Wednesday, 5 January 2022

Edges

Hello there!

How are you doing? Keeping well I hope…I’ve finally managed to finish this blog post which I started some time ago! I can hardly believe we are well into February already…how did that happen?!

So this post is just to document a few thoughts and samples…and might give you a little insight into part of the felting process along the way.

One of the things I want to explore a little further with my felting is ‘edges’. I’ve long debated whether leaving the edges of a felted picture on show within a frame hinders it from selling.  Certainly, from past experience a picture with a mount seems to be preferred.  However, perhaps my edges just weren’t good enough!? 

Following a couple of online workshops last year, I have learned how to give my edges a little more attention than I normally would. I’ve also made a couple of pictures, shown below, where the bottom edge is left very organic with silks that have been Nuno felted into the main piece…I really enjoyed that process and like the end result.  Time will tell as to whether they sell!

(*update! Since starting this blogpost, the picture below, ‘Home to Roost’  has sold…which is brilliant news!)





The silk at the bottom gathers with the fine fibres during the felting process. The fibres work their way through the silk fabric and as the felt shrinks the silk ruches and creates that lovely ‘skirt’ on the bottom edge.







So what else could I do with my edges…


I have made a few samples to have a play around with ideas and to have some options to refer back to for future pieces when I feel like a more organic edge might work.



A ‘holey’ finish…a tideline perhaps? This was achieved by applying prefelted ‘rings’ onto the bottom with a silk chiffon layer underneath. Once fully felted, I snipped away the excess chiffon to leave the circles.



A loose, yarn border…nice way to use some of my stash of art yarns! Barely felted in to leave loops and waves along the bottom of the piece.  Gives a nice organic edge…again, maybe a tideline?



This was a piece of crinkly cotton felted in along the bottom…the odd fine wool fibres latch on and gather it in places to create an undulating edge.



Looking at my ‘creative sparks’ squares, pieces of scrap felt added to slightly overhang  the edge gives an option for a more geometric finish…maybe to give an impression of stones, boulders or cliffs, or as part of an abstract design…if placed side by side along the bottom edge, all slightly different sizes/lengths. They could even be added on any (or all) of the edges, not just the bottom.  Above is a smaller piece of added felt, and there’s  a longer piece in the picture below.  I have a bag full of felt offcuts, and as long as you rough up the underside, it can still be incorporated into a new piece and should felt in successfully, but will stand a little proud of the main surface.  That’s the great thing about felt…even the ‘failed’ pieces can be reused at some point.



There’s also a little ‘loop’ of yarn there in the picture above…maybe that could be executed all the way along an edge? Hmm…can you hear my imagination ticking?

Or of course the edges can just be worked to be left really even with lovely corners…slow, careful felting enables this, and whilst the edges below aren’t entirely perfect, the overall square shape could fit neatly, without trimming, into a box frame or floating frame…maybe without glass if thoroughly felted, and displayed like a canvas



The possibilities are endless really aren’t they? 

An alternative edge could be achieved by adding

  • Beads
  • Crochet
  • Lace
  • Shells
  • Feathers
  • Small found objects
Plenty of ideas to play around with…I feel some more samples coming on! Making time to play and try out new things is really important, without the pressure of having to make a finished project…a collection of these samples of felt will be a good reference for future work, or if nothing else they would have been fun to do and will be nice to look at…and stroke from time to time (or is that just me?! 😆).

Are you experimenting with anything creatively at the moment?  I’d love to hear about it. All we need is an extra day in the week, right?! 

So until next time, wishing you many happy and creative hours ahead…

Take care

x Tanya x




Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Quick Catch up!

Hello there!

Oh dear, I’ve neglected this blog over recent months; it has been a busy summer for me personally with only short windows of creative time, but as Autumn settles in there seems to be a little more breathing space so I’m picking up from my last post  with a quick catch up.

Fiona Duthie’s Creative Sparks Challenge


My last post mentioned a ‘Creative Sparks’ challenge I was going to attempt which was via Fiona Duthie and the International Feltmakers Association.  It basically involved a bit of colour theory and layering during felting to end up with 16 evenly sized felted squares which were all harmonious and could be presented all together in a grid form.

This was fun to do with much learnt and this is my end result:









Again I revisited basic felt making skills, particularly in relation to shrinkage rates and shaping, so it was a really worthwhile exercise to do.  It’s always a good thing to occasionally go ‘back to basics’ - I’ve certainly been reminded of a thing or two!

Finished Pieces over the Summer

I consider myself very fortunate to have some of my work for sale in a local gallery.  I’ve managed to just about keep enough pictures turning over to supply the gallery, and although I share what I make on social media here’s a round up of a few:




 












The ‘flowers in vases’ are always fun to do as they allow me the opportunity to go a little more abstracted in the backgrounds and a bit of experimenting can take place without worry of it not being realistic.  The landscapes still make me feel a little ‘tight’ when working, as I nearly always start off with the thought of semi-abstracting the scene but then get caught up in trying to realistically capture an element of it. I am still working at trying to convey the ‘sense of a place’ rather than a realistic representation and sometimes I nearly have it…only to then go too far and get into too much detail!

Anyone else relate?!

Online Bag Making Course (Fiona Duthie)

So I signed up for another of Fiona’s online courses, this time on bag making.  I haven’t fully immersed myself in the course content yet, but the good thing is is that I can revisit it at my own leisure which certainly works for me at present!

After a quick whizz through the content, I have had a go at making myself a bag…I did keep it very simple, just to concentrate on the felting rather than the design element, but I’m quite happy with the result.  I’ve made a couple of bags before, but following the lead of Fiona I can now understand how to tackle the different layouts and resists required for different shaped bags…there is so much to learn! I will be coming back to this course for sure!









I made this to match a pair of burgundy shoes I had to wear to my son’s recent wedding, and it’s the perfect small bucket bag size to fit a phone, a packet of tissues and a lipstick in! As for how I now have a child old enough to get married…how did that happen?? I have to remind myself that I’ll be 50 in the New Year…still only around 25 in my head ðŸĪŠ! We celebrated 25 years of marriage this year too…goodness, all these milestones…lots to be grateful for.

All caught up…

Right, well I think that’s us pretty much caught up to date from the last blog post…apologies if a lot of this is old news!  If you’d like any new posts sent to you via email, then pop your email address in the subscription box at the top.

You can find me on Facebook and Instagram if you have an interest in felting and textiles, and it’s always lovely to have contact with people so feel free to leave a comment or a question.

So until next time, sending you best wishes

Xx Tanya xx

Saturday, 15 May 2021

Online Learning and a 100 Day Project

Hello there!

Hope you’re keeping well…thought I’d pop along to share what I’ve been up to since my last blog post. I mentioned before about signing up for an online felting course, so I guess I’ll start there!

Just before I do, a little heads up to those of you who are already subscribed to this blog…the application that sends you my blog as an email will cease operating from July so if you would like to continue to receive an email when I publish a new blogpost you will need to re-subscribe so please make sure you do that by popping your email address in the subscription box on this page.  Your future email updates will then be sent to you by 'Follow.it'.

Right, on with the blog!

Online Learning with Fiona Duthie 

Something I’ve been interested in is incorporating paper into the felting process and I was lucky enough to be able to get onto Fiona Duthie’s online class where she shared, most generously, her discoveries and techniques in making ‘paper felt’.

It really was an excellent and thorough introduction to the whole process and Fiona’s mentorship throughout the course was beyond what I had expected. The video demonstrations, feedback and group discussions were so useful and I have taken a lot from it…definitely worth the investment. Not only did I learn new skills, but the course also made me go back to review the very basics of felt making.

Fiona is a wonderful teacher and it worked really well online. Fiona is a Canadian and the participants of the course were from all over the world…isn’t the internet wonderful for getting like minded people together? I would thoroughly recommend one of her courses if you’re interested in either beginning felting, or advancing your techniques. Her website is here if you’d like to find out more, or even just admire her work:
Fiona Duthie

Creating paper felt is quite different and we made lots of samples to experiment with different types of papers. We also made a vessel.





Possibilities are opened up using paper in felting…using inks, paints and texts for example. I’m really looking forward to exploring this more in future work…lots more sampling required I think!!

There is another gem of a challenge that Fiona has made available to members of the International Felters Association which I want to have a go at called ‘Creative Sparks’…I will share when I’ve completed it!


100 Day Project

I’m not sure what possessed me, but I decided to take part in the 100 day project…you can choose to do anything but just keep it up for 100 days. Historically, I’m not very good at keeping sketchbooks…I might do a few scribbly drawings in preparation for a felted picture but I tend to just dive in and see what happens!

I thought I’d see if I could just ‘turn up’ each day and create something, anything, to put in a sketchbook. Well I soon discovered that I don’t like working directly into a book and much prefer to have loose pieces of paper which I then stuck into a sketchbook.  I also quite liked messing with watercolours and inks, so most of the ‘sketches’ are made with that medium and tend to be of landscapes - some inspired by my own photos, and some that just happened when paint and water hit the paper.

So I did manage to turn up every day, sometimes just for 5 or 10 minutes, and I completed the challenge.  I won’t bore you with all 100 sketches, especially as some of them are a bit awful, but I’ve picked out a few of my favourite efforts.












Was it worth doing? Well, I’ve learned that painting is never going to become a ‘thing’ for me, but I do feel that those watercolour washes on paper could be useful preparation for textile work and could maybe become part of the process. This means slowing down, taking time to consider colours and composition a little more and use paint, ink and paper as perhaps a way of sparking an idea in the first place or to consolidate an existing idea.

I have a lovely, fat sketchbook bursting with 100 days’ worth of ideas…I may well revisit some of the sketches and use them as inspiration, so yes I’m glad I did it. Some artists’ sketchbooks are works of art in their own right…not mine I fear…however I must not compare and despair!

Have you ever done a 100 day project or something similar? Did you find it useful?

New Work


I have made a couple of new pieces below, and I’m hoping to get those framed up very soon. One of them even includes some paper! The first quite obviously inspired by the Cornish moors and the second inspired by a bouquet of pink flowers that we display at home every year to remember someone we lost a few years ago. I love the contrast between the pink and green and it was really fun to make. I’m considering adding some hand stitching for more surface texture.







Oh, and I also have a few cards and prints available in my Folksy Shop of some of my floral felted pictures.  It was something I wanted to try to see how they would turn out, and I’m really pleased with the quality.
Folksy Shop









Well that’s it for now, thanks for reading and I’ll hopefully have more to share with you soon.

Best wishes 

xx Tanya xx









Saturday, 2 January 2021

Not all treasure is gold...

‘The Keeper’


She had an eye for the discarded, the lost and unwanted...

Things that were no longer part of a whole but were still beautiful in their own right.

The sad demise of a bird leaves behind a legacy of delicate, scattered feathers on the ground; each one a miracle of creation.

A perfect, spent leaf in autumn hues, cast from a mighty oak to make way for the new season’s growth.

A mussel shell of the most beautiful blue, encrusted with barnacles...once a home, now washed up on the sand bereft of life within.

A garden yielding treasure once the flowers have faded...seed pods, skeletons, sculptural stems and dried petals.

An old key, found; a lone brass buckle glinting on the path; a piece of pottery peeping from the earth on the edge of a field.

She felt the need to gather, to collect and delight in these things; to stash them away in a pocket until home...reminders of a walk, a moment, a season, of the wonders that surround us if we only care to take the time to look.

She is the keeper of all things lost, faded and forgotten...
...for not all treasure is gold.






I have a few fabric patches purchased from Mrs Bertimus (do check out her website mrsbertimus.co.uk and social media pages) and during lockdown I created this wall hanging with one of them, combining hexagon piecing, vintage fabrics and naturally dyed scraps, buttons and quilting. It has a little pocket to store nature’s treasures.













I have quite a collection of feathers, shells, pebbles and pottery shards picked up from walks as well as old buttons, keys and bits and bobs found lying around.  They’re all precious and beautiful and I loved the idea of displaying some of them in some way...and so this piece just sort of evolved around that thought and the little story of ‘The Keeper’ in my head. It’s not perfect, but that’s ok...I quite like it as it is.  The hanger is an old french carrier bag handle (I think!) purchased from an Instagram account that sells a lot of antique french ephemera and fabrics...I bought them on impulse (a failing of mine!) and I’ve had a couple of them for a long, long time...BUT, I always knew I’d find a use for them eventually! My other half sometimes says I’m a bit of a hoarder, but I prefer to look at myself as a ‘keeper’, much like my story above.  Do you ‘keep’ little treasures like shells, pebbles and feathers?

I feel that I already appreciated the simple pleasures in life, but even more so after the last twelve months; treasuring things that are neither gold or sparkly or that cost lots of money...feeling grateful for things that money can’t buy like my health, family and friends. Most of our greatest riches are held within ourselves - kindness, patience, love and gratitude. 

New Year Plans?

So I hope the start of this New Year finds you well.  In view of ongoing pandemic restrictions, and as a way of lifting my mood,  I decided to sign up for an online course in March to hopefully help me develop my felting which is exciting. I feel sure that it will be a useful investment - there is always more to learn and I’m not sure I’ve found my preferred ‘way’ of felting yet...there’s always that feeling that there’s a certain something that I haven’t quite got yet. Or maybe that’s how I will always feel! Looking back, I know I’ve improved so at least it’s progress. I just feel the need to organise something positive, something to look forward to in the near future that I know I will be able to accomplish regardless of restrictions...there are so many online courses available, have you done any you would recommend?

What have you got planned creatively...have you signed up for any courses or workshops? Anything you’re hoping to achieve in the coming months? Do let me know.

So here’s to a happier, healthier, creative year...take care until next time.

Best wishes

Tanya xx

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

Inspiration from nature...and song lyrics!

Hi everyone!

Hope you're all keeping well...is it just me or is time flying by?  It's hard to comprehend in a way, you'd think time would drag whilst going through these lockdown periods wouldn't you?

Speaking of 'flying by' I thought I'd share the inspiration for my latest picture.At first, the owl hadn’t really come into it...it was all about the big ‘ole moon.






I keep a little book where I jot down things I hear,  such as lines of poetry or song lyrics that just make my ears prick up. A line of a song can conjure up an image in my head and that can sometimes manifest as a title for a picture, or as the image itself.  Often what I write  down doesn’t become anything...I just love the words!  I have music playing a lot when I’m in the house...my most common playlist is one with artists such as David Gray and Ray Lamontagne who have GREAT lyrics (in my humble opinion!).  One line I had written down was from David Gray’s ‘Shine’ :

‘Through the window of midnight, a Moon Full of Silver...’

These few words just brought to mind those nights where the moon is big and bright and you can easily go for a walk and see perfectly well without a torch. I’ve had a few late night dog walks where that’s been the case...there are no street lights where I live so it’s almost other worldly; that strange, silvery light illuminating the landscape.

The magic of being outside at night when it’s so quiet and still and moonlit...you almost feel smaller and a little insignificant (which of course, in the bigger scheme of things, we are).

I used this inspiration as a starting point and chose a limited colour palette...green, turquoise and gold with black and white. I blended these colours so that the overall look was harmonious...the turquoise is mixed with black for the sky and is also blended into the greens and gold of the fields. 



I created prefelts with these colours to use in the layout for the piece which worked well. I also used a resist for the moon and snipped a circle out of the sky to reveal it after felting.

Once I had the landscape laid out, I could see that maybe it needed a story...this could be the thing that stops my work becoming more abstract, because I generally end up putting in a bird, or too much detail in order for it to ‘say something’! However, I went with it...




I have been lucky enough to encounter a barn owl...I don’t think it will matter how many times I see one, it will always be a magical thing.

To catch sight of a barn owl in flight, it just makes you hold your breath. To see the ghostly shape of this beautiful bird gliding from a tree on silent wings and across a field has just stopped me in my tracks and, just for a moment, I have felt like the luckiest person alive.

And so my felted landscape seemed the perfect setting for a barn owl, which I needle felted in together with the foreground.




So what title to use...’A Moon Full of Silver’ or ‘On Silent Wings’ (isn’t that a song title too!?). I think I’m going to go with my original inspiration and call it ‘Beneath a Moon Full of Silver’...I’ll bank the other title for another time! It’s tricky to capture, but the moon does actually have silver angelina fibres felted in, so there is a subtle sparkle.

Do you get inspired by poems or songs? I’d love to hear what helps you start a new piece of work...

Reaching out...

I had a lovely email from a lady in Minnesota,  US who chanced upon my blog during an online search (Hi, if you’re reading this!). It’s amazing how small the world becomes sometimes isn’t it, and it was just so nice to be in touch with someone who enjoys their art and craft as much as I do. I think it’s become apparent that many people have turned to the arts in some way as escapism during this very unsettling year...finding creative outlets should never be underestimated, it really is a powerful thing.  It doesn’t matter how good or bad you think you are at something, it’s just immersing yourself into an activity that allows you to relax and focus your mind on something other than the latest news flashes, social media pressures or just any sort of stress.   If you haven’t tried it, perhaps it’s time you did...grab your glue stick and colouring pens and release your inner creative!

Until next time...

Take care and stay safe

Tanya xx





Monday, 26 October 2020

Revisiting, Reworking and Comfort Zones...

Well, with October coming to a close it’s a couple of months since my last blog post, and I ended that with an intention to work on a picture focusing on the hydrangeas from my garden.

I had been experimenting with some different techniques and wanted to incorporate some paper into the felting process.

With one attempt thrown into my recycling basket, I started again and this was the result.  The paper inclusions did work and they have added some (very!) subtle effects in the petals, so kind of a success,  but still more practice required on the paper felting to really get a handle on it!





I had the perfect frame for ‘Hydrangeas and Stripes’ and I’m very pleased to say that it sold fairly quickly which is amazing.

Reworking...


‘A Bowl Full of Cheer’ is one I did a while ago...it’s one I’ve had hanging on my workroom wall as a reminder to myself to show a little more restraint. I inwardly groan looking at it sometimes because it’s obvious that I just threw too much at it in the excitement of creating surface textures without thinking about the overall composition, which is a bit messy. No wonder it didn’t sell 😀.





However, I’ve always kind of liked it, or at least the idea of it!  There was scope to felt it a little more which meant I could make some subtle changes to the flowers and the background colour by needlefelting wool fibres through from the back and then wet felting.

After a little more shrinkage and tightening up of the fibres through the felting process, I gave it the chop...getting rid of the distractions on the right hand side and cropping in on the bowl.  





I think it looks much better now in its cropped format, the refocusing  and reduced ‘background noise’ have simplified the image.  Less is definitely more in this case! I hope you agree...


Revisiting...

So here’s another one that I did way back in 2016 I think...it sits in its little frame here as another reminder about composition. This one was inspired by a photo I took locally, and I called it ‘November Sun’.  The thing that keeps shouting to me is the fact that the road ended up in the centre of the picture, and I’ve always thought it would have been a much better composition if the road was off to one side...nothing really leads you around the scene.




So I found the original photo as my starting point and I’ve created a new, bigger version...with the road most definitely off to one side! 


So after wet felting and some needle felting, this is how it’s looking...I think it’s pretty much finished, just a little tidying up in places and the birds need a bit of tweaking but I’m much happier with it. It’s a much bigger format than before, and I’ve resisted using stitching just trying to use the layering within the felting process to create the surface texture. It’s a dull day for taking photos, so it’s been hard to capture it properly.





I’ve quite enjoyed revisiting work and trying to improve things second time around. I’m becoming more aware of the importance of composition...and whilst I still won’t get it right every time I feel more able to evaluate where I may have gone wrong.

Comfort Zone...

Well, my personal intention to try a little more abstraction in my work appears to have fallen by the wayside, and I seem to have continued with the usual ways and themes.  Just because I’m drawn to semi-abstract doesn’t mean I’d be any good at actually doing it, but it’s still something I’d like to explore even if it’s just for my own amusement!

Why abstraction? A little more freedom perhaps? Creating a sense of something rather than getting hung up on the details, particularly with landscapes?

I certainly like the idea of it but I know it’s not easy to approach things in a completely different way...abstraction is not easy! I think I’m at that place where, because my ‘drawing skills’ are not amazing, my pictures end up somewhere between realistic and semi-abstract and perhaps a little ‘whimsy’ at times. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, and those type of pictures have been selling, but it’s not always about sales is it?

Is it okay to do both styles? I guess so - once I’ve finished and framed these last few and going to carve out some time to play with the abstraction idea and fight the urge to slip into my comfort zone, although at times my so called ‘comfort zone’ actually feels a little tight and tense in the making process. Maybe that’s what I’m looking for, more of a loose and free way of working for a change...even if it’s just a temporary break from the usual. And I still want to experiment with incorporating paper...I will not be beat!!

This little sample square that I’ve shared before is in my sight line on my work table, and there’s just something about it that makes me want to try more...



Or maybe it goes this way around...





So that’s it for the minute...I fear we may be heading for another national lockdown as I type this...wherever you are in the world I wish you health and happiness until next time.  Stay strong and stay safe...and stay creative.

Tanya xx