Friday, February 20, 2009

Experiments: Needlefelting, Needlepunching and Handstitching

How can anyone ever be bored when there is so much to see or play at? No matter what art medium is your favorite, playing with other mediums and experimenting can spur your creative flow and give you new ideas...

Here are various playful fiber experiments, small projects where I was trying out new methods or some different techniques. I would say needlefelting, needlepunching, and handstitching seem to create a rhythm that is quite relaxing and satisfying. These are things easily done in the evening hours with a good lamp and strong reading glasses (magnifiers).

Needlefelting requires a special sharp barbed needle that you use to prod and poke wool roving or yarns into the shapes and designs that you want. I have learned that wool hairs actually have barbs, so any poking or agitating (such as with wet felting) will begin the "felt" process where the fibers begin to get enmeshed and stick together. Needlefelting is done over a thick piece of foam to avoid poking yourself. I had done several flat pieces in the past, but recently went with friends to a class where we all focused on making whatever 3 dimensional animals we wanted (the middle grouping is the class photo). Getting dimension is all about creating a rectangle, triangle, ball, or other shape over which you sculpt whatever you desire to make. I am most pleased with the cat which I patterned after my own little tuxedo you can barely see in the background of one of the photos. You can see my initial beginnings of him in the class photo on the far right - all white and not much face. It takes patience to get small details the way I want them to look. Eyes, mouth and nose require small lines and only a very few hairs of fiber. It will be interesting to try out other dimensional shapes.

I enjoy handstitching now and then, and last year was in a sewing group that self-taught ourselves different stitches from a particular embroidery book. I'm thinking about a goal of going through an entire stitch book trying out each stitch in various ways. The small stitched heart sampler was started to practice applique, couching and French knots - one night at one of the "hooker's" (rug) meetings I attend regularly.

This is a friendly group of very talented women that share conversation and hooking (rugs, dolls, wall hangings, pillows). Now I haven't really taken to hooking, but I did start a small crow wall hanging (designed by a friend) and will show it later when finished. Instead I got interested in needlepunching, what I'd call "micro-hooking" because the effect or technique is similar, the results are just a lot smaller. Having seen examples at a rug show last year, I just had to try it. Here are two examples that I finished - they are commercial pattern kits from a fabric/craft store, however, I wanted to just try the technique to see if I'd like it. I do, so I have in mind to experiment with making a pattern using my own images.


Melissa and Emmitt said...

oh my goodness!
these are fabulous! i love needlefelting and hand stitching.

i would love to try needle punching too. how fun!

thank you for sharing! very inspiring!
:) melissa

HeartFire said...

I'm so glad you enjoyed this post...sometimes I think I'm all over the map with arty stuff!

Anonymous said...

This is all so fascinating: I never thought of three-dimensional felting, but it sounds intriguing. Stitching samplers - I also (once upon a time) decided to work my way through an old needlework/embroidery book (Mary Thomas I think), and also have a heart stashed away somewhere; and a needle-lace sampler admonishes me every time I climb up to the roof-space; I really should complete these projects!

HeartFire said...

You know, Mary Thomas Dictionary of Stitches is the very book I am thinking to work through, it's very good!! We used a different smaller book in our group, can't find it now, but if you are interested will send you the name when I do.

Tara Ross Studios said...

I love those little needle felted guys! Looks like you made quite a few!

Gwen said...

these are all so cute, I don't have the patience for that. I especially like the cat!