mikrós organismos – felt hanging

Felt hanging
felt hanging
mikros organimos

mikrós organismos
(greek for micro organism)

100 x 35 x 12 cm
Felt hanging (Ceiling) – 2 sides

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.


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.

Mists of time – felt and thread hanging

Mists of time
felt and thread circular wall hanging
Mists of Time

Felt and thread wall hanging:
30cm diameter

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.

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.

From little things…… Felt sculpture

From little things……
felt sculpture
From little things…..

Felt sculpture
17 x 15 x 15 cm

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.

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 Exhibition 2011

‘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.

sara quail layered textile
Rainbow Burst – Sold
Cornucopia in fabric and fibre
Firebird fantasy – In gallery
Sara Quail carrier rods organza
Pik-a-Poppy – Sold
3d textile with zips
Sara Quail free machine embroidery
Enchanted forest – Sold
silk paper machine embroidery
Ember glow – Sold
free machine embroidery applique
Seeds of the sun – Sold
kookaburras in textiles
Mates at sunset
Sara quail glue and fabric
Sundowner dunes – Sold
3D textile Sara Quail
Sara Quail indigo shibori
Moody blues
Layered organza stitched sara quail
sara quail wire and fabric
Billabong blues


The gallery above contains some candid shots of the opening night and general layout of my exhibits in the gallery.

Pik-a-poppy – framed textile


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.

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.


Rainbow Burst

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.

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.

Exhibition: Cervantes Art Festival 2010

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: