I’ve been thinking for quite a while that I didn’t like my links page, it didn’t seem very intesresting even to me. Today, I’ve replaced it with a resources page which has more categories and more links than before.
One area I intend to expand over the coming weeks is the how to guides. In the meantime, let me know what you think and if you’ve any other links you think I should include.
We’ve been to have a look at Bart and some of the other curlews which are now on display at Grassington until 4th July. There’s some really creative ones as you can see from the shot below. The Abirdriginal was done in conjunction with children from Giggleswick School and was my personal favourite.
My daughter, bless her, thinks that Bart is the best one and he’s ‘really cool’.
Tomorrow I’m off to Thirsk for a weekend nuno masterclass with Charity Musoma van Der Meer. We can make either a skirt or a top, I’ve chosen to do a top and as I’m not over keen on frills I’m going to add texture to it.
The whole thing will be constructed in white and the last two weeks has seen me sampling a variety of fabrics and yarns. I’m very comfortable with nuno but much less so with dress making – wish me luck. I’ll put some photos up when I come back.
On Sunday 14th June my family and I went to the Bradford Mela for the first time in its 21 year history despite living so close. Not sure quite what to expect, we were very pleasantly surprised. It all takes place in Peel Park which was larger than I’d expected from driving past it. We were lucky enough to park easily but then we did go early! The picture on the right was taken by my daughter Charlotte and you can see what a lovely day it was for us. This was a structure like an enormous maypole with really bright ribbons.
There’s lots to see and do at the Mela with four stages offering a variety of music and dance. I particularly enjoyed joining in with the dancing to African music but I’m glad there’s no photographic evidence. We had patterns applied to our hands with henna which I’m now wondering how long it’s going to last as it’s much darker now than it was yesterday!
As well as a funfair and a market there’s lots of places to try some tasty food, have a go at a few crafts and just generally soak up the atmosphere. An image which has stayed with me is the flags to the right. They were a fantastic sight to behold and I thought how fabulous they would have looked if they’d been felt.
Just to round it off, here’s the story of Bart in images. I will be adding final images once Bart is on display in Grassington.
With me holding him you get a good idea of the size of Bart and the task ahead!
The plastic template was 1.75m long and to turn it over during the laying out process I had to wind it up on a broom handle and then unwind it the other way, treating it just like pastry. I laid out the base layers in Bluefaced Leicester which I then covered with the hand dyed and carded Swaledale fibres.
I think he looks quite good laid out with all the flowers on and with a curly fleece chest. Cutting him in half was a bit nerve wracking as I had to avoid cutting through flowers on either side.
When dry I sewed the two halves together onto Bart and then re-commenced felting him. As you can see he had to be turned all ways up for this process.
He looks splendid sitting on the lawn and I am pleased with how he’s turned out.
Taking him to the workshop for his legs fitting was really interesting, watching him be drilled and riveted and then fitted onto the stone. It made my day and I felt like I was then handing over a whole bird. I know you don’t get a sense of size from this photo but he is now approximately four and a half feet tall. I’ll add more pictures of the finished Bart once he goes on display.
Since the website was set up six weeks ago there’s been a lot of activity and people all over the world are getting involved. A new page called ‘Happenings’ is now available to post any planned activity no matter how large or small. My favourite is Jean who lives in a cul-de-sac, to make sure her felt is seen she’s planning an installation for her car! What can we come up with?
If you’re a gardener as well as a feltmaker then you will occasionally have problems with dry hands and fibres sticking to them just when you don’t want them to. I have tried using olive oil on my hands before working the felt which is okay but tends to make the felt stick more. Recently I’ve seen the following suggestion in a couple of places and thought I’d share it with you. Take about a teaspoon of sugar in your dry hand and add about a teaspoon of olive oil. Rub your hands together like you’re washing them. The sugar exfoliates and the olive oil really softens. I’m told it’s very effective.
I spent another five hours on Saturday working on Bart and was shattered by the time I’d finished all that rubbing. In order to work all over the felt and get rid of any wrinkles I had to keep turning Bart different ways round and up, as you can see in the photo. Each time I thought that was it it was done and was shrunk to fit, I’d turn him round and find another baggy area. I seemed to chase it round for a long time before the last bit was finally done.
In a couple of places the seam wasn’t felting together properly and I was worried it would show and be a potential weakness for vandals to exploit. Out came the needle again and using invisible thread I stitched it together tightly and refelted the areas. I’m very happy to report that this did the trick and it’s invisible. The problem with the seam was always going to be the size of Bart and the fact that once wet, the felt would be heavy and tend to drag the seam apart as I moved him around.
When I’d finished felting I needed to rinse the soap out and thought I know, Simon mentioned a hose pipe in his joke instructions, a hosepipe would be just the thing. Well it wasn’t. I couldn’t get the pressure right and I soaked Bart, myself, the newspaper, the camera and my husband. Happily for all of us I reverted to a jug. The warm sunny weekend was great for drying Bart off and I’m really pleased with how he’s turned out. He’ll be leaving me soon to go and have his legs fitted and I won’t see him again until he’s on display as part of the Flights of Fancy section of the Grassington Festival. The Yorkshire Dales National Parks Authority may display him at the car park in Grassington but once I know for sure I’ll add a note here. I hope you like him.
It’s slow work but it is progressing. Bart’s felt covering was duly tacked back together and the final felting began. I’ve been rubbing him all over for hours each day and it is paying dividends as the felt shrinks down to his shape. The first area I felt unhappy about was the beak, I’d rubbed for ages and it still seemed way too long but this is now under control and is the correct length. It was easier once I’d thought about how the fibres were laid and took advantage of that to achieve the shrinkage I needed.
It’s been such a lovely day that Bart and I have been in the garden today. A bit of sunlight and high temperatures have helped me to keep him warm for the felting process. Shame that it doesn’t help keep him wet, as fast as I pour the water on it runs off! When wet, the felt is quite heavy and the seam began to pull apart as I moved Bart around and turned him over to work on him, so it was out with the needle and thread for an emergency repair.
Today, I’ve rubbed for over four hours but I do now have the shiniest smoothest hands I’ve had for some time. I do admit to using a net and plastic bag to rub him with. Swaledale fibres are quite coarse and there’s no way I could have worked Bart for so long had I used my hands, there’d be no skin left by now. I’m nearing the end and with luck I’ll finish Bart tomorrow which’ll just give time for him to dry before Monday
I’ve been quiet on the diary front but I have still been busy on Bart and trying to have a family life as well over the bank holiday. Laying out the design took quite a long time because as you can see it is a large project. Bart takes up most of these two tables. During the laying out I decided that each flower should have yellow on it to help tie it together across the whole of Bart. This was all very well and good but I didn’t have sufficient yellow pre-felt and had to make two more lots before I could continue felting, and some green and some lilac. Good job I’d planned well – not. Bart matured during the design process and now has a hairy chest!
As I laid it out I had my first issue when I realised I’d left the tree out which I had intended to embed between the layers. Bart is such a strong shape that actually I began to think that it was probably for the best that it was omitted, and that the more I pared the design back the better it would be. A plainer stronger design would be more fitting with such a bold form.
Since then I’ve been spending two to three hours a day rubbing all over to set the design in place. When using pre-felts it builds up the layers of fibres and that means lots more rubbing if you don’t want the flowers to start lifting off when you begin rolling. I’d done a good job with the rubbing and I know this beacuse as soon as I did my first one hundred rolls the template began to buckle inside the fibres and it was time to cut it off. Scary.
I cut the template in two and removed the plastic. Imagine my distress when I discovered thin patches with the potential to become holes during the felting process. If it had been a smaller project I would probably have risked it but I couldn’t face it with Bart, I’d rather be safe than sorry. This has meant me turning the felt inside out and adding extra fibres in the areas giving concern. The two halves of Bart are now drying so that I can tack them together on him tomorrow. Being dried first will allow me to control the weight of the fibres whilst I do the tacking after which I will then rub to felt the two halves securely together. Troubles always begin when the felt comes off the resist, it looks like Bart is no different to any other project. Did I mention I’m supposed to have him ready to hand over by next Monday?