Help please

My intention for the book cover below was to have more dark areas to really show off the throwsters silk waste providing the light areas. Too heavy handed on the silk was I, now what can I do with it?

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The silk provides a fab lustre but the book, for me,  is too plain overall. I haven’t been able to find any beads that look right on the front so I’m hoping perhaps you’ll have ideas.

Nuno workshop

Earlier in the week I ran an introduction to nuno workshop. Nuno is a wet felting technique where fabric and wool fibres are bonded together through the felting process. We worked across a range of fabrics each of which gives a different textured finish.

The pink fabric is a synthetic which is harder to work with but gives lovely big crinkles in texture. The less fibre that passes through the fabric the larger the crinkles. Next to that is a silk which in addition to giving texture also adds shine. Bottom left is on cotton muslin with the outline of a pre felt showing through and the final sample is on my personal favourite, silk chiffon.

You can see the muslin has far more crinkles (but smaller) than the synthetic and in the sample above on silk chiffon you can see it’s a smoother finish still. The black circles are more silk chiffon added to the fibre side to make it truly double sided. Nuno is a very interesting technique and is a favourite way of working for me.

Garden Art

Increasingly I’m moving to using and exhibiting my felt outdoors. It just seems a natural progression to festoon the garden with as much felt work as the house has received! This will inevitably lead to loss of colour in dyed wools but actually I don’t mind this idea. I’m excited by the thought that my felt will change over time by: becoming paler, stretching or shrinking, gathering moss, changing shade when it gets wet, perhaps even getting a little moth eaten. To watch it change (or not) across the seasons will be interesting.

So when I found some blue tatty rope on the beach I just knew it had to go outdoors. There’s a little spot at the back of the house which is long and narrow and for which I wanted to make a felt hanging. The best part about the rope was the loop at the top, a ready made hanging mechanism. Beach, blue rope, the hanging just had to be blue too.

I also like rust so I added a layer of tan merino to begin and allowed it to show at the edges slightly. I covered the rope with three shades of turquoise and blue merino, allowing it to break out and sit on top of the fibres in places. On top I used a few wips of tan and rust merino, ramie,silk and bamboo fibres in tiny quantites for a little sheen and a teal crystal organza to create more texture and give a hint of shine. It’s not a great picture of the hanging but I thought you’d like to see where it will sit. It is south facing so if I leave it there I’m expecting to see colour fading quite quickly.

Although I was very pleased with the hanging it just felt like it needed something more. I wondered what I could add and remembered my ever growing stash of beach glass. Excited I pulled out lots of lovely white (it was once clear) glass and sprinkled them on the felt. It didn’t work, but when I replaced it with brown glass I knew I’d hit upon the right thing. It was also lucky to find amongst my threads one in turquoise which was quite twisted. I’ve used some scrappy looking knots to fasten the glass on and positioned it near the rope. This has had the effect of making it look like it became trapped there naturally.

On a separate beach trip I’d found a lead weight from a fishing net and that’s what you can see tied to the bottom of the felt. I can’t decide whether to leave this on or not. It helps to weight the felt and stop it blowing about too much but I’m not sure about how it looks or if it will stretch the felt. It’s tied on using the rope which is embedded into the felt.

What do you think I should do about the weight, leave it on or remove it? This is a style of felt art that I’d like to do more of and be able to sell. What do people think, would you buy it? It’s not like a sculpture for the garden. It will be quite long lived but it’s condition will contsantly change. Will it sell?

Shot silk

I decided to try doing some dyeing in the microwave and got out my equipment with a light heart. As usual with me and dyeing it didn’t go quite to plan. I had to put one piece through a second time because it was too pale and the scarlet dye didn’t dissolve properly leading to spotting on the silk. However, I was in too good a mood to let this bother me and carried on, although I was tiring and was happy to see I was reaching the end.

That was when it happened. I’d mixed up a dye, caught the edge of the bowl with my hand and sent it spinning through the air to land on top of the cat’s food bowl by the wall. It splashed up the wall, on the door, into the kitchen and began to run across the floor. Why is it that liquid always seems ten times more when spilt?

At least I had the presence of mind to mop some of it up with a piece of silk. It was running down the wall, staining the paint and creeping across the floor to me. And the colour? Red of course. It looked like a scene from a massacre. As it ran down the wall it appeared to be staining the wall so I cleared it up as quickly as possible. On hearing about it my husband quipped, “shot silk” and so you have todays title. He seemed surprised that I hadn’t taken a photo but I would have had to step in the dye to get to a camera!

Don’t they look lovely and bright? I thought I’d try a few bits of lace in the yellow/green and see what happened. They weren’t soaked first, I just put them in dry and watched. Interesting that they’re mainly the same colour as the silk except for the one which has taken more blue and is distinctly green. A good way to use up dye and they’ll no doubt appear in a piece of felt later.

Who likes net curtains?

I really don’t like net curtains but it’s essential for the sake of decency, to have something in our toilet. Surprising really that, not liking it, I’ve actually had the same net curtain up for ten years (I do wash it!) One of my many beach finds was a number of mussel shells and it was the lovely blue colour of the shells that inspired me to make a felt curtain and eradicate the net forever.

I began by trying to drill holes into the shells so that I could attach them to the finished curtain. All the small shells shattered but I successfully drilled into the larger ones which were surprisingly tough. I didn’t have a special drill bit, I just used the smallest one I could find. My idea was to create a curtain with shells hanging from the top, some colour of the mussels in the felt and mussel shell shapes cut into the bottom of the curtain for added detail.

Cobweb felt is traditionally made using just one layer of fibre. As I needed to make sure no holes appeared in the felt I decided to make a very fine felt using two layers of fibre. The shells would be quite heavy on such a fine felt so I made an extra strip of three layers for the top from which to hang the shells.

The main colour is obviously white with added splashes of blue silk fibres and ramie fibres for extra shine plus wool pebbles and curly kid mohair for texture. I cut the shapes into the bottom of the curtain when it was finished. If I’d cut them out earlier I think they would probably have been distorted during felting due to the fineness of the felt and the number of holes.

I’m really pleased with this curtain but still surprised every time I see it, I’m still expecting to see the net. Both my daughter and husband have said how much they like it so it’s a winner all round. Now I just need an idea for the other toilet and the net will be banished forever.