Monday, December 2, 2013

Art League School "Felting - Expanding the Possibilities" ArtFete Fashion Show 2013

On November 22, 2013, the Art League School held its holiday open house. Among the various activities to take part in, there was a fashion show, featuring the school's fiber and jewelry departments. The "Felting - Expanding the Possibilities" class, led by Renate Maile-Moskowitz had much to offer.

The year's theme was birds. How interesting to see the different interpretations - from Black Swan to Bird of Paradise to Blue Jay! The class had been led with a new focus on wearable items, featuring ruffles, lace and godets in both traditional and nuno-felted items. A hat making workshop also served as inspiration for some of the outfits. Like what you see? Come join Renate's class of enthusiastic felters! It's fun!

Marion Bruno models her Black Swan inspired coat and hat.

Marion again. 

Laura Linton and Dominique Cooper - Fantasy Birds - Summer Projects from Felter's Fling & Beyond!

Dominique - Bird of Paradise

Renate Maile-Moskowitz via Felter's Fling - Fantasy Bird | Susan Hicks - Blue Jay

Our Models (Herda Lang - Left) Wearing Work by Elaine Evans

Blue Jay Hat by Susan Hicks

More Blue Jay from Susan Hicks - See for sale at

A view of the Blue Jay Wing wool being laid out before wet felting - See how much it shrinks!

For those of you who are new to wet felting: What is wet felting? Basically, you start with wool roving, and through a process of layering bits of roving and then rolling or scrubbing with hot water and soap, you come out with fabric, or even complete vessels (or really, anywhere your imagination will take you) with no seams or sewing. Typically, the amount of surface area laid out is about 40% (or more) greater than the surface area of the finished product. Felt can be thick or thin, and hard or soft. It can be solo, or felted into fabric (which is then referred to as nuno-felt). Other fibers can be mixed in with the wool (silk, for example). There are many, many different types of wool, which each produce a felt unique to their kind.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Two Felting Books - 500 Felt Objects and Filz Experiment.

The summer is drawing to a close and I am beginning to look forward to felting classes with the Art League School again. I thought I'd search out some new inspiration and found myself drawn to and I was disappointed to find that my search for "felting" on mainly brought up books with kitschy projects made of craft felt. There was also the odd needle felting digest. Then, looking more specifically for "wet felting" I was shown a more interesting, but not particularly lengthy list of offerings. The pages offered on Amazon are misleading. There are said to be at least 9 pages of wet felting books, but after page two, the subject becomes diluted by knitting, needle felting and books with the word "felt" (i.e. Heart Felt) in the title. The meatiest book was an encyclopedia of sheep, breaking down the breeds by wool consistency. It looked interesting as a reference, but was not going to inspire new projects from me. As I scanned down the list, the most attractive book to me was a coffee table book called 500 Felt Objects by Lark Crafts. Now *that* sounded like creative fodder.

When my order came, I delved immediately into the collection. The book is 420 pages long and is printed in luxurious color. There is a short forward by the author, Susan Brown, but otherwise there are just pictures, credits, and materials descriptions. The book is divided into five sections: "Garments, Wraps and Headwear", "Accessories and Adornment", "Two-Dimensional Design", "Sculptural Forms and Installations", and "Furniture and Home Decor." My first stop was the sculpture section. Having been sad to forego the Felters' Fling Bamboo Sculpture Class, I was itching for some new examples of sculpture. I saw the familiar objects d'art - pods by Anna Gunnesdottir. I loved the mixture of felt and natural wood in Liberation Captivas by Andrea Graham. A more industrial feel was put forth with the field of heartlike figures (felt hearts on steel rods) by Hermine Gold. The height of industry was represented in the housewares section, where industrial felt is used to the greatest extent - for rugs, furniture and decorations. This felt also shows up in other sections, such as Embracement by Vanderbos in headwear. Other styles in the clothing section include nuno-felted coats, shawls, and dresses. A nod out to Renate Maile-Moskowitz, my felting teacher - I could identify the basic techniques used in most of the items featured in this book - this after only one year at the Art League School.

When I gave up on a far reaching felting book collection on, I decided to puddle-jump over the ocean and explore the German - My felting teacher is German and always has a good number of German language felting books at class, and I happen to speak the language. Surely I'd hit the mother load here. Well, my experience was mixed. There were still a remarkable number of kitschy books dealing with craft felt. By the same token, there were more "learn how to wet felt" books on than on Amazon US. The authors were mainly German, but also reached into Scandinavia, Britain and Italy (if I recall correctly), among others. The drawback of the learn-how books was that I already had experienced the basic techniques. I was delighted by the title "Crazy Filz", but decided to get serious with Filz Experiment by Annette Quentin-Stoll and Robert Quentin.

In Filz Experiment, a series of felting techniques are explored, in 192 pages, where thread is sewn in patterns through pre-felts to make troughs, hills, valleys and bubbles. The strings are pulled tight and the items are then felted solid. Then the strings are removed, revealing the goal of making organic, life inspired textural patterns mimicking such things as snakeskin, sea urchins, a field of flowers and a puddle being hit with drops of water. I have not yet tried any techniques (except for the bubble technique which I learned a bit differently in class), but the book is clearly written and the graphics provide enough information to make the projects seem clear. I believe my first project will be an urchin, using the hedgehog technique. The only drawback to me about this book is that the techniques are heavy with required hand-stitching. Unfortunately, this was not apparent through the provided information on Amazon. I'm not the best seamstress. Still, with patience, I'm sure I'll persevere. I will be interested to talk with Renate about this book, because some of the steps indicated in making the prefelts seem a bit contradictory to what I've been taught. Still, a pre-felt is a pre-felt, so I supposed however it's made is fine. Fun experience with this book: I finally determined how to say "resist" in German: Schablone. I did end up ordering this book over through an international reseller. The price including shipping was the same as on, but the delivery time was much quicker.

Both books have proven to be inspirational for me and have gotten me thinking in the right direction until late September when I will once again find myself elbow-deep in wool at the Madison Annex. One book is great to sit around for all to thumb through and the other explores texture and technique. One thing is for sure though. When I see Renate again, I am going to ask her where she's gotten her wide selection of felting books from.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

From the Depths

Welcome to my new blog on the site. I'll start out with some good news. My felt sculpture "From the Depths" has been selected to be a part of the Art League Gallery's "Shapes" show. This is the annual sculpture showcase by the Art League. The gallery is located in the noted Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia, USA. Twenty-one sculptures will be displayed, sharing the gallery with the annual "Scapes" landscape exhibit. The shows' opening is on Thursday, August 8 from 6:30-8:00 p.m. Thanks to juror Laura Roulet for selecting my work and congratulations to the Monkith Saaid Award winner, Sabyna Sterrett. Thanks also to Renate Maile-Moskowitz for her encouragement and guidance through the creation of this sculpture at the Art League School. Pictures of selected works can be found here:

About the sculpture: The felt tentacles are made of Merino wool, using the "bubble" technique. The "waves" are made of wool bat. The piece has a metal wire armature, plastic stuffing and a wooden base. It measures approximately 2'x2'. I had originally used this technique to make cuffs (accessories - armbands), but once I got looking at them, they just reminded me of suckers. This was the logical next step for me. Above all else, I wanted the "suckers" to be very colorful and set in high contrast to the tentacle "skin."