

H-1's Slippers





I used the same template for H-1's slippers as I did in the last post...

...the beauty of felting being that you can stop felting when they reach the perfect size!

I made the inside with the beautiful variegated roving, last seen in my scarf post:

...which felts up into a strange (and not too attractive) greyed-green shade...

...and the outside with a rich burgundy red.

Of course, H-1 insists upon wearing one 'right-side' out...

...and one 'wrong-side' out-just to be different!

(As if we're already not different enough in this house!) Giggle.

The 'action photo' is of H-1 felting one slipper to the right size...

...after I had rolled and thrown and rubbed it to a nearly-finished firmness.

Nicola recently posted about using liquid latex and ground dried corn for the soles.

I'll have to look and see whether craft stores sell the liquid latex here in the US.

(I wonder whether the corn falls off as the slippers wear?) :)

My next slipper attempt may involve a thicker end product (more layers)...

...and a latex sole.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

No More Tumor Heel!





Remember the black alpaca slippers that I made for my (very patient) boyfriend?

Those puppies had some serious issues...

...not the least of which was a tendency to shed...

...and a growth on the back of one heel.

Check out my slipper resists (above)!

The bigger one is the one I used the first time...

...for the wonky pair of slippers.

The much smaller one is the one that made the perfect-sized pair you see modeled here.

My regular readers will know that I absolutely hate following directions in my artwork...

...but, honestly, sometimes I'm just plain ridiculous!

So, I found (and, yes, used-sighhhh) a wonderful tutorial by Pat Spark on the Feltmaker's List (thanks, Pat!)...

...which teaches you how to draft a pattern based on actual measurements...

...rather than foo-fooey guesswork. :(

Because my first pair were so thick and difficult...

...I may have made these a little on the thin side.

They seem a bit more like thick socks than slippers...

...and they are a little too 'slipper-y'.

More on this topic next time.

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