Monday 24 August 2020

Surface Texture Explorations


How are you doing?  I can hardly believe we're marching towards the end of August...and the end of summer!

If you follow me on social media, you will see that I've been finishing off some pieces and getting them framed so that they can go out into the world.  Framing always takes more time than I bargain for, but it's worth it as often a piece can be transformed just with a well placed mount and a nice frame.

Always learning...

Although I don't have many 'new' things to share, I have been spending more time in an exploratory way...trying new things within felting (new for me anyway!).  I've also been reading a lot of 'art' books to try to help me with use of colour, line and composition - sometimes great things happen intuitively, but other times I really need some starting points to get me going.  The book I seem to be referring to most is the’s not too big or overly wordy, has lots of pictures and is laid out well and personally I’m finding it really useful.  Have you got any favourites to share?

I can be guilty of throwing too much of everything into a picture, so I need to exercise a little more self control, no matter how seductive all those textures and colours might be!

I guess not having what might be described as an educated art background, I do sometimes need to be reminded of basics - other than that I've always felt that rules are there to be bent a bit in exploration and learning.  

Felt exploration...

I've been having a good rummage in my stash and trying different materials within felting to see what works well and what effects they might give...I absolutely love surface textures, so it's a great exercise to have a record of what can be achieved before diving straight into a main piece of work.

I even dug out my embellishing machine, which I hardly ever use. It was one of those purchases that I researched at the time and thought I would utilise a lot, but as it turns out it has been collecting dust on the shelf. I always seem to favour working by hand rather than machine, however it was time to remind myself of some of the effects that can be achieved so I dusted her off, switched her on and revved her up! 

In short, my embellisher needle felts with 5 needles, so mashes away at layers of fabric, wool...or whatever you dare embed the fibres and create a ‘new’ piece of material.  There are a number of models on the market...mine’s  a Janome and if it’s something you are interested in finding out about, there are lots of tutorials on YouTube.  It will do the job quickly, thoroughly..and noisily (I’m in an upstairs room and it seems to reverberate through the house, ha)!  However I don’t have as much as control as I do when needle felting by hand.

After doing a few samples using fabrics that wouldn’t easily be usable in wet felting, I quite liked the backside of the fabric where the little loops and subtle shading are a few photos of the just some of the results of using the embellisher and wet felting.

The scraps of fabric were laid on top of some white prefelt and then put under the embellisher, which basically ravages the surface slightly but meshes the two layers together.  You can needle just from one side, or from both...different effects are achieved each way.  I like the little loops that appear...I can see how this could be effective in a landscape picture.  The top picture is a shot silk, and you can see how the different colours are revealed.

The top blue picture was wet felted first...I attached it to the prefelt with wool stitches and then felted it which worked quite well - a way of incorporating ‘tricky’ fabrics within wet felting - the wool stitches felted in and gathered the fabric.

Different effects viewed from the top and bottom.

The top blue fabric wet felted in quite well, but I then partly put it through the embellisher as well once dry...I like the subtle blue shades that appear underneath. The pink yarn wet felted in just fine as it was...the mohair type fibres were good for felting.

I also tried wet felting with different sorts of paper...paper and water and agitation don’t really go together, but there was some success depending on the paper type and this opened up the possibility of printing/writing/painting on top...hmm, imagine the possibilities!  More trials needed to perfect that one though...and a fair amount of patience!

I’ll keep these little samples to refer of those might be just the effect I’m looking for in a future picture.

What’s next...

So that’s some of what I’ve been up to...moving on to a new piece I’m always inspired by the beautiful flowers I’ve been bringing in to the house from our garden to enjoy, particularly the hydrangeas. I’m using this photo as a starting point and will aim to use some good composition and colour mixing without getting too carried away...fingers crossed!

If I’m feeling a bit down, these blooms always bring some fact just being out in the garden has proved a great antidote to what’s going on in the world. What have you found to bring you some calm amongst the chaos?

I’ll see you in September...hopefully with a new finished piece to share!

Take care and best wishes 

Tanya xx