Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Testing the Limits of Fibres

I was tidying away some felt recently and remembered that I'd planned to make some felt pieces like the textured nuno pieces I made, but with different fibres instead of fabric. I've tried 'piling on' embellishment fibres in the hope of getting a fluffy effect or loosely attached/3D look a few times, but apart from a really slippy/slinky feeling acrylic fibre, and some weird fibre/wool combos (Suffolk wool and banana fibre springs to mind) they've all just stayed put and attached well. Since I mostly use Merino for 'everyday' pieces, I wanted to see how a couple of layers of different fibres attached, and also what effect I'd get from some hard fulling.

I laid out a couple of pieces the same way, but different sizes. I laid out two layers of dyed viscose fibre, then 4 fine layers of 23 mic Merino. I felted and fulled the first piece, then got my bead board out to full it more. I fulled until it was quite firm, but not stiff/rigid:



I got the texture I expected:


I didn't expect so much migration, probably because the soft/fine pieces I've fulled really hard with fibres before were using white 18.5mic Merino, and I used less fibre, I thought it'd be less obvious this time:


I changed my plans when I got to the felted stage of the first piece, it looked and felt so nice. So, I decided I would just felt the next piece 'normally'. Even if I hadn't already decided that, I don't think I could have 'ruined' this piece by fulling it lots:


The colours and the sheen are just gorgeous, so is the softness and drap, even though it's only a small sample:


Those ridges/crinkles are because I squeezed it in a towel, then hung on the line to dry! If you look at the blue parts you might see a crease along the edge too, it's such a light piece, the pegs weighed it down and bent it. Here's a close up:


You can see the differences in sheen and texture when the pieces are next to each other:


This is the soft piece on the template I used, it started out just a bit bigger than the small box it's on top of:


And the small piece started out the size of the largest outline on the template:


And yep, those are the same template!

I made a few more fibre samples. I thought I'd use the same template for all of them to do comparisons. In the end, I only did a 'normal' sample and a 'fulled hard' sample of Trilobal Nylon for a direct comparison. Though thinking about it, for a 'proper' comparison, I should really have used the same colours! Each sample has two layers of the fibre, and 4 thin layers of 23 mic Merino. This is the Trilobal Nylon sample which I felted and fulled in the way I usually do:


Here's a close up of the ripples/texture:


This is the Trilobal nylon sample I made and fulled hard:


The texture was interesting, especially where I used different colours for each fibre layer:


This next one is Soy top which I dyed, the tops all look nice, shiny, metallic shades, but for some reason, they now look a bit like wet tissue. Maybe two layers dulls the sheen?


The silver end looked quite nice:


My favourite piece out of these was the Nylon Staple sample. It had a really nice, thick texture:


You can see it a bit more on an angle:


At first I was a bit disappointed with all the migration, because it covered some areas:


But, then I noticed there was something quite regular, almost geometric about the migration:


It can always be disguised by using a matching colour, or made a feature of by using a complementary colour. Here is a photo of the nylon and soy pieces next to each other:


And, for reference, the bigger Trilobal Nylon sample on the template I used:


So, you can see, you don't need to cautiously anchor down a few strands of fibre with wisps of wool! I used quite a lot of fibre on each sample. The nylon staple is one which intrigues me the most because I love texture and it has me thinking of ways to use it, but the Viscose top is gorgeous, so vibrant and shiny!

If you're curious about using embellishment fibres in wet felting, but don't know where to start, have a look at the info page for my e-book, The Right Fibre: https://feltbyzed.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-right-fibre.html

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Surface Design Elements

We've been playing around with surface design elements and techniques recently at the well-being centre, things for adding texture and depth to felted landscape pictures. We're working up to doing some detailed pieces which we'll add hand stitching and free motion embroidery to. We started off doing really simple landscape pictures, using nothing much more than textured wool rovings and a few embellishments:


Hollow tubes of wool, which I can't help calling 'wool kebabs', because they're made by wrapping wool wisps around a bamboo kebab skewer, have lots of potential for creating texture and interest not just for felted landscapes, but on any felt piece. These are a collection I have from using the skewer to clean by hand carders:


I made some felt samples to show the tubes being used simply, so they can inspire ideas rather than influence how they're used. I made lots of different black/white/grey tubes/kebabs. For this first sample I used black Merino and a blend I got from a Botany Lap waste bag. The shiny fibre looks like bamboo or viscose. I just used 5 pieces on this:


For this next sample, I covered the whole piece with the wool tubes, these were mostly quite 'hairy' rather than smooth because I used some coarser blends. The neat rectangle really changed shape with the areas of different shrinkage according to how thick/thin it was in places:


I think the blend I used for these had a few brownish shades of wool in. These were quite texturey too. I don't know which wool I used for a base. I think that was from a Botany Lap bag too. I think this is my favourite:


I bought some stripey wool from wollknoll a couple of years ago, and thought this would make some nice wool kebabs. I used them on Black Merino, and they turned out really nice too:


I took a pile of the wool tubes to the well-being centre for a play around and thought I'd see how laying them in 2 different directions worked out. I put the middle lot of tubes on first, then the diagonal ones at the top, then filled in the gaps at the sides with a couple more on each end. We were talking about the bag of dyed embellishments I'd taken in and I pulled out some cotton and fluffed it up, and noticing some gaps on my layout, thought I'd add it to show how it felted. It looks like a kind of futuristic landscape, in a non gloomy or dystopian kind of way:


I thought I'd try making a felt piece with the tubes kind of crammed on, instead of laying them out neatly next to each other, because they tend to move a bit and leave gaps. I didn't over do it, just added two or 3 more than if I'd positioned them. I also wanted to see what the tubes looked like if they were stretched, so I pulled some from each end until they were the right size to fit accross the layout:


One surface design technique I've always liked to play around with is wool twists, so simple, but so versatile and effective. I used quite a lot of the tops from my weird grey/black and white botany lap waste bag for the twists used on this first one, plus a few blends of my own:


I like how it looks on an angle:


I thought it'd be nice to show twists used simply because not everyone wants to make something which looks 'real', I cut the twists in half, and then made some little woolly balls to go in the gaps:


It has a kind of swaying seaweedy feel to it:


I think the wool twists are self explanatory, but I thought I'd make a short video showing how to use the kebab skewer to custom make the wool tubes, and at the end is using the skewer to get the trapped fibres out of hand carders which is where the idea originally came from:





Wednesday, 2 August 2017

Project Updates

I promised photos of the blue/green bag I was in the process of making, though it really doesn't look too much different to the separate panels :) This is the front, or more blue side:


This is the more green side:


 I also made a smaller bag with some of the green pieces. Side 1:


 Side 2:


I've only got as far as making the last of my nuno strip pieces into panels for a bag. It was this yellow piece:


I used various types of fabric–cotton, viscose, silk, suspected silk, so got various textures:


I liked these two strips next to each other, they showed the very different way felting/shrinkage affected them:


I used some of the spare offcuts from the orange piece to make up the panels:


 I showed some half finished purses not so long ago. I finally finished all the blanket stitching and buttons/buttonholes:


I also had some others I was at various stages with, and finished those too:

It's nice to have a growing pile of finished projects instead of a growing pile of felt pieces waiting for the inspiration (and energy!) to make them in to something!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Blues and Greens

These are the blue and green nuno pieces I made using fabric strips a few weeks ago. I tried to include a wide range of colours as well as various fabrics. This one was a mix of blue, purple, green and turquoise:


The two viscose pieces either side of this silk chiffon have great ripples, the chiffon just sunk in. It's one of my favourite fabrics, from a dress I got at a charity shop and didn't realise was silk until I used it and saw how it sunk in, and went back to search for the label.


I've noticed that some fabrics attach better if they are in the middle or aren't too close to the edge. I'll try a sample with just this thick blue scarf piece at the end, and see if it attaches better not so close to the edge.


All the fabrics I used on this piece were silk or strongly suspected of being silk:


It looks much better close up, and on an angle – the lighter pieces seem to reflect light a lot:


You can see the textures better too:


I think I made the strips a bit too long on the green piece, a few of these didn't attach well along the edge, even though the rest of the pieces did. I usually try to make sure I work on edges, so I don't know why it happens sometimes:


Slightly closer:


I did think I'd probably make one mostly blue bag and one mostly green, but once the strips were cut up and moved around to see which others they looked best with, it didn't work out  like that! Also, being conscious of how bags wear more on the back, picking pieces to work best there also influenced the final outcome. These are the two panels I made for my next bag:


I have to remember to take photos of it sewn up for next time!