Playing with Nuno Felting

blueberry swirlEvery year there is a juried art show called Art In The County that is open to all artists living in Prince Edward County. I have entered a fibre art piece each year for, I think, 5 or 6 years now.

This is the piece I entered for the 2016 Art In The County and it actually won an Honourary Mention Award! This came as a complete surprise since usually the judges are painter, photographers, sculpters, graphic designer. They don’t usually have a whole lot of exposure to the Fibre Arts so to be recognized as my piece being a quality piece of art was wonderful!

Fibre Arts are sometimes a bit frowned on by people that admire high end art work. Fibre Arts are many times considered a craft and not an art form. This designation I have been working on breaking through for a decade now. I’m a knitter and a felter and so far the felting pieces get much more respect than the knitting, though in reality the knitting is way more complicated in many cases!

One of juror’s comments that was posted on the wall beside my piece was this:

“The technical ability of this work is remarkable. Silk and felt blend together in areas that are mesmerizing.” 

I have to say this made me feel really good that someone figured out how tricky it was to lay the wool the way I did and keep it from wiggling around while I felted it all!

Also I did sell the shawl at the show as well so I did an extra happy dance when that phone call came in!

IMG_8396 (200x300)IMG_8397 (200x300)I did have a free form knit & crochet shawl that was accepted in 2013 to Art In The County. This was a surprise to me since I thought for sure that one would be not accepted into a gallery of high end art. I always put my pieces on a lovely mannequin and let’s face it display can make a big difference in whether a piece looks high end or not. This shawl I got obsessed with finishing and since it is completely free form it was so hard to know when it was done! I was up until 3 am the night before the piece was to be taken in to be juried!

I did sell this piece to a lovely lady that looked spectacular in it and hopefully she still loves it as much today as when she walked out of the shop with it!

The Blueberry Swirl shawl shown above I tried something I have wanted to do for a while. I love swirls and curls and use them constantly in my art work and I wanted to do swirls on the edge but allowing the curls to have open areas around them. The tricky part was keeping the areas open that I wanted to stay open and not letting them get too big so that the shawl would not drape properly.

Felting is obviously a technique that shrinks wool and when you have a hole or opening as the wool shrinks it pulls away from the hole which then becomes larger. The other issue that occurs is all the tiny hairs from the wool that still sneak over top of the hole opening. Each hole has to be worked individually with fingers and your thumb rubbing around each holes edge to push all those fibres out of the way and clear and shape the hole properly.

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Each colour of wool was laid down individually and most of the openings between the colours I had to keep working separately to them open.

I want to keep working at creating negative space or openings around the wool. I have a couple of other ideas to help make this work closer to what I have rolling around in my brain.

Never a dull moment in working with wool!

Pam De Groot’s Felting Workshops

Well our week with Pam De Groot certainly flew by!

We had full classes of enthusiastic women that got to play with colour and fibre and what could make you happier than that!!

dying techniques The first day we made pre-felt using natural white merino and silk. The next day we got to play with all the different ways we could come up with to do resist dying on the fabric.

It was fascinating watching how the colours would change, blend and bleed to different colours from the points were there was pressure clamped onto the fabric.

We had all raided the hardware stores for everything from pvc pipes, clamps, screws and scraps of wood to create our designs. Even a few wine bottles were put to good use.

The results were varied and even the colours were different from fabric to rich coloursfabric. It depended on how long they stayed in the pot to how much dye had been already absorbed by the first fabric pieces to go into the pot. There was no disappointment just lots of ooohs and aaahs as we opened up and laid out the fabric to dry.

We all kept an eye on each other’s discoveries and borrowed ideas and dye pots to try to get similar colours that we liked. Each piece of fabric was like a snowflake and very unique.

The next part of the creation of our garments was the hard part. Now began the planning of where each piece would lay in the design of the tunic. It was like more planningcreating a large puzzle of colours and shapes but without a wasting a scrap!

Cutting into the beautiful fabric was a bit scary since once you cut you were offically commited to what you were doing. At least when it comes to felting you can save every scrap to be used another time in another garment.

There was also a bit of bartering going on between some of the ladies. A few bits of fabric that didn’t work for one person but worked for someone else were happily exchanged.

Most of the ladies didn’t finish fully felting their tunics but we did get a few photos and I’ll add more as I get photos sent to me.

Esther tunic dress Esther tunic back dress back Leah tunic's beginning