I am a native in this world And think in it as a native thinks

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Pulling the wool


It's back to work tomorrow, and while I didn't get as much accomplished at home as I'd hoped -- despite throwing out bags and bags of junk, and making three trips to the Salvation Army, my apartment looks pretty much the same way it did before I started -- I did manage to complete one of my many art projects.

I always love fibers and fabrics but they're even more appealing when it starts to get cold outside. I find knitting soothing, but trying to follow complicated patterns takes the fun out of it for me. So I've been felting.

I first made felt seven or eight years ago, when I'd broken my left hand and I was looking for new activities that would help me get my strength and dexterity back. Basic felting is easy enough -- you add soap and hot water to wool, and roll it and rub it and throw it around and it turns into felt -- and it was an excellent workout for my hands (and elbows and shoulders and back.)

The problem was what to do with the end product. I played around with mixing colors and adding silk or metallic threads, and the felt I made was pretty, and it was definitely felt -- thick and solid and strong -- but I didn't really have any use for it. I cut it up and used it for coasters and pot holders and a couple of pieces are still glued to the bottoms of lamps, but I quickly exhausted the potential uses. I threw the scraps away and moved on to something else.

I've been seeing a lot of beautiful felt work in the past few years though, much nicer than anything I had available for inspiration during my own brief feltmaking career. Then I discovered Moy Mackay, a Scottish artist who creates beautiful Impressionistic landscapes out of wool, and I decided that I would try to do an Alaskan landscape.

I bought some wool roving and gave it a try, and the results would have shamed your average five year old, who could have kicked my ass with a sheet of paper and a box of Crayolas. (Jayne said, “Well, you can tell that's the sky." And she was being generous.)

So I thought something a little less ambitious might be called for. Like flowers. Really big flowers so I didn't have to worry about a lot of detail (which tends to migrate in unexpected ways when the wool starts doing its thing.) And I'm pleased with the result. I had planned to add some hand stitched detail but I like the way the colors bleed into each other, so I'm leaving it as plain old felt. Click to enlarge.

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