Tuesday, 28 January 2014

New Cards Now In Stock

I love to see my felt art pictures in print so imagine my delight when all these new cards arrived today!

'On Heathery Hill'

'Little Lochty Cottage'

'Creagan Cottage'

'Lavender Hill Bothy'

'Apple Tree Cottage'

'Over the Brig'

Over the Brig was among the first batch of designs that I had made into cards back in 2011 and has remained one of my best sellers.

 New to the collection today is 'Midnight Sailing'.
This was a textile picture I made quite a while ago and I really like how the sparkle of the stars has been retained in the print.

The texture and stitch of the dolphin picture has been retained in the print as well.

'Bright Horizon'
Bright Horizon is also new to the cards collection.

All these cards measure 10 x 15 cm and come with a good quality plain white envelope and cellophane sleeve for protection.

 'Harvey the Highland Cow'
Harvey is a constant favourite and often sells out.

And here is Rainbow's End Cottage. This was the first design I ever had printed. It was the cover of the program for the 2011 Glenfarg Folk Festival hence the wee music notes coming out of the chimney.

'Rainbow's End Cottage'

All these cards are £2.50 each and Sets of Six are also available at £12

Set of Six Cards £12

You can see the full selection in the Cards Section of my Shop here

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Gathering More Inspiration

I have really enjoyed taking some time out this month to play around with a few new ideas and have also been going through last years holiday photo's and been taking a look back at some of my older pieces to gather some new inspiration.

The above photos were all taken around the Dingle Peninsula in the west of Ireland. Fungie the dolphin takes centre stage of course! He is a wild bottlenose dolphin who chooses to live in Dingle Bay and has done for 30 years. We love going back to see him. 

This felt picture below is an oldie but I really like it so I'm planning a new series like this.
I have to get over to Newburgh soon to visit Twist Fibre Craft Studio and get some new felting supplies so I can bring all these ideas to life!

The photos below were all taken around the Ross of Mull and Iona.
You can see that the light is totally different here and the colours that spring out are that beautiful pale turquoise of the water, the lilac blue of the bluebells and pink of the sea thrift.

These abstracts were made using the embellisher machine and I plan to revisit this technique over the coming weeks as well.

 All this planning and forethought is of course for our upcoming Open Studios event in May. It might sound like a long way off but in reality it's only a few weeks when you break the months into creative time so I need to get cracking ! I have SO many things I want to make for this year's event.

The brochure will be out in March and we will let you all know where you can get one but you can keep up to date with it all on our Facebook page here
We are running a series of Giveaway's just now with many of our participants giving away Prints, Cards and Jewellery pieces so if you use Facebook, pop over and like our page to see how you can enter the draws.

Up for grabs this weekend is this A4 Print of 'Buttercup' by Lindsay Mathers

Following on from the needle felted peacock in my previous post, I did this bird last week as well. I've tweaked it a bit since I took this photo. Straightened the stitching on the wing and added a bit of definition around the tail feathers. I'm planning to have him printed as cards etc and the original will also be up for sale once framed.


So it's back to serious making next week. I have my first commission of the year to get on with and have a load of felt to make to then turn into jewellery, brooches, pictures and trinket boxes. I'm also planning a new mug design so watch this space!

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Purple Peacock and Felt Heart Jewellery

I set out today with no set idea of what I was going to make but this bundle of fabrics on my desk really caught me eye. I took a little photo using my new phone just for fun.
I liked the way the light was shining through them and the iridescence of the different layers. 

I have had a few different projects on the go this week in the name of 'ideas generation' (more commonly known as faffing about). 
While it has been great to just play around with different things, I do like to have finished pieces to show for myself at the end of the day.

In the end I didn't use the above fabrics today. I got totally carried away with another idea and found myself totally absorbed in it.

After sharing the photo of my needle felted birds on Facebook book (see previous post) it got my friend Kari over in California thinking about Peacocks so she sent me a lovely black and white image of a stylised peacock to see what I could do with it.

The first thing I did was make a hand painted cotton background for it, then using my transfer pen, I drew around the paper image and ironed it on.
Of course it came out facing right but I wanted it to face left so I did it again on another background (below).

Not for Sale

It doesn't feel as nice needle felting into cotton as it does into felt but it worked ok.
It was intentional to leave the feathery areas printed and I like them like that but I think they'd look better in purple or deep blue so I am going to do another one. 

Another idea that came to me this week (while lying in the bath sipping Tia Maria!) was to add beads to my heart shaped pendants and earrings.

Pendant £22

Earrings £18

These pieces are now available in my Etsy shop here

We've had some beautiful sunrises here this month and I caught this one on my phone at the weekend. Makes up for the short days and dark nights.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Needle Felting Birds, Dolphins, Seascapes and Sheep

It has been a reasonably productive first week back in the work space and I have been enjoying playing around with a few new ideas.
In my last post I showed some step by step photos of how it's possible to use Transfer Paints and Pens to put an image onto fabric which can then be needle felted into.
The Transfer Pen is great for this as it leaves a clean black line that can be 'coloured in' with fibres. I used this method to transfer this bird motif onto some handmade felt. I got the motif from a book and enlarged it slightly then worked merino fibres into the design using a single needle felting needle.

It has been difficult to get decent photos this week with the dull winter light but hopefully you can get the idea.
I will probably frame the original piece and have bookmarks made using prints of it.

I used the same technique to make this dolphin.

The background is all dry felted using hand needle felting and the embellisher machine. A little bit of machine stitch adds detail. The dolphin is all needle felted by hand with a bead for his eye.

Dolphin £65

I love this piece below (am I allowed to say that I love my own work?) Well I do love this piece as it includes all my favourite colours and I really enjoy getting lots of texture into pieces like this using the embellisher machine.
The beauty of the machine is that you are not restricted to using fibres only. I have included all sorts in this piece including an old devore velvet blouse and a cheese cloth shirt. Some vintage lace makes nice frothy waves too. I'm planning a series of pieces in this style including various framed pieces, boxes, prints and cards.

I did have to tear myself away from my 'play time' to restock my Etsy shop with some Sheep Jewellery.
These brooches are now available and I plan to add more earrings and pendants next week as well.

See the Sheep Jewellery Section of my Shop here to see what is available.

Brooches £18

Earrings £18

In other news I bought my first Smart Phone along with a Chip and Pin Card Reader last weekend so that I can take Card Payments at Craft Fairs and Events.
It has been fun getting to grips with a fancy phone (thank goodness for a teenage son!)
I took this photo with it the other morning walking back along our track. I find the interconnectedness of it all via the wifi at home a bit mind blowing. I'm so used to just using my laptop for all my online business and it's interesting to see how my blog, Facebook page and shop look on a phone. It's amazing really how much technology has come on in the past few years and how quickly we have all embraced it and take it for granted already.
I'm still at the stage of enjoying all the wee noises my phone makes when I get notifications from all the apps. I'm sure the novelty of that will wear off quite soon but did you know that the Etsy Apps goes 
Cha-Ching! when someone makes a purchase? How cool is that! It sounds like an old fashioned shop till/cash register. I love that. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Transfer Paints and Needle Felting

One of my goals for 2014 is to get back into blogging. 2013 was a hectic year and I went from one week to the next trying to keep up with orders and commissions as well as keep up with making stock for fairs and events. I really enjoyed it all but didn't get any time to play around with any new ideas.

This month I plan to take the time to make lots of different background fabrics using wet felting and needle felting techniques as well as my embellisher machine. I also want to look back over some previous makes and rediscover some techniques that I haven't used so much recently. It would be unrealistic to think that I have time to go off in a completely new direction and I don't really want to anyway, I just want to infuse my existing range with new colours and textures and let the creative process take over to see what comes out of it.

Last year during our Open Studios North Fife event I was playing around with Transfer Paints making motifs to needle felt into.
I decided to have a little play around with this idea again last week and take photos as I went along to share here.

I used the copy function on my printer to make a few images of a doodle I had in my sketch book. I took one colour copy and a few black and white. 
I blocked in the background panels using a broad brush and turquoise and purple transfer paints on one of the black and white copies. The paints look really dull on paper but show up much brighter when ironed onto the fabric.
On one of the other copies I painted in the purple areas and the colour copy gave me a guide as to where to paint the green areas and the swirls.

I ironed the image onto synthetic white felt (the smaller piece in the middle below).
The green came out really faint but the whole point was just to give me a guide to needle felt into so it didn't matter how strong the colours came out. The background panels didn't show up very bright at all. What I discovered later is that if you use a hotter iron and press the paper for longer, the colours show up more intensely.

It was fun playing with something that is not intended as a finished piece. It really doesn't matter how things turn out when your experimenting. The whole point is to just let the creative process take over and see what comes out of it. It is also a way of getting to know how new materials work and how they can be used in other projects.

This motif could easily have been drawn out in pen but it wouldn't have been as exact. Using the paints in this way would be good for transferring a composition from a photograph onto fabric ready to needle felt or stitch. Just photocopy your image onto paper (remember to flip it in a photo editing program first if you want it to come out as you see it and not in reverse). Make a few copies and just loosely paint in the scene, iron it onto synthetic fabric and you have an image that you can work into.

I use two different gauges of needles for doing fine detail. The pink Clover needle felting tool can be handy for covering medium sized areas as it takes three normal gauge or fine gauge needles.

I started here by filling in some darker green and purple areas just using merino fibre.

I've used some lighter green and a lovely hand dyed mauve for highlights here.

Introducing a darker turquoise for the stem and filling in the leaves.

Having the motif already on the fabric really makes needling the swirls much easier.
I used small tufts of Corridale worked with a fine gauge needle for the swirls.

I'll probably go round the edges of the motif with machine stitch and add some hand stitching with thicker threads to add highlights.

My second motif worked slightly better I think. 
I'm way out of my comfort zone with these colours but the background panels worked better on this piece. You could really go mad with the background and make it fabulous before needling on the detail.

The real benefit of having the motif to work into instead of doing it free hand from your head is that you can start working tufts of fibre into the leaf area quite randomly, fill in the bulk of it quickly then neatly go around the edge. I decided to work the base fibre over the whole leaf then go back and add the contrasting colour 'free hand'.

For the swirls this time I used some hand spun yarn. It's so easy to needle it on, following the line of the pattern. For a finished piece I would probably add some couching stitches to secure everything in place but not so many as to obscure the lovely variation in colours of the yarn.

The smaller swirls will require some very fine yarn and I will use French knots for the dots. I will also work on the leaves more to get better definition and add hand stitch and beads to finish it off.

I'm aware that I haven't really been using the Transfer Paints to their full advantage here as most of the colour is hidden under the felt. Also the paints have to be ironed onto synthetic fabric which limits their use for me so I bought a Transfer Pen on ebay and I'm delighted that it works onto my own handmade felt!

I did this quick experiment using a basic motif onto a piece of felt I already had made.

You can see that the design shows up quite well and a gives a good template to work into.

I needle felted some vibrant turquoise merino fibre into the petal shapes and machine stitched around them to give definition.

I also needle felted the swirls but used satin stitch over the lilac one. I'd have to get better at doing this if I was to make finished pieces using this method.

You can see that there are lots of possibilities though. If you are planning a needle felted picture but find getting the proportions right, then using the transfer pen to get your composition onto the felt first will really help.

All contributed content © Aileen Clarke