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Creative Luxuries

Singapore and Melaka were fabbo, we had a great time and I did buy 5 saris of which I will felt later.  But I have neglected my blog, second life and housework.  I’m not too worried about the last one but the other two are concerning.  So here I am.  My head is completely torn in two at the moment as both my Uni units are excellent!  I have already spoken of my Georgian period experince in Second Life and will continue that thread but I haven’t spoken of my Creative Writing unit.  Its the last one to complete my Minor and it is the Project – a 6000 word short story.

I have always approached writing creatively as I would any other creative process but today I realised that with writing you get loads of chances to make it just how you want it.  In my normal practice I plan a project with enough detail to ensure the outcome is within my expectations but still allowing for necessary changes along the way.  But with a felting or painting project, once you start the process, there is no rewrite.  The result you get is it.  There’s no do over – but in writing you can edit your work as many times as you wish.

I think this is a luxury, a creative luxury.  Which ties up nicely with a reading I have just done for the History unit.  Its about the roots of consumerism in Geogorgian England.  The reading asks the question what is luxury?  Is it brand names and expensive items?  I don’t think so – I think luxury is anything that you would pay a price for.  For some it could be an experience, for some it is Prada or Armani, for others it is as basic as eating.  Luxury depends on your need.  And the price is variable too.  For some it is money, it could be time, it may even be integrity.  But it is always a personal choice.

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All that’s left to do is to put the curtain together.  As the opening is an arch I think I will have to make a hood or covering to bring it altogether but I feel I need to see the curtaining hanging before deciding on the shape.  And in order to do that – I need my husband’s assistance as it will require a degree of engineering knowledge.  The strips are quite heavy with the glass beads and I have no idea how a big the hooks should be or the diametre of the rod to hold it all up.  Luckily my wonderful husband does! So while he did that I went back to creating more combinations.  Here’s some of the ones I ended up with.

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Fairy Lights

There is one more type of strip I planned to make.  I’ve made two felt tubes and had planned to embroider them then thread a sting of Fairy Lights down them with holes for the LEDs to poke out of.  But I am having immense amounts of trouble getting hold of Fairy Lights.  Apparently the good folk of Perth (in Western Australia) went Fairy Light mad over the Christmas period and bought them all.  I have tried hardware stores, electrical stores, department stores – all to no avail.  Then sanity returned and I remembered eBay.  So they are on their way but I will have to wait to finish those strips.

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Embossing Powders and Felt

Stampers and Scrapbook fanatics will be very familiar with Embossing Powders.  Used with special stamp pads, felt tip markers and a heat gun they produce a raised image of your drawing or stamp.  I started to play around with these powders and their effect on felt a couple of years ago and just loved the result.  It is one of the few ways you can give felt a metallic finish or effect  and can look amazing on garments, bags, hats anything you like!  As long as you realise that it does stiffen the felt, so probably not appropriate on the part of a scarf or garment that is against your skin but perfect for the ends or as delicate detail.  The strip below has copper embossing powder edged with dimensional paint (see the Fish Skeleton post from a couple of days ago) and some of the glass beads.

Where to start!  To keep the strip in sympathy with the overarching design (see the Buttons and Beads post) I used the diamond template when applying the powder with a small paint brush:

Now because I didn’t use a stamp pad or felt tip marker there is no liquid for the powders to stick to and when you apply heat with the heat gun it will blow the powder everywhere!  Unless -there’s always a trick – you cover it with some baking paper  then apply the heat gun.  You just have to get it hot enough to start to melt then you can remove the paper and continue directly onto the piece.  CAUTION!  Do this in a well ventilated place and heat guns get very very hot.

Final phase; the beads which are glued on.  Yes!  Glued on.  You don’t always need to sew, sometimes glue is a better option.   If I sewed the beads on it would cause a couple of problems:  as the strip is seen from both sides it is difficult to hide the knots, the design would have to match up perfectly and it would have to be pretty heavy duty thread.  The answer is glue – the appropriate glue. Glues get a bad name if they don’t work but you have to get the right glue for the right job.  For this particular application I chose tacky fabric glue.  Tacky glue doesn’t mean bad taste glue,  it refers to its ability to remain tacky in the drying process allowing for placement shifts.

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Millefiori felt beads

Millefiori is the name of beautiful glass beads from Murano near Venice.  We can imitate their patterns with felt by making a long snake or sausage with multiple layers of wool then cutting the up when they’re done.

The ones above started with a thin roll of bright blue wool which I lightly prefelted then covered the sausage with a layer of white.

Again I lightly prefelted the sausage then laid it onto a layer of black wool, positioning the green and brown rolls next to the white:.

After that it is a matter of roll, roll, roll your sausage until its felted.  Once dry cut the sausage into slices.

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Fish Skeletons

By this stage I had used all of the black felt that I made for the Peek a boos and I felt (sorry no pun intended) that as the black felt was the thread in the project I either had to make some more or find some.  After much rummaging, snuffling, shuffling and scuffling through my studio, to my delight I found a large piece of black felted Felbi – Felbi is a trade name of needle felted batts, sold by the lovely Chrissy at Fibre Fusion.   These batts are fantastic for making large areas of felt as you don’t have to lay the wool – its already kind of pre-felted – you simply full the batt using your choice of methods.  Anyway – it means I don’t after to make any more!

So onto the fish skeletons.  I cut about 4 strips of felt 70mm wide and 500mm long.  Folded them in half and ironed (pressed) them so they stayed that way and pinned them about10mm in from the fold.  This was the guide for the cuts, I cut into the felt approximately 4mm to 7 mm apart ensuring that they were NOT even.  After unpinning I simply stretched the strip to open the cuts and give a fish skeleton appearance to the strip.

Although I intended to use beads in this somewhere  the skeletons looked a little plain:- Plaid dimensional paint to the rescue!  I have always loved this stuff.  It was really popular in the late 1990s to make cutesy sayings and images of puppies on kids and Granny’s t-shirts.  Usually ending up very tacky or kitsch at the least.  BUT it has so much potential – I have used it to decorate many of my pieces including many of my winning competition entries.  My Champion Beanie from the Alice Springs Beanie Fest of 2007 had Plaid dimensional paint on it.  For those who don’t know about the Beanie Fest check out their website – its an amazing annual event that has run for over 10 years now and attracts entrants and participants from around the world.  I am thinking of entering this year – if I do I will post the project in a couple of months.  But back to the skeletons…

Where to put the paint?  The skeleton lacked detail so the paint will provide it – just some tiny dots of white and random strips of sparkling blue.

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Buttons and beads

I have had a collection of small bright coloured buttons for sometime now – bought on a “Oooooo I will need them one day” whim – finally today was the day!  I chose to add blue, white and black buttons to the mix and by using black felt cut outs from the Peek a boos in the strand, it keeps the colour ways together – like the spine of a book or an over arching idea or guiding principal, reflecting both colour and shape from the other strands.

To add to the eclectic mix I tipped the buttons into a tray and as they were scooped up on the needle is how the pattern  evolved.  Combined with a few of the glass beads and voila!