I though you might like to see what I have been up to while I am having a short break from weaving, drawing breath after the frantic work for the exhibition.
I decided to have a go at Needle Felting. I bought the necessary supplies a couple of months back but have only just found the time to have a go. As those of you who have already tried it will know, the technique is surprisingly simple, you just stab at the ‘magic wool’ (usually Merino wool roving) repeatedly to felt the fibres together, but the barbed needles are very sharp and despite a foam mat to work on, with protectors on thumb and one finger I still utter the occasional ‘ouch!’ and have even drawn blood.
The mouse is very basic and only took a few hours to make, spread over two evenings. It has not ended up quite as chubby and rounded as I had intended but as I had already broken three of the specialist needles I decided to quit while I still had some needles left.
The needles are quite fragile and there is always a risk they will break if you are not careful. I have ordered a pack of ten needles on-line, which should be with me by the end of the week. However I wanted to try something a bit more complex straight away so I bought a pack of three from a local ‘hobbies’ store to make sure I had enough to be going on with.
The penguin is slightly more complicated as he has beak and wings to insert as well as the colour change on the body and the underside of the wings. The feet are cut from a flat sheet of bought felt, as are the mouse ears and tail. I actually managed to complete him without braking any needles and he only took me one evening so I didn’t need my extra needles! When I looked at him in daylight this morning I noticed he wasn’t very well felted in places and, as you can see in the picture, a bit too fluffy, so he required a little more ‘stabbing’.
The figures are not very big. To give you an idea of size, the mouse’s body is about 2 inches long and the penguin stands about 2.5 inches high. The instructions for these two figures came from a book called ‘Twenty to Make, Needle Felties’ by Susanna Wallis, published by Search Press. ISBN 978-84448-905-3 at £4.99 UK or $9.95 US/Canada and it seems to be an ideal beginners book.
The little figures are fun to make and don’t take very long so I am sure I will be filling future odd moments making others. Next I shall have a go at a more complicated animal with legs and more shaping required. I think this is another little hobby I could get hooked on if only I knew what to do with them once they are made!
Here are the last two of my exhibition pieces ready to hang:
My original plan had been to frame these two pieces and I bought a frame to do the first one, intending to buy the second frame once I had checked out how it would look. However when I measured them up, once you take in to account the surrounding mount and the size of the frame, each piece would end up significantly larger and although this would set them off nicely I was in danger of ending up overflowing my allocated gallery space. So it was back to plan B, which was to stitch them to an artists stretched ‘box’ canvas as I had done with ‘Pinwheel’ (see previous post).
At first I decided that ‘Aftermath’ would look good on a pale blue background and ‘Red Shift’ would be quite striking on gold, but I hadn’t got any emulsion or acrylic paints in suitable shades. Thinking again I realised that, not only would they both look fine on a grey background as previously used for ‘Pinwheel’ but this would also give unity to my display. I then discovered that my husband had used all the grey paint when he did the background for ‘Pinwheel’ – so off he went to buy a small ‘sample’ pot of grey, hoping it would be a reasonable match. In fact it was a perfect match and went on so well that only one coat was needed on each, whereas ‘Pinwheel’ had needed two coats. Stitching was a different matter; it was just as awkward to do as the first time I tried it, but again I am pleased with the result.
So at last all the tapestries are prepared for hanging, all that remains is to attach the appropriate labelling that the gallery requires and then they will be ready for delivery. I have also produced some cards to sell in the gallery shop and a selection is pictured below. I can’t quite believe that the exhibition is almost upon us and that I have actually got everything done in time. I am now looking forward to planning new weaving projects over the coming months.
The exhibition draws nearer and I still have to complete my hanging preparations. I have now prepared two more – ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Pinwheel’ below.
‘Blue Moon’ on the left was stitched onto some oatmeal coloured evenweave fabric, then mounted on art board before being put into a recycled frame. I don’t feel guilty about using a second-hand frame as it will not be offered for sale at the exhibition. This is one I intend to keep. I like the blue frame and I think it suits the piece very well.
‘Pinwheel’ on the right has been sewn onto an artist’s stretched ‘box’ canvas which has first been painted grey (kindly done for me by my husband), which seems to set it off well. I had intended to frame this one too but had been unable to find a frame of the correct size and I didn’t want to invest in having one specially made. Sewing it to the canvas was a bit of an experiment and not the easiest sewing job I have ever done but I am pleased with the result.
This leaves me with just ‘Aftermath’ and ‘Red Shift’ to complete – to remind yourself of what they look like click ‘here’.
I am also producing some greetings cards to sell in the gallery shop. The pictures are printed and awaiting mounting onto the cards. I have just a week to finish my preparations, before delivery to the gallery on 19th May, but I’m fairly confident now that I will be ready on time!
Our ‘Edge to Edge’ exhibition has now been announced on the Nuneaton Museum and Art Gallery website. To read about it click on the link ‘here’ to go to the site and follow the links to the Temporary Exhibitions Programme.
The exhibition runs from 24th May to 13th July 2014 and on each Tuesday one of us will be there to demonstrate tapestry weaving. My demonstration day is Tuesday 1st July. Also, we will all be at the gallery on Saturday 7th June to talk about our work and there will be a chance for everyone to have a go, plus, on Friday 30th May Pauline Fisk will be giving a lunch-time talk on world-wide tapestry weaving. We would be pleased to see you if you can make it on any of these occasions.