June 17, 2009

It's been over two months!

It’s been well over two months since I made an entry…way too long.  So much as happened with artfelt® that I really do not know where to start.  There have been many shows – many demonstrations – many classes.  But one thing that really stands out in my mind is a teacher named Laurie Marks who visited me at the TNNA (The National Needlework Association) show this past weekend.


Marks teaches art to seventh and eighth graders at Wyoming Middle School located in where else, but….nope, not Wyoming, in Ohio.  Yes, Wyoming Middle School is in Ohio.  Makes sense to me…but then again, I have jetlag.  Moving along…she brought me samples of what some of her students had created with artfelt®. They had an assignment where they duplicated their painted artwork, in another medium.  In this case, felt.


She brought me many samples, but a few really stood out to me.

This first one is of a chair.  The use of the wool top is very textured and I love the way you can tell what the object is, yet it is abstract at the same time.  It is also very well balanced.  The color choices stand out to me as being surreal - part of a dream. 


This next one is a beach scene.  Although beach scenes like this are quite common, with the Palm tree framing the picture, I thought it stood out because of the detailing on the palm leaves.  They were very precise.  The piece also reminded me of Fiji, a place I love to go.


This last piece was my favorite.  Perhaps I should not pick favorites, but this one really was exceptional.  I wish I could have seen the original painting.  This piece of art depicts New York, or perhaps some other city center.  The picture is very busy and very detailed;  it reflects how busy a downtown can be.  The train – or light rail to the left, looks as though it were about to speed by, the neon lights bring about color, and most impressive to me, is the tremendous depth of field.   This is truly an exceptional piece!  If the young person who created this piece will contact me, I would be interested in purchasing it.  If you are interested in selling it, ask your parents first, then get my email address from Mrs. Marks and contact me with a price!  I would love to feature a photo of the piece in my upcoming book as well.


There were many other fabulous felted pieces from the class of Mrs. Marks, but I could only post a few.  I would like to thank her and her class for sharing them with me and allowing me to post some of my personal favorites on this site.  

So there you have it.  Another entry.  Later than late, but better late than never.

Until next time, tally ho! 

April 8, 2009

It's been three weeks...

Wow. It's been three weeks since I have written. Time flies when you are having fun! Actually, I think it flies whether you are having fun or not. I think time flying has to do with age...not fun. I recall having an abundance of fun as a child, yet Christmas seemed to take forever to roll around. Now, I don't quite get to play as much, yet Christmas seems to come around all too often. It's like a revolving door that seems to go quicker and quicker and quicker. And the faster it moves, the more everything becomes a blur. I can't imagine what I will be like at 100. One year will seem like one week and I won't remember a darn thing. Hmmm, thank goodness I have a few years to go!

On to felting. The last time I blogged, I mentioned my marathon weekend creating mini kit designs for the artfelt®. The weekend was very pro
ductive and fun. It had been a long time since I had made smaller projects, thus I was very pleased when I managed to crank out 8 pieces in one day. I did have a little help – no, not my friend Connie this time, but my new buddy Apple.

Apple was the “grandchild” my daughter brought home from New York. She is a stray 12-year-old Pomeranian that she rescued from the pound in NYC, thus the name Apple. Like most new grandchildren, she has no teeth, tends to pee everywhere, always wants to be held – and has the cutest bare bottom. (Ok, not so cute – but she was found in a garbage dumpster with a frost bitten derrière, so they had to shave her little behind) Unlike most new grandchildren, she is 12 years old and very hairy. No matter, I love her all the same; anything that moves and likes to felt, has a place in my heart.

The kits which were created over that weekend will soon be available around the country at yarn and craft shops, as well as on our website. They will be called “Say Hello to Artfelt®” kits, as they are small projects intended to give you just a little taste of what artfelt® is. You could compare them to those tiny .99 cent Ben and Jerry ice cream containers. It’s just enough to have you wanting more!

Photos of the kits should be on the website by next week! Items included are a camera/phone case, eyeglass case, decorative cuffs, coasters and a mini catch-all. They all use different techniques and take an hour or less to make, plus felting time.

There is so much more to tell with artfelt®…but I think I’ll save some for my next blog. The most exciting thing…going to Germany and meeting up again with the inventor of artfelt®.

Until then, tally ho!

March 12, 2009

The First Photo Shoot

I’ve always known that I was going to be a published author at some point in my life. If you would have told me 25 years ago that the book I was to write would be about felting, I would have wondered why would I be writing a book about shrinking merino sweaters? At that time, I was still in college and taking some Textile Engineering courses. I vaguely remember a class where we discussed why fibers felt. At the time, I found this to be tremendously boring. I mean who really cared why the sweater shrank in the washing machine? The main point to me was that it was $30.00 literally down the drain.

Now I wish I had paid more attention.
But, that is besides the point…I don’t think if I would have paid more attention that this book would be any easier to write, or publish. It’s not so much that it is difficult, it’s just terribly time consuming. Not only for me – but for those involved in my life as well.

I spent most of my last weekend felting, with the help of my friend Connie. For our technical shots for our first photo shoot (which was on Tuesday), we needed items in various stages. So, we created over 50 pieces of artfelt® in various stages in two days. Each piece was small – 10” x 10”, but none the less, 50 pieces is 50 pieces! Fortunately I know a little trick that helps when you are felting many smaller pieces; do them in a long roll! In other words, when it is time to do your actual felting, get a piece saturated with water, cover with plastic and roll, wet the next piece and continue to roll, wet the next piece, and continue to roll. I was able to roll a good 8 to 9 pieces into each roll. This is much quicker than rolling each individual piece. Connie was a trouper with the tacking in, but when it came to do the felting, she had to go home. Of course it was 9pm or so on Sunday – so I guess she had every right. Thanks for your help Connie!

The shoot went quite well. Cass of Redstonepictures.com was our photographer.
(She discusses a shot with Marcy - our hand model and my assistant - below)

She has a very creative eye and it is always exciting to be around, never a dull moment. She even made the technical shots look like fun, which quite honestly, is not so fun.

But we did have some fun shots as well. (Above, Cass shows my daughter how modeling is done)
We shot some garments for the book, such as the Sergeant Pepper Jacket below.

My daughter fit the jacket perfectly, and since it is such a whimsical piece, we played a little Beatles music and she fell right into character.

Since this jacket will be featured in some upcoming artfelt® ads I can share a few of the photos with you. I would love to share photos of all the other great garments, but as they say, I would have to kill you; they are top secret until the book comes out!

But this will give you a little taste of the book. It truly is going to be the most exciting book on felting out there.

This weekend is another artfelt® marathon – this time to develop pieces for our new “Say Hello to artfelt®” line.
I’ll share those with you after the weekend!
Until then, tally ho!

March 4, 2009

Paper or Plastic?

Today was a great day. It was a day of realization. Today I realized I have lost my mind. I have lost it to artfelt®.

My best friend Connie was coming over this evening for dinner. As usual, there was not much food in the house, so I figured I would pick up a few items at a grocery store on the way home. Now a normal person would choose a grocery store to go to either by what they wanted to purchase, or by convenience. If you want a good steak you go to Whole Foods. If you want cheap but good wine, Trader Joes. Good olives, Metropolitan Market. If you are short of time – the corner market. But not me. I choose my grocery store by the bags they offer.

You see, when artfelting, those crunchy sounding plastic bags that are offered at some stores, come in very handy. They are perfect for the final round of drying, or for putting larger pieces in. I use a lot of them. Unfortunately, I use more of the bags than the amount of food that comes in them, so I am always running short.

Thus, today when I decided to buy my groceries, I decided to buy them at QFC, not because they have “quality foods” as the name implies, but because they offer the best plastic bags around. Trader Joes has good prices on tasty, organic foods, but all they offer on bags is paper. Of course you can opt to purchase a great bag for ninety-nine cents, which I have done about ninety nine times, leaving me with ninety-nine reusable bags to store in my pantry. I suppose I could keep them in my car so that the next time I go to Trader Joes I could reuse one. Actually, I think that is the whole purpose of buying a bag over taking a paper one. But, that would be too simple. I’ll just continue to collect them. Perhaps when I have 1,000, someone will sell them on eBay for me.

Back to the subject of loosing my mind – to artfelt®. I knew I had lost it when I found myself driving several miles out of my way home, just to shop at QFC, because they have great plastic bags for artfelting. To top things off, while I stood at the register and watched the teenager plop my goods into the bag, I requested on two occasions, that they bag items separately. This way, I walked out with 4 bags in tow – not just two. Score!

On the way out of QFC, I saw a big bin full of used bags. Why on earth would somebody not need these great plastic bags! I wondered if I took a few if anyone would notice. But, I couldn’t force myself to do it. I’ve never been a thief, why start now? I’ll just have to buy more groceries again. Tomorrow.

Moral of the story – plastic please!

Tally ho till next time!

March 3, 2009

It’s early Friday morning and once more I find myself in the seat of a plane. Not for business today, but to visit my parents for their 50th wedding anniversary. I’m excited t be heading into to the sun for the weekend, but at the same time, this means 3 days without any Artfelt®! I suppose a few days won’t harm me, especially since the last 10 have been chock full of Artfelt®.

On the 12th, Marcy (my assistant and an Artfelt® expert) and I caught an early ferry to go teach an Artfelt® class to a group of very creative women on Bainbridge Island. There were 18 women total – ranging in age from 18 to 82. One would think it might be difficult to teach to such a wide age range of students, but it wasn’t difficult at all. Since Artfelt® can be so diverse and there are no connotations of what it is, everyone is usually very open minded and eager to learn. And since the learning curve is so fast, it makes it all the better.

Sometimes I feel guilty charging for a class. The process really is so very simple and I usually learn more in class than the students! Students are always coming up with creative ideas on how else to use the Artfelt® technique. The days immediately following a class are usually very productive for me, as I go back to my studio and try all these great ideas that students have had. As always, some ideas work well and some not so well. But in the end, I’ve always gathered more information that I can share with my next class!

We centered our Bainbridge class around two pieces, both small cell phone cases/coin purses, but using two different techniques. The first piece was created using just standard roving to make what I like to call a base. I call it a base, as when it is felted, it can stand-alone as a piece of fabric. Once you have a base, you can put any design on it and not have to worry about thickness or the direction of fibers, because the base will hold everything together.

Our second piece we used only pencil roving to create the fabric. This is always a bit trickier, because people have a tendency not to overlap the pencil roving enough. As a result, when they dissolve the Artfelt® paper after felting, the entire piece either falls apart, or they have a lot of holes. But, this technique creates some of the most wonderful pieces that are stunning on both sides, thus it is important to learn.

We also had a live demonstration going on at the Madrona Art Festival in Tacoma from the 12th through the 15t.h. On Sunday we taught a 3-hour class filled with many talented women. The pieces we made were similar to those at the Bainbridge class, with the addition of a third piece that had what I call, negative space. These are pieces with intentional holes – versus unintentional. It’s a bit ironic that just about everyone discovers how to make holes in his or her work unintentionally, but when they try to do it with purpose, it doesn’t always turn out. Thus, we teach some tricks on making it work.

All the photos were taken at the two classes. Thanks to all the ladies there, who had no objection to me posting their photos and their work on my blog!

Until next time, tally ho!

February 19, 2009

This is my first attempt at blogging. For a person who enjoys her privacy, it is a bit awkward to be jotting down notes for everyone to see. But, I have been assured, that if I really want to enlighten everyone’s life with artfelt®, then blogging is what I must do.

From award winning artist to this:
I have always been a very creative person. Actually, I am an award-winning artist. Back in 6th grade I won a T-shirt contest for a radio station. I don’t really recall what the contest was for, only that I sewed the bottom of the t-shirt closed to create a handbag. I really don’t recall what I won either. However, I do remember that I won first place and my teacher congratulated me on being an award-winning artist. That was my first and last award for any form of art. But that has not stopped me from creating art.

First choice is always fiber arts:
Of all arts, fiber arts have always been at the top of my list. Sewing, knitting, crochet, quilting. Just about everything but spinning and weaving. I have yet to invest in a spinning wheel or a loom, but all other gadgets from sergers to knitting machines – I have at least a few. Of knitting needles, a few hundred! But most of my fiber toys have been gathering dust since I discovered artfelt®.

Where in the world did artfelt® come from?
So, what is artfelt® and how did it come about? Back in fall of ‘06, I was looking into importing roving for wet felting. I have a cousin in Germany, Almuth, who is a phenomenal wet felter and while visiting her back in 2002, she had inspired me with her work. I had dabbled in it a bit, and since fulling had become very popular in the United States, I figured wet felting would follow. In one package of sample roving from a gentleman named Gerhard Schoppel, came a piece of paper. Easyfelt Paper he called it. It was suppose to make the felting process easier. I had no instructions though, so it sat around my office for a few months. When I finally got the nerve to ask how to use the paper, I was told to simply tack the roving onto the paper with a barbed needle, get it wet, roll it up and put it in my dryer. I did as I was told. But, I wasn’t told to use plastic in the process, and as a result I had a big rolled piece of felt intertwined with paper. I tossed it out.

With a shipment several weeks later, came another piece of paper, this time with a few written instructions. And from there on, I was hooked. It started innocently enough with a very colorful scarf – which ended up being a bit stiff, so I called it a table runner. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was experimenting with different ways to use the paper and the roving on a nightly basis. I became thoroughly addicted. I knew that Mr. Schoppel had something special here with this paper, and when it was combined with his richly colored pencil roving, the results shook my world. Never could I have done things like this with wet felting. Or needle felting. Or fulling. At least not in the short amount of time it took me to make a project with the paper as a canvas.

This was an all-new way of felting that needed a new name.
Paper felting was the first thing that came to mind, but it sounded as if one was making paper, not fabric. Then I thought about art and craft terms. If used together, the words arts and crafts usually conjure up images of 5 year olds with a glue stick – so I wanted to keep the words art and crafts apart, yet somehow use them both. Technically, this new method of felting was a craft that created not necessarily just a utilitarian piece such as a purse or scarf, but it was a craft that was creating art. How to put that into a name was the question. Pardon the pun, but originally I was thinking along the lines of “art never felt so good” along with several other really corny, bad ideas. Then one special day, I misspelled something and art and felt ended up lumped together in my spell check. And there they have been ever since, together. Together forever.

artfelt®. A new way of felting.
The logo of the heart with the banner came afterwards. Everyone kept telling me that artfelt® sounded like heartfelt, so I questioned, what would be more warming than a heart in the logo? Of course the heart with the banner was inspired by one of my, or actually my only, favorite tattoo artist, Ed Hardy. I do not endorse tattoos, and I do not have any. And I shall never get one. I usually never say never, but a tattoo I can honestly say, I will never get. But please, don’t get me wrong. That doesn’t mean I cannot admire and appreciate a well done tattoo. I just will never have one. But if I ever did get one, I would go straight to Ed Hardy.

So, here I am going on and on – not even writing about felting! But my younger and more intranet savvy employees assure me that is OK.

Back to the subject of felting. Now you know how artfelt® came into my life. It came on quickly and grabbed my attention and has not let go. I can honestly say that I am still in the honeymoon phase with it. Madly in love and lust with it and learning something new every day. I continuously try new things with the artfelt® method. Some work and I use them again. Others fail and I let them go. And still others fail of the original intent, but create something entirely new that is so inspiring that I can’t wait to fail in the same manner again.

Early on, actually immediately after dissolving the paper from my first piece (the scarf that turned into a table runner), I felt the need for an artfelt® book. Originally I found a publisher who was willing to work with me, but somewhere along the way, life happened and I was unable to make deadlines. So, I set the book on the back burner for a while. Recently, the flame was lit again. So now I am once again, in the process of writing the first book to be published on artfelt®. In order to make deadlines, I am creating my own; I am self publishing. In a way it’s cheating, because I can move deadlines whenever I choose. However, I have learned that the only person I am letting down if I miss a deadline, is myself.

I am very fortunate to have a very talented and inspiring crew in my office helping me out and cheering me on every step of the way. I also have a very understanding husband who doesn’t complain when the dryer buzzer rings every 15 minutes…even around midnight. And then there is my best friend Connie. Whenever I need an extra hand with anything, she is always there for me. I could not write this book with out any of them. I may be the face of the book, but they are the soul.

So, the rest of my blogging from here on out will follow the process of the making of the book – as well all the wonderful discoveries not only I make, but other artfelters are making.
I can’t promise to write every day – but I think if you check the blog weekly, you’ll find a few entries a week.
Until next time, tally ho!