Goldfinches have been constant guests at my bird feeders this winter and showed up in record numbers during the recent snow. Their less colourful off season plumage is starting to change back to the bright yellows and black we most often associate with this cute little bird. They are quite entertaining to watch and seem to not mind my presence if I remain still.
I recently completed a new felted tile featuring a goldfinch on one of my giant sunflower seed heads. It was one in a series of sunflower tiles that I just finished and posted on my website a few days ago. I’ve done several bird tiles but this was my first goldfinch. Based on the immediate success of this first finch tile, I will be making more. Within hours of posting it on my website it was sold to one of my collectors! She is enjoying this little ray of sunshine now.
The new color palette of this felted Garden Impression wall panel was requested by the customer. The pinks and lilacs say springtime to me. The room it was designed for has deep yellow walls so the brighter yellows in the art really stand out. I was fortunate to be able to deliver the commission instead of ship, so she showed me where it will be hanging. I am so happy that she was pleased with the results. This is the first large piece (the felt is 16″x40″) that I’ve framed in white. The framing was a challenge because of the size, but it all worked out!
Felted wool drying
This is the beginning of cat coasters, pillows and trivets that I need for the remaining five weekends of shows. It is tricky to engineer a four foot wide, seven foot long sheet of felt to have stripes and spots in the right places. Laying out the fiber for this piece involves eight colours of wool and three yardsticks! The next step is cutting this blanket into cat faces and adding silly eyes, noses and whiskers. Cotton batting and a felt backing will complete the coasters. I will have a batch ready for the North Penn Holiday Craft Market on November 19th at 1340 S. Valley Forge Road in Lansdale PA.
Here are some of the finished items I made from the new large floral patterned felt. In addition to these 18″ pillows I made a smaller pillow and a couple of tea cozies. Most of the pillows are backed in green felt that coordinates with the grass and stems. One all blue flower pillow is backed in blue and a yellow/orange flower combination is backed in a soft gold. These will all be offered for sale this coming Saturday March 12th at the North Penn Select craft show in Lansdale PA.
On Feb 14th while at a show I received a phone call. A fellow artisan had been in my booth at the previous show in Virginia and was quite taken with my hand felted wool art tiles. She was particularly enamored of my new water lily piece. I was pleased with her reaction but didn’t think any more about it, however she did. Evidently she told her mother about the piece and coincidently, her birthday is this week. So Mom made the call and the 12″x12″ wood framed art tile has shipped to NY for a birthday gift!
Twelve hours in the basement yesterday yielded a large felt “blanket” that is drying in the dining room. This is a very labor intensive pattern that I call Milles-fleurs. It is different every time I make it because I combine the fiber colours and lay out the design without following any pattern. They all end up with a happy bright garden feeling. This piece will get cut into pillows, coasters and trivets.
The inspiration for this design came from a trip a couple of years ago, with some friends to MOMA in NYC. I walked into a room and encountered one of Monet’s gigantic water lily paintings. It took my breath away and literally moved me to tears. I could feel an aura in the room. When I returned home I knew my next felt would be inspired by Monet’s gardens. This design is the result.
The coal stove kicks out some dry heat so even this thick piece of felt was ready very quickly. I hand stitched a backing on the piece and mounted it in a wood frame. I’ve chosen not to use glass on my felted wall art so the tactile textural quality has a room softening effect. This is helpful when the collector places it in a bank, an office or other “sterile” environment.
Every aspect of this piece relates to my environment in some way. Anyone who drives past my little farm in the summer knows about my towering sunflowers. The old picket fence offers a rustic backdrop for a constantly changing display of lilies, hollyhocks, zinnias and more as the season progresses. Many of the wool colors are derived from flowers growing in my gardens or fields. The finished framed size is 36″x 24″ and is available for $1429.
This weekend I am heading to the Dulles Expo Center in Chantilly, VA to do my first show in 2016. The festival is Jan 29th-31, Friday and Saturday 10-6, Sunday 10-5. My booth is #312 so if you are in the area come check it out along with 250 other crafters and artists.
Rubbing to felt the wool fibers
After many hours of design work, my new landscape piece is ready for wet felting by hand. I saturate the wool with lukewarm soapy water and then rub it to create friction. I use a plastic bags so the wool fibers don’t stick to my gloved hands. Wool fibers are covered with scales much like miniature pine cones. The soap helps the fibers slide together from the rubbing, the scales interlock, air pockets are removed and what is left is felted wool. I start rubbing very gently at first and then with more vigor as the fibers condense and start holding together. I thoroughly rub both sides and when I am satisfied with the structure I rinse it several times to remove all traces of soap. It will dry over night or longer near my coal stove.
Wetting the design with warm soapy water