Friday, April 30, 2010

what angle works best in photo of animals and new fiber from Spinning the Web

I finished these guys this morning after receiving some new animal colored roving called "SOIL" from........ Spinning the Web on Etsy .
It's the best colors to date for animal fur and I'm hoping that she can reproduce it because it has a beautiful transition of Carmal to dark brown . The roving it self was also very soft and fluffy, so I feel confident that she knows how to dye wool with out felting it....that's been an issue with some recent purchases elsewhere .

I'm also trying to figure out what angle works best for photos of the critters . I really don't have an eye for such things but am trying to teach myself to see "perspective" . That is one of the nice things about digital photos is you can snap away and try every angle, lighting, see what works best . My goal is to try and figure out a "key" to follow so that I don't spend 30 min trying to get the best shot . I know there is a pattern to this if I can just take the time to see it . Wish me luck .
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

new logo for my needle felt Cool is this !

A friend of a friends son....(still following me ?) who I will name when I get her permission.....created this design for my new labels, business cards ect in exchange for any items I make or a custom piece . Yipes, I love it ! Now I just have to figure out how to get it printed and order some labels before the show . Wish me luck as this is exactly the type of thing that takes me hours(as in days of hours) to figure out and the show is only about a week away . Off to look for a printing fairy or some hard working elves who can whip these and mail them in a week .
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Techno color animals....(ran out of animal color roving)

I ran out of most of my "fur colored" roving blends so had to revert to my techno fantasy type animals using some merino and BFL blends . I think it is actually a good thing as it allows me to free associate a bit more instead of being stuck in ....this is the shape of this animal fantasy there is no "rules" . A fantasy animal can have bunny ears and tiny feet and no tail .

I'm also still trying to find some non-sculptured items to bring to Shepherds Harvest for thos folks who aren't as fond of animals.......fantasy or other wards . This is needle felted instead of wet felted so retains more of the softness of the merino then my wet felted cuffs . I added a bit of flash with a vintage fabric scrap .

I'm also trying to design some simpler and faster needle felt animals that people like me , (uhmmm, sorta poor), could afford but that are still well made and "cute" ....I like cute, inspite of the fact that so many of my critters are a bit smirky or angry looking .

I think my pictures are better then when I first started taking pics but the above image shows that I haven't managed to learn how to add enough contrast so the appendages stand out more from the main body . That isn't an issue when I can show "in person" but needs a remedy before I start putting items in my Etsy shop . I want them to look like you could reach in and pick the little guys up .

This is a smaller and quicker version of my attempt at a sitting alpaca which turned out more like a kangaroo for some reason . Because alpacas and other such beasties don't actually sit like's a bit hard for me to figure out how the appendages should be positioned . Another challange to work out because I really do like them sitting more then standing . Sitting animals just seem more anamorphic, which is something that I personally like .
Haven't a clue what/who this guy is but he strikes me as a bit shy and easily startled so please use your inside voices around him . I am expecting some more animal fur colored fiber this week but really, really should spend the week focusing on finishing those cuffs and bags that need beading and making tags and business cards for the show......will I be able to resist the call of the needle.....I doubt it . History has shown that I have very little will power when there is new roving calling .

Happy felting !

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Needle felt dragon, pup and rodent

This dragon was a 3 nght project and still needs a bit of detailing and tightening on the appendages . I plan on adding some claws to the hands and feet with some white glass beads.
I used the BFL from TLC and like the way the green and red blended but found the BFL more challenging then the merino when it comes to getting the detail I want . I think the longer fibers of BFL actually make it more difficult to work with even if it does felt firmer faster but it does give a hairier look for furry animals but dragons are generally not furry .

The hands should be smaller when I finish tightening the fingers a bit . One new experiment was using glass eyes . I didn't have ay eyes with the reptile pupil so I used the decorative glass you can find at any craft store or Target and used a permanent marker to add a pupil to the back and then glued it in place with 6ooo glue . Once in place, I secured it further by adding a felted on lower and upper lid . I think it turned out better then I expected and the eyes are vibrant blue when the sun hits them . This would also work well as a decorative element on felted bags, ect . (If you click on the picture you can see the results a bit clearer .)
Wings are always a challenge for me . I considered using copper wire to reinforce some leather wings but decided to stick with all wool and used a very firm piece of wet felting that I first needle felted down to the spine with some body colored roving and then felted the arms directly to the wing . Guess it looks more like a cape then actually wings but I don't mind the more abstracted look because I wasn't really concerned with making a dragon that looked "real" , just one that I thought looked interesting .
A few more animals....pup and large "rodent" .
Happy felting !

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Organizing needle felt for Shepherds Harvest

Click on pictures to see more detail.........
I actually completed a goal for this week . One small step in preparing for Shepherds Harvest and opening my Wool Alchemy Etsy shop . I cleared several totes worth of my "Nic Nacks" <--- (hoarders raise your hands) and put most of this years needle felted critters in one place so that I can tag, price and decide what to bring for SH . I'm hoping this will give me a better idea of how much room, shelving space I will need for the show and has the advantage of letting me look at what I've made .
Above and below are the book shelves I made out of a discarded water bed frame some one had thrown away . It's much to large and heavy to bring to the show but will help me decide how to place items on my own shelving system at the show......(yet to be designed) . I wont be bringing everything and still need to include all the needle and wet felt bags and jewelry . I don't think I will probably sell that much at this venue, but it is really a fun show and hopefully will be a chance to hand out business cards, meet other fiber obsessed, see my own friends and of course meet some alpaca , sheep and goats .

Back to my 80 hour work week and trying to organize the none animal items in my booth . I still need to add beading, straps and closures to some cuggs and bags for the show and next week off will be all about getting tags on items .

Happy felting !
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Monday, April 12, 2010

Large and small needle felt critters

Looks like someone has a bit of an attitude.....a wee bit smirky and full of himself or just stubborn and holding his ground ?
His large friend is actually one of my first critters redone . I added new eyes and some more appropriate colored fiber over the hideous wool I had originally a dark room .

Today I bought new storage containers and a vacuum as preparation for a major spring cleaning and reorganizing here . I have been psyching myself up for it by watching Hoarders on A&E and TLC . I highly recommend it for others who have "issues" with organizing and letting go of their treasures before they take over their lives . For me, the motivation is finding better places for my new felted friends while they await new homes. That means many of my coloectables will go into storage .

Happy felting and spring cleaning to all .
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Saturday, April 10, 2010

Wresteling rodents for Shepherds Harvest

Looks like someone is........"ready to rumble" . (The other guy is just hoping for a few belly rubs . )
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Friday, April 9, 2010

Preparing Needle Felt for Shepherds Harvest

I know this little Alpaca is not anatomically perfect, but I hope I captured the utter cuteness of a freshly clipped Alpaca baby . These guys are amazing and one of the things I look forward to at Shepherds Harvest next month....(more on this later) . Something about their vulnerability . I still need to tweak the ears, I always struggle with proportion as the wool you begin with becomes much smaller once felted but it's hard for me to figure out how small it will end up and the result can be disproportionately long of arms, legs, feet or ears . If I made one set image or even a few, I'm sure that I would be able to do this but because each animal I make is unique, it's always a new challenge .
The BFL fiber I used is some of the best I've found from a new (for me), seller on Etsy named TLS . I will add a link to her shop and a sample of the fiber at the end of this post .
Dingo Pup ? I don't know but he sure took a long time and I still need to overlay the fiber I used with some of TLS fiber . The upside of needle felting is that I can overlay fiber mistakes with new colors...the down size is that it requires another 2-3 hours, dang .
The fiber I used was some special order from Sheepish Creations . I always love her own colors but had hoped she could dye some animal fur colors for me . Unfortunately, though the fiber is as lovely as always, the colors just don't work when felted . The yellow is unrealisticly bright and the pinkish brown looks a bit like flesh showing through a dog with mange . I'm terrified of trying my own wool dying because I've seen so many other novices end up felting the wool during dying but....I hope to get together with a more experienced friend and see if we can over dye this with some darker browns .
Just another couple of "rodents", one with a teddy . I'm still having fun making these and hoping that they are an affordable choice for someone wanting a sample of needle felting without breaking the bank .

After another $400 investment in wool, dyes and animal eyes...I am doing my last minute preparing for the Shepherd's Harvest festival at Lake Elmo Fairgrounds on Mother's Day weekend . You can read about it here........

So....I recently stocked up on some lovely, fluffy merino from YARNAHOY on Etsy

I will try and get some more of this for animal fur from TLC on Etsy........

One of my favorite sellers of fiber from Sheepish Creations....The animal colored fur did not work out but I still love her own color selections .

Click on thier names to go directly to their Etsy shops and share some of my joy in beautifully dyed and carded fiber artist . Disclaimer: they are not paying me for endorsing them and I can't recommend them for spinners, I have never used their fiber for that and have no experience using their fibers for spinning .

Happy felting .

Sunday, April 4, 2010

from filthy fiber to some cute new needle felt friends

I recently bought some fiber on Etsy that was advertised as "washed" but with small amount of Veg. matter . They lied . What I received was smelly, greasy, had large and small sticks and even some beetles ! I have never given negative feed back on Etsy because I hate conflict . However, I am rethinking this habit after receiving so many wrong orders, half felted roving advertised as "buttery soft and ready to spin" and this current nightmare of filthy fiber . Buyer beware . Statistically, I have received more great fiber then bad and try and let the great fiber dyers know how much I appreciate them but it is always a gamble and best to buy in small quantities when trying a new seller .

I tried handwashing this but after the 4th changing of water that was still dark brown...I gave up and put the whole thing into the washing machine on cold, with laundry soap and in a "delicates bag" . I just washed it on regular cycle....agitation included . I figured I would end up with a lump of felt but was willing to risk the experiment as I am so low on fiber and wanted to see how these colors work . The fiber itself was fine, a nice white and grey mottled Corriedale . I then through the bag into the drier on cool/fluff cycle and once mostly dry, spread it out to dry .

The end result was 80% usable fiber but still had to be picked through to remove felted nubs and additional vegi matter . Some had to just be discarded as the vegi matter in some areas had been crushed to tiny pieces that couldn't be removed<----that was there before I washed it and not caused by the washing but the washing didn't remove it . Anyway , if I hadn't been so desperate for fiber, I'm sure I would have just thrown it all in the recycle bin but I HAVE to have something to felt and this turned into an interesting experiment as I found I really like the precombed natural fiber and think it has a much more realistic "animal" look . I won't be returning to this seller but an now looking for more natural uncombed fiber with color variations . I'm hoping that I can make some possible trades for some felted animals with an interested fiber seller during Shepherds Harvest but I will be able to check it before buying which will be a nice change over the mystery of buying on-line and I don't plan on doing my own washing any time soon .

Happy Spring celebrations to all .
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Thursday, April 1, 2010

Needle felting animals for Shepherds Harvest....

Above are my personal favorites that will not be for sale....I call them "The Gang of Four"
I'm not sure what makes something talk to me and ask to stay here, but they all seem a bit silly and smirky . Perhaps I see them as bits of my self ?
They are not usually the characters that take the longest or have the best needle felting, but they are somethings I wouldn't mind scampering around in my personal forest .
Not sure what this chubby guy is "supposed" to be .....I rarely , if ever, have a photo of an animal as a reference and felt from a vague image in my mind .
This was supposed to, at least vaguely, resemble a chipmunk but is admittedly a rather psychotic version based on my memory of a chipmunk . It seems impossible for me to make anything realistic and perhaps I shouldn't fight my tendency to "cartoon" animal life as that is how I experience them . Both real and stuffed animals ie "softies"...... I believe that is what all the hip kids call them these days : ) ....... are alive to me . They are sentient beings and were my best and often only friends as a kid .
"Hand over the nuts and no one gets hurt"
This is obviously pure fantasy . I'm still struggling with to bright of sunlight in the morning when I get home from work and all the colors look washed out . I'm hoping with the warm weather, I can soon start taking photo's outside in early evenings on my week off work . (I work an 80 hour week and then have the next week off....very cool schedule) .
While waiting for new fiber , (the dentist got last months fiber budget but was worth every penny ), I went back and redid some of last years sculptures . I turned my purple bear into a panda and just firmed and added detail to the other 3 .
My attempts at dogs should convince me to give up making anything but aliens and fantasy .
The above guy, is a bit pop-eyed and no particular breed . Believe it or not he started out as a ferret . I didn't have good ferret colored roving and just kept layering different color roving until he ended up a fat fluffy pup. I recently ordered several differnt rovings to try and remedy this problem and see if I could find more realistic animal fur . I will show this new fiber when it arrives...(I'm very excited and fiber starved right now .)

Below was another attempt to use a thick copper wire in the legs so this guy would be more pose-able but not only do I hate working with wire but I still don't have the hang of using it ...more practice is needed to feel comfortable with this technique . I really find that fighting with the wire goes against the way I felt....which is letting the fiber show me where it wants to go . This is really hard when the wire is not listening to the fiber and we all end up fighting each other over which direction to go .

Happy felting .
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