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.
Since the making of a number of wall hangings for the last exhibition, it is a nice change of pace to create something completely functional like the felt mandala rug below. In a 3 day workshop with Martien van Zuilen, we all came away with very different rugs. Mine is in daily use and a favourite with my personal trainer, the dog. Might have to make another one now.
Essential equipment to commence workshop
Prefelt cut outs
Many layers later…..
Almost finished mandalas
The mandala workshop
Martien ‘s workshop is a busy 3 days, but well worth the effort. Surprisingly, a standard trestle table is enough to create this rug, just! Merino is not suitable for rugs, so Corriedale or wool with an equal or higher micron count is the better option. Martien explains the traditional and cultural aspects of the mandala and then guides you through the design principles. She covers various aspects of the design which involve a number of elements in this technique. While the focus on creating a well balanced piece is the aim, there was plenty of other techniques to consider for inclusion. Colour blending, patterning with pre-felt and creating texture with stitch, to name but a few.
Nuno-felting is a very popular technique these days, especially for wearable items like scarves and wraps. Various fabrics can be used in conjunction with natural and man made fibres. A very fine wool such as cashmere or merino is ideal for nuno-felted scarves. Embellishing with bead and stitch adds to the surface texture, which is often ruched using this technique.
Nuno felting is a fabric felting technique developed by Polly Stirling, a fiber artist from New South Wales, Australia, around 1992. The name is derived from the Japanese word “nuno” meaning cloth. The technique bonds loose fibre, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze, creating a lightweight felt.
See pictures below for more details.
Scarflette in exhibition
Sold at Exhibition
Closeup of embellished closure
Merino blend on silk
Merino and bamboo blend Felted onto hand-dyed silk