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30 Minute Felt Project: Brachyura

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These 30 minute felt projects are an opportunity to come to the creative table with no expectations- just a short intensive, mind-wide-open exploration...It can be easy as a craftsperson to get stuck in a productions mindset, and this is an exercise to give ourselves permission to play within our medium. This is not about creating felt quickly;  it is about setting aside an amount of time that feels reasonable in our busy days to create freely.

  In my studio I have a whole collection of bones and shells, hairs, and glass....beach and forest collections of natural forms....Today's 30 minute felt project is inspired by one of these....a simple crab shell picked up on a beach walk one afternoon....


I've been working on a lot of white, very large pieces recently, and colour called for this little project. Funny how we need creative breaks even within our creative days....I felt that I really needed a 30 minute felt project today as a treat from making big, new, (exciting) other felt projects...I used some C1-Pelsul from New England Felting Supply. Absolutely a dream fibre; an all time favourite...so gorgeous to work with....


I cut a simple crab inspired resist from laminate flooring underlay foam, laid out an underlayer of the wool, and wetted out.


 Some natural black Finn wool for shadowing on the tips...


I rolled the wool into cords over the interior resist for the tips and then rolled on the bubble wrap surface to round the tips out to the points. 

And then I hit the question mark point as I often have in these 30 minute felts....I wanted to have a lime green shell interior, with a silk layer and silk resist pockets...but in my quick initial layout I wasn't certain about the placement so rather than spend time thinking about it, I decided to move on and add it later, at the prefelt stage....


Once at the prefelt stage however, this delay in design placement seemed very complicated...as things often get when I put things off! I carefully lifted my overlayers and resist and laid out the green wools, resists, and then the silks.  It would have been much easier to do at the beginning...and usually with a project- thought out and sketched and with no very short timelines, that is how it would have happened...but this 30 minute felt challenge is not about getting everything right...just doing something creative....it's all fine!



I completed the design for the outside, and started rolling....first gently over the top with a pipe....


...then rolling it up within the bubble wrap....


 Continuing with this rolling, rubbing and tossing on the table....along with working on the tips, until my 30 minutes ran out....



 In my usual work process I would continue to felt this for another 15-20 minutes....to stay in keeping with the 30 minute felt concept, I did stop, but did get that extra fulling time in during the rinsing process! A little cheat maybe, butI've never great at following rules...even when they are my own!


I steamed the finished felt, shaved some parts, clamped pleats into the surface to add shaping and rolled and pulled the felt into it's final form and left to dry.

And...taa daa.... the finished felt....


Quite different form the original crab shell..but that's just how inspiration goes...and I like that the shell still has so much to offer in ideas for future projects...

It takes me about 3 times longer to write about making this than it took to make it! How funny! But there is pleasure certainly in this process also and sharing these ideas!

Back out to the studio for me, and back to the great white silent project on my felting table....plus the creation of the Joomchi Felt workbook.....

Warm wishes,
Fiona


Phosphorescense- A Felt United Day Installation

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 Phosphorescence. It is an ethereal natural process....light emitted by plankton on our shores and in our waters....Inspired by the Felt United theme of water, this installation was excited into being, in a process that developed as naturally as the illumination of the plankton as we walk on the beach or paddle in the water....quiet, peaceful, delicate, and magical....The illuminated globes are felt lanterns floating on the surface of the sea..






 
 This work feels quiet and serene...meditative...less words are called for, rather than long explanations...but I do have to include this description of phosphorescence from wikipedia...I'm intrigued by the idea of "forbidden energy state transitions...how enticing...

"Phosphorescence is a specific type of photoluminescence related to fluorescence. Unlike fluorescence, a phosphorescent material does not immediately re-emit the radiation it absorbs. The slower time scales of the re-emission are associated with "forbidden" energy state transitions in quantum mechanics. As these transitions occur very slowly in certain materials, absorbed radiation may be re-emitted at a lower intensity for up to several hours after the original excitation."

A beautiful way to spend an evening, in our favourite spot at Ruckle Park...

Lots of news to share with you...I'll be right back!
warm wishes,
Fiona


A Blustery Fall Review

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 Now that my most busy season ever is drawing to a close, it feels like a good time to catch up and review the events of this fall. Better to have done so as things came and went but I couldn't quite get a grasp on them as they blew past.


Of course the fall started with felt::feutre, a project that really encompassed much of the year....I could say so much about this...but the main thing is that is was such a pleasure to meet so many feltmakers from across North America.  It was a wonderful week.  I taught two classes, Felt Illumination and the Joomchi Wrap Vest.  My students made the most beautiful projects while covering a multitude of techniques.  As each day progressed I found more energy, as teaching feeds my spirit, and overall, as each day passed, there was less and less organizational work and events to be prepared for! 






Then there was a week of clean up and writing.  The followup after the event....The FELTfashion show was included in the new Russian Felt magazine Felt Fashion.


You can see a full set of Fashion Images here:
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/jenmaclellan/sets/72157636132936485/

I managed to fit in my Phosphorescence Installation project for Felt United and then started to get ready for two shows....


It was on to KnitCity with my fibre company, Kattikloo. It is an event amazingly well organized by Amanda and Fiona at KnitSocial.  I had dyed one of Knit City's custom colourways for the year-available here:
 http://knitsocial.ca/shop/
a custom designed pattern available here: 
http://www.ravelry.com/patterns/library/gather
plus it was the big launch of the Knit Social book, Cascadia in which my yarn was featured in one of the patterns. It felt like a weekend retreat in Vancouver, meeting with great people and getting to talk fibre...all weekend. Of course the actual setting up at these shows is the last 25%, or somesuch ratio...everything needed to be dyed and labelled and packed....


And then the next weekend it was off to Circle Craft. My last big event of the year, and my opportunity to showcase of my finished feltwork. October into early November was an every minute counts kind of time, coming off of felt::feutre and needing to produce enough work for two shows.  Again, at Circle Craft I had the most wonderful textile conversations with people.  I like my space to be crisp and clean...a visual break that highlights the work.  People appreciated the fineness of my felt and particularly the joomchi compositions, which sold out within the first two days. They looked so gorgeous on people- I wish I had images....It felt amazing to have my work appreciated...


It has been a whirlwind....tempestuous and swirling...one I thought might consume me at times, but I had a magic carpet of support from friends and family, and inner resolve that kept the currents navigable. Just...I need to be careful next year to review the weather charts and chose my path wisely in order not to compromise...health, income, creativity, family...lifestyle.

I have a big collection of images and stories I've been wanting to share here, but it felt like I needed to talk about some of the big puzzle pieces first...so here we are.....up to the moment. And now finalizing the details of next years creative agenda which is a beautiful and exciting one....

But slowly, with a cup of tea in hand and warm fire beside...and my boys moving in and out (not so peacefully!)... a delightful end to a season...

Warm wishes, 
Fiona

Surface Design, now and in 2014

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These last two weeks I've been making the last arrangements and samples for my 2014 classes, which will have a strong emphasis in surface design.  This is such an exciting topic, and my favourite theme for exploration in the studio. 
The spikes above are a new addition to the curriculum and one I love...sharp metallic gleamings in a landscape of soft, matte fibre.



 It is a challenge to fit in all the design elements covered in the course in a single piece. Just in the actual physicality of making it all fit, but also from the design aesthetic of having some cohesion and a beautiful finished project. These island samplers really do feel like maps of mythical worlds....

The Surface Design book will be at the printers by the first week of February (I shudder to say anything about this project after picking it up and leaving it multiple times over the last two years...but this time- it is for certain!) I'm finishing one chapter per week over the next two months.... I'm also building online classes that will be available next spring.



 This was my 30 minute felt project for this week...playing with surfaces and resists....I think I'll call it Territory.  A little soft and welcoming, a little threatening and unknown...a space to be navigated with attention.

  Next year is coming together beautifully, with a nice mix of teaching, exhibitions and creative breathing spaces.  
Surface Design classes upcoming in Texas, Colorado (Full),  Vancouver, Salt Spring, Wisconsin, and Ontario so far...
A post is coming with all the dates, details and links....

Warm wishes, 
Fiona





Felt Consulting

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 I've been having some fun this last week/weekend doing some felt consultancy work for Pollika.
Pollika are a fibre company based in Vancouver who are the North American distributors for many European brands, including De Witte Engel and Painters Threads. I've been working with them to develop felting kits for beginners....kits for yarn shops that give textile people something new to try. 


 The latest kits are on making felt jewelry. I loaded them with great techniques while covering the basics, keeping in mind these are people just trying felting, maybe for the first time. This new kit will be launched at The National Needlearts Association trade show in San Diego this January. the TNNA shows are amazing- yarn and fibre shops from all over North America attend to find new products to share with their customers. I went one year with Pollika, to demonstrate feltmaking in the booth. Lots of fun...

  I had a funny moment this week while editing my pictures. I had to photoshop clean my nails, because I'd forgotten to clean them before shooting, and they were just a little too dirty to be presentable-how does that happen.....ah well...a little PS manicure and we're all set....


And another sample in a warm colourway. There will probably be 6 colourways in total. Now that the instructions are all written and photos taken and off with the graphic designers, I can relax a bit and spend some time making inspiration samples for the show.  Small projects like this make a refreshing change and I love having a bit of embroidery to do in the evenings. 

 I might use the jewelry pieces as a jumping off point to create this years ornament. I didn't think I was going to design one this year, but now the flame is alight and I'm ready to felt and stitch....after I get my last orders done this week and in the mail...by Wednesday!


This was a cover of the instructions for our first kit, released back in June. These are now available in yarns shops across Canada and the US.  That's pretty exciting...to create something that invites people to try something new, to have fun making something beautiful, and maybe to plant the seed of a new passion.   I have some more great plans for Pollika....maybe one more kit for January release and then a set for next May.

Back to work!
Warm wishes,
Fiona

Felt Fashion-2013

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This is a bit of a catch up post...Some work from 2013 I didn't share here.  Facebook friends will have seen these images, but I missed writing about them here in the midst of the busy-ness that was Fall.


 These pieces and the photographs were an important part of my creative evolution through 2013.  Moving into exploring more complex garment construction and the body as a canvas....lots of surfaces....and doing some photography with models. Rachel always looks fantastic in my work, and we are comfortable with one another and have fun doing the shoots. She gets to play model (stunningly) and I get to play photographer!



2014 holds lots more exploration of fashion...shibori work, origami in clothing, architectural shaping...sculpture for the body....lots of natural dye work as well...it's going to be fun!


Surface Design in Feltmaking Online Workshop

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  I'm so excited to be able to offer the Surface Design in Feltmaking workshop  in an online format.  It's taken many months of thinking and planning to get everything in place, with the teaching materials presented in a way that I feel best meets the needs of the students. 
  It's so important that each idea is well covered, with every question answered, every pitfall troubleshooted. I've gotten there, I hope, with a combination of instructional PDF's with lots of pictures and detailed, clear text, a video demonstration, plus private blog area to share finished projects, questions, answers and inspiration.  

  This is an intermediate level class-for those with some feltmaking experience. If you are a beginning feltmaker, I will have a free introductory mini class available in the last week of January that will prepare you for this workshop. 

  This workshop is for people interested in deepening their knowledge of fibres, learning new techniques to add to their craft or art practise, or those just wanting to have some fun exploring new ideas.  We make a 6 x 6 inch sample for each new technique to build a fantastic resource library, or inspiration board and then implement these techniques in a finished felting project in the last week.

The class is six weeks long and is delivered in one week modules for this session:

Week 1:Fibres and Surfaces
short and long fibres, combining felting and non felting fibres, shadowing,silks and cottons-quilting, folds and ripples, photos and text
Week 2: Surface Resists
wool breeds, plastics and foams,  craters, pockets, loops and bridges, gems and beads, tape,
Week 3:Nuno Felting Inclusions and Resists
Week 4: Wool and Prefelt Additions
prefelt, pencil rovings, yarns, locks, spikes, cones, blossoms
Week 5:Surface Alterations
holes, multilayered hills and ridges,carving, lace, shibori stitching and anemones
Week 6: Individual project
Each student will pick out the elements that they most want to explore further and integrate these surface design elements in a felt project like a scarf, bag, wall piece, sculpture. 

New material will be available each Sunday, with about 4-6 hours of student time required for design and feltmaking. You can decide when you work on each module. Work on one design element each day, or dedicate a day to work through the material all at once. As well as by email, I will be answering questions and giving comments throughout the course on the private blog, allowing all participating students to learn through one another's projects.

  The full materials list will be sent out with confirmation of your registration.
Materials kits with everything required for the workshop can be ordered up until January 15th, for delivery in time for the workshop starting date. 

If you have any questions about this class please just email me!

Workshop Dates:
February 2nd- March 9th,
Online materials and resources will be available to students until August 1st, 2014

Workshop Fee: $95.00

Creative Role Models for 2014

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  As I've been doing my planning and thinking and organizing and writing for all things 2014, three women have stood out as role models for me, in progressing in my work. They don't know it, and it is only through my observations from afar that they influence me, but each of them stand out regardless. I have so much respect for their creative talents, business skills, and dedication to their art and craft.    I look to them as online mentors in successful creative business and art practise.



Natalie Chanin of Alabama Chanin

Her designs are stunning as is her success story. I worked with her company to create an article once on organic textiles for Living Crafts magazine way back when, and learnt so much about her approach to textiles, traditional craft, and growing a cottage based business practise. Really... who could imagine taking handstitched clothing, not only hand embellished beyond all imagination, but handsewn garments and making this such a popular textile pursuit through books, workshops and kits. And to build a clothing line of high end, entirely hand made clothing, created entirely in the US. Amazing.  Her ethos is one of support, for her local economy, women, and the environment.



Jane Stafford of Jane Stafford Textiles

Jane lives on this same small and wonderful  island.  She has created an amazing business, and beautiful space in the world.  A weaver with 25 years of experience, her name is uttered with awe and reverence at fibre arts events (I've heard them!) She has built a beautiful studio and retreat space here on the island, and her 2014 workshops are already almost completely full. Grounded, realistic, funny,  inspiring and supportive...Jane is masterful both in her craft and her teaching.  To balance with such grace her two major life roles, weaving teacher and mother, is a monumental task and inspiring to observe. 



Agostina Zwilling of the Italian Felt Acadamy

Agostina is a contemporary artist who works with an emphasis on fashion, felt and natural dyes. She does so within a rich, modern aesthetic that I love.
I read the mission statement for the Italian Felt Academy and and the dedication within the words resonates and renews. Sometimes we read words/have conversations/see work, that nudges us back in line with our core values...Agostina's work does so for me. It is dramatic and stunning, and grounded in ethical and environmental production.  Her approach to teaching and event planning appears streamlined, simple, with depth.  Elegant. I have been following a similar artistic path, exploring shibori, natural dyes, shadow cloth work, and architectural clothing design. I aspire to her level of technical excellence and aesthetic execution. I see her work and it reminds me to hold fast and be true to my visions.

What do these strong, independent, beautiful women teach me...
Well. there's a whole let there alone, in just the words I use to describe them...
Live your passion. Believe in what you do. Do it fully. Use your creativity to build community and support other women, whether at home or afar....This creates and inspires beauty.

One More....

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How could I miss Claudy Jongstra!


CLaudy Jongstra from De Ketelfactory on Vimeo.

Just listen to her passion for her process....local wools, natural dyes, scale, aesthetic....oooo.really.stunning.

She was not in my mind over the new year, but has been an inspiration to me for years now. Everything about what she makes, how she makes it, where she makes it, and the materials she uses.  Everything. 

What a way to start the new year, visiting with these women online, and thinking about why they are so inspirational.  

Ready to get started, doing something wonderful!
Warm wishes, 
Fiona
  

Almost Home....

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   I feel as though I'm at the end of a long trip, and as wonderful as the experience has been and as much as I am loving every minute of it, I'm starting to look forward to being home, with friends and family. In this case, home is here, and I am missing you! This pace is a favourite one of mine, and I've missed being here.


  The Surface Design online class has been an amazing experience....every part of it.... and I'll be writing a short post immediately following this one with information about the next session.  These are a few pictures from what we have been working on each week.



  It has been a busy and wonderful first 6 weeks of this year. Wow.  Welcome 2014.

  I leave on Thursday for two weeks of visiting with fibre friends in the US, and when I get back...it will be like walking the door after that long time away. You know, that feeling of all that is familiar is also new....I can't wait to be back here on a regular basis, sharing with you new works in progress and finished pieces from the studio.  Back to a regular pace of life for the first time in a year....


 When I get back I start creating pieces for my exhibition coming up this summer on Salt Spring. It's going to be so exciting to explore new felt forms and dyeing ideas.

 Thank you for being here with me! I truly enjoy your company, your comments and your emails!
Warm wishes, 
Fiona
 
 

Surface Design Online: Spring Session

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Registration for my Surface Design Online- Spring Session is now open!
The class will start on April 5th and run until May 17th. 

All of the workshop information is available on my website:
http://www.fionaduthie.com/surface-design-in-feltmaking-online-workshop/


I'm holding a little draw to thank everyone for their enthusiastic support of this new class.
There will be two opportunities to win a free class:

One winner will be drawn from those who:
Like my Facebook page, and share the link to the class information on their timeline. Leave me a comment on FB to let me know you have shared.
The name will be drawn from those comments.

One winner will be drawn from those who subscribe to my workshop information newsletter using the link on my website or at the bottom of this post.

The draw will take place on Wednesday, February 19th, at 9:00pm PST. I'll post the winner here, and on Facebook.




I love sharing this material with you. It forms to soul of my work, and it is like a dream to get to run these classes in this way!
Thank you again!

February 19th update:

FaceBook winner is......Nell Burns
The newsletter winner has been contacted by email and I am just waiting to hear back from them, before announcing!

Thank you everyone who took part in this! Your support is very much appreciated.

Watch for lots more felt happening around here in the coming weeks!


Warm wishes, 
Fiona

Workshop information Newsletter:




Craft Guild of Dallas

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I left on a great fiber adventure this week... I've been traveling in the United States, completely immersed in felt making and fiber art.

First stop was the beautiful Craft Guild of Dallas. It is an amazing facility, with purpose built and architecturally designed studios for many mediums.


 I gave an artist lecture to a small but very interesting group of women.  It was quite wonderful to give a talk in an intimate setting that flowed afterwards into conversations of fibre, art and life.

My first class at the Craft Guild was in Joomchi Scarves. It was a full house! We talked about the foundations, the metaphors and the techniques. 






Everyone's compositions were wonderful...well thought out, and therefore laid out.... It is such a pleasure to teach a class with a group of creative people that take the new ideas and run with them.

The next day we worked on Surface Design.  I think it was the quietest Surface Design class I have ever taught. Everyone was focused and engaged in their processes!






In the class were visual artists, weavers, jewelry makers, bookbinders, as well as feltmakers, and everyone found their own interesting ways in exploring our surfaces.

Every minute I was not at the Guild, I was working on the Surface Design Online class... now in week 4. I am having some technical challenges while traveling, and spent most of Saturday night and well into Sunday morning, working with two computers, trying to get the class uploaded!

I have a selection of work on display in the Guild gallery shop until the end of March.

Thank you to everyone who came! It was such a pleasure to spend a weekend with you all, and special thanks to Suzanne Morgan, who initiated these classes, and my most generous host, Lisa Covert, President of the Craft Guild.

I can hardly believe, and very much appreciate, that I get to live my life this way!

I'm looking forward to returning to Dallas sometime, maybe next year for a longer workshop series now in discussions...but for now.... I'm on my way with my big bags of wool, on to Colorado, for the Felter's Rendezvous!

Warm wishes,
Fiona




Felting in the Rocky Mountains

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view from my classroom

I've just arrived home from a very beautiful trip. As mentioned before, Texas was fantastic- such a great group of creative people.  I had a few days before the beginning of the Felters Rendezvous and I had some writing to complete, so I created a little writer's retreat for myself in lovely Estes Park, Colorado. I had four days of felting, writing, good coffee, beautiful views, and silence. It was delightful! The sunshine, snow, mountain vistas and crisp but not cold temperatures were invigorating. 

Chapter 5 of the book complete, I headed further into the mountains to Rocky Mountain National Park and the Felters Rendezvous. After four days of silence I chatted (far too long and late) with felting friends, Heather and Tylar, as well as new friends, Cathy and Marsha. It was lovely to be with them all, and a highlight of my week to finally meet Heather in person!
 
before the classes, set up and ready....what a great space!

My first class was in felt bags. It was a full house and a very creative and exploratory group. In construction we had a variety of shapes, inner pockets, inner divisions, and outer pockets, and delved into some surface design play. There was a range of experience from beginner to master, and everyone challenged themselves to stretch their boundaries. That's a great thing in a class. No restraint was exercised and everyone made beautiful work.



Gorgeous and elaborate bags...it was such a fun class! For Dayle, in the top picture, this was her second felt project ever! Bags make such a perfect canvas for exploration of resists and surface design forms.

In days 3 and 4 we moved on to Surface Design.  Another full room, with some students continuing after the bag making, and some new faces to join our group.



A few of the extraordinary surfaces created on Day 3.  Over the two days, each student made two large felt tapestries, created as samplers to hold the multitude of techniques.


This whole event was extremely well co-ordinated by Deb Tewell of The Felting Source. Thank you Deb, for all your assistance, and the time and effort that goes into creating such an event! Next years dates and teachers are all set- It promises to be wonderful...and always a beautiful and inspiring location!

And now here I am...back again in my little studio on this little island.... gearing up for Surface Design Online-Spring and creating a new body of work for my exhibition this summer.  Life does not get better than this, and I thank you all for being a part of it!

Warm wishes, 
Fiona

Inkjet Transfer Paper Explorations

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Teaching a most marvelous experience! It invites to teacher to share their skills and provides wonderful opportunities to refine our techniques both before the classes in preparation, but also during....

The spring class of Surface Design Online is in session, and it is just so much fun...It is amazing to see so much beautiful work, and to see connections building between feltmakers from all over the world.   One of the techniques in this class is using Inkjet Transfer Paper for adding text and images to your feltmaking. I started playing with this a few years ago with my Storytelling Bags series.   I've always wanted to explore this in a different way and the opportunity presented itself this afternoon.   

I've been wanting to see how different drawing tools could be used directly on the transfer paper...and what results the different mediums would give... So we tried some crayons for fabric, sharpie markers for fabrics, regular sharpie markers (permanent), and ink and paintbrush.  We tried pencil crayons and pens as well, but their points were too sharp and tore up the transfer paper. ("We": I even got my two teenagers excited about this and playing with textiles with me! Excited may be too strong a word, but I'm sticking with it!)



With this method, text can be easily mirrored. Write your desired words on a sheet of ordinary copy paper, hold it up backwards in a window. Place the transfer paper up to the lettering, making sure you are drawing on the correct side of your transfer paper for transferring, and copy using your desired drawing medium.



Cut out your drawing and iron them onto your silk fabrics as per the paper instructions. In this case we ironed each section for 2 minutes or so, on the highest setting, with no steam. Remove the paper from the silk fabrics, and cut out around the image, allowing at least an inch of non-printed silk for the wool fibres to migrate through during felting.
 

Felt as usual...
 

and....taadaa.....hand drawn images and text on your nuno felting! How incredible is that!  This has a different effect than just using fabric markers on your silk directly, as you can use many drawing mediums, plus you get interesting surface reliefs from the transfer paper.

In our experiments, anything with a brush tip worked equally well. The regular sharpies were a little too pointed and tended to gum up with the polymers from the paper, but did give very refined lines and brightly coloured images. The crayons are one of my favourites... I like their folk art qualities..the slight transparency in the drawing strokes combined with good strong colours.


This is what it is all about....exploration, experimentation and sharing....We are always students...even when we are teachers!

We explore this technique in much more depth in class, but I thought you all might enjoy seeing this, as it's so simple and beautiful! 

In this sampling we used Lesley Riley's TAP as our transfer medium.

Happy felting, 
Fiona

Wool Roving vs. Wool Batting

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Comparing wool roving and wool batting was once one of the foundations of the Surface Design class, but that exploration felt most possible for in person classes.   I include the fibers in the online Surface Design class, as I think it's a benefit for everyone to experience working with fibres in their different forms.  In working through the class materials, I decided to do a little test to see what differences I would find when working with roving and batting, in a documentated study! I used 16 grams/ 0.5 ounce of extra fine merino roving, and the same amount of extra fine merino batting both from the wonderful DHG. 
(see sources at the end!)


 Wool batting has been scoured, dyed and carded. It comes in big sheets or rolls. The wool fibres are not directional, or straightened.  When we are felting we want to have our fibres laid out in different directions to allow for the greatest connection of the fibres and their scales as they integrate to become felt.  With batting we don't need to pay any attention to the direction we lay out the fibres as they are already blended.


 Batting is fantastic for quick layouts. The batting can be spread out to your desired shape and size, and layers can be built up to reach your desired thickness.  To layout the batting, spread your wool out on your work surface. To remove extra fibre, use one hand as a clamp, held flat and firm on top of your fibres, and use the other hand to pull away the excess fibre-image left. Increase your layout size by laying on more batting, overlapping by about 1 inch (2.5cm) -image centre.  If you have any thin spots or holes, fill in with wisps of the wool batting- image right. Very fast and easy.

Wool batting is especially useful for quick layouts for all flat feltmaking projects, like wall pieces, playmats, or making your own prefelt. It is also excellent as a base for vessels, hats and bags.
Wool batting is generally not as readily available of wool rovings, sliver or tops.  Several breeds can be purchased in wool batting form, including Merino, Merino blends, Corriedale/Coopworth, Bergschaf, Norwegian C1, and Norwegian C1-Pelsull, Finnish and Icelandic. (resources below!)


  
Wool roving has been scoured, dyed and carded, and combed, so the fibres are all straight and aligned in a single direction. It comes in long lengths, sometimes rolled up into balls. We can layout one layer of roving if we want to create a very fine light felt, but most often we will lay out multiple layers, with each new layer perpendicular to the last.  This creates the greatest potential connection of the fibres and their scales as they integrate to become felt. The fibres will shrink more along the length of the fibre and we can use this to influence the size and shaping of our felt work during layout. In general though, we want consistent, even, perpendicular layers.

There are several ways to layout your wool roving. The most common form is called shingling. We use one hand as a clamp and pull away a staple length of wool fibre. Each shingle overlaps the previous one by one third -image left. After laying out all the fibres in one direction, we'll lay out the second layer of wool shingles, with the fibre direction perpendicular to the previous layer- image right. Two layers will create a lightweight consistent felt. More layers may be used either depending on the thickness of each shingle, or the desired thickness of your finished felt.



If I use the same weight of wool fibres, and start with the same size of layout, my end result should be the same with either wool roving or batting.   I used exactly the same felting techniques for the same durations in both samples. The batting was faster to layout. The roving developed a more strong felted skin more quickly. The batting felt more cohesive and started to full or shrink sooner in the process. They were both finished in the same amount of time, and the finished size was the same in both samples, with equal shrinkage in the width and the length.

 

My batting sample was more even in finished density overall. If I had of been a little more attentive in my layout of the roving, I think it would have been as consistent, if not more than the batting. But I was working quite quickly, so in this case the batting had a slightly better end result. 


After fulling completely, rinsing and laying flat to dry, both samples are tight and evenly finished. The batting appears just a little more smooth and flat.

So... no dramatic results! The same amount and size of sample produced a similar end result, as happens when an experiment goes exactly as you think it will!

I chose between roving and batting based on two main criteria. The first is availability. What fibre form  is available to me in the  particular wool breed I want.  I love C-1/pelsull for bags, and that is most readily available in a batting form. But I also make most of my bags in white and then dye them after, and for those I use Finnish wool, that is most readily available as a roving. The second  criteria is the density of the finished felt. When I am making the lightest weight, structural felt garments, I will use an extra fine merino roving. I feel I have the most control over the density of my felt (when I don't rush!) using the wool in a roving form.

It is valuable to touch and work with the different forms. Laying out with locks alone is another great experience. Exploring and using the different wools informs our felting sensibilities and understanding of the fibre qualities, as well as deepening our physical appreciation and hand recognition of the wools.

Here are some sources for you:
Batting:
Merino:Dyeing House Gallery (Italy) 
distributed in the US by Opulent Fibers
distributed in Canada by ArtGus Studio 

Merino:New England Felting Supply

Merino Cross:Living Felt

Norwegian C1, C1-Pelsull Blend, and Pelsull:New England Felting Supply
 
Bergschaf: Dyeing House Gallery (Italy) 

distributed in the US by Opulent Fibers
distributed in Canada by ArtGus Studio 

Finnish: Piiku (Finland)
 
Icelandic: Alafoss (Iceland)

Rovings or Tops are much easier to come by, and there are many wonderful online sources, including most of those above.  Too many to list here, but I do purchase most of the coarse wool breed rovings from:
www.worldofwool.co.uk

Lots of felt with!
Warm wishes, 
Fiona





Experimental Garment Construction Workshop

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  I'm really looking forward to this workshop. We have a great space- very large, open airy and bright. Lots of room to move and work and think.  Plus it takes place at the same time as the opening of my upcoming exhibition at ArtCraft.  This exhibition is a collection of sculptural garments, accessories and small sculpture. The elements I am working with now in creating these pieces, will be those we'll view and explore in creating interesting shaping in our garments in the workshop. 

  Here's the workshop description:

  Sculpture for the Body explores the manipulation of the surface of a garment; building up organic shaping that alters the structural lines, beautifully, dynamically and unexpectedly.  We’ll create highly wearable art pieces exploring architectural and sculptural design in wool. Layers and shaping will be created with prefelts, cords and gathers, shibori, folding, cutting and stitching. We’ll cover seamless garment construction while making a garment design of the student’s choice-dress, jacket, vest or skirt.

  I am most excited about the range of possibilities in this class. You could come just for the basic garment construction and learn how to make a fit-to-you jacket, dress, skirt, vest, or....
  And then as much and deeply as you want to, we will cut and shape and manipulate to add new form and architecture to the garment. Clean, wild or elegant... 3 days of creative feltmaking.

  I'm so looking forward to sharing this time with some of you!
 
Dates: July 10, 11, 12
Location : ArtSpring, 100 Jackson Ave, Salt Spring Island
Fee:  $325.00 plus materials fee: $65.00

For more information and to register:
www.fionaduthie.com/experimental-garment-construction/

Warm wishes, 
Fiona


Emerging and Retreating

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a treasured gift from my friend els @ fiber rainbow

Like Spring Bulbs and New Leaves....

As the Surface Design Online class ends, and my teaching schedule for the season closes, I find myself in an interesting transitional space. One that has been more challenging to move through than I had thought when I planned my calender for the year.

I'm retreating from being online in my capacity as teacher, and emerging into my summer island world.   Lots more time for long walks in the forest, evenings at the beach and book reading under the tree.  Family time and coffee with friends. It's an interesting challenge to switch gears mentally... I've gotten used to long hours in front of the computer, and have to remind myself that I don't actually need to be doing that right now...and sign out.


In this time I am reacquainting myself with my studio space....I worked in the studio alot over the spring, but mostly in relation to developing teaching materials, and it became more of a messy production/holding/impersonal/disaster space...It took some initial perseverance this last week or so to remind myself to be out there...It was actually difficult to go out there and start making something! I would have loved to have cleaned and re-organized completely to reflect new creative directions and spaces, but that just wasn't possible....so in addition to making new work, I adjust and sort for an hour a day....and slowly but surely the studio is emerging as my true space again.  The more this happens, the more I retreat into this space and love the quiet and authentic reflection.

This season in my working life is all about new explorations and creations. I retreat from the everydayness into my space and fall in love with my materials, like renewing vows in life long relationship! Ideas constantly emerging, and sometimes fear also...What if I can't actually do what my mind sees and my pencil creates on paper. What if I am just not good enough to realize these ideas.  There's a lot of that right now. The next few weeks will tell! The piece below is part of a series that uses the dress and therefore the human form as a canvas. Waiting to be dyed and stitched....


As I spend more time in this creative space, I am eager to share my explorations online again....here on my blog or on Facebook.....full circle but in a different space. 

I am absolutely intrigued with how retreating and emerging can be one and the same thing. Retreating from or into one aspect of life brings us into emergence in another. They are each a side of the same door.

I have to say how grateful I am to have met so many wonderful people through felting this Winter into Spring...some in person and some only online. But the connections are so good and whole....the emergence of such a gift!

A special thank you to my far away fiber friend, Els, who sent me the beautiful gift above...a little bit of each of our countries, and of herself. I love having these little touchstones in my studio, warming and thoughtful, from friends also making in their own spaces...
 
Warm wishes, 
Fiona







SHIFT : exploring layers of perception

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SHIFT : exploring layers of perspective
July 11- August 1
10:00am-5:00pm
ArtCraft Gallery, 114 Rainbow Road Salt Spring Island


A joint exhibition of work by Barbra Edwards, visual artist, and Fiona Duthie, fibre artist, at Salt Spring Island's ArtCraft Gallery.

Fiona's work in this exhibition features new sculptural felt garments that use geological surfaces created through fabric manipulation, stratified textiles and mapping imagery to explore biography. Barbra’s current work explores how form speaks to form. Line is used to suggest something of substance, layers of perspective; what existed before or what might be. Other paintings use obvious line separation as a statement on how each of us observe things differently.

There is a natural flow and relationship between what both artists are creatively saying in their respective art forms.


The exhibition opening is on July 11th, 6:00-8:00pm.

http://www.fionaduthie.com/
http://www.barbraedwards.com/

The Last Dress

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Yesterday I finished the last piece for my exhibition...a little background for you, written as I worked. 
 
Here I am....on the day of the photo shoot of my most recent work. One day before the installation, and two days before the big opening and fashion show.

And I'm taking a slow day to finish the last dress. This dress was actually the first one I started as I prepared for this exhibition. I got it all laid up on my table and then realized it was going to take me weeks to make all the parts. I needed my work table in that time, so the first dress was carefully rolled up and set aside...until now.


I like the way this dress has been in process throughout the creation of all of the pieces for this exhibition. It is the dress that is the most time intensive, with lots of handfelting and slow plant dyeing.

Each "wishbone" takes about 15 minutes to make and there about 60 of them on the dress.  Each of the three ends needs to be carefully hand worked to attach it to the body.




Once fully felted the surface result is a little wild, very sculptural. Interlaced and overlapping, crawling, leaping, edging their way up and around the dress surface. In my mind these are wishbones, and they are also tracks. They cast shadows, changing with the angle of the viewers perception.  They're a little ugly...and also beautiful.


This dress was dyed with iron and tansy that I collected this morning while walking up the hill and looking out over a gorgeous sea, with mountains beyond. I am so happy to have the time to work through this slow completion process today, at the end of a long journey of thinking, and planning and felting. 

 And this evening, a group of beautiful women joined me and brilliant photographer Amy Melious, for a photo shoot of the finished pieces. It was wonderful to see these brought to life, so very different from standing on mannequins in my studio. I very much appreciate the time and effort put in by everyone for this shoot. What a setting and company to end the day...and the work for this exhibition.



The last dress....a full cycle of creative process as well as of story and place.

I'll try to fill you in on the other SHIFT dresses in between in the next few weeks!
Warm wishes, 
Fiona

Greater than the sum of the parts...

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Migration with Day Tripper and Night Dance in the background

 The SHIFT exhibition opening was a wonderful night! The show was very well attended by an enthusiastic audience.  To open the show, only Barbra Edwards's dramatic paintings were in the exhibition space.


Beautiful World and Form Speaks to Form
both 54 x 48" oil / wax on panel
Grey Rhythm48 x 72"
oil on canvas
with  Confluence in foreground

  My pieces came out individually on models, bringing each piece to life with movement...living sculpture. After each model walked though the gathered crowd, she took her position in the exhibition, as the pieces would be displayed for the duration of the show.  Then everyone had the opportunity to move into the exhibition space to interact with and view in detail the paintings and felt pieces.  It was a fantastic evening!


  Barbra and I worked separately on our pieces through the spring/early summer and only shared hints of our directions in our work. We had never met before being paired for this exhibition and only met twice throughout the process, each working in our separate studios, on our separate islands. In our occasional conversations though, the most amazing relationships in our work began to become apparent, as well as  commonalities in life experiences.  Barbra's palette is bold, but always has an earthy base. My use of plant dyes is the same. This guaranteed some cohesion in our exhibition. But the degree of cohesion could not have been foretold or expected to be as amazing as it is here.

L to R
SHIFT #3 with Rift
Creature Love (48 x 60" oil on canvas) with Stratum in foreground
Day Tripper
60 x 43"
mixed media with oil

Rift with SHIFT #1 (diptych)16 x 32"  oil/with wax
  What was the most remarkable surprise and continues to give me such great pleasure is just how strong and beautiful the relationships our pieces have with one another.  Each of Barbra's pieces has a unique connection with one of mine, through form, line and colour. 


Beautiful World 54 x 48" oil /wax on panel with Hegira (right)


 Great and insightful reviews in the newspaper today, and two of my pieces sold!  I feel very fortunate to have had this opportunity to get to know Barbra and her work. And to the Salt Spring Arts Council for pairing us in this exhibition.  I'll be etching out some quiet moments at the gallery over the next week to soak up the relationship of these pieces. Together, greater than the sum of the parts...

You can read our artists statements here.

And see more of Barbra's work here.

Warm wishes,
Fiona