Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Handmade Lampwork Glass Pins! For scarves, shawls & sweaters

The other day, while showing off a couple of felted scarves on facebook, someone showed me a nice pin that she'd made with her own lampwork beads, which got me thinking about the different types of pins I make with my beads and why.

First is the fibula pin, which your leg bone was named after, not the other way around (or so I've been told). Mine are made on 16 gauge brass wire, which is pretty thick~ so that it won't bend out of shape easily when used. Brass is nice because it doesn't patina like copper and it is cost effective. Because these pin wires are so thick, they should really only be used on loosely woven things like shawls or sweaters. Otherwise they might make big old holes in your lovely scarf! Fibula pins are rather time consuming and tetchy, so I've come up with two different options.

Next came the fork, which can also be used to hold hair back (mine works best when put in while my hair is still wet~ I have the thin, slippery kind of hair, so it will slide a bit as the day progresses otherwise). I was happy to find that these had two good uses. They are also quite thick as they are made on 14 gauge brass wire. So, again good for loosely woven items.

Then came the simple bent stick. Really cool because it is so simple and it works quite nicely! This is very similar to the hair stick option, but with just one wire to thread through the shawl. Another 14 gauge choice, so still not great for a scarf.
Once I started making felted scarves, I got serious about stick pins again. The pin part of these is quite slender and, after searching high and low, I found some hat pin blanks in stainless steel that were nice and strong. The bits and pieces to put these together come from about 4 different companies~ yikes! I find it easiest to insert the stick pin in and just leave it there, putting the scarf on and off over my head.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Making a Wet Felted 'Tulip' Bowl

Well, weeks ago I promised to write down directions for making this type of wet felted bowl. So, finally, here we go. I'm not going to give you detailed instructions for basic wet felting here- hopefully you've got that bit down. I refer to these as 'liriodendron' bowls, named after the tulip tree or yellow poplar.
This bowl began with a couple of layers of white wool, placed perpendicularly to each other for the base. Wool was added on each side in some pretty contrasting colors. Four layers of wool were used; more would make it even sturdier. Since both colors would be seen on the finished piece, I wanted something a bit showy~ the colors are so nice and vivid when wet! Colors were added to one side, some warm water and natural dish soap was sprayed on, then it was covered with plastic and rolled flat with a pool noodle until it was sticking together well. Then it was flipped over and colors were added to the second side, another quick roll with the noodle, and then it was all wrapped around the pool noodle with a towel around it and rolled about 100 times in each direction (Roll 100 times, unwrap, turn 90 degrees, wrap up, roll again, etc. Then flip over and do it all again). At this point things should be holding together pretty well.
When everything looks as if it is felting together and shrinking has begun, it's time to shrink it the rest of the way. This is done in different ways by different people. Here the piece was first rubbed all over and the edges were kind of rolled and rubbed to be sure they were fairly straight and well attached, then it was rinsed in very warm water, rung out and tossed against the bottom of the sink  100-150 times.
It was then rinsed in cold water with vinegar to neutralize the soap, then really hot water and then once more in really cold water. This shrinks things up a bit more.

While still wet, the corners were sewn to shape the bowl. The orange and pink side is meant to be the inside of this bowl, so the seam was sewn with that side out. Seems the inside of the bowl is what will be seen most most often, so it was bright side in! This will be flipped after sewing, but for a different look, it could be left with the sewn bits sticking out.

So here it is before the flip and after. With the corners to the inside, it kind of reminds me of a tulip.

The final step is to steam the bowl into shape. A heavy pottery bowl was placed inside this bowl to shape and weigh it down, then it was placed in a strainer over a bowl of steaming water, covered and allowed to steam for a couple of hours. After drying for a couple of days, it was ready to show off!

The idea for this type of bowl cam from Lark Books '500 Felted Objects'. Sadly, I don't own this book so cannot tell you the artisan's name.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Pink and purple lampwork memory bottles

I recently had a request from my daughter for a friend of hers for a 'memory bottle' in pink and purple. I love making things in this color combo, so I jumped right in. Made three before it was all over (and I could have kept going with this for a while)! This is why, when someone asks me to do something in a particular color combo, I ask them to look through the beads I have to see if something looks about right. Or send me pictures of something in the right color, or something fas a reference point.

Because there are a lot of colors out there and many of them are swirling about in my brain all the time~ whether I have them in the form of glass rods or not...

Hope one of these is just right.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Making a Felted Bowl

Well, there are not photos of many of the steps taken to make this felted bowl, but let's see if I can explain how it all happened.

A few things gathered for use
*  Lay down a piece of plastic (like a bit of drop cloth) that is large enough to wrap completely around the finished piece.

*  Cut a piece of flexible plastic stuff to act as a resist between the two sides and to build the pieces on. This was built flat and shaped into a bowl later.

* Add wool layers to the first side.
       Begin with two layers of white for the background. This helps colors that will be added onto the final surface to pop.
       A couple of wide lines of color that would contrast nicely with the final surface were added.  (A piece of thin foam will be placed over those areas to keep them from felting to the outer surface~ a cut will be made through one layer to the next later.)
       This was all wet down, soaped and prefelted and then flipped to the other side before the final surface colors were added so that the under colors and finished design could be carried from one side to the other more effectively.

The first layer and bit of the other side
* Flip over, wrap the edges of the wool around the resist and then repeat the same process on the other side of the resist- 2 layers of white, some contrasting color and prefelt. Finish this side out by covering the contrasting color bits with a flexible resist, then add the final layer of color.

* Back to the first side to add the final layer, covering the inside colors with flexible foam and then adding the final layer of colors, trying to somewhat match up the colors from one side to the next. The decision about which side would be the top of the bowl would be made later.
         These layers were then soaped, wet down and lightly prefelted (covered in plastic and rolled flat with a pool noodle) before the final layer of colors was added. I found in a subsequent bowl that four layers of wool on each side creates a nice, thick, sturdy bowl.
         Add the final layer of colors and a little 'confetti'- random bits of stuff!

The second side

* Wet down everything by spraying with soapy   water and lightly felt by wrapping in plastic and rolling flat with the pool noodle about 50 times, covering the entire surface.

* Once all the colors are added, it's time to felt! Wrap everything carefully in plastic, keeping out wrinkles, and roll around a pool noodle, then roll a towel around the whole thing (you can also roll the towel up with the bowl for more felting friction; just be sure it will wrap all around the outside at the end).

Ready to felt!

* Felt by wrapping completely in plastic and a towel and then wrapping the whole mess around a pool noodle and rolling about 100 times in each direction. i.e. roll 100 times, unwrap, turn, wrap and roll, repeat until it has been rolled in every direction- NSEW, and then flipped and rolled all four directions again.

* Check the felting progress as you go. When the felt is pulling on the resist, it's time to remove it. Cut a small hole (about 1 inch in diameter) out of the top center. Rub around the hole to expand and strengthen it, then carefully pull (manhandle) the resist out.

* Continue felting until everything is getting nice and firm. This can be done by wrapping and rolling for a bit longer. A piece of thin plastic (like a bag) can be placed inside just to ensure that things don't stick together where they should not. Cut carefully through the upper layer and remove the mini resists before finishing and fulling.

* Begin shaping into a bowl shape by felting with one hand on the inside. Finish the felting process in your usual manner. This was rinsed in cold water, then really hot water, then thrown down in the sink about 100 times, then rinsed in cold water with vinegar to remove all the soap, then really hot water, then cold again until it felt really well felted.

A different bowl
* Put a plastic bag inside and stuff hard with newspaper, shaping the bowl as you go. Make a few ridges and clamp with clothespins or binder clips. Take this whole conglomeration and steam over boiling water for an hour or so.

* Leave the newspaper inside and clothespins on while the bowl begins to dry. Once it is mostly dry (overnight or longer), remove everything and let it finish the drying process.

Whew! That's a lot of instructions! Hope I didn't miss anything essential.