Tuesday, 9 December 2014

The Cat and the Comet Ta-Daa!

Ta-daa!
A beautiful summer meadow on a warm heady evening. The stars are twinkling and the grasses are dancing in the breeze but can you spot the cat and the comet?

 My brief was for vibrant flowers, sparkly stars, a comet and a cat partially hidden. 


As you can see the only place I could find that was light enough and large enough to photograph this 6 foot long wall hanging, was outside on the garden gate. 
 A close up of the cat, looking up at the comet.
 And starting at the left hand side...
 to the middle...
and finishing on the right.
 And now just some gratuitous texture shots!
 The whole piece is made from wet felted Merino wool and then embellished with free motion machine embroidery and finished with a little hand embroidery. 
Hopefully next time I might be able to show you it hanging in its new home!

Till then
Love Fi x

Sunday, 30 November 2014

The Beast!

 Hi folks! I thought I'd update you on the progress of my current piece of felt which we shall call 'The Beast' as its a bit of a whopper at 76 inches long! This was as far as I had got last time we met. This is all dry Merino wool fibres laid out on bubble wrap to make my background. 
 As is quite normal for me and sums up how disorganised I can be, I decided that before I went any further I needed to dye lots of wool and twiddly bits for 'The Beast'. 

  Now dying wool is not one of my favourite pass times but I've searched the interweb thingy and zilch! Nada! Nothing! Well not what I'm looking for anyway, so out comes the jam jars and pots, face mask and measuring jug. (OO! lovely finger nails there Fi! yuk.)
This nosey hen from the wrong side of the fence dashed over to see what the lovely green stuff was on the back porch. Maybe, cabbage or lettuce or some delectable snack! Nope, she soon changed her mind when she got a whiff of wet wool! Serves her right for getting into the garden. What you can't see are the other 8 hens behind the fence jostling to see what she's up to! 

  
 After a day of dying wool it was back to layering up my picture. I decided I aught to try and be a proper grown up artist and have some sort of plan or sketch to work from (I usually just fly by the seat of my pants and go for it, well thats what creativity is all about) Erm... not a very detailed plan I grant you. A bit at each end and the middle will take care of itself kinda plan. 
 Tum-te-tum...We're 3 days further on now. Yep there's been a lot of putting on and taking off. It's filling up nicely now, as is the kitchen. We all have to circumnavigate the two end-to-end tables every time we visit the pantry, taking care not to trip over boxes of fibre and bags of yarn. 
Here you can see how thick all the wool fibres are under the netting. The netting is placed on top of all the dry loose fibres to hold them all in place while I dowse it all in hot soapy water. 
 And here is an action shot of me dowsing! Had to get child number 1 to take a photo for me and what a lovely job he did of it...well he should really, he's 21!
 And again, click, click, a picture of me rolling the wet felt back and forth inside a bubble wrap and bamboo blind sandwich. It certainly took some rolling I can tell you. I was soooo heavy! A couple of hours later and...
Next was the bit that's alway a bit tricky... rinsing. Just getting such a huge piece of dripping wet wool across to the sink without soaking the floor and myself was no mean feat. It's always a bit worrying seeing the fibres submerged in water, there's always the chance that it hasn't been felted enough and everything will float apart! Then there is the challenge of trying to support the weight of it as you swap it over into the fresh water in the second sink several times. The felt is still quite fragile at this stage and will distort and stretch if not supported.
Are you bored yet?
Want to see some more?
Well I've got more photos so I'm going to press on.
 After 3 days drying flat on the kitchen table I can finally start the free motion machine embroidery. It's a bit of fight to keep it all on the table and I struggled to get it rolled up and under the sewing machine but my trusty quilting gloves helped. 
 They've got lovely rubbery grippy bits at the end of the fingers that help you to grip the fabric more efficiently and ease the strain on your shoulders from trying to move such a heavy weight of fabric around. In case anyone doesn't know, in free motion machine embroidery, it's you who moves the fabric about in all directions under the needle, not as in dress making when the machine chomps the fabric along under the foot for you. I'm sure I just made that as clear as mud.
 This section has been embroidered and feels wonderful. The embroidery kind of firms up the felt and gives it a texture like heavily embossed paper but warm and woolly. I wish you could feel it. 
Well I'm going to leave it there, as this is already quite a long post. Next time will be the big reveal. Literally the huuuge Ta-da moment, lol. 

One more thing... the best part of working from home is that you get to wear your slippers all day long, aaaah bliss!
Till next time
Fi x

Friday, 14 November 2014

Yarndale 2014, at last!


Hello all, yes I'm a wee bit late with this post I'm afraid. I seemed to have lost all my umph after Yarndale! I think I was just exhausted after a very busy 8 months or so.  It has been a whirlwind of craft/art fairs and making stock for the gallery. I seem to have been constantly chasing my tail, trying to keep all my balls in the air and all those plates spinning. I think that's enough euphemisms for one post, lol. 
But don't worry, I'm I'm back on form again now! 
Goodness! Even in the photo above I look tired and worn out. If you hadn't already guessed this was our stand at Yarndale 2014.
I was really worried about not having enough stock to fill the stand as this was our last big fair of the year, but I just managed it! It's a little more sparse than I would of liked but it wasn't through idleness on my part. I couldn't have made more felt than I have this year. 
Here's wonderful man ready for another busy day. I may have found this year exhausting but I wouldn't change a thing, I loved every minute! It's been a real challenge and a steep learning curve. I must admit I haven't learned aaaall my lessons, I still think I can produce work faster than I really can, lol.  Maybe that's a woman thing...we all try and fit in more than we can realistically do in a day.

 It's been a challenge and for the most part I've met that challenge head on and come up with the goods. I've never made sooooo much felt as I have this year, I've lost count but I think by the end of the year I'll have made over 50 large pieces of art work as well as countless small Dales Scenes, brooches and embellished cards. If you'd had asked me this time last year if I could make so much stuff I'd have laughed at you. Actually I'd probably had a major panic and run a mile, lol. 
 But then, that's what this year was all about, challenging myself. Testing the water so to speak. This time last year I'd only attended small local craft fairs and Yarndale. This year I have attended 4 events the size of Yarndale, two smaller weekend craft fairs and supplied two galleries, as well as a handful of commissions thrown in. I don't think I've told you this... but I've also been offered an open invitation to go and teach workshops in Australia alongside tutors who are top of their chosen crafts. This is was a huge honour for me and something I might feel comfortable doing one day but not at the moment. But just to be asked was enough! Talk about chuffed!
 So, what now? Well... I thought by now I would have all the answers! I thought I would have next year all planned out and know exactly what I wanted to do. Yes, I know you're waiting for it and there is a 'but', lol and here it is... But I don't. There is no-one more surprised and thrilled than me at the positive response my work has received this year. So where do I go from here, I'm not sure. I expected to have had a couple of rubbish events and couple okayish ones, making decisions about where to go and what to attend next year easy but they've all been more successful than I could have wished for, lol. So... do I attend them all again next year? I don't think I can to be honest. It's been a blast but I can't produce as much again next year without having a creative... burn out! 

So, while I'm pondering my future plans I'll try and bring you up to date with what I've been making since I got my creative mojo back. 
 This little chap has finally visited my fabby framer, Andy and now looks like this...
My lovely friend and her husband dropped him off at Cherrydidi gallery in Keswick for me last week and he's just been sold today. I've also made another large hare picture but I don't think I'm able to show you him as he's suppose to be a surprise Christmas gift. 
What next?....
What about a little mouse for a change. This little chap is currently at the framers along with his friend...
Poppy Hare. They are both being framed ready for my last event in a weeks time at the Witham at Barnard Castle. Oh! I nearly forgot this one...
I was making this lovely hare for Barnard Castle too when a very nice gentleman emailed me to ask if I had any work available and to cut a long story short, this little hare was packing his bags before I'd even finished felting him. 
I'm afraid my stand may be a little sparse but you'll find a warm welcome and wealth of other wonderful crafts people there who's tables will be spilling over with hand crafted goodies. There is another reason my table won't be quite as full as I would like, and that's because I'm also working on this...
It will be the largest piece of felt I've ever made, measuring 76 inches long. It's a bit of a beast!
We've had to bring my sewing table down from the attic to give me a long enough work surface, lol. 
Well I promise not to leave it so long next time. I'll keep you updated on 'the beast' and maybe this is for my benefit rather than yours...
 Till next time,
love Fi x

Monday, 22 September 2014

Staithes Festival of Arts and Heritage.

 Hello my lovelies! Say hello to Mr Hare. 
Now say goodbye, we won't be seeing him again as he has hopped off to a loving new home. 
 He was one of a handful of pieces that came with me to the Festival of Arts and Heritage in Staithes just over a week ago.

 What a fabulous event! For one whole weekend about 80 artists turned kitchens, front rooms, garages and even bedrooms into pop up galleries in the pretty little fishing village of Staithes. There were pop up cafes too along with music, film shows, demonstrations, walks, talks and all manner of entertainment. Here's a very tiny taste as I only had time for a quick speed walk around before it got busy on Saturday morning!







 This was our little gallery for the weekend in a pretty little cottage on the High Street.
 We had lots of lovely visitors, the whole place had a lovely atmosphere.
 One of our visitors owns this charming little place...
 The Tea Shop in Staithes...
They also now own my little felted picture too! Delightful!
I just like to say thank you to every one who visited us over the weekend. Wonderful Man and I thoroughly enjoyed chatting to you all. I'd had such a lovely time and my work received so many compliments that I had a little happy cry on Sunday... I just couldn't help myself. Thank you to everyone who made our weekend so special. 
Oh and the Hare in Poppies... he's hopped off to new home too!

I shall look forward to seeing you all at Yarndale this weekend, if I remember correctly I shall be on stand 26 looking a tad frazzled and a bit frayed around the edges (it's been a very busy year) but very happy to see you all and chatter about all things 'felty'.

Don't forget to bring lots of pocket money ;)
See you at the weekend
love Fi x