Thursday, August 30, 2012

Needle-Felting Class

I am teaching a two-day needle-felting class at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens, Richmond, VA, in November. We'll have fun!  Here is the link for information and to register:

I am also sharing the draft of my first short presentation that includes details of the class, FYI:

Hope to see you there! Enrollment is limited.   I have been needlin' as fast as I can to create models and samples for the class!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Needle-Felted Flowers: Fun and fast

Needle-felted flowers  are fun to and easy to make. I use them for a variety of things: package decorations, additions to knitted items, pillows, wall or door hangings and pins.  They take 15-20 minutes each to make and I can make a lot of them for a pretty project (you can take longer to make a more "finished" product, but I like the folksy appeal...and it is easy!)

Start with making a loop in a colorful length of wool and lightly needle it into place:

Continue this process until you have 5 loops, all lightly needled into place:

Firm up the form a bit, and add a contrasting center (sorry these photos are sort of dark- I tend to needle-felt in the evening.  The petals are peachy yellow, the center sunny yellow):
I attached some "leaves" and a pin to the back of flowers to make pins; also I do this if I attach it to an item for which the flowers need to be removed before washing:
Until next time, I'll be needlin' around!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Solar Dye for Wool

I am studying botanical illustration at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens ( and am an avid gardener.  Well these hobbies have crashed together with a class I am taking "Painting Plants that Paint" on dye plants.  We will sketch a dye plant, learn about them and make a solar dye from some of them.  I thought it would be fun to dye some needle-felting wool using solar dyeing and here are my first three attempt using plants from my garden, left to right in the photo above: red hibiscus, fig leaves and woad leaves (the red you see is the onion bag mesh I put the fibers in to hold them loosely together).  Mother Earth News has an article from 1983 (!) on one method to do this:  Fibers must be mordanted, that is, simmered and soaked in a substance mixed in water that allows the dye to penetrate and "stick" to the fibers. In this method, the mordant, alum, is added directly to the solar dye bath, cutting off one step (but, I am guessing, not producing the strongest dye).  The results?

First, the color of the undyed wool (roving) was a slightly creamy white:

And here are the dye results: purple-gray for the red hibiscus, pale yellow for the fig leaves and pink-brown for the woad (though woad was traditionally a source for blue dye, mature woad leaves will produce a pink dye and this dye bath was not properly prepared, as woad can be tricky):

I am currently working on a needle-felted wall hanging of cattails and will post my progress soon.  I might work some of these naturally dyed fibers into it.  'Til next time, I'll be needlin' around!

UPDATE: A photo of the next set of solar dye jars:   Hopi red dye amaranth (which is turning the wool yellow, not red!), muscadine grape skins (lavender wool so far) and turmeric (the color you see).

Friday, August 3, 2012

Needle-Felted Lanscape

I wanted to make a needle-felted landscape to hang in a shadow box on my wall.  I did a very simple sketch of the scene above, knowing that I wanted to emphasize the detail on the trunk of the tree, and make a rocky and mossy shore for the curving river.  I used a piece of wool batting that I had made from raw fleece  at a mill.  The tree is minimal in terms of branches and leaves, hopefully communicating that it is a old tree.  After creating the basic form for the tree, I used dyed curly locks to show some color and movement (see detail).  The whole project took between 10 and 12 hours.  What fun!
(By the way, stay tuned for details on a class I am teaching at Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens in Richmond, Virginia in November:  "Needle-Felting for the Botanical Artis"t.  No experience necessary!)
See you next time...until then, I'll be needlin' around!