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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.

IMG_8690 IMG_8690a

“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

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eBook Structural & Sculptural Complex 3D Shapes in Felt

eBook Structural & Sculptural Complex 3D Shapes in Felt

eBook Structural & Sculptural Complex 3D Shapes in Felt

My new book has finally been published and to celebrate the first 50 customers get How to make Felt for free.  Its been a long path to publication but its worth the wait – 88 pages of 11 Projects plus an extra section on more ideas.  Easy to follow and loads of photos.  Its my biggest book yet.  Value at $10.

Learn how to shape and mould felt into complex 3D forms using a variety of template resist and prefelt methods for wet felting techniques. You only need basic felting skills to start as the multiple felting techniques in 11 sessions and 9 projects, in Structural and Sculptural, will give you the foundation skills to create your own complex shapes in felt. Loads of images and diagrams, and step by step instructions will lead you through the processes.

Purchase here

eBook Structural & Sculptural Complex 3D Shapes in Felt   eBook How to make felt

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Barrel Cacti made from felt

felt Cactus

I have had requests for images of the individual Cacti made from felt and a little about each one so here goes!  First up the Barrel Cacti.  I love these slow growing prickly giants.  It took me several attempts to get the ribs right –  each resist becoming more complex and more barrel like.

felt Cactus  felt Cactus felt Cactus felt Cactus

felt Cactus IMG_4279 IMG_4281

felt resist This is the resist for the white spined barrel.

It also made this sculpture I named Nutmeg:

felt sculpture felt sculpture


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Working with felt large scale

Cacti and succulents come in all sizes from tiny pebble size conophytums to giant saguaros. Working small has issues in detail but working large poses 2 main challenges; making a self supporting structure and handling the piece before it is felted. In the design phase I ensured that any branches, ribs or vanes were the same angle and proportion that they were in nature. And when constructing the Saguaro I used a differential layering technique to ensure the felt’s structural integrity.
The saguaro was 2 metres long laid out making it about 30cm longer than my studio table, and used over a kilogram of wool. As wool can absorb many times its own weight in water it was very heavy once wet. I used strategic layers of thin plastic and bubblewrap to keeping everything in place and then folded the piece in various places to manoeuvre it.

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Engineering the felt Cactus Garden

The ribs of cacti are either fleshy branch like sections of the main trunk or perpendicular vanes that sit proud of the trunk. This structure is a survival mechanism, it allows them to swell and shrink, to manage dramatic rainfall fluctuations without cracking or wilting.  Spines are both a protection mechanism, they prevent predators from munching on the fleshy part of the plant, give shade, impede water loss and insulate against the cold.  So it was important that I had a similar structure in the felt – I solved this with multi- ribbed resists and vane like protrusions encased in a final layering of wool.

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Making felt prickly

Cacti made from felt.

Cacti have different kinds of spines and spikes depending on their main purpose. Some are defence against predators – it difficult to munch into something with long thick spines all over it. Some are for collecting moisture and providing shade so are finer and more delicate, and some are for insulation against cold and heat. These are intrinsic to the shape and structure of cacti so I had to get them right. I solved this with a combination of very thin stiffened silk nuno felt cut into thin strips and tiny glass beads.