Sunday, March 9, 2014

Textured Felt Collars (Scarflettes)

I love the small sized felt neck scarves that I recently made in Melissa Arnold's class at The Tin Thimble in January.  In the class, they were called collars.  I've also heard them called scarflettes.  Several times a week, I wear various ones that I made in Melissa's class.  They are perfect for being in chilly buildings where I can't wear a coat, but still want my neck and shoulders warm. I think they'd work great in air-conditioning as well.  
         Next week (March 15, 16, 2014 - see my workshop section on this blog), I am teaching a textured scarf class for the Tacoma Weaver's Guild.  The class is called: TEXTURED SURFACES, RUFFLES, RIPPLES AND ROSES. OH MY!  I wanted to make new samples of scarves for this workshop since I had sold or given as gifts the ones I had already made. So I thought the smaller, collar size would be great since I do love this new size. Plus they would be faster to lay out since they are smaller and I could have more examples with many different textures in them.

         Here are a couple examples of the collars.  

Black and White View 1
View 1

Black and White View 2
view 2 

Purples View 1

View 1

 Purples View 2
View 2

Purples Back Detail
Back Detail

Purples Side Detail 
Side Detail

Purples in Process
In Process
These kinds of textures can be done from the back with the textures facing down, or from the front with the textures facing up.  The layout shows an example of working face down-we are looking at the back of the textures before the fiber and backing cloth are added.

Here is one of the sold scarves that I made with textures:
Pat Spark Textured Scarf

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Experiments With Textures in Mini-Compositions

I have finished the texture samples demonstrated by or suggested by Pam MacGregor during her Texture Techniques Book class at Opulent Fibers in Portland.  I still need to make covers for the books but I do like the format of the book she taught us to use.  That is why I took her workshop in the first place, and I am so happy that I did.

I also have started books of my own texture ideas.  So far I have one book's worth.  The three are shown below.  The one on the left contains the samples I developed and the two on the right are the samples influenced by Pam's class.

Here is one of my favorite samples of the ones I've figured out-sort of a 3-D bulls-eye.

I have started to put some of my experimental textures into small compositions with the idea that I will be making larger compositions.

Here is one I'm calling "Prairie".  I had made some telescoping pockets as I described in my last post and I had one left over that I hadn't attached to anything.  I kept looking at it and thinking that it looked like a sun, or the center of a wheel.  I had also been working with the texture I call "cracked mud".  The various types of grid lines I was using in my samples suggested the lines of a windmill of the type used by settlers on the prairies to bring water up from their wells.   I was thinking about the drought we are experiencing in Northern California and Southern Oregon and the cracked earth that happens during a drought.  So all of these thoughts came together for this piece.  BTW, I had no reason to make the top area black, it was just the fabric and fiber I had available to me at that moment.  Although I do like the dramatic affect.

"Prairie" by Pat Spark copyright 2014 

Detail of black area with felt half ball inclusions and scrunched up silk gauze to make a texture.

Detail of telescoping circle and black area.  There is an inclusion of a black felt ball (cut in half), partially hidden under a couple wool fiber layers in the lower left corner. 

 The second mini composition I did was based on experiments with various ways to make floral attachments, ruffles and scrunched surfaces.  A couple months ago, I orders some printed silk scarves on Ebay from India (pure silk long scarf stoles- wholesale lot silk scarves).  I was interested in seeing what weight of silk the scarves were since they didn't really say what mm (mommee) they were in the description.  ("Momme is defined as the weight in pounds of a 45 inches by 100 yard piece of silk." See this site: Know Your Mommee)  I like to felt with silk habatoi in the 3-5 mm range which is pretty light.  I will sometimes go as heavy as 8 mm. 

When the scarves came, they were very light weight and wonderful.  I'm super happy with their felting ability.  None of the color ran in the first scarf that I used, so hopefully that means all of the dyes are good.

I call this piece "Fall Garden", just because the browns and rusts look like a garden as it starts to get ready for the winter's sleep.  In this mini-composition, there are felt ruffles and silk pleats (made from the silk scarf).  I used prefelt circles and half felt ball inclusions, both under a piece of cotton gauze (cheese cloth) and under a fine layer of wool. The flower was made with the silk scarf.

"Fall Garden" by Pat Spark copyright 2014

Detail of wool ruffles, pre-felt circle and half ball inclusions, and scrunched silk scarf. 

Detail of silk scarf ruffles (pleats) and flower.  Also shows some pre-felt circle inclusions, under a piece of black cotton gauze (cheese cloth).

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Playing With Felt Pockets

Lately I seem to have been running into felting situations that involve using resists to make felt pockets.  I have done this in the past to put an actual pocket into the side of a purse for instance.  But you can also use the pocket to make a 3-dimensional shape on the surface of the felt.  The pocket doesn’t need to go in, it can protrude out. 

I can’t remember when I saw my first hat with interesting telescoping projections coming from it.  It was probably in the 80’s or early 90’s at one of the international felting conferences.  On a closer look, these telescoping projections were sometimes made as pockets placed into the side of the hat.  Other times they were made from large points on the top of the hat.  But in each case, the fabric used for the shaped projections wasn’t essential to the fit of the hat.  It was an auxiliary form.

When you have a pocket coming off a surface, you have a lot of extra felt fabric that you can manipulate so that you don’t distort the actual base felt.  You can scrunch it up; stitch it into interesting pleated shapes; or put marbles or rocks into the extra fabric and wrap rubber bands around them.  If this is done at prefelt stage, you can continue to full the felt and the shapes will probably felt together.  This is a type of resist fulling, with the wool retaining its convoluted shapes after the felting is complete and the item is dried. 

You can also do this shaping after the felt is totally completed.  If allowed to dry in the shape, the wool will stay that way until it is dampened and left to dry in another shape. 

When Julie Williams traveled around North America in 2006, she taught many people how to make lovely roses by twisting a square pocket that was protruding off the projects we were making.  I made a purse with roses on the front and back. 


Recently, I was in a workshop with Irit Dulman and in that workshop we also used decorative pockets to make interesting surface textures.  Here is my sample and a purse I made in that class.  


Just this last weekend, I took a workshop with Pam MacGregor.  In that workshop, she again showed us how a way to make pockets and manipulate the extra fabric into creating an interesting bas-relief surface.  I didn't have a chance to do this in class, so I started experimenting with it when I got home.  These folded forms were very reminiscent of the ones I remember seeing on the hats in the 80's and 90's. 

When I add pockets to a surface, I like to make the pockets separately and then attach them.  I don't have photos of the process I used with the first one I made. I'll try to explain it. It had a cone shaped resist.  I felted around the resist but left the bottom area unfelted - dry and fluffy.  I then slit a piece of prefelt and inserted the resist.  Here are some drawings to try and show it.

Cone Shape

 Felt Covered Template with Non-Felted Fluffy Fiber on Bottom

 I Inserted the Resist into the Hole that was Cut in the Prefelt Base. 
(With the Fluffy Fiber Extending Out on Both Sides of the Prefelt.)

Here is the resulting sample.  I was unhappy with the way the base felt was distorted.  Notice the curved outside edges. It took a lot of work to get it somewhat straightened out. I decided to try something else on the next one. 

Yana Volkova had done this tutorial on how to make a cute hat with a telescoping circle on the top of it.  In the tutorial, which has 4 parts, Ms. Volkova made the cone separately, like I do.  Then she laid the folded and shaped cone onto the hat in progress and felted it down.  So it was round when it was felted down and it didn't distort the base.  I decided to try this approach.
This is the felted cone with fluffy end.
 To make the telescoping effect, I folded the cone inside and crimped the fold with my fingers.
 Then I folded the cone the other direction.
 I folded it in again.
 I continued doing this, folding the cone in and out.
 This is what it looked like after the final folding. The fuzzy edges were ready to attach to the prefelt base.
 Here is the folded cone, laid on the prefelt.  The fuzzy edges of the cone were covered with some more fiber to help them hold down.
Because the cone shape was laid over the flat base, it was difficult to felt its back side.  So I cut down into base and revealed the back side of the cone.  Then I could do some more felting and shaping easily. The whole thing came out pretty well.  Not as much distortion as when the cone was placed into the slit.
  Here is the folded, telescoping cone after felting. In the photo, I was shaping with the edge of a wooden butter knife. 

 I was quite happy with how this version of the cone came out. I will definitely try this again in the future.    Especially since bas-relief sculptural pockets seem to be a recurring technique in my life.