Wednesday, February 17, 2010

local wool...the results show

So, after I posted my question about local wool to the Feltmaker's list for a second time I got a whole lot of great responses to my questions. I told one of the members...the lovely Ann...that I would do samples of the wool to see how much it shrank, etc. Now, I am not a good sample doer. I am such a 'jump-in-and-go-and-figure-out-how-to-fix-what-doesn't-work' person. (Hmm...what would be the acronym for that?) Yes, it gets me in trouble sometimes. But I think I am this way because if I didn't just DO things, I would over-think them, and obsess to the point where I was paralysed and nothing got done. (Not that so much gets DONE now but that is another post.)
Here are the two wools that I bought. One is a Montadale and one is a Montadale/Corriedale cross...thanks to my memory problems I can not tell you which is which.
The 'white' wool has grey fibers so it has a heathered look. (I am sure that there is a term for this but I am off duty as far as words go.)  The white wool is not as soft as the brown and has less lanolin in it. Is it the lanolin that give the wool the 'sheepy' smell? Hmmm.
The brown is a beautiful chocolate color that does not have the grey fibers that some of the other local wools I have purchased have.  Here is a scan showing both of these wools next to a sample of a local Romney for comparison.

I did a 12x12 inch sample of both the white and brown. Now I can not remember how many times or how long I roll each side...I would have used my timer...but I forgot. So my 'samples' are basically just small pieces of felt using only that wool with NO other fibers added. (A very unusual thing for ME to do!) Both samples only shrank about an inch. The next images are all scans. First here is a scan of some oatmeal colored Romney for comparison.

I love the texture of Romney felt!

The brown wool made a much smoother and tighter felt.
The White felt is much more spongy than the brown. Both of the wools took a while to wet out...the white took a bit longer than the brown. I thought the lanolin was what made it harder to wet some wools but in this case the brown was easier to wet but has more of a 'sticky' feel. They also took a long time to felt and I had to really keep them hot to get things to happen.
The felt is rather stretchy. Chris White (of Magpie Designs Felting Studio, New England Felting Supply, AND the author of 'Uniquely Felt' ) said in a reply to my post to the Feltmaker's List that "I suggest trying this: Look at your sample and note the size (length by width). Then stretch it in all directions equally and look again. If the overall area has stayed the same, but only changed shape, it could be one of those stretchy felts. If the entire sample has grown in area, it is not fulled." I am pretty sure that this is what is happening.
I took the hat/vessel/bag thingy I made with the brown wool and some Cormo and put it in the washing machine again. This time I used hot water and only added the felt and two old towels. Unfortunately the red towel was a bit TOO old.Though the fact that bits of the towel felted in says that the piece was not fully felted when it went in the wash.
I did a bit more shaping on it and I think it wants to be a vessel. The felt does not seem to be thick or firm enough for it to be a vessel but who am I to argue with a piece of felt? Doesn't the wool have the final say anyway? I am going to try giving it one more go around to do some more shaping...IF I get a round my mom would say.
I cheated and sewed the rolled edge.

Detail of the silk and bamboo fibers I put on top. I did do some shaving as more of the blue Cormo came through than I wanted.
Here is the bottom of the vessel on the inside.

Monday, February 15, 2010

A rant about a rooster and an animal control officer.

This has been an aggravating day. The aggravation started when I went let my chickens out of their coop. I was not fully caffeinated yet and what happened really confused my addled brain. Suddenly there was a lot of flapping of wings as a bundle of russet red feathers was moving so fast I could not tell what I was looking at. It was my buttercup rooster fighting another much bigger rooster.  My first thought was that my missing golden polish rooster, Buster, had somehow returned after all these months. My next thought was that if I didn't do something quick Buttercup was going to be killed. I got in the fray and somehow managed to get Buttercup who was by now bleeding from his comb. He was struggling in my arms, getting blood on me, all the girls were loose and the other rooster is 'growling' at me.  I did not want my girls near him in case he had a disease but could not get them back in while trying to hold my rooster.
Here is my Buttercup

I went in the house to get my Dad who was in his room trying to get ready to go to a funeral. He could not hear me call so I went upstairs while holding on holding on to the bleeding rooster. His nice crown shaped comb seen here in better days was what was bleeding.
Together Dad and I managed to get all but one of the girls back in the coop. I put Buttercup in with them and went in the house to call the nearest neighbor who owns chickens. He came up to look but the rooster was not his. He said that people often drop off unwanted chickens at his place. Why do people figure that if you have a farm you will take care of the animals they don't want?
This neighbor suggested that I call another farmer in town who employs people from Mexico. He said that the Mexicans like the roosters for coq-Au-Vin!! Well, I tried that but got no answers so I called our local police department. The woman who answered the phone said that she would contact the animal control officer(ACO) and then call me back. When she called back she said that the ACO had an appointment that morning but would call me in the afternoon.  She also told me that they had another call about dropped off roosters on the other side of town on Saturday. So I waited...and waited... I was not pleased about waiting because Buttercup is understandably upset, the girls really want to get out to free range, and the 'stray' rooster is 'bothering' the one girl that I still can not get in the coop.  So I finally called the woman at the police station again at about 2:30. This time she told me that the ACO had to take his mother to the doctor and maybe he was not back yet. So I waited...and waited...
Now I was trying to be patient but as I was waiting I was remembering that during the summer I had placed similar calls about a pair of loose dogs that had cornered me on the public lands near our home. I was told then that the ACO would be in touch with me the next day. I never heard from him. So I called a third time at 5:00...and this time he called me back. His first question was did I have the rooster contained. I thought that was HIS job. He then went though a litany about why he could not come today to help me. First it was "I have a vir...the flu. I don't have anyone who can come tonight." We don't usually deal with roosters. I don't have equipment to catch one...they are hard to catch unless they are roosting...they roost at night...that is the best time to catch them. I was mad and not able to respond. To my silence he said he would try to come tomorrow if the rooster was still around!
Well I was so mad when I got off the phone I stormed out and captured the stupid rooster on my own. He is now in a cage. I want to deliver him to the ACO's home..grrrrr. 

Here is the interloper. A mangy looking Golden Laced Wyandotte, which is a rare breed.
Now that I have vented I guess I need to go figure our what I really am going to do with him.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Felting Local Wools

I posted this to the FeltMakers List but have not gotten any responses. Maybe someone here can give me some insight.

I have been trying to work with wools other than merino and especially
with local wools. I know that the local wools, even of the same breed,
are often very different from what I buy from Ashland Bay. I just
bought some Montadale and Montadale/Corriedale cross wools. Can anyone
who has felted with Montadale wool give me some information about the
type of felt it makes? Does it remain soft and spongy? What types of
items do you use it for?

I have gotten it to felt and I am in the process of fulling it, but it
is still very stretchy. I love the texture I am getting so far. I
guess what I also want to know is at what point do you know that you
have gone as far as you can with a new type of wool. Every wool I have
tried so far I was able to get to the point where when stretched (if
it can be stretched at all) goes right back to shape. Are there wools
that will never get to this point no matter how much it is worked?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

felted and beaded cuff

HURRAY!! I finally finished something. It has been bothering me that I have so many projects started but I can't seem to finish anything lately. I get bored way too quick and have very little patience. That is why I have to celebrate little triumphs such as finishing this cuff.

I blame Joei for getting me interested in embellishing felt with beads and embroidery. I started this as a watch band. I bought a watch face and was planing on making several bands so I could change the look. I liked the band better without the watch so I decided to make it into a cuff. And hey, I finally used some of the beads I seem to be addicted to buying.

For the watch I found a bracelet that I had been beading but never finished.  It is made of two felt bangles that I was connecting with a row of beads. I had about an inch and a half left to bead but it has just been sitting undone for at least a year.  I can't believe that the watch face fit right in the space that was left undone.

I have to remember this during those times when it seems that nothing ever goes right....AND when things don't get done in what seems like a timely manner. I need to stop looking at unfinished projects as a bad thing. Yes, it is good to finish what I start but I  also must  give myself credit for the doing. I always have to remind myself that it is the process...the journey...the action...simply the doing and being...that matter in life...and art.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Another type of landscape

After learning that my friend Joei was able to felt through several layers of silk for her quilt I started playing with doing some nuno and collage type of landscapes. Our guild had a felt postcard exchange and I really enjoyed doing some small pieces using the silk I dyed. The first one was one of my typical landscapes using colored wool to create the image. Except that I laid it out thinner and felted it to a piece of silk that I had dyed blue and green.

Here is the front. I really liked the texture that felting onto the silk gave to the piece.

Here is the silk side.

Next, I tried one using just pieces of silk to create the image.

I liked this one better before most of the yellow dye washed out when I was felting the piece.

By now I was really into the postcard size, so I did a rose, using a drawing I made as a pattern.

Then I did two more small size landscapes. For these I just free snipped pieces of silk. Kind of like confetti. I really like the effect of the black wool coming through the silk. I copied this use of black wool from fellow guild member Jean Gauger who makes such beautiful wraps with butterfly imagery.
Here is Fall...

and here is Winter.

For the winter scene I used white wool at the bottom, gray in the middle, and black in the sky.
I also did a spring, but the yellows washed out so much I won't show it. Maybe someday I will do the other two seasons.

 Linda Van Alstyne got my card in the swap and asked me if I could do a landscape like that first on but with a bit more detail. I was not sure how that would work since I usually add the detail with the felting needle. I thought that the needling would rip the silk too much. I was able to do it without ruining the silk but it was not particularly pleasant poking the needle through it. I didn't add much detail because what Linda really about my post card was the watercolor look of the piece. Here is what I came up with. 

This piece is bigger than the post cards, about 9x13.
Just for the heck of it here is a photo of how this piece looked when the fibers were laid out, just before I wet it down.

And here is what it looked like after the wet felting but before I did any needle felting on it.

I did do a bit more fiddling with this one since the photos were taken and I am very happy with it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Fun with Joei aka Art That's Felt

First a confession. My last post took forever to write so what started on Tuesday as "today's" art insight didn't get published until Sunday. I learned something though. I need to write more posts that are just short and sweet notes about my recent doings.
Yesterday (and the day before) were spent on an impromptu trip to my friend Joei's house. She was ready to put up with me again for another two days of dyeing and felting. We dyed some more with the indigo...

These were folded and clamped with supplies brought to us by Joei's husband. Thank You Bill!

Joei got a kind of window pane effect.
We discovered that the indigo gave us a different color this time around. The things we dyed last time were much more on the red side of blue. in the photo below you can see the difference.

Joei also felted a couple of pieces for her quilt. One of the things I love about getting together with other artists is seeing the colors that they use. (I need to step out of my blue and green color habit). Here are the pieces that Joei cut for one of her quilt blocks. I am not a fan of pink but I really love this combination.

Here is Joei felting her second block of the weekend. Notice how well I captured the movement of her hand...couldn't have done that if I wanted to but I think it is a cool effect.

Unfortunately Joei also has exposed me to several new techniques and reminded me of the beauty of embroidery. I am now stitching and beading a piece but that will be a later post. The picture below is one example of the type of things I get to see on these visits. (The book was done by another artist whose name I of course can not remember).

This is a new technique Joei learned. I love it.

And last I want to show that these weekends are an exchange of ideas. This is a piece that Joei laid out the last time we got together. Sadly the browns washed out during the felting so the piece was not quite successful as we had hoped. (See can see the resulting felt on her blog)>