Sunday, May 31, 2009

Spring in Montana and a Grizzly Bear

It is finally spring here.

But this looks almost like Christmas, doesn't it.

We were working on the property when I spotted these in the pine tree. I never noticed them before. Such a bright red!

Here's another thread sketch on felt that I finished yesterday. This is called "Grizzly". I have several others that I'm planning on doing including a moose, deer, mountain lion and wolf. I have to dye some more wool for those though so it might be a while yet. I'm planning on using a thin piece of wood at the top of these pieces on the back for hanging purposes. Once I get it worked out, I'll take a photo of the back so you can see how these hang.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Thread Sketching on Felt Tutorial

Lay out your wool and wet down to felt. You need to do a thin felt as really thick felt won't fit under the sewing machine. I used three layers but it was almost too thick. Thinner felt is much easier when you are first trying this technique.

You can use a hand held sander to felt. Just cover with a plastic bag but allow air to escape so it won't get too hot. Then finish felting and fulling in the sink.

Here's my finished piece of felt ready for thread sketching.

This is the photo from which I drew a simple sketch. You could trace your design if you're not comfortable sketching. For your first try, I would suggest something more simple than this.

I used the copy machine and enlarged my sketch by 150%. I added some mountains behind the mountain goat.

Here's the sketch on the felt to make sure it would fit and that it was placed well.

Then I covered the sketch with water soluble fabric. You don't need any extra around the edges, just the size of the sketch.

Then I used a water soluble pen to sketch the design on the water soluble fabric. Don't use a permanent pen as it may stain your felt.

Here's the sketch after it's all done.

Pin it in place on your felt.

Normally for thread sketching, I have been using black thread. But I decided to look at what grey threads would work best as this piece was so white and I didn't want the stark contrast. I used the middle grey thread.

Put your piece under the machine with the feed dogs down, use a darning foot and the stitch length to zero. Bring your bobbin thread up to the top surface, stitch in place several times to start and then stitch following your design. This is sketching so you do several passes over all the lines. Don't worry about being exactly on the line. It is supposed to look like a sketch so you don't have to be perfect!

I usually do a section at a time and go over it at least three times for the major outlines etc. I do only two passes on the less important features. When you need to move from place to place, just
stitch in place several times before moving your needle and when you start to anchor the thread.

For the mountains, I used a lighter shade of grey to let them fade into the background and only did two passes of sewing.

Here is the piece completely stitched. You need to snip all the loose threads where you moved from place to place. I left the loose threads on the back to provide more security of the end threads.

Then I cut off all the extra water soluble fabric.

You'll need small scissors for the tighter areas. You can skip this step and just dissolve all the fabric but depending on the brand you use, it can get kind of sticky and not dissolve easily.

Here is is after I've cut off most of the water soluble fabric.

Follow the directions on your water soluble fabric to dissolve it. Some use hot water and others can use cold. I just put mine in the sink and soaked it a bit. The pen lines and the fabric dissolved away.

And here's the finished product. You can click on the photo to see it better.

Here's a close up of the stitching. If this doesn't make sense, please let me know and I'll try to explain it better. It's a really fun project, give it a try!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Practical Felting and Color

Here is my entry for the challenge this month on the Felting Forum. It is supposed to be practical. I haven't had time to do much - this was made a couple of months ago. I use it for a coaster. It was my first experiment with thread sketching on felt.
Here's a slightly closer photo. The design is from a bookmark that I got in Hawaii.
I have also recently read Exploring Color by Nita Leland. I found this book to be very useful. Sometimes I don't end up liking the books by painters because they seem to have too much information but this book was great and had lovely examples. She suggests that you take whatever paints you have and use them to mix a color wheel. And then to try all the combinations of mixing each color with all the others. I didn't do this with all my paints but it was fun. This first one is with water color pencils and there is a full page more of mixtures of all the colors.

This is with the Jacquard Textile Colors fabric paints.

This is with Dye-na-Flow Jacquard paints.

And finally I tried mixing Lumiere paints with the "primaries" of pink-gold, violet-gold and metallic gold. It didn't give me a wide range of colors as there really wasn't enough blue in the violet or red in the pink but it was an interesting experiment. Next week I get back to my regular schedule of having Fridays off so I hope to get more time to play with my fibers. I've got several projects that I want to get going so more later.
This last photo is using up the leftover Lumiere paints. I painted on a white background but thought it would look better black so I used a black magic marker on the back to color the white paper black.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Tree Stories Available Online

Both of these pieces are now available online if you're interested. Just go to Salvaged Threads blog and scroll down the page a bit until you see my name with the photos and explanation of the pieces. There are some other wonderful pieces of work there as well that you should check out. If you'd like more explanation of the work, you can read this post.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


I'm working on patterns in my studio journal. I chose to look at patterns in nature. There are so many choices of great patterns where ever you look. I found some photos of different objects with pattern and then sketched some variations.

I liked these two best.

The one on the right is a sea fan which you can't see well. The photo was originally bright red but I printed all the photos in black and white so I could concentrate on the patterns and not the colors.

The one on the right is worm eaten wood.

I always like looking down from the ski lift at the patterns the wind makes in the snow. That's a photo of snow on the left. I then made some stamps and used the stamps to make patterns.

Here's all the stamps I made. I used that fun foam stuff that has a sticky back. It's easy to cut out or you can just draw into it.

These are based on the butterfly.

This is based on wind blown sand.

And more organic lines.

This was based on a prior sketch in my journal.

The stamp on the right was supposed to be based on the bottom of the starfish. But it looks more like cobblestones to me.

The one on the left is based on the sea star but looks more like trees.

Here's leaves and just a simple geometric pattern.

The single leaf stamp on the left and some doodles on the right.

These are some notes on making art that I found online that I thought were relevant.

I think if you click on them, you can read them.

This last stamp was based on a sketch of a stylized flower.