Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sheep info for felting

Not sure what fiber to use for different types of felting ? I am constantly frustrated by my confusion of different names for different sheep and what will work for what . The following link is a good reference point for us none 4H type who don't know our sheep from a goat in the ground .

So far, I prefer merino for wet feltng, smallest micron count possible for nuno...18-21 . I love alpaca but have problems with it shedding in wet felting and takes much longer to needle felt . The medium fibers have worked best for me for needle felting...Romney, colonial and Shetland have all felted very fast under the needle but I still like merino on the outside for it's softness . I still have many fibers to try but I think the micron count is a pretty good indicator of what fiber to use for which technique . Smaller for wet felting and larger for needle felting is a simple rule of thumb but can be broken like all rules .

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Sheepish Creations and Fiber Ahoy

Yummmy ! These are some more wonderful merino and merino/Tencel blends from Sheepish Creations.....You can find her on Etsy here.....

I really think that having such beautiful fiber to work with is part of what encourages me to keep felting even when I'm a bit tired . I just can't wait to get me needle into the fiber and she has some of the best I've found. Always great color and texture and never half felted, which I have had the misfortune of buying on Etsy from people who don't really know how to dye wool with out felting it ...those packages are a real bummer and end up being the core to some of my larger sculptures . If you want to check it out for yourself, she has some great "samplers" for a good price for both Merino(wet) and Romney(needle) felting .

In my original post, I said that I didn' think Yarn Ahoy did not card her own fiber blends....Mea Cupla (My bad in Latin???)....She DOES blend her own fiber and the selections are so perfectly blended I just assumed that it was machine made . They are as professionally done as any of the big name fiber sellers I have ordered from . She lives in London but shipping and pricing are affordable and her color selection is great . You can find her shop on Artfire or Etsy .......

The fiber wont disappoint and is gorgeous in color blending and texture .

Below is something else I purchased fro her shop, quite decadent and high priced (for me), that I bought on an impulse . It is bits of fabric scraps that are "exotic" and have some beautiful embroidered detailing . I had hoped to use them for detailing on some of my felted items as well as some doll clothing I plan on making . The scraps are smaller then I realized but I think they will work OK for what I have in mind and will be a nice addition to some beadwork .

Below are some needle felt bracelets I have been working on using her fiber . These are nice little projects that only take a few hours each and can be done while watching TV .

What is it....???looks like I couldn't make up my mind if I wanted to make a purse, hat or vessel . This was actually needle felted and took way to many hours and is much to thick to be anything but a vessel . About an inch thick and to large for my head , the bottom is still open and I plan on adding a thick leather bottom . I did try to finish it with wet felting , but it just made it fuzzy and lost a lot of the detailing...bummer . Maybe it's because the fiber is mostly Shetland or maybe because I was just tired when I started , but wet felting didn't seem to tighten the fiber at all . Looks like I need to keep practicing if I want to learn how to make a vessel and perhaps stick to wet felting them of merino ?

Thursday, January 28, 2010

A very productive week

Inspite of the high failure rate that goes along with "experimenting" , I felt like this week was pretty positive . I found out that I like the dyes I was using and they are very colorfast and easy to use . It was my first time needle felting Shetland and I love it. Even if I would never wear anything made with this fiber, as it's to itchy to me, it needle felts as well as Romney but is a bit softer to work with .
This is my newest friend and there is just something about him that I am in love with . Perhaps it is his plaintive look , or his professor like stance with his hands behind his back ? I also think that the Shetland that I used to needle felt was great to work with and the batt I used sure makes him blend well in this silk wonderland .
He is my new aspie mascot .
The nuno felting did not go as well as I had hoped . The smaller micron merino (18) did felt better then the slightly larger one I tried last time, but there still is not enough migration for me to feel comfortable selling these as anything but a decoration not as something that I would risk standing up to daily wear as the lose fibers could easily t caught on something and ripped out .
I am working on a large vase/center piece that I am considering sewing these on as an accent .
So, if I am going to keep trying to use the softer Paj/China silk instead of the chiffon, I am going to have to figure out what I am doing wrong . Then again, most people probably don't mind chiffon and it sure is less of a struggle to nuno felt .

Monday, January 25, 2010

sleepy bear and China/Paj silk dyed scarves

Fuzzy_wuzzy was a bear....seems to be a bit lethargic from waking up from his winter nap and it's obvious he wont be pawing/hugging anybody for awhile .

I thought I had read some where that you could only nuno felt to natural, cotten being the things I had seen . Not that there is a big demand for felted polyester, but I had an old skirt that I bought to use the fabric for doll clothes and thought I would see if it felts .

Above is the reverse side and you can see how much it crimped up with not that much fiber migration . The areas that I laid only a thin layer on one side did not felt as well as the areas that I sandwhiched the polyester between two thin layers of wool .
Most of the scard feels securely felted but after nuno felting, I had to needle felt the edges where the fabric wouldn't attach all the way . I'm not sure if this was because of the fabric content or simply because the end wool felted to itself before it could migrate through . After needle felting, I nuno felted again and through it in the drier for awhile .

Above and below are the China silk scarves I dyed this weekend . I love the vibrant colors and had a great time folding the fiber in different ways to create some basic patterns and a few I just painted flat ith simple shapes . I also used some eucalyptus tea in some of the folds and some Frankincense , just to see if they would do anything . I wrapped one scarf around some copper wire . The result is...I have no idea what effect those additions had because I didn't use a "control" as I can't stand to do something the same more then once . I did learn that leaving it for 24 hours made it much more vibrant then the 8 hours I had the first time I dyed a scarf for my nuno class . I left the second batch for an additional 24 hours and didn't notice any difference .
Now, the question the new 18 to 19 micron merino going to felt any better to the China silk then the last time I tried (with 22 micron) . That did migrate through but not well enough and could still be puled off while wet . Wish me luck .

Happy felting !

Friday, January 22, 2010

Knuckle dragger, alien, elf lord "cat" , rock inset with gold rimmed turquoise

As usual, I didn't know what I wanted to make when I began this little "monkey" but just had a picture in my mind of something with long dragging arms . Guess that pretty much describes a monkey ?
The face isn't very monkyish, so I guess this one qualifies as another Chimera .

I don't think there are any animals that look like this, so I assume he is an alien ? (those red things are arms not ears...that's how aliens roll ) .
I don't know why I don't just give up on making human faces, especially eyes . They always turn out so scary . This is my Elf king cat/bear ? I did him as one whole oval loosely felted and then shaped and "carved" into shape with the needle . This is quite different then the usual...making individual body parts and felting the all together . This is almost as hard as a rock in firmness but soft from the outer alpaca and mohair curls . I like the contrast in textures .
I didn't use the prefelt for skin this time, but a batt of merino with pinkish orange . It looks a bit like clay pottery color .
This is one of my large felt rocks with "turquoise" inserts . I'v been in love with rocks since I can remember and it's fun to make them out of wool .

Happy felting .

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Check out this Amazing felt artist.

I tired to insert a link to this felters gallery on my side bar but I can't seem to do it, so please check out her gallery, it's just mind expanding and makes me love wool even more .

Saturday, January 16, 2010

big needle felt cat with foam core

My BF says this is my creepiest sculpture to date...really ? Spookier then the zombie ? Well, I started out with the face to see if prefelt would make better skin and it did, except it takes several layers or it gets lost in the fiber beneath...lesson learned ... .but only after several hours spent putting on layer after layer .
Once the head was done...I realized that it was going to take a pretty large cat body to keep it in proportion . I decided to take the advice of .....The Felted Chicken............ used a foam core for the body . I don't have her skill in planning and carving shapes, so I just wrapped a 8"by 6" square of preused felting pad with several layers of roving and felted that into a basic rectangle . Not any faster then wool but wool is expensive and I have been trying to cut back on my purchasing until I get up the nerve to start listing on Etsy . I wont bore you with the step by step, but it did take me about 25 hours total since I ended up changing my mind about the original roving and topped all but the feet with another layer of merino and silk in black and white .
He turned out bigger( though not as chunky) as my own cats , and a wee bit cross-eyed , but I still like him . I think I feel about my felt critters the way some folks feel about their kids...we love them even with their flaws...(or at least that is how it should be .)
This is another little alien and I hope to make a few more of these as they are really fun to make and don't take more then 3-4 hours ......(those pink things are ears, wings, or fins . )
I did take a break from the cat yesterday to finish adding the centers to my flowers . I'm still not certain how to add a pin-back to make them wearable . That is just the kind of busy work that I don't like and so procrastinate on .
Of course, had to make one with an eye just to see what it would look like .
I ran out of table space and have resorted to keeping the latest critters and bags in a box until I get them labeled and listed....(if ever?)
scarves that need buttons and bags and doll's clothing that need sewing...wondering if I can stop felting long enough to finish these before the world ends in 2012 .
The original jungle crew have still not managed to get listed on Etsy and may end up traveling with me to Shepherds Harvest in May .

Happy Felting !

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Alien Needle felt critters

Another needle felt alien using the batts I bought from A Touch of Alaska . These are a blend of many different fibers and felt really well and pretty fast compared to the merino . I did use some scraps of prefelt Romney for the "wings" and may still do a bit more detailing on them at some point .

This little alien is a flightless "bird" (which I may still add wings to), but I kind of like the simplicity of him and I certainly like that he only took a few hours to make . I tried something new for the eyes . I first cut a 1" by 3" piece of foam from one of my old felting foams and embedded the eyes into two small holes . I then added white roving around the foam section . It took several thick layers to completely cover the foam but it was interesting to experiment with felting into the foam and it does stay nicely . This is a technique that I picked up from another felter....The felted Chicken , (you can find her blog on my sidebar of blogs) . She has some really amazing items and great tutorials and loves to experiment with new techniques .

I then felted a very simple ball shape from the A Touch of Alaska batt and once fairly firm, laid the foam piece on top in the eye area and felted that to the ball . I added several more layers of roving ontop of the eye area to hold it into place . I think the experiment worked pretty well but I don't know if it was any easier then using roving but I plan on experimenting more with foam as it is a great way to use my old felting pads so they don't go to waste .
I love the look of the wisps of fiber sticking out of the head, tail feathers and ear area but this makes this little guy a bit more for gently handling . Although I try to root the hairs as deeply as possible, they can be pulled out if tugged or become felted if rubbed to much .

The greenish background is some wet felt that I made for the leaves for my new flowers but I made the mistake of over felting . I put it into the drier to get out some of the moisture and left it in there for to long . Some areas still might work and the rest I can use as "parts" for my aliens and green critters .

Happy felting .

Monday, January 11, 2010

needle felt , wet felt and needle felted to wet felt

This is the first stage of some flowers that I am experimenting in making . Before I learned wet felting, I had seen felt flowers for sale but never knew how they were made . It didn't seem logical that someone could needle felt something that thin with out having at least some lose fibers . So, I am going on the premise that those felt flowers must actually be wet felted .

Now that I have practiced make wet felt scarves, I thought I would see if I could make some flowers . (One of these days I will have to gooogle how these are done but I thought I would start with what they look like and try and work backwards to "How" ...maybe I would find a new way of doing them that I would never find if I just read how someone else does it <----this is sort of my theory in avoiding art classes in general even if it does waste time by "reinventing the wheel" most of the time it can also lead to new techniques and surprising results .

SO...I started these by needle felting saucer to dinner plate size circles with only two layers of different types of fiber.....merino, tencel, silk, Shetland, alpaca . I wanted to see how they felted so used a large variety . I lightly needled them on one side then gently pulled them away from my felting mat and needled the other side, repeating this twice until it felt almost "prefelt" but with more lose fibers .

I laid out these different size circles on my bubble wrap and then started experiment two .
I wanted to see how different it would be to do these with nuno felting and had a bit more room on the bubble wrap, so I cut out a smaller dinner plate size circle of silk chiffon as well as a rectangle shape to make a nuno cuff . I laid down a very thin wisp layer of merino tencel slightly larger then the chiffon, then placed the chiffon on top of this and added another thin layer of roving on top, mostly covering but leaving a few bare spots on both .

I wet felted and nuno felted as usual ...wet down and rolling for about an hour . I tried to keep turning everything to keep shrinkage even but some of the flowers were uneven perhaps mixing fibers in random way is not helpful as they all shrink a bit differently . The shetland was more reluctant to wet felt then the merino . (The above is the rist cuff with merino/tencel snadwhiched around the silk chiffon . )
I'm not exactly sure how I will finish these but the options are unlimited....needle felting, cutting, sewing, beading ....I want to wait until I have some good pictures of flower shapes before I begin
sculpting these . I added my little spiral buttons as possible centers that could be needle felted into place with the flwer petals coming up their sides .......writing it here so I don't forget : )
This was originally going to be my handmade prefelt but I lost my nerve . I wasn't sure when to stop and afraid that I would not do it enought and end up wasing all this lovely roving so I just full felted this and plan on cutting it up into individual flower shapes that I can needle or sew onto backgrounds for decorative accents . I think I will stick to buying my prefelt .

I'm almost done with my 80 hour work week and hope to work on these flowers next week off .
Happy felting to all .

Friday, January 8, 2010

needle felting in Merino and Romney

Two more........ Critters...... Origin Unknown or "COU"s....Well, I may need to work on a better acronym but I can't say I could classify them if I saw them runnung through my yard so I think of them as "fuzzy unidentified critters"...that acronym is even worse...hummmm any suggestions?

I did these back to back to get a better feel for the differences of felting with merino and Romney . Besides the Merino feeling softer but felting slower, it just feels different under the needle . I can't say I actually have a preference at this point as both have characteristics that I like better then the other and they sort of balance out in the plus/minuses . I think I will just keep alternating back and forth as I do like the diversity of how each fiber responds .

It was fun to get to use my mohair curls as I have been hoarding them as to pretty to use but I relalized that they are really to pretty to sit in a bag in my fiber bag and I can buy more .

Have a great weekend .

Monday, January 4, 2010

Fiber could be worse, (the rent is paid)

These clutch and free form bags are both needle felted with a core of white merino batt that was lightly needled together and then over-laid with merino/Tencel . They are both washed out from having a white backing but hopefully some people will like the more pastel colors .

After these were fairly firmly needle felted , I decided to try and boiling bath with just a bit of dish soap, then I alternated with giving them hot and cold baths, soaping and slamming them in the kitchen stuff except for the globs of soap bubbles bouncing into my face . It did felt pretty well after only about 15 min of this and was then rinsed and given a nice vinegar bath .
The above are the 4 batts I bought from Touch of Alaska . I'm used to working with roving/top but this will be interesting to experiment with and see if I can keep the fibers evenly distributed so I don't end up with thin/thick spots in my bags and scarves .
The above are several pounds of multi-colored merino roving that I bought from Outback Fibers in Texas . (The egg is there for size reference .) The whole order was about $100 but this is about the softest merino I have ever worked with and the colors are really beautiful . I really want to play around with making some of my own pre-felt for making scarves an will let you know how that goes .


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