surface design through felting

"marbles", felted cluster with roving

“Marbles”, felted cluster with roving

I had not heard the term surface design until I had been felting for some period of time.  I would occasionally hear it mentioned, on felting groups and forum. Curiosity finally got the best of me, so I started to research what it was all about. Recently, I took a workshop in Portland about the basic of surface design.

So, what is surface design? In a nutshell, surface design encompasses patterning, structuring and adding embellishments on a felted fabric with stitching, embroidering with colored threads, fiber or silk and perhaps beading.

Some of my projects posted here are done using resists to create an interesting 3-dimensional surface design. This technique creates an interesting combination of surface textures through felting with wool felt and roving. By layering different combinations of  wool and resist, one can create different textures, colors and alter the surface of the felted piece which in turn will bring rise to interesting three-dimensional shapes on a piece of pre-felted fabric.

Surface design opens up an exciting new dimension (quite literally) in the creation of felted pieces. I think you will find the process fun, with nearly limitless design possibilities for your pieces. The following is a selection of my pieces, that will be on display at the gallery.

"merlot", inspired by the many wineries in Livermore

“Merlot”, inspired by the many wineries in Livermore

'alien', crater made with resist, and individually rolled spikes

‘Alien’, crater made from resist, and individually rolled spikes

“3 of a kind”, felted with skeleton leaves

“Seascape’, resist felting with shells and stones.

“Matahari’, means ‘sun’ in Malay. the word, ‘mata’ is eye and ‘hari’ is day in Malay

"Mars", craters and a 'howlite" figure descending from springs . howlite is calcium borosilicate hydroxide, is a borate mineral found in evaporite deposits. howlite stones is an extremely calming stone, relieving anxiety, tension and anger

“Mars”, craters and a ‘howlite” figure descending from springs . Howlite is calcium borosilicate hydroxide, is a borate mineral found in evaporite deposits. Howlite stones is an extremely calming stone, relieving anxiety, tension and anger

Emma's delight. This piece was sold at a recent art show.

Emma’s delight. This piece was sold at a recent art show.

‘Tangerine, another resist felting to create crater

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, felt happily, dye happy”

eco-dyed Easter eggs

naturally dyed eggs with flowers and leaves

Last weekend at the art show reception, I was introduced to an elderly woman by a fellow artist who asked me about how I made the art piece that I had on display. After hearing what I told her about eco-dyeing. She told me that she was surprised that people are still doing such things. The brief introduction got into her telling us about her experience growing up in a farm and how they used to dyed yarns and eggs with onion skins for the Easter celebration.

eggs arranged in a row, this one is wrapped with California poppy leaf

Coincidently, Easter is just a week away, and we have plenty eggs from our chickens. I thought this would be nice to post something traditional and meaningful. I am sure most of us know that Easter represents Christ’s rebirth. In many cultures, eggs symbolize life and purity.  The Chinese celebrates birthdays and the full-month of new-born babies with boiled red eggs.

When my kids were little, I used to dye my eggs using store-bought commercial dyes. This time around, I am trying the old-fashioned and natural method of dyeing eggs with colors from onion skins and flowers. The onion skins brew smells just wonderful–which reminds me of French onion soup*.

What I used:

  • some old stockings, eggs (white or brown), vinegar, flowers/leaves for design, a bag of onion skins (you need a lot of it to get color)and rubber bands to hold things in place.

Here’s what I did:

  • Make the dye with onion skins in pot by adding enough water to cover the skins, and a tablespoon of vinegar in the water. Bring to a boil and lower heat and simmer until you get a deep reddish brown color dye. I let mine simmer for a good 45 minutes and then removed it from the heat to cool.
  • Wrap leaves/flowers around the egg and gently tie it with a rubber band.
  • Put finished eggs in stockings and make a knot before putting in the next egg. Continue in this manner with the rest of the eggs.
  • Add the stocking eggs into the dye bath and cover with a layer of extra onion skins. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then reduce heat to low, cover the pot and simmer for about 20-30 minutes.
  • Remove eggs from stove and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, gently remove the eggs and lightly brushed with oil.

wrapped eggs in various leaves and flowers from my garden

ready to go

ready to go

egg into one end of the stocking, followed by the rest.

egg into one end of the stocking, followed by the rest.

eggs inside stocking, with tied knots between each egg

eggs inside stocking, with tied knots between each egg

color test

eggs tucked inside stocking,    and into the dye bath

eggs tucked inside stocking, and into the dye bath

set cooked eggs out to cool

set cooked eggs out to cool

hmm, shall I hide them in my strawberry bush?

hmm, shall I hide them in my strawberry bush?

stockings-before and after dyeing eggs in onion bath.

stockings-before and after dyeing eggs in onion bath.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happy”

*link to my recipe for French Onion Soup

ethereal, a bounty of color

I am enamored with every part of the eucalyptus tree from  its fragrant leaves, bark, and flowers for natural dyeing, eco-printing, or marking on fabric. The leaves of this tree give the most vibrant reddish-orange dye and it works beautifully on silk and wool fabric. This was a piece I made for our gallery’s Spring Art Show last weekend. It was made with iron rust and different types of eucalyptus leaves and barks. I named this piece, Ethereal.

I didn’t get a prize but had many admirers, it was a wonderful experience and a chance to display my work to a larger audience. The piece I had on display  is 22″ x 80″ and mounted on another panel with rods at both ends. Below are close-ups sections of it starting from top to bottom.

top: vibrant colors from rust and eucalyptus cinerea

continuous flow of rust prints and reddish orange from eucalyptus

dark shadowy prints between folds and creased lines of rust

dark shadowy prints between folds and creased lines of rust

like waterfall, rusty lines begins to spread and break off into streams

middle portion: it’s taking a different course of color variation–almost provocative

deep and dark shadows with streaks of salmon pink meandering into another level

deep and dark shadows with streaks of salmon pink meandering into another level

lower mid-portion: a different color take off with a new twist

lower mid-portion: a different color takes off with a new twist

a fanfare of splashing colors

a fanfare of splashing colors

a gentle turn to another dimension

a gentle turn to another dimension

an unexpected twist and swirl of colors and shapes

an unexpected twist and swirl of colors and shapes

a sense of lightness in its own beauty–heavenly!

full length view

full length view

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happy”

the allure of rust

Sometimes simple things, like rusty and old objects intrigue me. I love the reddish-brown coating that forms on the surface of iron when exposed to moisture and oxygen in the air, causing it to rust. I find them in various places;  junkyard, thrift stores, or from friend’s throwaways.

I already have a small collection in the garden. Some I displayed alongside with my plants and flowers in the garden. It serves two purposes for me–one is I want it to rust even more, and secondly, they make a nice garden decorations.

This silk scarf was made by first soaking the silk fabric in vinegar, then rusty objects were inserted between the concertina folds of the fabric. Next, I bound it tightly with wires and strings before I put inside a container of my ready-made dye solution of (cochineal/madder). I left it to soak until the fabric has completely absorbed most of the dye. Then I removed the bundle and placed it in a plastic bag and left it out in the sun to rust further.

blue grey background was the results of color shifting from vinegar in cochineal/madder. The design and color depicts variation and amorphorus of forms that swirls freely on the fabric, giving it a feel and sense of fluidity.

blueish, grey and umber background was the results of color shifting from vinegar in cochineal/madder. The design and color depicts variation and amorphorus of forms that swirls freely on the fabric, giving it a feel and sense of fluidity.

print from rusty chain

prints from chain link and migration of rust in greyish blue and umber background

print from tin can

print from tin can, resembles dripping paint on water

moment of joy--unfolding!

moment of joy–unfolding!

a pair of old 1900's milk cans

a pair of antique 1900′s milk cans

rusty gold pan, copper mug, pots, and hand mold for rubber gloves

rusty gold pan, copper mug, pots, and hand mold for rubber gloves

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happy”

redbud tree

redbud blossom

redbud flowers and leaves are edible

This shrub reminds me of basket weaving. Several years ago, I took a class in Pomo Indian basket weaving at a local recreational park. For materials, the ranger took us to the fields to gather sedge roots and redbud stems. The plant materials are cleaned, and then split into many thin strips before weaving into a basket. I wish I could find the basket that I made, so I could share it here in this post.

Here, are pictures of prints made from the seed pod and leaves.

seed pod and leaf

seed pod and leaves

Redbud and seed pod on raw silk.

seed pod and leaves on white raw silk mordant in alum

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happy”

a tisket, a tasket, what’s in my basket

With luck, I spotted this gigantic of an Australian pine tree by the roadside near a small stream. The tree has thin and wispy branches and leaves that are no more than scales on the surface. It is commonly known as ironwood or Casuarina and are widely planted as windbreaks. It was quite a sight to see its sweeping branches hanging down to the ground of pine needles. I gathered a basketful of pine needles to use as mulch for my blueberry bush, and some for contact printing.
I always love plants and since I’ve learned about eco printing–I am forever scouting for interesting plants. It is inspiring and I love to share this botanical madness of mine with you.

Here are the results, (mouse over the picture and click for a larger image).

wispy pine needles

wispy pine needles

printed on alum mordant silk jersey.

printed on alum mordant cream silk jersey

combination of castor bean and pine on a mix blend of knit fabric

combination of castor bean and pine on a white knit fabric of mix blend (not sure what)

center fold with delicate lines of pine and greenish color from castor bean

center fold with delicate lines of pine and greenish color from castor bean

close up of castor bean overlapped with pine

close up of castor bean overlapped with pine

close up of side fold

close up of side fold with more castor bean and pine

castor bean and stem, notice the mix streaks of color from stem.

castor bean and stem, notice the mix streaks of color from stem

close up of stem--I love this one

close up of stem–I love this one

To sum it up, a nursery rhyme……
A tisket, a tasket
A green and yellow basket
I wrote a letter to my love
And on the way I dropped it
I dropped it, I dropped it
A little boy picked it up and put it in his pocket.

“A smile is worth a thousand words, live happy, dye happy”

the 3 F’s

nuno felt book cover for bound book of samples

nuno felt book cover for surface texture design samples

Recently, I was in a workshop with Pamela Macgregor in Portland. In that workshop I learned to make several interesting surface textures with wool felt and roving. It was a fun 3-day class of soaping, rubbing, and rolling!

Nuno felt book cover with leather cord and closure.

Nuno felt book cover with leather cord and closure.

busy with my first sampler

busy with my first sampler

soaping and rubbing

soaping and rubbing

final touches

final touches

At the end of the day, my daughter picked me up and we had fun dining at some of Portland’s favorite spots. To name a few: Pok Pok, La Provence, Pambiche, Salt & Straw for handcrafted ice creams. Yummy…it was indeed a fun trip of FELTING, and FABULOUS FOOD!

delicious honey pie from sweetdeedee

delicious honey pie from sweetdeedee

great cuban food at Pambiche

great cuban food at Pambiche

my sweet daughter, Melissa

my sweet daughter, Melissa

“A smile is worth a thousand words,  live happy, felt happily, dye happy”