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 🤪! 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