Saturday, 28 June 2014

Sculpting with Wool from Different Breeds

During the workshop by Yvonne Habbe we almost exclusively used the wool batts that she provided, they were Swedish Fine Wool, not a breed / type of wool I had encountered before and it appears not one that is widely available either. It was lovely to work with but given it's apparent scarcity I have been experimenting with different breeds to find a suitable alternative for small sculptures. The list below is by no means exhaustive, it just represents what I had in my wool stash (even I was surprised by the range of what I found when I pulled all the bags out!).

As a point of interest all of the pieces below were made from the same resist, I think it shows how versatile this technique is, the only limit to the shapes that can be formed is my imagination....

Swedish Fine Wool
This was my control against which all the other breeds were compared.
It felted easily, making a firm felt with nice sharp folds.

Overall assessment - very good

This piece was dyed after sculpting.

Felted quickly and firmly holding 3D forms very well but not so easy to make sharp folds.

Overall assessment - moderate to good

This breed was a disaster. I was using raw fleece, it was incredibly difficult to lay out (I really should have scoured and carded it first) and I could not persuade it to felt. I gave up in the end. I think this wool will be nice blended with another breed but I don't hold out any hope for 3D felt sculptures.

Overall assessment - poor

Blue Faced Leicester (BFL)
Felted easily, holding 3D shapes well and formed reasonably sharp folds

Overall assessment - good to very good

Red dye was added to the finished piece

Felted easily and made a firm felt that held the 3D shapes well but did not form sharp folds (I may have laid it out too thickly).

Overall assessment - poor to moderate

This was a lovely wool to work with, it felted very easily and had a softness I would normally associate with fine merino. It holds 3D shapes reasonably well but is a bit too flexible / soft for structural pieces, it formed nice sharp folds though.

Overall assessment - Good for small pieces

Moderately easy to felt, folds well but not as sharply as BFL (possibly due to needing to full further to get it to hold a 3D shape).

Overall assessment - Moderate to good

Red and yellow dyes were used to add some colour and dark blue merino was needle felted from the centre to provide tonal balance

Gotland Lambswool
Little bit slow to felt, made a firm felt that held 3D forms very well and could make reasonably sharp folds. I think this wool could be used for larger structures.
These are the lovely locks before I carded them

Overall assessment - good to very good

Blue and red acid fast dyes were used to add some colour

Felted easily, made nice firm shapes and reasonably sharp folds.

Overall assessment - good to excellent for larger sculptures
Green and red details were needle felted onto the finished piece.

Felted well and formed tight folds but not as firm / structurally strong as some of the others. Fine for smaller pieces.

Overall assessment - moderate

South American
Slow to felt, holds 3D shapes well but difficult to make sharp folds.

Overall assessment - poor to moderate

This piece was dyed after sculpting

This wool has quite coarse fibres that were difficult to mould around the small resist, made a prefelt quite quickly but took a while to full. The finished felt is quite hairy and was difficult to form sharp folds

Overall assessment - poor

For small sculptures I think BFL is the winner with Gotland lambswool a close second. Finnish is my favourite for larger sculptures. I think special mention is due to Polwarth, this is the first time I have felted with this and it was lovely to work with, so soft and felted easily, it would be lovely for felt pieces worn next to the skin.

Obviously this is just how these wools behaved in my hands and everyone felts differently but I hope this will be a helpful reference for anyone thinking of embarking on a sculptural felt adventure :)

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Pink Pea Pod Bag

Here is another of the bags I have been working on recently. I'm really pleased with how this one turned out, so much so that I think I will make some more in different colour combinations and sizes.

It was made from a mixture of commercially dyed merino and hand-dying the finished bag.

There are 4 pockets inside.

 And another inside the flap

A close up of the "pea pods"

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Finished Pieces

I finally managed to finish a few more pieces this week, here are the results.

 Added some beads to this brooch

 This starfish brooch is rather large but very striking, I added some orange felt balls for contrast and stitched ridges along the top of each arm.

I think this piece looks a lot like seeds nestling in their husk

This is the first of 3 bags I have been working on over the last few weeks, this has been almost finished for at least 3 weeks but I finally found time this week to put a zip across the main compartment and add a little hand embroidery. I call it the "peekaboo" bag because you can see through it :)

Inside the bag, showing the 2 large internal pockets, there's also a couple of pen pockets but you can't see those as easily in this photo.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Sculptures to Dye For

I confess I have been a bit slack about posting lately. Sorry about that but I have been doing bits and pieces of felt making and dyeing. I dyed these pieces from my workshop with Yvonne Habbe a couple of weeks ago but have only just got around to taking photos of them. I think most of them turned out really well.

This one is about 4 inches long and I am tempted to stitch some beads into the cleft down the centre and turn it into a brooch.

This was my spherical pod from the first exercise on the workshop, I'm pleased with how the rainbow dyeing has turned out.

I love the colours and floral shape of this piece but it is too large to be a brooch - maybe a small bowl?

I have been making lots of these to test out how different wool breeds behave in these small sculptures. This one already has a brooch pin on the back.

This is another brooch, it wasn't intentional but after adding the dark beads it now reminds me of a pomegranate.

This sculpture (about 10 inches tall) reminds me of a tellytubby - again that wasn't my intention at all when I drew the template and started shaping the felt!

This piece still needs a bit of work, I think I will stitch down the curly tips to hold them in a tighter spiral and add a brooch pin to the back. It measures about 6 inches across.

OK - so the eagle-eyed amongst you have probably noticed this one and the next have not been dyed, instead they have been treated with a cellulose based stiffener.

Not sure if anyone else has tried making a hollow cube from felt? This has to be one of the most difficult things I have tried to do with felt, as you pull and stretch one side to straighten it you end up pulling another edge out of shape. I plan to add some stitching to this one, more on that next time.

And finally, a little tease, this is one of the bag designs I have been working on since Yvonne's workshop, it is actually a coin purse (or will be) that will have a matching handbag.

Have a great weekend!

Linking up to nina-marieoff the wall Friday