Saturday, June 27, 2009

large needle felt landscape and thick cuff of merino and tencel


When I was first learning needle felting, I used some repurposed wool sweaters that I had fulled in the washer as a backing . I wanted to see if I would get a different result using the merino roving as backing instead .


I laid down several strips of black merino roving west to east and slightly over lapping . I then covered those with a thinner layer going north to south . I needled these together lightly, flipping the whole thing several times . After that compressed about half the depth, I began laying on the blue sky, brown hills, green valley and needled this together . I added some bright mohair for the flowers . Not a lot of detailing in this as I wasn't sure any of this would work .

After getting my sky laid down, I decided it was a bit to intensely blue and looked more like water then sky, so I added a blend of darker blues, whites and blacks to represent storm clouds . My color blending isn't great as I was using some pet brushes for this instead of carding paddles .

Getting the roving to felt...

I began by using a large 8 needle tool which took about two hours and then went over the whole thing inch by inch with a single needle to tighten things up . I left the edges a bit looser to eventually attach to a wool backing .

Ok...that took about a minute to describe and 10 hours to do .


It defiantly has a different look then felting it to another fabric bit I think the later allows more time for doing detailing while the former takes hours just to get the bottom layer of merino to felt . It's also more difficult to not get the black merino poking through the top layer which looks interesting in the mountains and hills but not so great in a blue sky .

I used the same technique doing the cuff . This one is much thicker and tighter felted then the other cuffs I've made . It probably wouldn't appeal to many people but it did work for shaping into a solid piece .

Thursday, June 25, 2009

needle felt pouches, purse and cuffs..I'v been busy

I am going to a family reunion in Kansas in July and decided that I would like to bring a few items to my nieces, sister in-laws and mom . I do have three brothers and a father, but I don't make any "manly" things, so am afraid they are going to feel left out .

Although I have seen some very cool cuffs and bags in wet-felting, I don't see much in the way of needle felting these items ....maybe because they have done both and prefer the wet-felting ? For me, I just hate having my hands wet, wearing gloves or itching from the contact with wet-wool . If I ever find a way around this, I may still try the wet felting but I do like the texture and look of the needle felting .
The first two pics. are of my largest bag so far, big enough for a paper back book and several small electronics . I also put a full size divider inside to keep things more organized . I still need to add a strap and closure and perhaps do a little embellishment with needle felt flowers and beads .
Most of my bags are the size of a cell phone, blackberry, camera, with enough room for cash, credit card, lip gloss, ect . They are designed to be attached with the swivel clasp, to a purse strap or belt loops . I like easy access to items as I have a clutter in my own purse that I don't enjoy hunting through when I need to get to something fast .
Some are 100% merino with the soft, shiny goat-hair locks as accents and others I have been experimenting with 50% merino and 50% tencel . If you don't know...(I had to google this....)Tencel is a fiber from the eucalyptus tree that is as soft and shiny as silk . It's my new obsession because the fiber adds so much shine and texture to the wool and it needle felts well in these blends .
I apologize for the poor quality of photos, it does help if you click on the pictures and can see the texture a bit better . Unfortunately, even the best photos don't help convey the softness of these items . They feel nothing like commercially made felt... they are slightly spongy, soft and thick .
The biggest issue I am having with needle felting is when to stop . What is "felted enough"? I do want to make something that is durable and wears well, but the more you felt, the tighter the weave and the more you sacrifice in touch and texture . I like things soft and a bit fuzzy and have been trying to find a balance between the two needs, durability and softness .
I have enjoyed experimenting with different colors and adding some designs into the bags and cuffs . The potential seems unlimited to me .

This does give a little better idea of the "cushiony" element of the needle felting, feels a bit spongy and very soft . This also shows the divider I added to a few bags .

This is the eyeglass case I made for my mom but still need to add a closure and clip .

These are the cuffs I am working on this week . Not for the shy....I think they are probably of limited appeal but I love the way they feel . I laid down a base of black merino and then another layer of merino/tencel . I like the way the black bleeds through the color as it looks very organic to me .
Experimenting a bit with loosely braiding the fibers before I lay them on the black merino .
Added a bit of yarn clumps for texture .
I love contrasting colors .

Monday, June 22, 2009

Aspergers and Empathy

I just received a link to a interesting article on some research on Aspergers and Empathy that I wanted to share with any of my aspie readers...if your out there...give me a shout out .

The article basically posits the theory that persons on the autism spectrum do not lack empathy or feeling for others, as is sometimes said of us, but may suffer from to much feeling which causes them to with draw from human contact . I think this also ties into why some autistics find it difficult to look people in the eyes . If they are truly the windows to the soul...perhaps we are picking up a bit to much "soul" and it feels like an intrusion...(like accidentally walking in on someone in the bathroom ? )

The subject of empathy happens to be an important one for me . I first resisted my Dx of Aspergers because I believed that my problem with empathy was not a lack of it but an over abundance of it . Although I was often seen by my family as selfish because

-I did not show "enough" gratitude for gifts,

-did not ask questions about them but stayed focused on tailing about myself or my interests, -often forgot birthdays, missed funerals or avoided family get together...

I can see why they would come to the conclusion that I didn't care about them . The truth is more complicated then that . I did have their pictures on my walls and think of them often but I often would buy them birthday cards and forget to get stamps until it was to embarrassingly late to send even a "belated card" . I would have no money for a gift, or lose the paper with their address on it or the list that I wrote their birthdays on would go missing . The past year I spent days working on a gift for my mother only to convince myself that she would hate it and I chickened out of even sending it .

As to missing family gatherings....I knew my very presence often upset my mother and thought the best gift I could give her was to let the family enjoy their holiday with out that tension . There were other times when I was just afraid that my "weird appearance" would upset them or that I could not leave my boyfriend for long as he would likely find someone better while I was gone .

I'm not saying that I am not selfish....I can be incredibly self interested but that does not mean I don't have feelings for others, only that I feel that if I sacrifice to much, I will lose myself all together . I am not trapped behind the walls of autism...I had to build them for self preservation.

Let me give another example from my personal perspective . When I was younger, I would see a dead animal on the road and it hurt me . not just from the selfish perspective of having one less fuzzy thing in the world but because I could see the car coming at me from the animals eyes...the panic and pain of impact . When I saw other kids teased at school, it hurt me more then if kids teased me . At the time, I simply could not understand why perspective of those who did the and white thinking was an issue and I simply saw them as bad...having no awareness of their own vulnerabilities that might make them behave that way .

I recall sharing these experiences of peers misbehavior with my mother and being told that I was being "self-ritious" , but I don't believe my focus was on thinking I was better then them as much as wanting to understand why people were so darn mean to animals, bugs and each other . Didn't they feel pain when they hurt others ? Didn't the very idea of causing harm seem painful enough to want to avoid .

As an older child and into my teens years, I became more and more depressed and disillusioned with human cruelty and indifference to suffering of others . I read books about the burning of witch's, slaughter of buffalo, stealing of indigenous peoples land and a 100 other very "human" inhuman acts . Each new historical fact was like a scar on my body and I could not help but internalize it all . The world was an evil place, not safe and full of malice and selfishness . My walls became thicker and I became torn between loneliness in my inability to understand humans and my desire to find some connection .

10 year of suicidal attempts and fantasies, 10 years of obsessive relationships, 10 years of drinking to forget to be afraid so I could connect for a few hours with humans . And all those years filled with the nagging feeling that I must be an alien because "others pain" did not seem to hurt most people .

I would love to say that I have out grown these problems of "over feeling" and now feel comfortable in the human race having learned that many humans do kind things, are good at heart and sacrifice more of themselves for others then I ever could . I know this to be true but it has not helped me when dealing with the daily apathy of many of the others towards the "vulnerable" . It still hurt me when I was working with animals and felt no "love" for them from other staff . It still hurts when I see the same reaction towards the disabled clients I work with .
I still become enraged, not sad or angry but enraged, when I see how some people mistreat children, animals or anyone weaker then them . It even hurts when I know a company is lying to sell something that they know to be "crap" .

So with that is the article in question...

The first thing my college professors would tell me about reading research is...who is it by, what are their credentials, who sponsored the research (and do they have an interest in the outcome of the research conclusion) . Then you need to look at some of the statistical information...large enough subject pool, how did they recruit subjects and could that bias the result, are there gender or cultural biases, are the statistics manipulated by graphs or other visual information .

Using that criteria, I would have to say that I know nothing about any of those details and can't say that the hypothesis is correct, but it sure "feels correct" from my own aspie experience and warrants further investigation in my opinion .

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Experiments in texture and posture in needle felting

This week I have been working on texture and seeing what different effects I could create with needle felting . The small guy is a ??? maybe a hamster or ground hog . Anyway, I sculpted him a few weeks ago but wasn't happy with the results . I think the problem is related to my battle with wanting to make fantasy creatures vs realistic ones and ending up with neither . Originally he was a Ninja but I didn't like his face black because his features got lost, so I laid on a layer of fur colored fiber on his body and face and left the black as leg and arm warmers...(planning on adding a ballerina tutu of silk eventually) . Still, his face isn't "cute" enough and I'm not sure why . My Bf says it is because you can't see his eyes well but I was trying to make the face more realistic and most animal eyes are not facing forward but on the side and small . Oh well .

Since I wasn't thrilled with this sculpture, I decided he would be a good subject for mad scientist experimentation . I recently bought some "fur like" yarn and decided to try and needle felt it down to make him "fuzzier" . I like the result on the tummy but over felted the face and lost the fur halo . Anyway, at lest I know it works and will probably play around with more of these fuzzy guys .

The monkey faced Dodo bird is mostly a fantasy creature . I didn't have a picture of a Dodo bird with me and was relying on my memory....(uhm, where did I put my keys again ?) Memory is not my strong suit .

I do love the color...I got the fiber from Smokey Mountain Fibers on Etsy and love her fiber...lovely colors and very soft and fluffy roving . I also bought some gorgeous dyed mohair from her that I hope to use on my sculptures soon .

I decide to try and get a more feathery look on the chest and left the roving a bit lose and then needled in some diamond shapes, subtle but I like the effect . I also put a lose collar of fiber around his neck, braided it and then felted down the ends but my BF says this doesn't look to good so will probably touch up that bit later . May use the effect on something else someday but I do think it's a bit distracting .

The wings were created from several layers of loser felted thin oval shapes folded in half, not sure how "wingy" they look but they sure feel nice .

Posture is something that I have also been paying attention to . Many of my sculptures are symmetrical, like traditional stuffed animals but I am trying to get a bit more movement to the animals and both of these are designed to be sitting slightly off center...(not like robots) .

Three more nights of work and still hoping next week will have some sunshine for photos and listing items on Etsy soon .

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

first wire armatur giant and "bunny-cat"

I have no idea "what" he is but he sure was a challenge to make . This was my first attempt to use a wire armature inside and I bought some large gage copper wire at Axman for this project . This does allow him to hold a posture..sort of...but it was not worth the extra time it took slow my poking down to avoid breaking a needle on the internal wire . He is about 2 feet tall, and though thin, that is a lot of poking . I wont say I will never use wire again but it sure isn't going to be a staple in my sculptures . One of the things I like about needle felting is that even with out wires, the arms and legs of the large animals, can still be moved around, even though they wont hold the pose . This makes them more like cloth dolls then actually hard stuffed an sewn animals.

The paws aren't anatomically perfect, but I thought they were cute . It's one of my favorite things about animals is their sweet little paws . Unfortunately, my cats were not all that thrilled with my attempts to get a better view of their paw pads but I did have some pics of bunny paws from a bunny I use to have .

I was really hoping that this would be the week I go go outside and get some decent pictures of my needle felting to list on Etsy.....and then life happened..again . About 4 days of cloudy, rainy weather, continued problems with my neck and a strong desire to do nothing but sleep, I think it's time to go get my thyroid checked again as I am always tired when it gets to low .

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Good bye Grasshopper

This Tv show had a large influence on me as a kid . It was one of the first to expose me to a philosophy that made more sense to me then the American culture that I did not seem to fit in or understand . I loved the graceful way he moved and his desire to help the under-dog . I related to his loneliness and longed for the calm way he reacted to the world . I love the clothes he wore in the show.... beautiful, earthy and soft looking suede . There was a sense of calm about him that I hoped would some day replace my own spastic anxiety, (that never happened), but it was nice to believe that such a thing was possible . The show, was the first to spark my interest and respect for Eastern religion, yoga, martial arts opened my world to "other" .

I never became...Kung Fu "like" , any more then I became Jesus, Doc Savage, Pippi Long Stockings, Annie Oakley or the other idols of my youth . But each of them gave me something to inspire me and taught a few lessons along the way .

Graduation day and everything you need to know about needle felting needles

My Bf's son is graduating today and I need to decide if I am able to cope with screaming teenagers, crowds and wearing something nicer then my usual attire of Pj's. I had grand ambitions of getting out of the house today and taking some pictures for Etsy keeps happening .

On a completely different note, I found an interesting site about felting needles . I knew little about them when I started and this chart would have been very helpful in deciding which to use for what kind of fiber . Actually, I didn't know there was more then one kind of fiber when I began and assumed it all felt like Romeny...a bit scratchy and stiff...until I bought my first feather soft alpaca and merino . I still think the Romney felts easier and gives nicely defined details but nothing beats merino and alpaca for touch, so I do like adding it on top of the romney base .

Here's the link about needles .......

As usual, that link lead to another link while I was looking for places to buy needles and I ended up buying some funky yarn instead......It's called baby monkey, (no monkeys were harmed in the making of this yarn.....or so they claim) . I found it under their 70% off area...always a sucker for "good deal" and will have to figure out what I want to do with it later . May actually have to learn to knit but also thought I would try and use it for felting animal "fur" into the Romney . It is synthetic but I think it will root into the solidly felted Romney and I love to experiment .
Here's the link for some great yarns....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

computers....argggg...Warning to all bloggers !

I just tried to change my template and lost all my original "extras"....all the slide shows I spent hours loading, all the blogs I like to visit, all the "everything" . Guess I know what I will be doing this week off .

So....just a warning to all, before you make any changes to your blog Html , make sure and save a copy of your current template so you can cut and paste it back if something goes wrong with your code change .

Monday, June 1, 2009

A cat, A bat, A rat and a scarf that should be a hat ?

The above is my first attempt to needle felt a scarf from wool without using a backing of wool fabric . It's about 3 foot long and 18 inches wide and took forever to needle, even using the 8 needle tool . It does feel spongy, soft and warm but not very scarfy . I may try and wet felt it into a hat .
A cat, bat and rat ? I don't really know what I am making most of the time, just something I think is interesting and or cute . I have been practicing doing a few minatures but I still find it very difficult to do without poking my fingers a million times .
This little "whatever he is" is hanging out in the trolls home , (he's sleeping right now, maybe get a picture of him later ) .
This is punk-rock bat boy in biker boots . I plan on decking him out in some chains,studs and piercings before I list him on Etsy .
Not a great picture because the light is behind him but did think it looked kind of cool coming through his wings .
This "cat" (or dog ???), started as a ninja but I liked his face to much to cover it up with a mask . I still need to give him some legs and paws, ears and tails but thought I would show him off anyway . He reminds me a bit of the "big eyed" art from the seventies that my bf collects .


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