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 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!