Friday, November 23, 2012

Needle felting

I haven't made much progress on Gunther, my nutcracker.  I've been spending my afternoons at the shop that I typically use for leisure stitching (like Gunther), assisting Dotty, a long-time customer who needs help with some canvases she has from various national classes.  Of course part of my willingness is my curiosity to see what other shops are offering.  And what a great opportunity to learn new skills.  

Dotty has two projects that require needle felting.  One is a Day of the Dead canvas by M. Salas with a stitch guide by Aristeiea in LA.  The other is the Thanksgiving March by Tapestry Tent with stitch guides from both Amy and Bristly Thistle.  I'm a quick learner, I thought, and I taught myself basketweave from a book back when I was learning in 1974.  My teaching philosophy is that I want to teach independence.  I will show you and show you and show you.  Then you will do it.  I will not stitch it for you.  I am very patient about repeatedly showing a stitch--I have been told this.  I personally do not feel I am patient, but if you are sincerely trying, I will show you repeatedly.  If you're a whiner, you're on your own! 

This reminds me of an instance 30 years ago when Trubey and I wanted to add knitting to the Vero Beach shop.  I was elected to be the teacher.  I called Margaret, who had a shop in a mall in Winston-Salem, NC.  I said to her that I was willing to make the 2-hour drive from Blowing Rock anytime she could give me an hour of instruction.  She refused, saying she liked her students to be closer to her.  In essence, she never wanted her students to be independent and never intended to cut the umbilical cord.  I eventually found a teacher in Charlotte.  Of course, we both eventually decided that I was a needlepointer and I should give knitting a pass!

I looked around for projects that needle felting might complement.  My 13mesh snowman was an obvious choice.  I picked out the chain stitch I had started on his scarf and made a trip to Michael's for the supplies I thought I needed.

This is the basic kit:  first, the block of styrofoam and two felting needles; second, 3 colors of wool roving.  Here I come!  Not.  I punched and punched and punched.  I went home and read entries on the internet.  I came back and put a backing behind my canvas, thinking the roving could catch in that.
Nada.  More reading on the internet and another trip out west, this time to Jo Ann's to purchase felt (not wool, but pseudo which is worse than nothing).  My aggravation level was rising.  Then I thought to call Michele at the Bristly Thistle for any hints.  She called me back and in 5 minutes explained that needle felting was very simple to do on 18 mesh canvas but impossible on 13mesh.

I grabbed a scrap of 18mesh canvas, punched away with my new tool (a multiple needle goodie), and had an Hoorah! moment.
This is a photograph of two "grabs" of wool roving that has been felted.  I next added another color.

I don't know why this mass looks pinker, trust me it is the original bunch.  I will say that I think if you do this on canvas, you must also consider applying a glue to the back.  This was on the table when a customer came in to chat.  She's curious and she started tugging at it, pulling it loose from its anchors.  This could also happen with finished needlepoint.
This is the back of the first cluster of felting.  I would do it some more to further anchor it before moving on to another area of the canvas.

I think for my 13mesh snowman, I will be felting the scarf and surface gluing it to the canvas.  We'll see if it works.  Jane of Chilly Hollow had felted hers onto a piece of wool felt--my acrylic felt was not receptive to this.  Stay tuned to find out what eventually happened.

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