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Shrinkage Rates vs Percentage

As felters we all know that felt shrinks as it fulls, but the age old discussion is how to measure that shrinkage.  I often hear felters talking about shrinkage in percentage values ie “It shrank by 30%.”  but this is an inaccurate and mathematically incorrect way of measuring shrinkage.  This series of video explains why, and how to calculate the most accurate method.

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Bali Penjor Project|Realisation

I am counting down to the Meditative Adornment Textile Retreat but have realised I had better get to it! Its

to be exact till I board that plane to Bali. After a frenzied effort I now have the design, engineering and resists made ready to start felting.

Heliconia flowers

I decided to make it all black and then adorn it with as much glorious tropical colour as I can. Penjors are usually decorated with fruit, flowers, coconuts, banana leaves and sacred cloth but as I am making a decorative rather than ceremonial Penjor I can have a little artistic licence. That was the easy part.

Sunset drinks

As you can imagine I had a couple of things to take into consideration. First of all I have to fit the Penjor into my suitcase to take it to Bali – so I decided to make it in smaller pieces. This also helped with the very complex shapes – some will be multi-ribbed resists, some will be shaped with differential shrinkage, and some will be encompassed layers. And of course with a shrinkage rate of 2 a 3 metre Penjor will be 6 metres laid; much more manageable in small segments.

Multi-ribbed resist

A penjor has 3-4 sections to it. Often it has a offering temple at the base then elaborate structure sits on top followed by a long filled adorned pole piece often entwined with a dragon. Finally topped with a hanging piece with sways and swings in the breeze.

My penjor won’t have an offerings temple as it is purely decorative but it have the next three sections. My base will comprise of 4 pieces; 3 multi-ribbed resists and 1 shaped from differential shrinkage.

Now for the felting! Fingers crossed they all work. Will report back soon.

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Bali Penjor Project | Follow Us | Join Us

Living so close to Bali I have been there many, many times over the past 40 years (I was very young the first time I went). I fell in love with the Island of the Gods from my very first visit.  Beneath it’s obvious tropical beauty lies another layer of joyous harmony in the many and varied festivals celebrated at regular intervals.

Kuta Beach Markets Circa 1979

Tahna Lot Circa 1979

One of these festivals is Galungal and is celebrated every 210 days. It gives thanks to God in His manifestation as Hyang Giri Pati (the God of the mountain) for the bounty that the island provides its people. To honour the volcano Mt. Agung elaborate Penjors (see below photo) are erected outside of the gates or doorways to homes, businesses and shops creating an archway of dangling and swaying gifts to the mountain god.

Created from bamboo, palms, fruits and flowers it represents the necessities of life that the fertile soil of Bali provides.  I have always wanted a Penjor in my garden but of course bringing one home would be very impractical so I have decided to make one from felt! It seems only natural that it should be officially unveiling at Nancy’s Bali  Meditative Adornment Textile Retreat to be held in May 2019.

Follow my progress in creating the Penjor and for its raising in Bali or better yet join us and have a fabulous time! 

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New Felting Workshops – Whitsundays Creative Arts Festival 2017

I am very pleased to announce that I am teaching 3 felting workshops at the Whitsundays Creative Arts Festival to be held 29th June to the 7th July 2017.    Rather than week long workshops this festival offers 2 day workshops meaning you can participate in 3 throughout the week, and making it a great way to teach felting.  Felting is very much a building up of techniques after learning to make quality felt.  There are so many directions you can go; fashion, wearable art, vessels, and my fave sculpting, let alone the number of techniques and styles.  I think this is going to be a great opportunity to teach several techniques using some of my favourite obsessions, and set in the beautiful Whitsundays, Queensland.  I can’t wait!  So what am I teaching?

  1.  Reef Dwellers.  Saturday 1 July & Sunday 2 July
    We are going to make gorgeous tropical fish using resists and templates, encompassed layers and differential shrinkage techniques, then we will stitch and bead them.  Full details and to book click here.
  2. The Felted Cactus Garden  Monday 3 July – Tuesday 4 July
    Create your own Cactus whilst learning multi-ribbed resist technique. This method of making resists will change the way you think about 3D felt making, and we’ll learn interesting things about Cacti along the way!  Full details and to book click here.
  3. Trio of Pots Thursday 6th & Friday 7th July
    Working your way through the Trio of Pots you will learn how to manipulate and shape felt into structurally sound and beautiful objects using differential shrinkage rates.  Full details and to book click here.

Full details of the festival, accommodation and the wonderful side trips are click here.

 

 

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Review of Structural & Sculptural by Virginia Campbell

Soosie is renowned for her marvellous 3 D felted creations and her  workshops teaching how to mould and shape felt into complex 3 D forms are  eagerly awaited and well attended, so her new felting book with its clear practical instructions on how to create complex shapes in felt will be a most welcome addition to any keen felter’s library and a much consulted resource for those wishing to expand their felting skills and creative repertoire into this area.

The author’s  wide felting expertise and her  experience in teaching felting techniques to adults is apparent in the content and structure of this book. It is designed to be a practical guide to felters of varying skill levels  – from those who have only recently commenced felting to  seasoned felters looking for  new challenges. She commences with a succinct overview of basic principles and techniques  including the importance of layers ,layering and use of different wool weights for embellishment, shrinkage and consequent shaping, the need to avoid  overwatering,  how to calculate shrinkage rates, discussion of various methods of  prefelting, fulling and shaping, and understanding  resist theory.

Building on this introduction, Soosie provides detailed  instructions for making 11projects – in the first 6 projects  resists are used to make hollow felted forms, the next  projects involve creating shapes with solid felted forms and the last projects  entail a combination of both  techniques. The first project is the making of an evening bag using a simple resist. A diagram with measurements is provided to assist the reader to create a resist after making a small sample piece  from which a shrinkage rate can be calculated. How to lay wool on both sides of the resist, wet it down and shape it onto the resist is illustrated step by step in clear detailed coloured  photographs. Ways of avoiding bulky corners, thick ridges, and stretched loose wool around the resist, are specified.  How to remove the resist at the prefelt stage and suggestions for embellishment and attaching the purse clasp are also illustrated in photographs.

Following the first project,  the projects become  more ambitious, the resists considerably more involved, or new techniques are introduced. Project 2 involves creating a right angle resist to make a pin cushion. Practical advice abounds so that the reader is warned to avoid pointy or sharp edges on the resist which will create holes in the felt,  photographs show how to tape the triangular pieces of the resist together and then  how to lay the wool over the resist. Use of different  coloured wool assists in making the pictorial instruction clear. When to remove the resist, where to make the cut, how to remove the resist and when to stuff the piece are explained in detail.

Project 3 involves making a cactus plant using a multiple angle resist. It’s the same techniques as the right angle resist in project 2 but with more flaps. Again, the making of the resist and laying of the wool over the resist is well illustrated by diagrams and photographs.

Further into the book instructions are also given for how to make solid rolls which can be used to make handles, ties, curls, Millefiori beads etc. and  how to make hollow felt tubes using flat resists or solid tubular resists. To achieve the latter  Soosie recommends using  foam rods sold as gap fillers in the building section of hardware stores

Later projects involve combining hollow and solid felt forms and stitching,  for example  Project 9 contains instructions for making a life – like Echeveria succulent by making a hollow prefelted tube for the stem, stitching prefelted leaf  shapes to it, fulling the entire piece then replacing the foam tube resist with a small wooden dowel to give the plant greater structure. Project 10 involves a similar technique in the making of a beautiful  peony  rose.  Project 11 is the making of a lidded box using a resist, a template and prefelt stitching.

For experienced felters and beginners alike, Soosie’s step by step instructions and illustrations for each project will provide a valuable reference manual for  3 D felting.

The book concludes with  coloured photograph Illustrations of  several  additional examples of  exotic  3 D felted shapes with simple diagrams of the resists used to create them . These are included as suggestions of further felted shapes which  the reader might like to make and which build on the skills taught earlier in the book.

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More experimenting with differential weight felting

I love the idea of shaping felt by only using more or less layers of wool.   Both of these experiments use a 1 to 4 ratio of wool to create either an innie or an outie!  They were all made with really old wool so please forgive the poor finish!

“In or out? – Out”
One piece 2D resist hollow form ball – with protrusions.

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“In or out? – In”
One piece 2D resist hollow form ball – with intrusions.

IMG_8732 IMG_8744

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Review of Structural & Sculptural:Complex 3D Shapes in Felt by Nancy Ballesteros

eBook Structural & Sculptural Complex 3D Shapes in Felt

I am so lucky to be reviewed by Nancy Ballesteros from Treetops Colour Harmonies here’s what she had to say:

Judging by the title, this is not a book for beginner feltmakers. It is however, a great easy E-book for anyone with a little 3-D experience to extend their knowledge and skill base. I love the fact that you can quickly download this book onto your tablet and take it with you anywhere to read and apply the techniques.

The books briefly covers the basic felting skills needed to accomplish more complex 3-D forms ie. layout, prefelting, fulling and resist making. There is a discussion of differential shrinkage rates when wool is layered differently in different areas and for those more technically minded there is also a discussion with Shrinkage Rate Calculations. These basic skills are only covered at the start of the book and then you are continually referred back to this information as you need it.  A clever way to keep information in the following chapters simple and to the point. Your focus is mainly on learning the specific skills needed to execute the relevant 3-D shapes being taught.

A huge variety of resist forms are covered, Soosie eases you into resist making with a simple Evening Purse, then moves into the very interesting creation of a multi-angle resit in the form of a Barrel Cactus.  Tubes/Snakes and Negative Space resits are covered. A complex box is also tackled, quite a difficult task in felt.  Soosie then moves onto stitching construction methods for creating 3-D forms like Echeveria cactus and Peony Roses from prefelts.

There is quite a lot of information to digest in the small E-book and for ease of learning it is packed full of  pictures and diagrams. Felters wanting to take their 3-D repertoire to the next level, this E-book is definitely worth purchasing.

By Nancy Ballesteros
Treetops Colour Harmonies