Monday 5 November 2018

Felting and framing...

Well, firstly I am so delighted to have sold 'Golden Blooms' after posting it on Facebook!  Every sale I make gives me such a warm glow I can't tell you...

At that stage it wasn't framed, and framing is sooo important.  There are so many decisions to be made -

* what size frame?
* what type and colour frame?
* with a mount or 'floated' to show the natural edges of the felt?

The way a piece of textile art is framed can make or break it, and whilst it would be wonderful to have work professionally framed I have always done it myself to keep costs down, so there's more pressure to get it right!

This particular piece is larger than usual, and I decided on a large box frame, which I painted white, and float mounted the piece of felt on foamboard.  I like to see the natural edges of the piece, and this way of framing gives it a nice surrounding space.  I reckon I made the right decisions in this case, and thankfully the customer agreed and bought it.  I didn't take a photo of it without the glass, so excuse the reflections, but it gives you an idea of how it was presented.

The thing to bear in mind is that, whilst I framed it myself, it took of the downsides of framing something with fibres is that every time you think you've got it right, cleaned the glass and sealed the back, you flip it over and a little bit of fluff has magically (and naughtily) appeared on the inside of the glass!! Aaargh!  

Anyway, I got there in the end, and it has gone off to its new home.

You can see beside it there is another picture - remember the little collage I shared in my last blog post?  Well this was the felted picture that evolved from that and I really like how it turned out.

My 'idea' collage

My collage inspired piece 'Autumn Berries'

It's difficult to capture in a photo, but there's a lot of surface texture going on here created using scrim, chiffon, silk hankies, wool nepps and coarse British breed wool fibres in the wet felting process.  All the little berries were needle felted on and hand stitch was added to give definition.

This one will also be for sale, so do get in touch if you are interested.

Following the sale of 'Golden Blooms' I have had a request to do a similar piece so I have made a start on that - I don't want to make it exactly the same so I'm changing the shape of the vase and the arrangement.  The colours need to stay similar, although I had to dye some more silk for the flowers and the onion skin pot produced a much deeper, orangey gold which is rather yummy - maybe it was a stronger concentration of onion skins to water?

The photos below show some of the process so's yet to be finished so I'll hopefully share that on the next blog.

Starting with some icelandic white wool roving to lay out as a base

The fibres carefully laid out 
Cotton scrim, fibres, organza and silk hankies added to give texture

Close up of some of the added elements

Adding soft grey wool fibres to the bottom half

wetted down and ready for a lengthy, slow felting sessions adding warm soapy water and gentle elbow grease!

Adding different elements along the way

Results from the onion skin dye pot for the flowers and stitch

Felted and ready for embellishment

So I'm going to crack on with this piece, although I'm jotting down lots of new ideas all the time in my sketchbook for more pictures.  I'm wanting to keep to that limited colour palette and more contemporary feel - I'm liking that at the moment!  Perhaps I might use some of the November colours I've been capturing whilst out and about...

Until next time, thanks for reading, and don't forget you can leave a comment below, say 'hello' or let me know what you're being inspired by at the moment - I like a little chat!

Best wishes

Tanya xx

Friday 12 October 2018

Back to Felting

I have dabbled in a number of different things creatively over the last few months, and I seem to have found my way back to felting.  I'll admit, I fell out of love with it a bit - I wanted to move forward with it but wasn't sure how.

I have very much enjoyed doing the collage work that I have completed lately with fabrics and paper, so I'm starting to play with that idea with felting.

I have stuck with my sketchbook, or idea book as I prefer to call it, and started off with a rough idea on paper - I also did some felt sampling.  I had recently bought a few new 'supplies', and I love this piece of red sari silk.  I wanted to see how it would felt just laid on top of fibres, and it worked really well.

sampling some materials in felting, including sari silk, ribbon, fibre paper, and gold gauze

So my 'collage sketch' was of a vase of flowers -  very much inspired by the last few flowers that I brought in from the garden before the bad weather arrived.  Those golden helichrysums, or straw flowers, are particularly lovely.

My inspiration...

A starting point on paper...

Sketchbook collage using papers, felt sample, gesso, paints,  chiffon and stitch

I wanted to make it simple with cleaner lines, a limited colour palette, a slight abstract feel and lots of surface texture.

I love the laying out stage and incorporating lots of extras to hopefully give some interesting textures.

There were a couple of felting stages to this one, and the picture below shows elements layered up together, wetted down and ready for a final felting session.

This is the finished picture...'Golden Blooms'

'Golden Blooms'

Showing that sari silk, which felted in so well on top of wool fibres.

Chiffon dyed with onion skins, with the inevitable french knots!

I tried to balance the picture with echoes of the gold and red repeated in areas of the felt.  The gold fibre paper did felt in initially, but unfortunately some of the gold colour leeched out during the felting process, so lost its sparkle - I therefore collaged some more on once all the felting was completed.

The flowers are made from some of the chiffon that I dyed myself with onion skins - it's such a lovely colour!  Woolen french knots (of course!) make the flower centres.

I'm pleased with this as a starting point for some more felting.  The biggest challenge was the limited colour palette and trying to stick to that grey, cream, red and gold.  I can have a tendency to throw lots of colours at work, but restricting what you could use was actually strangely liberating!

What's next...

I've got a feel for the felt again, so will try another collage inspired piece.

I've got a couple of more collage sketches, one of which is below, which I'm going to use in a similar way, and I'm going to stick with a restricted palette again, but think I could do more with incorporating surface texture.  

The collage sketches are done very quickly, without thinking too deeply.  I just grab a pile of papers, threads and paints and rip, snip and stick away.  It was a method that helped inspire me for 'Golden Blooms', so hopefully it will be successful with this one!

There are a couple of things with 'Golden Blooms' that I feel I could have done better, so hopefully I can take those things forward to the next felting session!

It's a constant learning curve...

Thanks for reading and feel free to say 'hello' below, it's always nice to hear from those that follow this blog!

Best wishes

Tanya xxx

Tuesday 2 October 2018

Painting, Felting, Sketching, Stitching

Well, September was a bit of a mish mash of things - I've donated another art postcard to a fundraising event, I got my wool fibres out again to do some wet felting, I attended an outdoor painting workshop and I've started keeping a sketchbook again.

Postcard Art...

So another opportunity to do a little artcard to help raise money for a good cause - I decided to use paint, eco-dyed fabric and a bit of stitching to create this little piece.

Watercolours were used to create the background and the chough, and then I layered and attached the torn fabric pieces to represent cliffs/coastline topping them with a little green cotton scrim.  A few french knots and a few words cut from an old book page finished it off.

These are nice to do, and I do enjoy mixing media types together to create something a bit different.  

This is still something that I'm looking to explore further - maybe mixing felting and printing.  I think some more experimenting is in order...

Painting workshop...

So, in a bid to be a little more brave I signed up to an outdoor painting workshop during the St Ives September Festival with Ria Poole - waaaaaay out of my comfort zone!!

For one, I have limited painting skills and for another the whole plein air thing with people I didn't know was very daunting!

I needn't have worried however, Ria put us all at ease and we trooped up to the Island overlooking Porthmeor beach.

It was windy, there was mown grass blowing around and I found it quite a challenge to say the least!  The paint was drying almost as soon as it hit the canvas, and I was struggling with scale and perspective...but I persevered and after a bit I loosened up and stopped trying to recreate exactly what was in front of me.  I ended up flicking, splodging and fingerpainting (which was quite fun!) to try and get some life and surface texture in it - I think that's the textile in me!!

My finished (not finished!) painting, with grass clippings embedded in the paint!

I learned, quite quickly, that the sea is really difficult to capture - the changing colours, the movement - and I used rather a lot of artistic licence in trying to have a finished painting!

Overall though, I was quite pleased with it - everyone's painting was so different, and there was a lot of abstract work going on where the participants had simply expressed an essence of where they were and what they were feeling by the marks they made on the canvas.  In retrospect, maybe I was a little tight and wish I'd 'let go' a bit more from the start.

Some of my colour mixing was a little muddy in the foreground, so I may work on it a bit more some time - maybe add some scrim and textures...oh, there I go with adding fabrics!!

I'm glad I did the workshop - I was stupidly nervous about going on my own, but it was all fine and everyone was very friendly.  I should definitely not hesitate to do something similar again.

Back to Felting...

It was nice to get the wool fibres out and do some wet felting - keeping it small and manageable I created a little landscape with merino and silks and incorporated a piece of hand dyed lace in the foreground.  I wasn't sure how this would turn out as I didn't want it to 'scrumple up' too much during the felting process. 

I worked it slowly and carefully, with minimal fibres over the top of the lace, and it's worked out really well.

I added more details with needlefelting, stitch and added scrim and chiffon in the foreground - trying very hard not to overdo the embellishing!

I'm pleased with it - I've had some nice feedback about it from social media, and I'm delighted that it has actually SOLD!

*happy dance*

 I didn't really make it with a view to selling, more to get my hand back into felting,  so that was a complete and lovely surprise!

It's such a thrill when someone likes something you've made enough to want to purchase it, and it's also nice to know that the work that goes into 'handmade' is appreciated.

Sketchbook - just do it!

Why do I procrastinate so much about keeping a sketchbook?  I think it's because I always want to create something I'd feel happy to share - but you don't have to share everything , do you?  There's also that lovely, clean, pristine book that I don't want to ruin!!

As pristine pages are a little daunting, I ripped out 4 pages and collaged some of my rust dyed tissue papers onto them, just to create some interesting backgrounds.  I really like how they look already with a slightly moody landscape feel, with the added bonus of some scrummy surface texture.

rust dyed paper, with a random piece of thread 

rust dyed tissue paper - and there's already a 'holed stone' from a washer!

Rust dyed fibrous paper

Rust dyed tissue paper, paint stained wet wipe and a scrap of scrim

In my last blogpost, I mentioned working on the holed-stone theme, based on the standing stones at Men-an-Tol.  I've used the shape of the stone, and used a variety of methods to include it on my new backgrounds - collage, painting, stencilling - using watercolour pencils, acrylic paints and inktense blocks, as well as a little puff paint, a dried leaf and tea bag paper.

I tried not to spend too long on each section, so they were a little spontaneous.  Once dried, I attached them together to make a little concertina book, tied with some rust dyed wool and a label to give the inspiration and materials used.

This was fun to do, and these ideas can be referred back to in the future.  I'm also comfortable with removing pages from a bigger sketch book to create mini-books - not so daunting and this one is quite cute!

Next, I'm going to make a real effort to try and do some mark making/drawing every day - if only for a few minutes - as this idea of recording everyday things seems a good way forward.

What's next...?

Well, I'm feeling the love for felting again after quite a break from doing it properly.  I think the tangents I have gone off on have been really useful, and some of the effects I've achieved with other mediums I would love to recreate in the felting process.  I think I will be doing a number of felt samples to try different things, try to evolve it into something fresh and new (for me anyway!).

I'm also going to try and keep the sketchbook ideas going - I often have  creative thoughts which don't get committed to paper and then get lost in the ether of the chaos that is my mind!

So, hopefully I'll have some felting to show you next time around.

Thanks for reading - and feel free to comment and say 'Hi' below, it's always lovely to hear from you!

Best wishes

Tanya xxx

Saturday 1 September 2018

The Hare that Haunts

Sharing some hare art...

I love hares - there's just something about them.  I'm often drawn to paintings and ceramics that include hares - I've shared below a few of the hares I have in my house!

I really love the work of Janet Treby, and I particularly love her hares.  I have a limited edition print of the 'Hare Study with Crow ' below which my hubby bought for me a number of years ago, I think after taking note of the amount of time I stood gazing at it in a gallery in St Ives!  It was probably the best present I've ever had and I've never tired of looking at it in situ in my kitchen.

I also have an art card of her work below in a little frame.  Greetings cards are great for collecting 'art', and I have a number that I've kept and framed in absence of owning an original or larger print.

I also have these couple of ceramic leaping hares from Elemental Ceramics - Mandy also makes the most beautiful bowls and vases.

I was lucky enough to see some REAL hares when we holidayed in North Wales - sadly they were too far away to photograph, but it was a thrill to see them (although they saw us before we saw them!).

I also have a few art cards, as shown below, of the work of Catherine Hyde - the mysterious white hare.  I am totally in love with these images, they are so magical.  Maybe one day I might own an original...or a large print (I wonder if hubby is reading this...😊)

Sketchbook inspiration...The White Hare

I have been looking back through some sketchbooks (I use that term loosely!) and the little pieces I had done earlier in the year and felt compelled to create another white hare.

Looking back through sketchbooks/idea books

I had researched the white hare and discovered one of the legends attached - I have put the full, woeful tale at the bottom of this blogpost if you would like to read it.  In short, the white hare is thought to be the spirit of a broken-hearted maiden who cannot rest and who haunts her deceiver until his end.  The hare would trip up and hold back the one who had betrayed her, causing him misery and stopping him from living a happy life.

It made me think a little of the things in life that can 'trip us up' and 'hold us back', and perhaps the white hare could also represent all those events and emotions we experience that haunt us day to day and perhaps stop us from moving on and letting go.  These could be anything from loss and grief through to simply the way some people have treated you.

There are definitely things that I know I have to learn to let go of in order to move forward and I need to perhaps follow the advice I often impart to other people!  I can hear myself saying now -

 "Flip things on their head. For every negative, turn it upside down and look for a positive to come out of it no matter how small" 

So, time to release my white hare and turn the negatives into positives; time to be a little braver and make sure the events and emotions of the past make me stronger instead of weaker.

So here is my white hare - a textile collage made up of snippets of vintage table cloths, fibres, chiffon and organza all stitched down onto a piece of beautifully worn quilt.

The original layout of snippets before being stitched down.

A close up to show some of the snippets I used to create the hare

I have more to add - I have one other piece of this quilt so I would like to make this into a bigger art quilt.  This will be a nice project to carry over into Autumn/Winter to do in the evenings.

I'm thinking of joining the vintage quilt pieces with some english paper piecing

In the interest of flipping things on their head, I still love the image of a white hare so will perhaps think of a different legend attached to this magical animal.

'Among the fisherfolk of the west, this ghostly visitor plays a more kindly part.  After sundown it will flit, eerie but harmless, among the up-drawn boats by the water's edge, or through the still byways of the port, a warning to all sailors of an approaching tempest and dangerous seas.'

There, that's better isn't it?  The white hare as a protector rather than a tormentor...I'll go with that!

Collage samples...

I've completed a couple of sample textile collage wall hangings with that continuing thought of holding a Crafternoon later in the year to raise funds for MIND.  I think, keeping them simple like this, that it would be possible to pretty much make one in an afternoon.

Embracing the wonky and naive in these simple fabric collages

A couple of samples - fun and simple to do

What's next...?

Spurred on by getting inspiration from my 'sketchbooks', I also came across the following:

I was quite drawn to the shape of the holed stone at Men-an-Tol, and I'd already created a felted and stitched piece of the whole arrangement of stones.

Felted and stitched - Men an Tol standing stones

 I've been reading a number of books lately which encourage you to take a shape, texture, pattern etc and isolate it and explore it in a more abstract manner.  I find this idea quite appealing and would like to try this with just the shape of the holed stone.  It will be a challenge to be more abstract...

I have a few images to use as inspiration, and I'm going to try and get up there as well to get a proper feel of the stone.

So, I'll see where I go with that...but sketchbooks are great for recording ideas, and I must try and do it more often!

Allotment news...

There's a real change in the air isn't there?  Autumn is definitely gently nudging summer to one side.

Our runner bean plants are starting to look a little tired, and with shorter days and less sunlight, I think they are heading to their natural end - but we are still picking and eating them by the plateful!!

We've had a few apple windfalls, so crumbles have been on the menu (actually, I'm not sure when crumbles aren't on the menu!) - the rest will be picked off soon and put in the freezer, together with the blackberries we've foraged over the last few days.

We are still picking lots of salad, radish and beetroot and tucking into our crop of wonky carrots and red cabbage!

Well, I've probably rambled on for long enough - but if you would like to read the story I found about the white hare you'll find it below.

In the meantime, best wishes and thanks for reading

Tanya xx


For those of you that like a good tale, this is the story of the vengeance of the white hare...

There are many variations of the tale presented below and in this one the story tells how a rich landowner engaged a young man to manage a very large prominent farm he owned.  The young man came from a middle class family who were eager to improve their standing in the local community and they desperately wanted him to succeed so they could be seen to move up the social scale.

A splendid opportunity

The young man was a clever, handsome fellow and was delighted to take on such a splendid opportunity to show the world his worth and build a fine name and career for himself.  He moved into the farmhouse and went about his tasks in an highly efficient and businesslike manner.  The farm prospered and so did his standing with his employer and in the local community.   His family gained greater respect and status in the local social circles and all was well.

The milkmaid

Then one day his employer announced that he was employing a young peasant girl from a local family as the milkmaid to work in the dairy for him.  The girl, although from a poor peasant family, was very pretty with a most pleasing personality, but had received no education at all and was very naive and inexperienced in worldly matters.


The young man and the milkmaid were considerably attracted to each other, as young men and milkmaids often are, and a passionate romance followed.   The couple were not very discreet with their affair and it soon drew the attention of the young man's family who were terrified that it may come to the attention of his employer who was known to be very strict and unforgiving about such things.  But it did come to his attention and he sacked the milkmaid banishing her from the farm and gave the young man a stern warning.  However, the two lovers were still passionately in love and continued to see each other.  

The young man marries

When his family found this out thinking that the young man would put his prospects in jeopardy and also their standing in the community, they found a girl who they deemed a more suitable and a more  appropriate wife for him to lavish his attentions on and married him to her much to the despair and heartbreak of his former lover.

The milkmaid is executed

For the milkmaid things turned from bad to worse.  A short time after her former lover’s marriage she found she was carrying his child.  Although she tried her best to cover it up and often feigned sickness she could not fool the cunning folk of the village or avoid the wagging tongues of the maliciously minded.

Tragically, one morning a new born baby was found dead in a field.  The maliciously minded of the village immediately accused her of being the mother and branded her a murderess. She was arrested and put on trial for her life.  Her former lover was called as witness and confessed to being the father and largely through his evidence she was found guilty and sentenced to death and executed.

The white hare appears

Soon after her execution things began to go wrong for him.  The farm whiçh had once prospered under his management began to be plagued by problems and became unproductive.  Everywhere the young man went he found a white hare following him.  Sometimes it would flit under his feet trying to trip him up while at other times it appeared as a harbinger of doom bringing bad luck to any new endeavor he started on the farm. The prosperity of the farm began to suffer and the young man feared for his job.

Each time the phantom hare appeared bad luck ensued,  He tried to catch and kill it but it easily eluded him.  Even when he thought he had cornered it simply disappeared into thin air as his hands grasped at it only to reappear later to continue haunting him.

The young man is sacked

The business of the farm went from bad to worse and his employer did indeed sack him.  With no job and his reputation in ruins the young man decided to leave the locality and go off on his own where no one knew him.  He hoped that the white hare would not follow and that he could salvage his reputation and start afresh in some new enterprise or job.

He tried his hand at many new projects but each time he was on the brink of success the white hare would appear and bad luck would ruin his success.  Soon the ghostly hare began to follow him everywhere again getting under his feet trying to trip him up.  He moveď from town to town but people saw him tripping and staggering as he walked and thought him a drunkard.  Indeed he fell into the habit of using drink to drown his sorrows but the hare continued to haunt him everywhere he went.   He even took to riding a horse to escape the hare but it easily matched the pace of the horse and would run between its legs causing it to panic and race uncontrollably, sometime rearing and bucking in fright.

The vengeance of the white hare

One morning after a heavy snowfall his horse was found wandering along a lonely road.  Nearby the broken body of the young man was found his blood staining the snow scarlet.  Back down the road the hoof prints of a galloping horse could clearly be seen, but intertwined with them were those of a large hare.   When news of his death got back to his village the cunning folk nodded knowingly for they knew that the white hare must have its vengeance and the maliciously minded were please  because that is their way.