Sunday, September 27, 2009

Horton hears a Who...mystery wet felting machine unvailed...(and a zombie cyclops)

This is my new toy ( that will probably not work for what I am trying but will be fun to try...)
Basic info...and how it is used.....My BF said I should also mention that it is NOT me in this video (which I got from Utube)

I just bought this at the local thrift store and thought the slow rolling motion of the cylinder and the heat from the applied metal bar...might work for some nuno or wet felting experiments . I would need to felt anything about 80% before I put it in here, but it might decrease some of the hours of rolling . (huge "might" )

The cylinder was covered by an outer layer of fabric and an internal thick batt of "something" soft, perhaps Flannel . I stripped these off because they smell musty and I probably wont be able to use them as it is almost imposable to get musty smell out of fabric....though I'm sure I will spend hours trying because I hate to throw anything away : )

This is what the cylinder looks like with all fabric and batting stripped off . Obviously in need of a good cleaning and I'm still trying to figure out how to get the hex nut off to remove the cylinder . Of course, I will paint the whole thing and clean up any lint I find on the motor . It does rotate and heats up but I probably wont use it out of eye sight because old electronics can be a fire hazard . Mixing electronics and water isn't usually very smart either but I am going to try and figure out a way to contain the wet felting in something (none melty) before I wrap it around the cylinder .

Below are a few more thrift store items for my crafting . An interesting medicine cabinet for supplies, a water proof table cover with a nonslip material on the back and some of that weird non-slip stuff to keep rugs from moving .

The "plan" is to use the last material for wet felting instead of the bubble wrap . Layer of plastic on top and bottom of non -slip stuff then lay down the roving . Why...? Because I don't like the cost or clean up of bubble wrap . I assumed that it could just be washed and reused but found that some of the bubbles pop while rolling and water and soap get in them that don't seem to want to wash out ....Very frustrating . Wish me luck in my (as usual) messy and slightly dangerous experiments .
And his is my favorite cyclops of late . Has some features of many of my favorite things...alien, Neanderthal, cyclops, zombie .

Friday, September 25, 2009

Autism Speaks spreads fear and intolerance of autistics

more lovely fiber and the Cyclopsia gang

I Love Fat Cat Knits ! Some more beautiful fiber arrived today...merino/bambo/silk blends . Will be challenging to wet felt but I'm really looking forward to using it . Such happy, rich colors she uses .

I just spent 5 hour and way to much money at the thrift store today...for me, that is like shooting a bag of pure heroin for someone else, and my brain is still in a fog but tomorro I hope to show the new machine I got there to try and turn into a wet felting machine....(or burn the house down trying ?) It's very old and I think is meant to feed in wet sheets to iron them ? It has a warm bar that presses the length of a rotating fabric wrapped cylandar . I was thinking I could figure out a way to wrap my wet felt around it and see what happens . Curious ?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The rumpus can now begin and experiments in nuno felting

Well, I think he is done, though I can't rule out that I might go back and add some fangs or claws at some point . Once finished, he reminded me a bit of the creatures from "Where The Wild Things Are" of my favorite books and soon to be a released movie . I think the art closely reflects my own love of Chimra and fuzzy critters in general .
I think he looks both wise and regal in a nuno felt scarf which s something I considered making for some of my other large critters .
This small scarf is made with yellow patterned silk chiffon which just peaks out of the merino/tencel felt . I'm still getting a feel for how long it takes to get the felt to start migrating through the chiffon and I think the tencel really slows this down...(though worth it for the extra softness and shine it adds .)
Here is a close up of the fiber...(click on it for better close-up), and you can see that some of the fiber does not look as firmly connected as my first scarf . Although there were no actual loose fibers, it does make me nervous and I think I will add several hundred more "rolls" the next time I use tencel . I think I may have also laid down thicker layer of fiber...multiple thin layers work much better .

This is the top of the capelet which is a merino/alpaca/silk blend with some blue silk fibers scattered on top . I wanted to have a thicker top section to wrap around the neck and have the nuno just hanging down from the shoulders . I was thinking ..."butterfly wing effect" but did not have a large enough space to wet felt a large cape .

Problems...? Although I love the softness of the alpaca, I didn't realize that it would need to be felted longer and this came out a bit fuzzier then I intended . Reminded me of an angora sweater I used to love but whose loose fibers always ended up in my eyes . I think the alpaca will be perfect for vessels and other items where you don't have to worry about any shedding on your black dress or in your eyes . Perhaps this can be remedied by just another hour of felting ?
It's hard to get a size perspective with out a model but it basically just covers the shoulders .
If you click the picture, you can see the texture a bit better .

I hope to make some more "butterfly wing capes" for some of my re-purposed dolls and felted critters . Also considering trying some nuno felt cuffs with just bits of chiffon poking out of the fiber like jewels which I can then add beading to . (So many ideas, so little time .)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Wolf in sheeps clothing ? or "when things go terribly wrong"

.....And this is where I left it yesterday . Not very encouraging to have something this unattractive after 8 hours of constant poking . but....

that is part of the good and bad aspect of needle felting . The bad part is that you have to spend hours to find out what is going to come out of the wool . Sometimes, what comes out is less then pleasing, but you have already invested hours . The good part of felting is that it is almost always possible to find some way to rescue the wool you invested, even if the time itself is lost . At the very least , the sculpture can be used as filler or a base for the next larger sculpture . Sometimes, it can be "saved" with just a few minor overlays and a 5 more hours of felting .

So, what went wrong...? Firstly, I did not have a clear vision of what I wanted to make . I actually like to felt this way, just vaguely shaping the wool until it starts to look like something familiar and then I add the details based on what it reminds me of . This is something I have been doing since I was a kid . I would take a piece of paper and draw some quick random lines and then look at it until faces and shapes popped out as "something familiar" , then I would darken certain lines and add the rest of the detail . I found this fun because the end result was always a surprise to me .

Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn't . It's a bit risky but rewarding when it works because I feel like the wool is telling me what it wants to be...(I know, silly "New Age voodoo" to some, but that's how I roll .) Anyway, I never got a clear image of what this as going to be...head and snout shape remained vague in my mind . Was it heading towards bear, dinosaur, DooDoo bird ?

The other problem ,which is a silly mistake, is not paying attention to the color roving I was using . I had some batts that I thought looked brown but was more pinkish red and not particularly attractive . The end result would have been great if I wanted to make a road kill animal or something a hunter had already skinned but those are both to sad of images for me and I just refused to "go there" .....the dark side....(been there.... done that...moved in and got comfortable on the couch with a bag of chips but eventually woke up and ran away screaming ..."The Horror, The Horror".....) The world has enough horror with out my adding to it .

So...the only way I saw to recue the skinned animal was....give it a bit of fluff .

...and some cute ears......
and a big booty with a fluffy tail . I do still have to finish the arms and face but had no brown wool this morning . I haven't decided if I will change the face...I made the eyes to close and don't like the felted eyes I made anyway . SO...back to work, another few hours to try and get a bit of cute out of this guy .
I finally got my new chiffon for some more nuno felting . I am really interested to see how the pattern prints will look . The one on the left is a hand dyed vintage scarf I bought on ebay and I think it's gorgeous . The other two are new fabric that don't haverolled stitched edges, so I have to decide if I want to try that or just add the fiber to the edges and see what happens .

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Some times they get mad...angry animal needle felt

I was trying to capture that "cute" effect that comes with simpler, more abstract designs but still could not constrain myself from adding shape and detail to...."angry bear" . (I'm assuming that he is angry because I found his belly button because my cat always gets mad when I try and find his....touchy, touchy ).

End result is that I did learn something from the process . One is that it is very difficult to fight your own nature and mine appears to fall between "detailed and realistic vs abstract and cartoonish " . I can never seem to stand firmly in either camp .

Thing two, I learned, is that 6 inch critters take a lot less time then my 1' and 2' critters . I like the big guys but that is so many hours of poking before you get to feel the satisfaction of the inner animal emerging ....sometime, patience is not my strong suit .

Thirdly, I realized that I really suck at felting eyes . I just haven't learned how to make wool eyes look real enough . (Time to hunt down some nice glass eyes .)

I don't know what if any, type of animal this is yet, but thought I would show a critter before detailing is done . Just getting this far, was 10 hours of firming up and shaping . I figure there will be another 3-4 hours to finish him . This "whatever" is about a foot tall and still needs the top of his head, some ears, feet and tail and furry fringe....that is really the fun part of the them a bit of personality and deciding what to add
I now have a little gang to inspire me to keep felting . It's fun for me to see them all hanging out and think about who else would look good in my critter crew .

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Toys In The Attic Art Show and Charity drive for Toys For Tots

Gosh, I hope that link works . This seems like the coolist event ever . I would love to be a participant, but even if I don't get up the courage to apply , I sure hope I can force myself out of the house to attend . Go directly to the site to get the best information and be sure and check out the artist who are participating this year . I just "followed" several of their blogs myself because they are amazing .

Off to work my over night shift and think of some possible needle felt critters to make for this show and even if I don't apply, this is a great event to stimulate my creative juices....(sounds messy...and it is, but like most messy things.....Very Fun !)

Monday, September 14, 2009

first nuno felting, first pro-reactive silk dye and a few new critters

This was a weekend of first for me .

Jane from Glorious Hats on Etsy) came down from Bemidji and stayed the weekend . Our friend Eileen joined us for a bit of chatter and some dinner but had to leave before we broke out the dyes . I had previously ordered some dyes from Etsy and some Silk chiffon from Thai silks but was waiting for just the right time to play . Unfortunately, the right time was the night before e were to all go take a nuno felt class at The Fiber Studio in MPLS . It was a bit of rushing to get the silks done in time for class but we did manage to dye them up .

The dying itself was several steps of mixing and experimenting with the colors and I really had no idea what I was doing . I had bought a book but it mostly focused on painting fabrics . Our work space was also limited so we couldn't get the whole 72' scarf on our work table, leading to some dripping . All in all, it did give me an idea of the basics and I will feel more confident next time I break out the dyes .

The following day, we all met at The Fiber Studio for the Nuno felting class . I'll provide a link to Jane's blog when she finishes blogging so you can see the scarf she was working on and her perspective on the experience....

I would say that we both thought the class was very relaxed and well taught and we both plan on playing with more nuno in the future . I think Eileen would concur and hope she will also share a picture of her scarf on her blog (hint, hint Eileen) . We both used a tencil/merino blend for our nuno and were pleased with the results . It added a lot of shine and texture to the scarfs .

The actual process was not as messy as had originally feared but it does take several hours of rolling before we reached a felted texture we liked . I will definitely be working more with wet felting now that I have a better idea of what to do and when I my fingers need a break from the needle poking they endure to make my bags and sculptures .
I added about 4" of just the tincel/merino to the ends of the chiffon to see what it looked like and it turned out surprisingly light but durable so I hope to make some scarves and bags out of just this material, sans chiffon .

I'm still working on learning to make smaller needle felt critters . This shy little rodent is Gilbert and I will be making him his own wet felt rug to stand on....I think I will include either a rug or scarf of wet felt with each of my little critters . I think the contrast of natural animal fibers and brighter wet felting will be a nice contrast
I worked on Theador for about 12 hours yesterday because I wanted to experiment with adding a patch of imitation fur (it's on his back) with the needle felt to see how it works . This will take a bit more practice to develop a method of blending but I think it will work . He still needs a bit of work on his eye lids and a main trim .

The tiny pup was a gift for my BF's birthday because he likes the miniatures....there was a bit of blood lose and swearing involved in his construction...(I poke to hard) but I think he turned out better then my first few I tried .

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

New needle felt critter and I don't know if I can sell him

Meet Melvin, the red and black tailed...(watchamacallit) . I thought I was going to make a bear but this guy decided he wanted to be here instead .

Here he is investigating a little friend in his orange hoody who is wondering if "Melvins" like to eat green things .

He is firmly needle felted but his arms are slightly softer so he can be put in different positions .
I really don't know what it is about him but I feel very attached and don't think I will be able to sell Mel . Perhaps selling these guys is going to be harder then I realized , like selling kids you gave birth to . It's not just that I would miss him but I worry that he might go to someone who wont give him enough hugs and kisses to keep alive.....(stuffies live on kisses and hugs, just like people .)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

beaded needle felt cuff bracelets finally finished

I never would have thought myself ADD when I was younger because I could set for 12 hours straight and finish just about any book I picked up . However, since beginning my shop on Etsy, I soon learned that I am much better at "starting" then finishing projects .

These are cuffs I made several months ago of merino and merino/tencil and am only now getting around to adding closures and beading . Why....because I have a hard time with how slow the process is of getting out all the beading materials...deciding on a design, threading the silk thread on the needle, putting the beads on the copper wire and sewing it down . I do however, like the results, so I will try and endure .
I am trying several different sizes and closures for the cuffs . I know many women have problems with the tiny bracelets they often encounter...we are not all built like Kate Moss <--(replace name with whatever anorexic super model is currently popular...I don't keep up with this stuff) . I was originally going to use the antique buttons for these but didn't think they really fit the over all design so made individual needle felt balls for most of my cuffs . The "hooking" part is a stretch loop which allows for a few more inches of expansion and is very comfortable. It also has the advantage that it can be closed first and just slips right on . I also like the hook closure because it is hidden when worn and has a smoother look . This cuffs are not as wide or bold as my first ones but all are very firmly felted so that you wont have to worry about lose fiber pilling or catching on coat cuff when worn underneath something .
I am also playing around with using some of the turquoise and other beads to make my own "buttons" that will match the over all design . I use a copper wire and wrap it around bead , make a loop and sew it down .
A few of the cuffs I am leaving "bead free" and using some thinner pencil roving as the main design .
Here is some more of the lovely merino I used for the cuffs and bangle below . They are incredably soft and I love her warm colors . (Smokey Mountain Fiber on Etsy) . I have never been disappointed in anything I have ordered from her ....lovely stuff .
Lets see how long it takes me to put on closures and beads for these . I think it will be much easier now that I have re-organized my crafting supplies and can actually find what I need .


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