Tuesday, 29 October 2013

The Big Knit

Unfortunately I only found out about this today and the deadline for submitting the mini hats is Oct 31st! So I have been furiously crocheting since I got home this evening and have managed to produce 2 little hats.

What's the Big Knit all about? Innocent (the smoothie people) will pay 25p to Age UK for every cute little hat sold on their bottles of smoothie. The principle behind the idea is that hundreds of our elderly die needlessly from hypothermia every winter and a wooly hat is one way to keep warm. Obviously these little hats are just a symbol (too small to fit on a human head) but the funds raised will be used to buy equipment such as hot water bottles and human-sized hats for our older folk to use. If you are interested here is more info here with patterns and an address where to send the completed hats to.

Here are my 2 offerings, a little owl and a turtle:

I have stitched a Teri Berry Creations care label inside each hat in the hope that whoever buys them finds this blog. If it was you, please leave a comment I would love to find out where my little critters have found a new home. :o)

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Painting With Fibre Workshop

In the first week of October I spent a wonderful week in the the southern end of the Lake District with Kate and June. It was so lovely just to spend a whole week dedicated to making felt and the creative processes behind it. I didn't have any fixed ideas about what I wanted to achieve during the week but I knew I wanted to explore adding more texture to my work, so far I have been adding layers of prefelt and using yarns and silk fabrics to create surface texture but still felt most of my wall hangings were distinctly two-dimensional. I have great admiration for painters and illustrators but I have always been drawn to three-dimensional arts, initially paper crafts, then ceramics and more recently willow sculpture. I think it is a combination of the tactile nature of these crafts and the challenge of thinking from multiple angles and view points that attracts me.

Kate provided a beautiful flower arrangement for us to work from, I was immediately drawn to the spiky blue sea hollies. Even now I am uncertain of the Gerbera, although it does help to balance the final composition.

We spent a few hours carding merino top to blend the colours that we could see in the flower arrangement and an afternoon sketching with paints and pencils, thinking about colours and composition. As you can see it has been a few years since I last tried to paint / draw. I think I should stick to textiles and sculpture!

We took photos as the pieces were developing. Here I was rearranging pieces of prefelt to find a pleasing combination for the background. At this stage I was far from convinced that I would like the finished piece.

This is what my piece looked like at the end of the week, just needs a few final tweaks...

I have since added some pink wire to support the Gerbera petals and some needle felting and now just need to figure out how to hang / mount it. I am thinking of using an artist's canvas but should it be larger or smaller than the felt? I like the idea of the piece appearing to float away from the wall.

I love the way the finished piece looks so different as you move around the room, unlike a conventional painting, the shapes and colours change as you view it from different angles.

Kate also introduced us to the clover needle felting tool, I had seen these before but couldn't see any advantage over the wooden needle handle I already had. Then I tried it, and my needle-felting world changed forever! It is amazing, I can't explain how, but it makes needle felting larger areas a breeze, somehow the sprung needle-guard makes you bounce up and down vertically on the felt. It is now my favourite felting tool! If you are thinking of venturing into needle-felting I highly recommend it.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Fast Flowing Water - Felt Art

This is another piece I have been working on for a few weeks, it was inspired by the fast flowing water bubbling and rolling over rocks in a stream I came across during a recent trip to the Lake District. I wanted to capture the sense of excited movement and silvery bubbles as they jumbled and tussled over the rocks.

This piece was constructed using a modified version of a technique on her Majesty Margo's blog. She uses an embellisher to attach silks to the water soluble fabric (WSF) and removes the WSF before felting. I use a similar technique but use a sewing machine to join a wider variety of fabrics (cottons and synthetics as well as silks) and I leave the WSF in place while wet felting it onto a batt of wool roving (the WSF gets washed away during the felting process).

This is image shows some of the lovely textures, the fabrics are crinkled as a result of the wool shrinking behind them. The raised "blobs" are felt balls that have been squashed and rolled to create more pebble-like shapes.

It is still a work in progress but I think it will just be embroidery with lovely shiny and metallic threads to represent the silvery bubbles from here.

Stags Rutting at Sunset

I always have several pieces of work on the go at any one time, I find the creative process works best when I can flit between what inspires me most at any one moment. If something isn't developing the way I had envisioned, I can put it down and work on something else instead. Coming back to it with "fresh eyes" a few days later usually reveals a solution. Here is a piece that I started nearly 4 months ago. It is an amalgamation of two photos, I loved the combination of the romance of the subject combined with the drama of the sunset.

This piece has been wet felted using the inlay technique (cutting shapes from pre-felt) for the stag silhouettes. As you can see I used Moy Mackay's technique of laying the coloured wool roving over a white batt and as is often the case, the white fibres have migrated through to the front during felting process, reducing the intensity of the colours and detracting from the drama of the piece.

All is not lost, I plan to do some needle felting to sharpen up the silhouettes of the stags and correct the colours in the sunset.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Felt Ropes and Balls

I think I mentioned that I started a City and Guilds course in Feltmaking in August this year. It's a distance learning course with ArtyBird, a textile school in Lancashire and so far it has been interesting, it has challenged me to work in ways that I probably would never have considered on my own, especially the design elements.

Part of this month's assignment is to create ropes and balls, with a leaning towards making felt jewellery. So far I have created a necklace and cuff that I am proud of and a bracelet that I'm still feeling indifferent toward and a second necklace that was nothing short of a disaster. Here are the pieces I like and would be prepared to wear myself:

I still want to add some stitching (staggered blanket stitch) to the border of the cuff.

This is the bracelet I neither like or dislike:

And this is the disaster. It started out looking very promising with different coloured rope cores encased within a dark brown shell - it started life as a thick rope that was cut into discs and sewn together in a string. This is it before it became a mushy mess, all the colours are still clear and the discs haven't turned into amorphous blobs yet:

I tried all sorts to get the discs to harden. Wet felting for over an hour, on and in the roller blind, rubbing on bubble wrap and the blind, felter's rolling pin and finally the tumble drier. All that has happened is the colours have all blended together to shades of a dark brown, the discs have lost their shape and they still feel mushy!!

Not exactly jewellery (yet) but this is a multicoloured felt ball, perhaps with some beads and stitching it could make a nice pendant?

New Beginnings or mid-life crisis?


I am hoping this blog will mark a new direction in my life. I am currently a project manager for a pharmaceutical company but have always loved crafts and making things, even in primary school the only lesson I looked forward to was Art.

I did embark on a BTEC in Art and Design when I was 16 but, as with most people, my family weren't that supportive. However, they did tolerate my decision but were no doubt relieved when, at the end of my first year one of my tutors suggested I gave it up and trained as a veterinary nurse instead (pets and medicine being the other passions in my life).

I have taken a very circuitous route to get to this point. It all started with taking a year out to go back-packing, that led to my being turned down for permanent residency in Australia (I did not hold a degree), which in turn led to me studying for a BSc in Microbiology. I was offered a PhD in vaccine research which was too good to turn down and by the time I had completed that, at the grand old age of 31, I was now too old for Aussie immigration!  I have spent the last 9 years working in clinical research and while I love the feeling that what I do has the potential to ease suffering and improve the quality of life for millions of people my creative side doesn't feel at all fulfilled.

Does anyone else feel like this? I know I should be deliriously happy just to have a job in the current economic climate, let alone one that pays well and is able to produce the warm, fuzzy feeling of knowing you are doing something to help others. But I can't help feeling there is something missing.

I reached a significant birthday this year, perhaps this is all just a mid-life crisis?

If money were no object I think I would give up the day job and spend my days crafting and giving away what I had made. Unfortunately I have not won the lottery (I don't even play it), and I haven't inherited millions so I need a plan B. My dream is to work in pharmaceuticals part time (3 days per week) and spend 3 days per week making and selling what I have created.

What would you do if money were no object?

I plan to use this blog to document my journey as a designer-maker. Wish me luck....