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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Here’s a great felt making video which I thought would be great for the school kids. Real subsistence felt making in Mongolia. I’m going to have them in groups doing the big fat sausage rolling thing but I don’t think they’ll be allowed to bring their horses into the classroom. Bought some long lengths of pipe insulation foam to roll it around.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Heart felt stitching

Here's my stitched piece of felt. Part of the children's learning outcome from this could be how to embroider running stitch, filling stitch and detached weaving, not to mention sewing on buttons. The buttons could be functional, used a as a joining mechanism between smaller pieces if we decided to make it that way.

And here is use number 567 for a vegetable net. Make a soap fish. Good way of preventing it from shooting out of little hands and becoming a projectile missile.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Kandinsky revisited

As fate would have it, another school had asked me to help with a cross curricular art/music Kandinsky project. This time the medium is hand made felt. I used to make a lot of felt once upon a time. So much so that I completely sickened myself and eventually gave away all my equipment and materials and swore never to soap up another piece of bubble wrap in anger.

That was about ten years ago and olive oil soap has not sullied my hands since....until tonight. Half an our ago it was into the workroom and on with the dance. The idea is to make mosaic felt with the kids by soft felting one piece, cutting shapes out of it then re felting it into a new background along with various other kinds of surface decoration.

I'm pleased to say that after about half an hour's ham fisted fumbling, roughly equivalent to a twelve year old's first attempt, I had an acceptable piece of mosaic felt.. Phew! Relief! You'll have to excuse the dodgy colour palette. A small amount of merino tops managed to escape my cull and I had to use what was to hand. I'm going to stitch into it next to try and work out what other delights the kids could manage.

If anyone out there has experience of felt making with children, please mail me. You'll find my email in my profile. Thanks chums!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Pass the salt

I asked the second class of children to soft pedal on the mixing of their tie dyes. Not sure I like the results so much. There is certainly a lot more white, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Can't help feeling that someone somewhere forgot to add salt. Colours a lot more muted.....and where did the red go?!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The devil is in the detail

Some of the kids have a fairly loose interpretation of 'write your initials neatly in one corner'. I thought it was the fault of the pens. I rushed off to Tescos and pesuaded a very helpful chap to rummage about in his store to find the unsold laundry markers from their back to school promotion. Now half price! How could I resist?
But was my problem solved? No, my problem was reversed. We now have tiny, illegible initials. I can't tell if they are actually in the corner because I can't see them!

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

It certainly is magic!

Wow, what can I say! This is the work of 12 year old children. I'm just gob smacked.
The only problem I can foresee is that we won't want to cut it up to make anything!

Magic Dyeing

24 hours after the first class had their tie dyeing experience my bath is full of little sheep's droppings of promise.

Ooooh, tiny glimpses of colour emerge out of the murk!

Full of eastern promise. Ironing tonight. Can't wait!

This is a great way to dye with kids (from Magic Dyeing Made Easy by Helen Deighan). No matter how limited their manual dexterity they cannot do it 'wrong'. Whatever crumples or folds they manage all result in beautiful and individual patterns.

Projects where you cannot go wrong are always good confidence builders, for them and for me!

Monday, October 08, 2007

Flat pack and multiples

No, I'm not talking about Ikea. I'm talking about pop-up. I have the most wonderful book about how to make pop-up
which I often stroke but have never actually done anything with. Some of the kids are struggling with three dimensions and I thought simple pop-up might help.
A school boy said to be recently that he wouldn't copy a photograph of a Rolls Royce jet engine because it was too complicated. On first glance yes, but really it's just a series of multiples, repetition of single units. Easy when you know how!
What do you get when you duplicate your simple pop-up elements? Is it a bird? Is it a plane?
Neither of these but it might be a way forward. Off to school to find out.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Three's the trick

Hurray! It worked! You would hardly believe all these fabrics, both natural and synthetic, have been through exactly the same dyeing process, but they have. Proof positive for the little darlings that fibre reactive dyes only work on natural fabrics.
These are supposed to be self coloured but even distribution of dye was not an issue so we didn't spend a lot of time squishing the plastic bags about in case we stuck out little fingers through them, which would have been an issue. Tie dyeing next. That should be even more fun.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Good dyeing or bad dying?

It's bath night for the fabrics after their first busy day at school.
'Today we're going to do dyeing' I told the class.
'Is that good dyeing or bad dying?' asked one little boy so we had a spelling lesson.
Good dyeing I'm pleased to say.
It was all fairly trauma free thanks to maniacal, meticulous preparation. We won't talk about the fact that I forgot my elastic bands.
I had sweated over some Power Point presentations. Some helped and some didn't depending on the activity. In the time allocated we managed to dye a natural and a synthetic fabric in fibre reactive dyes. With a bit of luck and a following wind the dye will wash out of the synthetic leaving it white as the driven while the cotton will be as blue as the moon, as yellow as the sun or as red as a boozer's, sorry......rose. Tomorrow will tell!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Cheating at applique

I've been doing another wee bit of pretend applique with the soldering iron to add to my samples for the next velvet workshop. You just put two synthetic fabrics on top of each other, draw round your chosen shape and rip away the excess. The flowery nylon curtain works well. The surface is a bit rough and ready but you could always stitch into it to stabilise.

Thought this would make a nice little clutch bag.

Shirts? What Shirts?

We paused for another little bit of velvet recently on a beautiful day in the East of Scotland. This time it was the batteries for my camera that let me down but Elspeth kindly took a picture of work in progress.

It looks rather as if it might be a domestic science lesson if it wasn't for the soldering iron in the foreground! How to ensure your better half never asks you to iron his shirts ever again. Cover the iron with dye and have all kinds of red hot pokers to hand. It works for me!

Keeping a lid on it

I had a flash of blinding inspiration when I was mixing the dye for the schools project. Paint the lids to match the contents! Makes the colours more easily identifiable and the chances of the right lids going back on the right bottle sightly greater (although I wouldn't like to give you odds).

When visiting the school recently I was looking at the last dyeing project completed about six months ago. This was disperse dye which I knew was light fugitive but, man, they're not kidding! If you click back to March you'll see the way it used to look. Sadly today it's washed out pastel.

Lesson learned. Disperse dye is not for posterity.