Fall is here

The leaves started to change colors around the Chicago land area.  The sun is also starting to set noticeably earlier, which is what I dread the most.  I’m glad I have my new hobby, as now I find resolve in the darker hours of my days.  So to keep me in the spirit, I thought I would try a bit of some fall things.  Everyone was out making pumpkins, so I thought I would try at one as well.

I took the ideas that you use string to help press in your groves, but I didn’t have string, so I thought I would try what I did have and that was embroidery thread.  I had gotten some to sew together the binding on my travel needle book.  It took a couple of tries to get it to stay in place.  It turns out that embroidery thread is very slick, so it moves around a lot.  But I borrowed a couple fingers from my husband and got it stay a bit where I wanted it.  Some areas were larger than others, but hey, pumpkins aren’t perfect right?

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So I only had a little bit of orange left, I had to do something to make it stretch.  So I used living felt lemon peel and then laid (what I’m guessing is) living felt Mango over the top with a hint of (again guessing) of hot orange in places to give it a bit of stretch marks.  Or at least, that’s what I was hoping for.  I’m guessing at the colors because some came in a goody bag, and I don’t have labels.  And the spring collection that my mother had given to me isn’t labeled either.  So I try to match as best as possible when I have the color in hand.  My goal, is to just give you an idea of the process I go through.

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So once I felted each slice in (and I felted in an extra slice so I have an odd number vs the even number you get with the string), I started with the stem and I used a cheap-y brown I had left over and in laid a bit of sage (I have a ton of sage wool) to try and give it a dried, stem look.  Then I tried a sample of the sheep locks I had gotten with one of my Living Felt orders, and I only had really bright colors.  So I figured the yellow would be cute.

The husband thinks I should add a leaf, but I tried making a leave last spring and it was awful, and I mean, who honestly keeps the leaves on when picking pumpkins.  I don’t know if anyone actually has grown pumpkins, but their leaves are huge and the stems usually have to be cute with a knife or hedge trimmers to actually get them off.  Plus, I’m bad at making leaves.  So I’m going to leave my leaf making to another project.  Maybe watch some youtube videos on it before I try it again.

There are a few things I would like to try differently, but given my lack of color choices, not bad.  I definitely need to just suck it up and make an order.  But I want to make sure I have some projects in mind rather than just randomly ordering a bunch of colors and racking up a bill.  I also need to figure out where I’m going to store all my wool.  I’m a little OCD when it comes to organization.  Right now I have everything in two plastic tubs in my kitchen and each wool is in it’s color ziplock bag.  But I think I’ll need to figure out a better way.  I may need a larger travel bag as well.  So any idea’s on storage or organization for a little felting spot in the house would be greatly appreciated. 😀

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It’s that time of year again to start thinking of Christmas gifts as well.  I have a lot of ideas in mind, but I don’t know whom I’m going to get for the grab bag that our family does.  So I guess I’ll just idea something up for everyone, and whomever I don’t get, I’ll just give it to them for their birthday.

Yellow!

pikachuSince  I took a break from Slowpoke, I was thinking that I would do a Jigglypuff, since you know, I’m really good at circles.  But then my mother donated her wool that she wasn’t using (it’s not really a hobby for her), and in that collection was yellow.  It wasn’t really a yellow needed to make my husband his Abra, but I could definitely make a Pikachu!  Besides, that’s more of a mascot for Team Instinct anyways.

So I’m using Living Felt Merino Batt Lemon Peel?  It came in the spring collection color set, and they don’t really tell you whats in there.  But that’s the closest I can match it too.  Butter cup was a close color match as well.

My husband felt my frustration with the Slowpoke, and since he is a gaming expert, he felt he should help.  I think he just felt bad because he played his video games all day long (not that I mind, that’s more felting time), so he wanted to spend some time with me.  So he made an armature for me.  He’s definitely not use to making these, nor does he have any clue as to what to expect once the wool goes on, so there were a few unexpected mishaps I had to kind of adjust to.

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Rule #1 to Armatures, don’t make circles.

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As you know, I’m really good at circles, at least without armatures.  But I find putting this beautiful shape (that’s not really a shape) into wire, makes it really hard to fill in the middle.  So around and around I went until finally, I just squished it together and told my husband he is never allowed to make circles on an armature again.  He saw the process, he understands now.  So Pikachu is going to be a little larger than we anticipated.

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cheeto puff arms with a bit of pipe cleaner to hold them downward

I also learned some new tricks with making shapes stick better.  Add a pipeclean, or fuzzy stick. *laughs* I think my tail turned out really nice!

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I’ll be honest, I’m a little disappointed with the face.  When I put on Pika’s cheek color, it took down the cheeks.  My husband says I’m being to hard on myself, but that’s just who I am.  I have to remember, I’m still really new at this, and everything right now is a learning experience.  I’m also happy my eyes are on the same level, I seem to have trouble putting things on not crooked.  Getting there though!

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This took me about 10-11 hours.  Again, I was bad at keeping track of time.  I’ll have to find me an app where I have to clock in and out between project times. I think my next project will be something for the holidays. Maybe pumpkins… do I have any orange?

Inventory: A lot of Pink

slowpokeSo after calculating inventory, I have found out my next Pokemon should be something pink.  I’m not a big pink person, and so I know I will never really use all this wool up.  I won this wool in a contest as part of a goody bag from Living Felt.  You could see my winning design on my first post, as it was my first felting project (still pretty proud of my first one).  So I’m using, I believe (ripped that paper off too fast), Merino felting batt in Tulip.

So I had a couple of choices.  Jigglypuff or Slowpoke.  I already did a circle shape Pokemon, and well lets face it, I’m pretty good at circles.  So I thought I would venture out into a more complicated shape.  Again, I’m using up my cheap “crappy” big store brand wool as a build out and saving my Living Felt core wool for my… more serious projects?  Well, I’m just trying to use up this stuff so it doesn’t take up more space in my wool bin (what I really mean is so I have more room when I order more wool).

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So I’m working along, making a few adjustments to positions.  I had a lot of different images to work off of, but everyone voted for the standing position that slowpoke is doing in Pokemon Go!  So that is the one I went with.  I made the legs too long, and had to cut them off.  I’ve made 3 different mouths, but none really worked.  I seem to be having a really hard time with this.  So I’m going to set this one aside and maybe try another Pokemon, and then come back.  I have made the front legs more like what they are suppose to be.  But the face.  The face just makes me angry.  So for now, he remains unfinished.

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working that duck face XD

 

Fall is Approaching

It’s been a while since I’ve written, and I think I’ve officially deemed this my night time hobby.  You know, when you’re stuck inside because the sun sets earlier and you can’t go out and play.  So I’ve been dabbling here and there, I usually start after dinner.  Everyone is relaxed, there isn’t much sun left and I don’t really need to be in bed for a few more hours.  So I unpacked my wool, pulled out the needles, and tried some more needle felting.

voltorbMy latest adventure actually is game inspired.  My husband and I do a lot of Pokemon Go! hunts, and since I had the down time, I thought I would continue the Pokemon trend into my needle felting.  I don’t really have the wool to finish my armatures, and I’m not going to make an order until all my competition stuff is paid for.  My competition year is almost to an end, and it was a very successful year.  So once the last payment goes through, I’ll start deciding what my order is going to look like.  I’ve also been doing some reading on wool and types, and I think I finally know what I need to finish the dog armatures.  So I know that is going on my list.

13667929_10102636371108568_3639950726298000514_oSo my first Pokemon inspiration was actually a pokeball.  But my wool color choices were limited, so I had to kind of modify it into the colors I had.  So it ended up turning into a Voltorb. I am also trying to use up my “crappy” labeled wool.  Now that I’ve worked with a few different brands, one does leave a nicer finish than the other.  So you’ll see I’m just using all kind of different batts.

13909193_10102638112977848_4657318935501673729_oCircles, I have found, are pretty easy for me.  And I think I thoroughly enjoyed the detail in this guy.  He gave me a lot of confidence, as everything in this was pretty easy for me.  I think I finished him in 4 hours?  I have to remember to take the times when I’m working so I know if I’m improving or what it is I’m struggling with.  Maybe that’s the groomer in me, but I always like to know how much time something takes me.

Of course, now everyone wants a Pokemon, and I know they sorely underestimate the amount of work these things take and the price of wool.  At least I’m using cheap wool though, so he was pretty cost effective.  The part that took me the most time was smoothing everything out.  Seeing the fuzzies, that’s what bothers me the most.

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My next one will have be a more calculated one.  Since I only have certain colors of wool, I’m going to have to figure out what it is I can make.  I have a lot of pink, and some green and blues.   So I’ll start taking inventory and figure out what is next.

Working Armature

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fuzzy sticks and jewelry wire cutters

I’m trying my first attempt at building the base to my first dog sculpture with armature in it. I got 18 gauge wire from Living Felt, when I made my order, knowing that I would need this for what I wanted to do. I did have to make a run to Wal-mart to pick up, what I call pipe cleaners, and everyone else is now referring to them as fuzzy sticks. So now that the label says “fuzzy Sticks,” that’s how I will refer to them. I just thought I should clarify in case you didn’t know if their name change or if you didn’t know what they were called before of their name change.

A youtube video (she talks about the build of an armature at about 6:20) had told me to twist my wire, so that’s what I did. It turns out, it really hurt my fingers and I had a really hard time twisting. When we made our next late night trip to Wal-mart, I went back into the jewelry section and picked up the last of the fuzzy sticks (you can never have too many right?) and a wire cutter. This has helped me twist my wire so much better. It gives me a better grip and I can twist evenly all the way down. It also allows me to cut wire, which is more important than I thought.

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Once I got the armature to where I wanted it, and that includes making sure it stood on all four legs properly, I covered the armature with fuzzy sticks (pipe cleaners).  And once that was all covered, I rechecked to make sure it was still on all four legs, and then started to twist the wool around the wire.  I should remind you, work your needles at 45 degree angles, as to not jab into the wire.  I have yet to break a needle using this method.

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With this being my first one, I added slowly.  I will be adding coat all around, except for the poodles clean feet, but I still want to make sure I capture the true shape of the legs.  I’m also curious as to how I’m going to go about the face, feet, and tail.  The face and feet have no fur, as poodles have clean faces and feet, but the tail has just a tiny bit of hair, if I do the German Trim.  I think I would like to try and trim that I don’t typically get to practice on.  On the other hand, I was thinking I might need to stick with a trim that I know, as I work through the unfamiliar media.  I can’t image trimming wool would be too different from trimming a poodle, but it would be easier to work with a trim I know rather then learn how to work these felted dogs, and a new hair cut.  But we’ll see how brave I get, once I get to adding the coat in.

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I’m really not sure what type of wool I should use to get to my goal.  I  asked Living Felt what they recommended the kind of wool I should use for the coat, when I get there. They happily responded back to help, and I am so grateful for their kind recommendations.  I will share what Marie had sent back to me.

Wow, this is awesome. For the body,. of course I think you are safe with core wool and batting, it will compact nicely and smoothly. For the long fibers, experiment with: NZ Corriedale, Merino Top (though this is very fine and sometimes wants to lay on itself), and other fibers with a staple length of 3″ or longer. We also have organic POLWARTH, and other fibers like SHETLAND, JACOB and Lincoln (not all come in white tho). It is best to get small amounts to start and experiment. Plus save back a small sample from each purchase noting where you bought it, what it was called, what it cost and the name of the color. I hope that helps!

So I will be making an order, as soon as I get a little closer.  I really would like to do my research before I invest a good amount of money, and I’m definitely going to make a small order of probably a few ounces of each and play with them on a test subject.  That way I get it right on my sculpture.  I’ve also been looking into some books.  But most of them I can not get at my local bookstores, so it looks like I might be making an order on amazon.  The more research I have behind me, the better.

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A photo from my first place win, you can get an idea of what a German trim looks like.  You can slightly see his shaved spot from surgery.

Felted Book

I have been doing a lot of traveling lately.  Being a competition groomer, means that I take long trips to these trade shows, and I spend a good portion of the weeks leading up to it, preparing dogs and making sure they are all cleaned and they are packed for the weekend adventure a head of us.  So that makes it a bit hard to finish projects.  It made me think though.  Since I had a good amount of down time between dogs, I had some time to felt, but didn’t take any of my things with me.  So I’m on a seek for a good bag to take things with, and I also came up with an idea for a travel needle cushion.  Oh and in case you were wondering, I took first place in poodles entry.

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To start, my brother in law brought back a couple of note pads from his trip to Mexico.  They had this wood covers, and I thought those would be perfect.  They were sturdy enough to keep the book shape and stop anything from bending.  So I took them off the spiral bound they were on and measured out some pre-felted sheets to make sure I knew what my canvas size was going to be.  I later found, I should have left room for the padding for the needles, but I made due.

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After I made my design, I sewed the back piece on so that it would pocket the wooden covers.  I was nervous about this, because I’ve never sewn before.  But I’m actually pretty proud of how it came out.  I left the inside of the front cover open, because I want to get some magnets to hold the two covers together.

Doing the back, I used the spiral holes to help secure the magnetic clasp that’s going to hold the two covers together.  So I worked the top closed and then made sure the wooden cover was exactly where I wanted it, and I sewed it all in.  I completed all four sides on the back, and decided to take out the padding on this side, because it wouldn’t close right.  I just need to work the clasp now.  I would like to felt in some of the color of the front cover so it matches in pretty well.  But I’ll save that for later.  For now I like where it is, until I have some magnets to get in there, I can’t actually finish it off.

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I really like it.  Especially since this is my first time work with a 2-d felting project and my first time sewing something together.  I gave it a test today, and my needles made it with me to our destination and back, without needing to constantly pack up.  I can also use the book as a needle cushion, I made sure to add enough padding so I could stick them in there when I took a break or needed to set my needle down.  Now that I’ve kind of adventured with my tools, I think I can start to do the dogs that I’ve been wanting to do.  I’ll need to experiment with wool tops and do a bit more reading for the different types of wool I could use for the coats.  I might play with batting, practice sculpting in shapes and what not.  I also need to order eyes and probably noses for the dogs.  But I need to figure out what’s a good size for those.

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A bit more research, and I think I’ll have my first dog done.

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A Needle Cushion

20160220_112518With my first little felted creature, I had won a little goody box from Living Felt.  It was very kind of them, and I couldn’t wait to try something.  I’ve seen how other needle felters have a cushion for their needles, so I wanted something similar.  I forgot to take pictures as I went, I was really kind of winging it, so I wasn’t thinking of the plan as I went and stopping to photograph.

I went to the craft store with my mother, who still has yet to use any felt from her order.  We both ordered from Living Felt, me to get me going with some kits, and my mother really wanted to make purses and hat.  Our orders came in and she is off having fun in Florida.  I couldn’t wait to dig in.  But at the craft store we saw some fake plants that were on sale for somewhere around $2.  I grabbed some, as I wanted to rip the plants out, and use it for a project in the future.  I wanted to make cute little succulent felted plants for my sister in law, since she tends to kill all her plants.  I’ll have to pick up another pot now, because I used one for my needle cushion.

It was a nice base, not too heavy so I can move around my house, and not too light to make sure the base stays standing.  I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to decorate it once i built the soil/moss like base, so I added a mushroom.  I will probably change that in the future, as it kind of just hangs there and everyone who sees it is worried it’s going to fall off.  But at least I have something for my needles now, so I can work towards actual projects.