Over the last few months I have been exploring fibres using the technique of needle felting. Unlike the conventional “wet felting” this method uses a selection of specially designed needles to push various fibres into a soft backing. Once there, they are locked in place and further layers can be added to create various effects in 2 or 3 dimensions.

Here is a quick demo. and look at some recent pieces.

 

I had many of the silk and wool fibres on hand; however I purchased a wider selection from The Fibre Garden in Jordan Village. If you haven’t discovered this wonderful resource, it’s worth checking out for yourself. I also found a wonderful tool made by Clover, that uses 5 replaceable needles set into a handle which has a spring-loaded action. This is what I use for “tacking” the fibres once they are laid on the support surface. Here I have used cotton quilt batting; however, I have more recently been using the wool support which is much looser and specially designed for this purpose. It’s kinder on the needles, and my neck muscles.

From the initial laying in of wool which enables a better felting effect, details are added using silk fibre and remnants of handspun yarns which I just happened to have on hand as well. What an exciting way to use up boxes of supplies which I had from former endeavours as a hand spinner. I use individual needles to delineate and adhere the spun fibres/yarns.

The final work is one of 10 which found their way to RiverBrink Art Museum’s gift shop where they retail for $85. Each measures approximately 6 x 6 inches. There are approximately 3 hours of work involved and each is finished so that it can stand on a flat surface or be can be hung from a small nail or hook.

My new summer series involves winter wheat and hay fields in the Pelham and nearby area. I have incorporated hemp and flax fibres to build up rich textures in the foreground. Stay posted as I work on this large 16-section piece. Each image is approximately 12 x 12 inches.

I had a sample of my original Oak and Birch photograph printed some time ago.  While I waited for the large piece to arrive, I decided to start working it up.  The colours are just what we need at this rather dull time of year.

I will take photographs tomorrow of the dynamic piece that arrived today!

Meantime, here is the original photograph.

The second piece in the Decew Series is a little different in perspective.  It is a view straight on looking through the fall trees onto the back view of the old Morningstar Mill and waterfall.  When out taking these shots, this view reminded me of Tom Thomson’s hypnotic work from 1914-15 titled Northern River.  It has always held a spell-binding hypnosis for me and something quite spiritual.

When I received the printed version I found it to be a fair bit darker than the original photograph.  However, the challenge will be to bring up what is important and leave other areas in a silhouette.  Aquarelle’s have been invaluable for this purpose.  Darker areas can be enhanced with charcoal to create even more depth.  These photos taken with my cell phone for the purpose of blogging, are overexposed.  I will try different lighting to bring out the richer tones of the actual piece.

The piece itself is quite fiddly.  However, once I begin a section I do find it quite mesmerising to work on and am actually well into the piece now.  I must think about the overall effect and how each of these smaller sections will eventually be part of the whole.

November 1, 2017

Although I have now completed the quilting of the this quilt, I will post more of the work  and the finishing steps.  There was a great deal of detail in this quilt that I had not realised/admitted to myself before starting into the work.  However, it became very compelling and beckoned me each day.  We call this “mapping” when venturing into something there is more to discover at each turn.

I am now at the point where the tree trunks must be backed to hold their vertical form.  I found heavy felt that I’m hoping will provide this support. Select leaves also require filling to add more dimension.  The final photograph in this series shows how the pull in tension, especially in the fine work of the background, has created an unevenness – not something that is uncommon.

The top was now complete and had to be corrected in size.  The stabilizing cotton that I use for the backing was measured and a rectangle to the exact finished dimension drawn on its surface.  The quilt was pinned down and carefully stitched to the drawn line.  The work required a fair amount of stabilizing to hold the surface without rippling.  I was pleased with the end result.

A few things were still bothering me about the darkness of the foliage, especially on the left side.  I used “bleach,” yes, that drastic stuff, to lighten some of the bottom leaves.  It went a little too light in a couple of areas, which meant using my aquarelle pencils to add colour back.  After some time, I finally found what I was looking for and was glad I had made this correction.

The quilt now waits for its finishing border.  I have two shades of gold that I will stitch together to create a fairly narrow border that will complement the golds and help lighten the overall effect.