Thursday, March 15, 2012

Felted Landscape Class at New England Felting Supply

I had a great class at NEFS this past weekend. I had only three students so I was able to relax a bit and really give extra time to each individual. I felt bad for the store since it was probably losing money with the class; which would normally be cancelled with less than four participants, but it was a boon to the participants with lots of room to work and extra attention. It was interesting that though there was a poor turnout for the class I received 3 inquiries that week from folks wanting to take my class. I am working up a cost for students to come here for private lessons to accommodate those who cannot get to the other classes. I think this will be really beneficial to the students as they will have my wools and embellishments to work with plus all that one-on-one time. I may even offer an overnight guest room....we will see.
I have realized that I need to write a better explanation of what I teach since my current class description is a  "just the facts Mam", bare bones blurb. So I thought I would do a write up here that can be pared down for advertising. 
The class is like a mini art class about landscape painting, we just happen to be working in wool creating felt. For me this hybrid felt is very much like the process I was doing when illustrating. The wet felting gives the look of the watercolor under-paintings that I started the illustrations with. I would then further develop and add detail to the piece with colored pencil which in this case is the needle felting. I start the class with a long (I try not to be too long winded) lecture about the basics of rendering a landscape; things that would apply to any colored medium. I teach how our use of color, value, line, and perspective can give a great sense of depth to a painting. I discuss how to look at the inspirational photo and break it down into simplified masses and how to truly see what is there. My greatest wish is for students to leave with a new way of seeing. I then talk about how the use of wool and various fibers and the felting techniques can be used to create something very unique in landscape rendering. The felt itself is more than just a flat canvas; the surface of the felt can be built up much more than if we were just using layers of paint. Students do the wet felting on the first day and then make changes and add details with the felting needle on the second day. Students may not leave with a finished piece but they have the basic knowledge of how to render a landscape.
Here are the pieces created this past weekend. Since there are only three pieces to show I will include shots of the layouts as well. First up is a fall scene done by James.
The layout
after wet felting

 at the end of class

Here is Melinda's. It is a scene of the Italian cliff city of Manarola....a difficult subject for a first landscape, I am hoping to see a photo of it after she does more needling to add straight lines to the buildings and cliffs.
the reference photo

the layout

after wet felting

at the end of class
And here is Marybeth's. A familiar scene for her as it is part of her property.
the layout

after wet felting

at the end of class

Though teaching always makes me want to create a piece of my own I felt I had too many other projects in the works to indulge that desire. However I did FINALLY finish the rug that I had started laying out way back during the end of November. We had a beautiful 70 degree day so I took it outside and danced on it to finish felting it. It is not really felted as hard as can be but it is not going to fall apart either and I want to move on. Here it is in the living room so you can get an idea of the size. I am not sure where it will live yet....maybe in my bedroom where I can get out of bed in the morning and sink my toes in the soft locks. :)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Another Month Gone By

I was surprised to see that it has been a whole month since I last posted on my blog. I wish I could say that that was because I had been having such a good and productive time that the month just flew. Unfortunately it has been a struggle for me with another dip into the pit of depression due in part to a switch in meds from one drug manufacturer to another. Along with the depression was a good dose of apathy so I didn't even care enough to try to fix things. I didn't believe that the switch could really be causing that much trouble but when I took some of the old pills that I had in my travel bag I felt much better. I was even able to tackle some jobs that have been hanging over my head, like figuring out my insurance to pay for those meds. That whole thing is so complicated that I feel like I need a medical adviser, much like a financial adviser who can read AND understand all that paper work and then tell me my best options. It is hard enough to figure out with a mind that is working well. (I hope I don't sound too whiny since I do often think of those who have health problems that are so much worse than mine).
Since it HAS been so long since I posted I am just going to give a brief gloss of the "highlights". (Thank goodness for my photography or I would not remember any of it). First the felt-y things.
My sister Beth wanted to make another landscape so she and I had a nice day of playing felt with her. Here is the piece she made; it is not done yet.
I started this; it is not done either.
 I hosted another Felt-Together for friends but since Joei wanted to make a landscape I kept my invitee list short. Here is the piece that Joei started.
 Robin brought her piece and did a bit more needle felting on it.
Sadly, I didn't get a photo of the project that Cheryl Christner was working on. I just kind of played with a few different things. These little blocks are for a guild project.
And I sampled some new wool, yarns, and fabric.

One of the new wools was from Lisa Merian of Spinner's Hill. This wonderful woman offered to donate the proceeds from the sale of some special wool to a fund created for fellow guild member Linda Van Alstyne. Linda is battling a rare form of cancer; adenoid cystic carcinoma. The wool was dyed in Linda's favorite color and was perfect for making some fall leaves. They will get some beading, and stitching and be turned into pins.
Before I hosted a Felt-Together again I made another improvement to my 'studio' arrangement. I came up with an idea of how to hang my pieces so I could see them without really changing the dining room too much. After seeing my things hanging on the wall of Robin's studio I realized how much more motivated I would be to finish some of my pieces if I could see them hanging instead of packed in a UFO box. I hung a big piece of purchased felt over the china cabinets and can pin the pieces up. It will be easy to take down and store when holiday time comes again. 
One of the pieces was one that I finally finished so maybe this idea will work. I finished the beading on this old piece.
I spent a lot of the last month outside since I find working outdoors to be very healing. Dad calls it my dirt therapy. The barn project is still going on and now that the roof is done it was time to bring in fill for the inside. That meant moving some of the wood that was still in there...a lot of wood. Dad did much of it but gave himself a hernia moving some of it so I called in the family to help and we got it done. Now it decorates the yard.  I think we could build a new shed with all of that.
 The dump truck in the background is actually stuck. So Dad got a change to drive it while it's owner was dragging it with the skid-steer. I think he had fun!