Wet felting, nuno felting, resists, various 3D surface design techniques, embellishment and stitch. Materials are merino wool, heavy cheesecloth, hand-spun yarn, hand-blown glass and wadding.
Inspired by a father whose life revolved around a microscope, I am also fascinated with the extreme microscopic view of the tiniest living things. In particular, the view of the ultra-structure of a micro-organism under an electron microscope which reveals intriguing oddities and mysterious characteristics. Due to their almost colourless appearance, they have an alien-like structure with flagella and undulating surfaces . While seemingly inanimate to the naked eye, under the lens, they defy this illusion.
There are larger photos with more detail of construction in the gallery below.
Initial layout merino on cheesecloth
Laying out prefelts on top of Nuno felt
Layering of prefelt flaps with resists
Prefelt flaps and inclusions on front prefelt Nuno panel
Tail pieces with multiple vanes and wool cord
Back view with single large glass ball
Back view with felt over large hand blown glass ball
Closeup of front with balls and inclusions on front
Hanging in gallery
While this piece has a lot of elements going on, my hope is that they portray the primitive structure of a micro organism. I use a fine merino roving on cheesecloth to create a pre-felt and then apply the flaps, balls and foam pieces. Using resists and temporary tacking to keep the bulky elements in place, the fulling is done separately on each piece as a result . The 2 pieces are stitched together, filled with wadding and the tail then attached. Maybe I won’t do piece like this again, but in the end, I think it is especially relevant to the theme of the exhibition.
In addition to 70+ other exhibits, Micros organismos is an exhibit in the 2016 Perth felt exhibition MACRO|micro.
Merino wool / bamboo fibre blend, thread, water soluble fabric
For millennia, our watery planet has been spinning in space sustained by the Plantae kingdom. Insignificantly small by comparison to the size of earth, trees and plants ‘en masse’ are the main contributor to terrestrial life, being the viable and dynamic operation of the earth’s ecosystems. Producing oxygen via photosynthesis – they create the invisible life-giving element that shrouds the globe.
Closeup of free machine embroidery incorporated into the felt
Veiling with wool to represent ‘mists’
Densely stitched threadwork done on water soluble
Profile showing depth of piece
Mists of time in gallery
Another angle in gallery
Exhibited flat, but designed for hanging
Vertical / front view
Integrating Felt and Thread
The global reference of this piece determines the colour as well as it’s shape. To keep the shape as perfectly circular as possible, there needs to be support for the shape. After allowing for shrinkage, and using a resist, the large circular pre-felt is made. The thread-work, which in this case involves very dense stitching on water soluble fabric, is put in place. Very gentle massaging is necessary to get the wool fibres to adhere to the thread. Although flat, the density of the stitching means it takes a while to encourage the wool fibres to migrate through the available spaces.
Once significant shrinkage becomes apparent, the thread-work, which is quite stiff, buckles. Creating this dimensional effect as well as some careful layering of wadding, results in the partial dome shape. The circular art-board was inserted once the piece was fully felted.
Wet felted using resist method, surface design techniques and free machine embroidery .
Merino wool, thread, water soluble fabric, hardener and paint.
A tribute to the miracle of the birth of a tree. Growing from a small innocuous looking seed below the earth’s surface to eventually become a large life sustaining structure above ground. Despite frost and adverse conditions, it will sprout through the hard surface to create one of nature’s wonders. While beneath the surface, the support network of roots inversely echoes the tree that will be.
Sprouting from the pod
In the gallery
Closeup of roots
Sculpting with wool
Sculpting brings to mind pottery, but with wool it most probably applies to making any 3D object in felt. Images of pottery are a useful source of acquiring ideas for felt projects, hence the inspiration for the sprouts on this piece. Many branched cords are individually attached to the pod at pre-felt stage, to create the illusion of sprouts.
The root component is made using intense free machine embroidery on water soluble fabric as in Barely there and Mists of Time. Once washed out and dry, a slight stiffness remains, which makes it easier to handle. Though stitching it into the inside of the vessel, is not something I recommend when it is so small!
The application of a dilute PVA solution creates a hard exterior that is synonymous with the hardness of a seed pod.
‘Thread Connections’ was a collaboration with 2 fellow textile artists from Perth – Marilyn Farrow and Jennie Abbott. So, with months of planning and creating, it all came together in a successful exhibition at the Old Bakery, Maylands, Perth. While this venue no longer exists, because of its size, it was a perfect place for us at the time. Carl Altmann opened the exhibition with some high praise, but also a lot of hilarity! He has been involved in Art Education, Design, Visual Literacy, Drawing, Painting and Textiles for many years as well as judging. In addition, his own artworks have been exhibited both in Australia and internationally.
My thread connections
As a result as many hours of happy creating, 14 pieces came to fruition. Most are shown below with links to more information.
4 of Sara’s piece
Carl Altmann opening exhibition
Carl being serious – briefly
Carl expressing shock horror….
Sara and Mary-Ann
Mrs Carl Altmann
Invitation for Thread Connections
Back of invitation
Jennie Abbott in foreground
Nibblies and a bit of wine…..
Meditation, Seeds of the sun and Enchanted forest
The gallery above contains some candid shots of the opening night and general layout of my exhibits in the gallery.
Because this piece consists of relatively delicate elements, it is under glass to prevent damage, which makes taking photos a bit of a challenge. Pik-a-poppy expresses the fragility of poppy petals in stark contrast to their sturdy stems, leaves and seed pods. Apart from the stems, the entire background is painted including the poppies and leaves. The poppy petals are cut from 3 shades of red organza with a heat tool which seals the edges. The painted area gives more depth to the layers of almost translucent petals that are then applied over the top. The stems are made with many layers of machine satin stitch which start off narrow, becoming wider, until a rounded effect is achieved.
Pik-a-Poppy – Sold
Closeup leaves – silk carrier rods
Layered organza for poppies
In gallery under glass
Silk carrier rods
As a by-product, silk carrier rods are pretty nifty for textile artists. They form as firm little cylinders around the carrier rods on the equipment used for unreeling the cocoons. They still contain a lot of sericin and can be used to make silk paper. In this project, they were hand dyed, split into thin layers, ironed and laid down with stitch to create the leaves. As the dye spreads unevenly through the layers of the carrier rods, different shades and mottling results, creating more variations.
As well as texture, Rainbow Burst is an expression of my love of colour. In particular I love to graduate coloured fabrics, which in this piece included feathers. In fact, it is a bit like a flat version of Dreamkeeper, but without the zips.
Bit of beading
Feathers and fabric scraps
Closeup stitch and layeres
Fabrics include synthetic and natural, and for the most part are feather shapes. Thread colours change as often as the fabrics and blending both became an organic process. I seldom work with black, but this one works and I guess somebody else thought so, as it was the first piece to be sold on opening night.
The Cervantes Festival of Arts is an annual event which began as part of the Cervantes 40th birthday celebrations in 2003. It has grown to become the major culture event in the Dandaragan Shire, drawing statewide entries from Artists and Craftspeople vying for $5,750.00 in prize money (2013) and the prestige of winning the Shire of Dandaragan Acquisition Prize.
These photos were taken in 2010 when 8 of our members exhibited in the textile category: