Thursday, April 23, 2015

A Collection of Vases - Spring 2015

EDIT 9/17: Since this was posted, I have closed my Etsy shop. Please visit for handmade items from Melasdesign. 

Introducing the Melasdesign collection of Vases (which double as vessels and triple as wine cozies) for Spring 2015. Each vase has a glass core, so it does hold water. The felt is sturdy enough to be a vessel on it's own if the glass is not desired. Each vase (but for the first pictured, which is taller) has an opening that measures 3.5 inches and stands 8 inches tall. A variety of materials are used, including Merino, Blue Faced Leicester, Corriedale, Rambouillet Cross and Finn wools, and Silk. Each vase is one of a kind. Vases can be purchased in the Melasdesign Etsy shop:

This collection is a study in color and materials. I was fascinated by the thought that such a basic form could be varied in so many ways. To a great extent, I composed my own color mixtures by making wool batt. It was a great experience seeing just how the different types of wool behaved, creating textures unique to each type. Others were shibori dyed for visual texture,  also a new experience - my "at home" dye process. It was also a lot of fun seeing how colors that were placed over a flat resist gained a life of their own when formed into to the 3D vessel structure.  (Cont'd.) 

Why vases? I wanted to refine my technique for making vessels and wanted the challenge of making a consistent product using the same basic form for each item. I decided to do vases with glass interiors, rather than just plain vessels, for the sheer utilitarianism of the item. A vessel is faced with the limitation that it either works solo, with no contents, or needs to be filled with a solid core of some sort, unless dry materials are used. I thought I would bypass this issue by making felted items that could be used with everything. These vases make great gifts - perfect for a small bouquet or bunch of flowers on Mother's Day - or as a wonderful housewarming gift.

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Right Jacket - an Adventure in Nuno-felt

It's been a while since I posted my last blog entry, but don't worry, I've been busy. One thing I've been working on is a collection of vases, which can be found on my Etsy site, but which I'm saving for my next blog entry. The big project I've been working on is this jacket, a reversible Nuno-felted product that required no sewing, designed, dyed, and felted by me.

Reversible Jacket Side One

Reversible Jacket Side Two

This project was a lot of fun, and a lot of work, but the process is getting quicker each time I do a new nuno-felted project. The big challenge of this jacket was to use shibori dyeing to create visual texture, and to experiment with layering thin silks and having them still function with the nuno-felting technique. Another aspect of the project was the shibori-dyeing and degumming itself. This was a first time venture with this garment design, and I started by getting set up to dye at home as well as at the school studio. 

As you can see I had a good time with it. There were lots of different silks to choose from and the woven textures (such as seer-sucker,  habotai, and chiffon) greatly helped to mix up the design and keep it visually interesting. Obviously I decided I wanted a green jacket, but I decided to experiment with different greens, offset by black and the occasional blue. The addition of silk with highlighted squares of a different fiber was the final touch the visual texture. My layout of the wool covered almost two tables of space before felting. I did the dyeing before the layout, and didn't really have a master plan when I dyed the separate pieces. I wanted a random element. I set up the dye bath and went to town. 

Once I got my silks dyed, I played around with layout.  I just used my living room floor, as shown. The dog had a great time walking over it. I was just sad she didn't have a way to leave black paw prints. As a dog lover, this would have been the perfect thing. Maybe next project. I dyed so much silk I ended up having enough for a reversible jacket, which was just fine for me. There are times when the more subdued side will be more appropriate than the side with all the white squares. Then it was time to lay the project out, and felt.

In Philadelphia's Magic Garden 

Trying Out Layouts

Fulling was an interesting process. It took about four cycles of fulling before the entire shrinkage was achieved. Thank goodness there is a nice laundry spinner at the studio. When everything started looking right, all that was left to do was cutting the armholes. This has been the first time that I got my nerve up to cut the holes on my own. Is a very daunting process, but it went fine. I didn't even have to reinforce the armholes with thread, I just healed the edges in.

As far as dyeing goes, I decided to use Lanaset dyes. It was a learning process getting chartreuse mixed from turquise blue and yellow. After several trues I got it right. I had gotten it in my head that I wanted to crockpot dye, but it really didn't end up being practical. I went ahead and got a big pot for the kitchen stove. I was a little nervous about making the kitchen more colorful than it initially was. The process did not end up being messy. I went ahead and did the long dyeing process where are you let the fiber warm up,  simmer, and cool down completely before taking it out of the dye bath. I used to separate dye baths, one black and another that started is green and then worked into blue.

Yayy! Chartreuse! 

So what do you think? I'm pretty happy with the end product and look forward to making more garments.