Monday, September 27, 2010

Nano tech...coming soon, to a store near you !

I'm not felting or dying . I'm sort of cleaning and organizing and sort of....spending to much time on the internet reading blogs and learning things I will probably forget before the day is over .

In one of these random google searches....for what, I don't even recall, I came across something I thought others might be interested in . Just in-case your getting bored with worrying about the same old things....

Nano technology is here and in current products ! I had already gotten used to the idea that I may be inadvertently eating "franken foods" =genetically modified food . I tried to block the anxiety this creates by telling myself that I am not going to give birth so I don't have to worry about altering the genetic make-up of one of my spawn . Yea, there is the whole probability that it leads to some unknown cancer and the unbalancing of our eco-system but we already screwed ourselves on those with the introduction of human made chemicals .

But nano technology is in a world of it's own on my anxiety scale . We are talking about something so small that it can't be seen by a microscope....right ? I mean smaller then the very germs and bacteria that many of these new products are meant to kill . A nano is really, really tiny . Next to a Nano, my skin pores probably look like a the grand canyon . So how do I know that one of these nano's might not  decide to climb into said pore and have a wander about . Perhaps accidentally falling into a river of blood and being swept up into my brain where it can set up a shop and sell mountain climbing equipment to other nanos ?

I'm not a science geek and admit I have a propensity to get paranoid about anything "new" . I didn't have a regular TV or a drivers license until I was in my late 20's, play any video games until almost 40 or get a computer until a few years ago . Those were good changes even if they came with their own problems, so I should over come my trepidation about "new" .

I still think that antibacterial products are setting us up to be vulnerable to disease that our bodies used to know how to combat . I have a general distrust of many things that can make someone money because my life experience seems to show that while money, (or the love of it), may not be the root of all sure can make some people do long term damage for short term gains . (The long term damage being to all of us and short term gain mostly involving them having their every greedy whim met).

So, if your interested in what you may be using that has these good or bad nanos in can check out

I think we have a right to know not only where the nano's are in our products but where the factories are that are creating the products  .  (This is how Godzilla got started....have we learned nothing in our rush to "betterize" mother nature ?) If nothing else, I see some interesting Sci-fi movies being made involving " Nanos Gone Wild" . You may think that this wont effect can just avoid those products but...what about the nano socks that are laundered in your Apt. washing machine......could lingering nanos hitch a ride onto your stuff . How about the nano factory washing their nanos down the drain into public water supplies....we can't even filter out all the relatively huge chemical elements, how are we going to filter out Nanos......(obviously with a nano water filter....they sell those now) .

Perhaps mother nature can balance our genetically modified food with our chemically modified
environment and our nano modified products and stir it all with some global warming to create the garden of Eden we all long for . Or perhaps I will just go back to felting so I don't have to think about it .

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Experimenting with needle felt sculptured pins and upcycled beaded chiffon scarves

I have officially run out of room for my needle felted animals and have moved to finding uses for my newly dyed fiber . The above is the result . They are tiny abstract sculptures that I will add pin backs to so they can decorate purses, jackets or closures for my wool scarves . I am going with my assumption that not everyone wants a felted flower so these are reserved for more "artsy" types....(you know who you are you java swilling, sandlewood wearing, clove smoking weirdos.......This will look awesome on your all black clothing) . <-----I can say that because I used to do all that stuff . I personally like all that texture and color . Although simple. they actually take a couple hours each but are more relaxing then the animals because there is no preconception of "should have a nose here and eyes there" . I just shape the different areas of color and add a bit more here and there . Highly recommended for relaxation and a great way to play with color .

(Double click on pictures for better idea of texture and detail .)This was an experiment in deconsturction and repurposing of a beaded chiffon dress . I have no idea how long I've had this always "planned" on using the fabric for something....(nope, I do not wear such fancy clothes myself as I would feel out of place in it at Target or thriftstore....though the latter is where I am sure I bought it ). It took most of the night to rip out the seams of this dress and then I cut out three beaded sections to nuno felt and plan on making small "bags" out of the sleeves ,(seen above ) .
This is one scarf held up to the window so you can see how light the end nuno felting turned out .
One interesting thing that happened is that I made two scarves side by side and one felted much tighter then then the other . I rotated to keep the felting even but the only difference was in the fiber used and how I placed it . Both had merino a small amount of mohair(pink and purple), on the bottom . I then laid on the beaded chiffon fabric and then added a thin layer of merino with more thinned bits of mohair curls <---adds really nice shine and such fine bits that didn't make the fabric to itchy for me . The only difference was the one that felted tighter (beads are really tight together), was all merino on top except for the area that had the bead which only had merino on the bottom to migrate up through the chiffon . On the second scarf, I put very thin wisps of fiber over the beading so it would just peek through in areas . The fiber of this second, also had a medium coarse fiber, (Shetland,) mixed with the merino but actually feels softer ? That's counter intuitive but I think because the it didn't felt as tightly and has kind of a fluffy feel .
I think I like the back , sans beading but with more mohair better then the beaded side because I used more colors on it .

The cat is modeling some small dog collars I have been working on . The are light weight but certainly give a lot of band per ounce . Actually they are just my bracelets made a few inches larger then usual and would be great for those of us with thicker arms or higher up on the arm for the thinner crowd .....but I think they would also look great on a mini-pincher . These still need beading and I can add a ring for snapping a leash onto . They slip right over my cats head but not intended for big headed dogs .
The weird object to the right of the bracelets is a new "invention" for folks who wear their hair in an up-do . I just twisted a bracelet into a figure eight and added roving in the middle which I felted in . They can be bent around a bun, braid, dreads and have a stick put through to hold in place . I have some vintage plastic "fake ivory" chopsticks that I plan to cut to size for these . (They also remind me of the figure eight...infinity symbol with rainbow colors...that I have seen some aspies sporting to represent the that annoying puzzle piece .)
I call these "flutterbyes" . Uhmmm. hope that's not copyrighted because I really can't afford a copyright law suit . I made some of these for my cat and he loves them but I think they are good kids(and aspie?) toys because they look so cool when you throw them across the room or straight up in the air....(and no one gets an eye poked out...yea!) . I re-purposed some old silk shirts I had been collecting to make a quilt...(before I admitted to myself that I really hate to sew....why are we always the last to know these things) . I take a 4 strips about 8-12 inches and over lap them then layer between some roving to make a tiny sandwich and poke. poke, poke , then continue to wrap and poke with more roving until it's about large golf ball sized . Just make sure that they are firmly poked with roving so they don't pull out and remember that silk is actually a very hard fabric and can break your needle if you don't keep needle at 90 degree angle . Would probably be nice with some fleece strips though wouldn't catch the light or flutter as well as the silk .
These were two more experiments with roving dying with food dye above . I dyed them in a rice cooker which I think actually will work well when I figure out my dye strengths . The food coloring actually worked better then I thought it would in the first aque bath with a mohair blend medium coarse fiber but I think I watered it down to much in the second batch with merino and ended up with a bland blue and pink that will work for my animal paw pads or I could over dye it . Neither felted at all so that was good . I did receive my dyes from Dharma and will try and do a blog on that in the next few days . I think I am a bit enamored with them at the moment....(dare I call it love ?) I would recommend anyone interested in crafts should order a catalog from them . DO it now ! Seriously, they have so many cool crafty things and having the catalog in your hands is easier then trying to figure out what they have, what you want by looking only on-line . They also now carry some nice roving and descent prices on mesh and chiffon silk for nuno felting .

Here is the link to order a free catalog from them .....

Last and least, I have also been needle felting beads and balls, former for jewelry, latter for cat toys . Not exciting but relaxing if you don't mind bleeding a little .I needle felt them very firm and then wet them and throw in dryer to harden them firmer . I did make the mistake of throwing this batch into a dryer with a very linty towels ...ooops, and now will spend a few hours picking lint of them . Another lesson learned the hard way, so I am sure I will remember it .

Happy felting !

Thursday, September 9, 2010

productive week of dying and wet felting

This is a "do-over" of a felt animal I did when I first began...(.it had some pretty bad color choices) so I am glad that I now have some more natural fiber colors to use . As always ...he looks like a very disgruntled/crabby kid who has been told he had to go to bed before his show is over but...I still think he's kind of cute .
I'm really excited to be using my own dyed roving and I think it shows in the sheer productivity of my week . I just couldn't stop experimenting and made several scarves, table runners and items to be sewn into computer bags . My plan is to use some of my re-purposed leather, fur and vintage fabric that I have been collecting over the years to create small flaps, sides, handles and accents to the felt . I may also do a bit of beading if the mood strikes .
This is a blend of merino and mohair that will fit a lap-top with room for several extra items . I was thinking of adding pockets in the thick fleece or cotton lining . I do hate to sew but I plan on keeping it simple .
This picture is a bit brighter then real life as it's getting dark and I had to use my flash . It's a blend of deep pinkish orange with teal and green and some purple and yellow mohair curls....(Do you think I got a little carried away ? I see my felt as an aerial view of an alien landscape .
This would make a great table runner to put dark wood sculptures on or glass to catch all the color .
This is nuno felt of the last of my dyed silk gauze , The fiber I used is still a mystery as it wasn't what I ordered but I decided to use it anyway and it did felt but I think it's alpaca and maybe bunny wool (Cashmere?) because it is super soft and hairy . I think I need to take a brush to it to remove a but of the loser fiber but it has a good drape for a head or neck scarf .
This is the other side with a bit of merino splashes on top of the white mystery fiber . I really love how nunoing down the center of fabric creates a cool ruffle on the edges .
This is blue batt I ruined earlier this week by adding dark splothes on top . I ended needle felting abstract flowers <---(abstract is my term for when I can't draw something well). My co-worker asked if they were peaches ,lol. I rewet-felted this and the fiber is thick enough to be a table runner or a bag for a smaller lap top . My least favorite from the week but perhaps it will suit someone who likes peach/flowers .

Monday, September 6, 2010

Pictures galore....from dying to wet felting

Warning...very long post with lots of pictures .

These are some of the supplies I used for my dying this week . This was my first attempt at dying and I used some really nice fiber with 21 micron and some much coarser Mill ends , some feels like Colonial and the dark red and green feels like Romney . I wanted to see if there was any difference in the up take of color and possible felting .

Above, I am soaking the roving in a room temp bath with 1/4c of lemon juice and 2 packages of suger free crystal light...(.this was because I ran out of vinegar and thought this would smell better and add the needed acid to activate the dye . I did use about 1/2 cup of vinegar on most of my dyed roving this week .)
After 1 hour, I put the roving into a strainer and pressed out most of the water . Every time I touched the fiber I was afraid I was going to cause it to felt but it turned out fine .
One of the reasons I decided to dye my own fiber was to save money and the other is because I feel that many dyers dye with for the needs of spinners and not felters . I don't need fiber that is dyed to be spun and knit in certain "patterns" . I prefer fiber that has many different shades of blend-able colors . I like deep, rich colors with an organic feel to them...something that you might find on a forest floor , meadow or bog .

I randomly lay my roving in layers....dying one layer at a time and stacking them . I couldn't find any Squirt bottles at Michale's or the dollar store so I did a bit of pouring some spots, spooning and some squirting with my felting bulb . For this roving, I used a mix of blues and greens . I don't like white spots, so I do a bit of light squishing before adding the second layer and use about 4 layers then tightly cover with plastic wrap .

I microwave about 3 min and then let it rest 10 min, do this about 5 times . I know when people steam they say that it needs to be at a particular temp for at least 45 min so I am trying to do this in microwave .
These are three different rovings and some big nubs/slubs (turquoise bits) in the plastic bag that I dyed the day before .

After the microwave, I put fiber in warm water with synthrapol and let sit a bit then change water until it's clear . I then place fiber in a "delicate" bag and spin in washing machine then hang on line to dry .
The dye I used on all of this was Acid dye that I followed direction I found on line but it was very dark and had to be diluted several times ....I used some acid to dilute it because I read some where that that was better then water but I don't really know if it makes a difference .

I had considered using Wilsons frosting dye and may still try it but read some professional dyers reports that this "eco friendly" food dye is not made to be light and wash safe . After all the time it takes to turn roving into material.....I do not want something that is goiing to fade in the light . I would love to hear anyone elses opinion of this and if you think the natural dyes are safer even though they often use heavy metal as a mordant ? I am still not sure which alternative is the best but would love to hear form others . What roving would you feel safest using on your projects.........Professional dyes, dyes using heavy metal as mordant or food dyes that "may" fade with time ?
Here is the lay out of some fabric using my own dyed roving . This was the first time using the nubs and some stuck but I lost about half of them that didn't felt in well .
I was thrilled at how fluffy the fiber turned out once dry . I was afraid I would have to run it through a carder first the segments pulled apart great and it was super fluffy .
This was the nuno felt I worked on at the other end of my bubble wrap . I try and fill up all the bubble wrap . As long as I'm going to be rolling , I might as well fill the wrap even if it means doing two scarfs or bags at a time . This was some asymmetrical repurposed material . I'm not sure what it is but the burn test indicates that it is plant fiber and not synthetic . I wet it and layed it on the bubble wrap then layered two thin layers of pulled roving in opposite direction.
I added just a bit of some orange and yellow roving I bought on Etsy but this is mostly my dyed roving .
This is the roving once wetted with warm water and small amount of shampoo and lightly pressed out the air before rolling to felt .
After rolling about an hour...(.following traditional wet felting directions) I was ready to do a bit of slamming against the table . I then rinse out the shampoo (I don't like using olive oil soap because of the smell and I found no problem using shampoo at least for softest, low micron fibers but it may not work for the thicker fibers that are harder to felt .)I then place the completely felted material in dryer for about 15 min to completely full . I then rinse it in vinegar or lemon bath to reacidify and then put in washer on spin cycle and hang to finish drying .
TaDaa .....The blue area with the "flower dots" is the printed fabric base and whatever it is is well felted .
This is the other side and the second piece of felted material that is just felted merino and no fabric backing . About 1-2 the wool nubs fell off and I pulled off because they were only lightly felted .
These smaller felted material is more of my dyed roving and a mix of Mill Ends colonial and merino . I had read some one suggestion that if you are making felt that only one side is exposed you can just use white as the base and save your dyed roving for the top . However, the result is that the white roving migrates through and mutes the dyed roving . This colonial was particularly hairy....almost as bad as using alpaca for wet felting . Perhaps this would have worked OK with merino but I'm going to stick to using color all the way through from now on .
It does have an interesting texture but I hate the muting of the bright colors I started with .
Here is the back...not really a white but more a blend of Ecru and tan .
Here are two smaller nuno felt scarves. I used some of my first hand dyed blue silk and dyed roving from earlier this week . It does feel kind of good to have made something that is "all mine" from dying to felting .
Below is the larger felt cape . I used a base from a batt I bought on Etsy the was a blend of merino. alpaca and silk . It was gorgeous when I spread it out on the bubble wrap and then I ruined it buy adding dark "splotches" of deep purple and green which ended up looking like some one wiped up an oil stain from the garage floor ....oooooops . Don't you hate ruining beautiful fiber ? I guess that is part of the learning process but it sure hurts .

In an attempt to try and rescue the fiber, I needle felt some merino flowers into the edges of the cape and am considering covering all the purple and green with needle felting . It takes forever, it's a big cape but I will the re-wetfelt the whole thing to blend it better .

Well. this has been a busy week of learning with some "fails" but mostly successes, so I am pleased I over came my dyeing phobia and hope to do more in the future .

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Coming tomorrow.....wet felting and hand dying Mill End roving

When I can make one of these....(When you can snatch this pebble from my hand Grasshopper....)then I know I will have achieved some needle felt proficiency....until then....Here is a felter that I just found on Etsy that has some very amazing and inspiring work that you will enjoy for it's clean lines, great color and especially diversity of design .

I have not gotten to the phase where I feel confident enough to use resists to make hats, bags, vessels, slippers...... but one of these days......maybe tonight , I am going to force myself to try .

I HAVE finally tackled roving dying and did not felt it while dying....Yea! I will try and get pictures of how that worked out tomorrow and write a bit about my experience with this new process and a few things I read while researching the topic on-line . Although the result was what some call "muddy" and I call "organic"....(mud is VERY organic by the way) . I do like the end results and hope to get better with more practice .

I have also done some wet felting with my newly dyed roving and some of the Mill Ends I recently bought and will give two sources I thought are worth trying if your interested in experimenting with dying .


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