Son no. 2 kept asking me to make a penguin friend for his robin. Here he is,
not very sophisticated compared with the many amazingly detailed needle-felted sculptures out there, but he is very pleased with himself as he can stand up properly, because he has feet. The robin has no feet and falls over a lot, on his beak. In fact my son made one of the penguin's feet almost all by himself without stabbing his fingers once!
Son no. 1, who is 14, has started going to an art class this term, sometimes he comes back a little frustrated that he hasn't been able to quite achieve on paper what has been in his head (a feeling shared I'm sure by many of us) but last week he came home quite pleased with this really nice pastel:
- ideal I thought for turning into Christmas cards for relatives and friends. I went and got matching pearlised card and have been spray-mounting this morning, I think they've come out really well.
When I first started felt-making a few years ago I dreamed of one day having a beautiful selection of colours in my cupboard to compare, contrast and generally lose myself in. With my latest sack-load:
from Wingham Wool Work I think I'm well on my way. I'm sure most of you felt-makers out their have already discovered them but if not check them out - they have a vast range of beautiful merino tops in 125 colours and many, many other lovely fibres - the list is almost endless. From what I can read they are an ethical company too who only have wool fleece from sheep that have not undergone the very unpleasant practice of mulesing, something I was completely unaware of until very recently. So I have plenty of supplies to keep me busy with new designs for quite a while, although always after placing on order I immediately think of yet another colour that I want!
It's been a frantically busy week getting ready for a stall at my own church yesterday. It was very quiet in the town so we didn't have many people but due to the support of a few loyal friends who bought most of their Christmas presents from me I did well.
I'm still relatively new to craft stalls, and am still investigating how best to display things on what is always a smaller table than I think it will be in my mind! At the last one I went to I learned that displaying things properly makes all the difference - people need to be able to see your range of things clearly and also to be able to pick things up and have a look without being scared that everything else will fall over! I'd just spread everything out as best as I could last time but had run out of room and was unhappy that things were squashed and propped up against each other - if I'd been a customer I'd have been put off browsing. Perhaps in this case it would have been better to put out less, except you always want to show everything you have.
So this time I'd been up in our loft searching for an old towel rail I remembered having about 20 years ago - it ended up being perfect for displaying some of the bags, I tied some on with raffia and propped others up on the rails - it gave some height at the back of the table and yet I could still see through it and easily talk to people. All I need now is another one exactly the same (may take some searching around as they're now described as 'vintage' as they're not a modern style, and are therefore very expensive!) You can only see just the leg of it in the photo as I was in such a rush I only just snapped one picture.
Also in the photo you can see some pincushions -
I made them on Tuesday but after wet felting them they came out so dense I thought they were never going to dry in time - so I resorted to putting them on a baking tray with the door slightly open,
luckily we have an exceedingly gentle oven and I just left them for a few hours - it still took ages to get them thoroughly dry!
As you may see from my earlier post today, I've gone a bit mad about polka dots recently - I'm even dreaming about them, what this reveals about me I'm not quite sure! I started by doing the lavender bags, then I did a polka dot tea cosy for the Wandsworth Artists Open House and I liked it so much I did a couple more. Late yesterday afternoon I was seized by an irrational desire to make a red one, and planned to finish it well before dinner.
Plans like this, as most of us know, rarely work out, and so it was I ended up all alone downstairs cutting out cream polka dots after everyone else had gone to bed (even the cat!). As it's really important to keep the shape of the tea cosy rounded I felted it carefully and slowly, so by the time it was finished when this picture was taken it was just after midnight, but I quite enjoyed the calm after the rushing about of the day, it seems to get stiller very late at night.
I had to go out to the dentist yesterday, but that meant I was in Leicester near big shops with a few hours to spare afterwards. It was very, very windy so most of the time was spent searching for the perfect hat. I don't suit hats, so this was a bit of a challenge, and I almost found my perfect one (one of those knitted ones with ear-flaps and pom-poms on cords) but not quite in the right colour. So I ended up with a nice soft purple one instead. On my travels I paused to pick up some large leaves because of their lovely shape - I'm always interested in using the shapes of leaves in my felt, although any detail does get a bit lost with wet-felting, still, it's always worth a try. I'm not sure whether I got stranger looks while I was picking them up, or while I was wandering around the trendy shops afterwards with them poking out of the top of my bag. Anyway, in John Lewis (a trip to which was my reward to myself for the dentist, although my dentist is very nice and never hurts me) I found this cheerful and affordable tray, with its lovely polka dots to brighten up my kitchen. And I found it went with my hat and leaves too, not that it ever has to go anywhere again with my leaves and hat.
I wanted it to put all my finishing-off things on, so I could carry it round the house to various rooms where I might find peace and quiet and the opportunity to do some beading and/or sewing, and as you see have quickly started filling it with stuff.
This is my latest present to myself. He is from my friend Charlotte's new range, I went to see her at her gallery yesterday and I had to have him and bring him home with me to sit on my kitchen windowsill! His similar friends haven't quite made it yet into the online shop, but I'm sure in time they will. I've really become drawn to little birds recently and am on the look-out for lovely unusual birdy things, so he was perfect.
It's been a very busy week, I've had to make felt in the evenings when the light has been so bad it was impossible to get any decent pictures. Also my trusty camera has been exhausted by me constantly taking photos of things, and will no longer reliably focus. I'm just investigating which camera to get next, hopefully one which can take better close-ups of the felt - it seems remarkably hard to show what the colour and texture is really like, I'm always disappointed by the shots I get compared to how vibrant and rich the pieces are in real life.
But I have had a small production line of lavender bags going, all cut out now but still a few to assemble and stitch:
- each day I plan to finish them all in the evenings while having a nice cup of tea, but my peaceful evening hasn't arrived yet.....
I really don't like losing the daylight earlier and earlier, but it's good to make the most of the different characters of each season, and when it goes dark I just put these fairy lights on in the hall. They are entwined in the twigs all year round, not just for Christmas, and just cheer the place up no end.
The quilt on the far wall was made for me by my mother in law, to go with the stained glass in the door and windows, which of course you can only see in the daylight:
I found this wooden toggle in the wonderful haberdashery section of my local John Lewis a few weeks ago, and it inspired me to try and design a bag to incorporate it. This is what I finished up with, the leaves were cut out of some pre-felt I had lying around, with some added wisps of colour. It ended up slightly shorter and wider than I thought it would, but that's part of the appeal of feltmaking, I'm never quite sure exactly how new things will turn out, it's as if the felt wants to be a certain way sometimes!
I'm taking a short break from work to show you how caring son number two is. He's currently eleven and in school cookery lessons had to make biscuits for somebody and put them in a box. His guitar teacher recently hurt his hand quite badly and hasn't been able to play or teach for quite a while, so this is the gift that my son made for him, all by himself - what a lot of effort went into drawing the guitar and notes, all round the sides too! I was really proud of how much trouble he'd taken.
I loved making and beading these felt vessels and made several for the Wandsworth Artists' Open House last month.
Feedback was that people liked them, but wanted to find a use for them rather than just having them to look at and hold! I thought they might be a good way to display dried flowers so I gathered some seed heads from the garden and spent a little while spraying them with gold and silver paint, so that they would look more Christmassy.
(May have sprayed part of the kitchen floor a bit silver too, must scrub it tomorrow.) So I hope that if I show them like this at the craft fairs coming up it will give people at least one idea of what to do with them!
With all the felt-making this last week Newton feels that he's been somewhat neglected and has taken to sitting forlornly infront of the cupboard where his food lives, looking as sad as possible.
Just as I sat down ready to bead my little pots, he decided that this was the time to attract attention by coming to sit on my lap. It's not that easy to bead whilst leaning over a furry cat's body. He also helpfully tried to catch any escaping beads by madly waving his front paws around as they bounced across the table, although his bottom half stayed firmly put.
I've been addicted to felt-making now for a number of years, with new ideas constantly in my head waiting to be made! I love combining colours in my designs and am always inspired by the changing seasons and by the sea. Recently I have had to take on clearing out my mum's house after 40 years of hoarding, so life is very busy. I live with my husband, two teenage sons and our two new rescue cats Monty and Leo, who are in the process of happily destroying our furniture.