Archive for May, 2015

Needle Felted Dolls

My mom reminded me that I made a couple of needle felted dolls a few months ago that I should post about.

I play tabletop RPG games with a group of friends, and before we started our most recent long-term game our game master asked us to find pictures to give each other an idea of what our characters look like. I would have liked to draw my own picture, but I’m not very good at drawing, and I looked a bit for a picture online, but couldn’t find anything I liked. I had also been thinking for a while about trying to needle felt human figures, so I decided now was as good a time as any to try it.

I started out with the head, because I figured the face would be the most detailed part so I wanted to be sure it was big enough that I could get the details on. Once I had the basic shape of the head I started the more intricate shaping of the face with the eyes.

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I enjoyed working on the eyes, but I think I should have done them last. And I had trouble finding a good skin color in my current wool stash, although I have since ordered many better skin colors. Trying to fix the color and shape the face while working around the eyes was rather difficult, but it turned out well enough.

Then I started working on the body. First I just connected the different body pieces to each other, trunk, arms, legs, and head. Then I started shaping the large blobs into more realistic body shapes. It’s a large project, and I tend to get a bit bored and ADD on large projects, so I added the skirt on and then went back to finishing the upper body, adding the shirt and finishing the shaping.

Once I had the body shaped, I went back and worked on the feet/shoes. Initially when I put the color for the shoes on the feet, it looked rather like they had been dipped in blood. Luckily when I added the white details they started looking solidly like shoes. The hands were the big challenge. I tried making them all from one piece and adding contours for fingers, but didn’t like that, then I tried forming each finger separately and putting them on the palm, but that really didn’t look good. Finally I went with a basically hand shaped piece where I added the thumb on separately, and put minimal shaping on for the fingers. They’re not as realistic as I might have liked, but they work.

I had some trouble getting the hair just how I wanted it, but it worked out really well. In the end, I felted a portion of it as a flat piece on its own, then felted the back portion of the onto the head, with the front part over the top of the face. I cut the front part into the shapes I wanted for the bangs, and intended to just leave them loose, but they looked like they would fall apart if they got looked at wrong. So, I felted them down a bit to the face, and it turned out really well, letting me get the contours into the hair farther up on the head too.

For Christmas, I also made a different doll for one of my friends in the gaming group. This one is based on her character from our last long term game. This doll is a bit smaller, and I started out with the body, which I think worked much better. The face is much less detailed, but the face wasn’t the more important part of this doll. The difficult part was the lower arms that stick out. I was sure that I could get them to keep their shape correctly without adding wire or something, and I did, but it took a bit of work. I’m quite proud of the flames in her hands, they turned out really well. They also made it much easier to deal with the hands, because I didn’t feel the need to worry about the detail in the hands since they were mostly covered by the flames. I was short on time when I made this one so I don’t have much for process pictures.

Now that I have more skin tones, I want to make more dolls. I told another of my gaming friends that I would make a doll of her character if she gets me a good description and/or picture of approximately what she wants, so if she ever gets that to me I’ll make him. I also think I may make some characters from some of my favorite books. I was inspired by these board books of classic literature that are all illustrated with needle felting (I thought I had posted about them at some point, but I can’t find the post. Here’s a link to their website). But I have lots of other projects I want to do too, so who knows when I’ll get to more dolls? I’ll post those when I do, though!

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Postcard exchange-May

For this exchange I made a postcard on the circus theme. I had trouble coming up with an idea for this one, because I didn’t want to do your basic big top tent or clown or anything like that, and I really liked the Ring of Fire piece that had been given in March for the circus theme. I considered an elephant of some sort, but wasn’t real inspired by that idea, so I tried to think of the more unusual parts of circuses and thought of the sideshow. My first though with a sideshow is the bearded lady or the strong man, but then I thought of the song Lydia the Tattooed Lady (which is all my mom’s fault because she likes to start singing it at me because of my tattoo), and that was an idea I could get behind. So I was thinking I would do a piece with some sort of tattoo design across it, maybe something geometric/tribal looking, and I took to the internet to find ideas. I didn’t find any geometric designs I liked but I did find some pictures of actual tattooed ladies and got some ideas from them. Then I was trying to decide what to use as the background to look like skin, and I realized that I have some leather I could work and leather actually is skin. After a moment to get over the slight yuck factor from that thought (it doesn’t seem gross until you really think about it, does it?), I got excited and started drawing. So, here are pictures of the whole process!

The postcards exchanged were again really awesome, and mine was well-received. A couple were exchanged at the April meeting, because the makers couldn’t wait to give them away :-), so I’ll include those in with the rest from May.

Calm was a very popular theme this time, and I can’t wait to see what people make next! At this point, I don’t have a plan for my next post, but I have a few projects in the works, so I’ll have to post about those as they get worked on. Worst case scenario, I’ll post the next exchange in July!

Postcard exchange-March

The new project that the Designing Quilters group is working on is an exchange of what we’re calling fiber postcards. Everyone who was interested in taking part in the exchange chose a theme that we wanted postcards made for us on, for example my theme is fractals, my mom’s theme is stitch, etc. Then we went around and everyone who is participating in the exchange got to choose six themes to make postcards for. We have to have one postcard done every other month, although several people have gotten way ahead, and we exchange the ones people have finished at those meetings (theoretically each person only brings one postcard to each exchange to give away, but those who have been working ahead often bring more). The postcards all have to be 5″x7″ and when we chose themes we had the option to choose if we wanted all the cards in the same orientation or not, although only two people requested a specific orientation. Other than that, there weren’t really any restrictions set, and it has been really fun seeing all the variations! I will split the postcards up based on each exchange, and since the first exchange was in March, I’ll post about those first.

The first theme that I made a postcard for was Calm. It took me a while to come up with a way to represent calm, since the things that make me feel calm (rock music, storms, the ocean, etc) tend not to appear calm on the surface, and things that look calm tend to make me fidgety. I had recently had an idea for a piece based on something my mom has told me several times in the past, which is that I am like a rock, calm and steady, which makes me laugh because that is not at all how I feel inside. So I had been thinking about doing something, possibly an embroidery piece, basically showing the contrast between how I feel inside and how I look outside. This made me think of how, especially in very chaotic situations, I have noticed that calm can sort of spread out from one person or point. So I decided to do an embroidered postcard where the background is full of all kinds of overlapping designs and looks incredibly chaotic but there is a ripple of calm spreading out from the center. The recipient of my postcard said she sees it as everything being sucked into the calm, which works just as well for me! Here are process pictures.

The other postcards were all really awesome. I tried to get good pictures of all of them, but we set them out on a table as we got there so there was a lot of coming and going as people set down new ones and picked up ones that were already there to look at them, so hopefully you can see them all.

That’s everything from the March exchange. We just exchanged more in May, so I will post about those, and some that were brought to the April meeting, tomorrow.

Wedding dress! and more!

In the end of November I got married to the love of my life, and, of course, there was fibery goodness involved! My mom made my dress, because she is just that awesome, and our friend Virginia made all the flowers, which were all fabric flowers! A good deal of how happy I am with how the whole event turned out is thanks to their awesomeness, so I thought I’d share some pictures with you guys!

All but the first two pictures were taken by Milestones Photography and should not be reused without permission (as is true with all pictures you find online really, but I want to be more specific with these). Hope you enjoyed the quick glimpse of my wedding, next I’ll tell you all about the new project the Designing Quilters are doing!

Favorite Holiday ATCs

Our final set of ATCs was originally going to be on the self portrait theme, but there wasn’t much enthusiasm in the group for that, so we changed it. We finally decided on the theme of favorite holidays. This one was kind of tricky for me because the closest thing I have to a favorite holiday is Christmas, and other than that I don’t especially care about most holidays, and we had already done Christmas themed cards. Thanksgiving was another option but I wasn’t thrilled or inspired by that idea, so I decided to try and come up with something unique. Everybody has days that are important specifically to them and feel more like holidays than “official” holidays, so I decided to think out what one of those is for me and do that. I considered my birthday, but I haven’t been overly enthusiastic about my own birthday since about age 13 and choosing someone else’s birthday as my favorite holiday seemed weird. Then it occurred to me. My favorite holiday is the day that Andy came home from the hospital for the last time and we could finally focus on getting him back to healthy and getting our life back on track. For those who may not know, my husband (then boyfriend) Andy was diagnosed with Leukemia in December of 2011, and spent 8 months undergoing intensive chemotherapy, most of that time while also being stuck in the hospital. I decided to call this holiday Remission Day, and got thinking.

I decided that this was another time that my usual more pictorial style wouldn’t work, and I wanted to try to use inkle weaving to make the card, so I decided on an abstract design meant to show the feeling of moving from darkness and doom (because I can’t think of a less melodramatic way to say it right now), back into the light and adventure of every day life. So I warped up my loom with thread moving from black and browns into the brighter colors of reds and greens, but with a few blacks thrown in there because life isn’t all happiness and joy. Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures, at least that I can find, while I was working, so you don’t get any process pictures this time, sorry. 😦

There was a big range of holidays chosen, and the cards were all really cool, as usual. Some of the more unusual holidays included Holi, an Indian festival that involves throwing colored pigments, National Procrastination Day, and the Festival of Broken Needles, which is apparently a holiday specifically for seamstresses! There were plenty of more standard holidays as well, of course, including Independence Day, Arbor Day, and Halloween/Valentine’s Day (she couldn’t decide on one so she combined them!). Here are all the pictures.

Looking through my pictures I realized that I have 7 of these cards when I should only have 6… one must be my mother’s that I borrowed for taking a picture and haven’t gotten back to her, woops! This was the last group of ATCs, so next up I’ll post some wedding stuff, and then I’ll post about the Designing Quilter’s current project, a postcard exchange!

Fall ATCs

Remember when I said I would post about the fall ATCs soon? Obviously that didn’t happen, sorry. But seeing as my mother is the person who has been pestering me most to update again, and tomorrow is mother’s day, I figured now is as good a time as any to start posting again! And school is done, so I suddenly have more free time. First, the post about the fall ATC exchange, then more about life in general, and soon more posts about ATCs, my wedding dress (!) and new projects. This time I promise those posts will come soon, cause I’m going to write them today!

The fall theme was a bit tricky, because I usually work in more pictorial images, but all of my inspiration was scents, sounds, and colors. I knew I wanted to do something with fall colors, but I wasn’t thrilled with the idea of doing leaves or just abstract color combinations. When I really think about fall I think of the crisp feel and smell of the air, along with the damp smell of leaves and the scent of bonfires. So I decided to do something portraying bonfires. I didn’t just want to do a fire with logs, that was too boring and I was trying to do different things with my ATCs, so I finally decided to do a sort of close-up of a fire.

I have really been impressed with what Vicki and Donna do with the many, many layers that they put on their pieces, so I decided to play with layering to try to get the real fire texture. I figured that would be easier to do on a larger piece so I decided to make all the cards as one larger piece and then cut it up. It turned out to be sooo much easier in my head. First, I discovered just how hard it is to get a flat piece of fabric to lay in a way that looks like the motion of flames, or anything really other than a flat piece of fabric. Then I realized that I would need to sew down each layer at a time because there was no way I could stack all the layers up pinned down the way I wanted and then be able to sew them down without taking the whole thing apart, and I knew I would never get it back together correctly. So it became a matter of just slapping layers on and hoping they didn’t look terrible. I can’t honestly say that I really liked the piece for most of the time I was working on it. I managed to get it looking okay as a whole, although I probably would have started over again if I hadn’t left it to the last minute (procrastination is my favorite past-time). Then I sewed the lines for the edges of the cards on and cut the cards apart and decided all but a couple of them looked terrible. In the end, though, when I finished the edges off and added a few extra touches to some of them, I’m actually quite happy with them. They don’t look anything like I had originally pictured, but since I can’t remember now what I originally pictured, that’s not a problem! 🙂 The wonders of time. Here are my pictures of the whole process.

Unfortunately, I don’t have as many or as good pictures of the other cards for this group than I usually do. I helped to swap the cards into their groups, and then we got very busy discussing other things, so I didn’t have a chance to take good pictures of the cards before they were swapped and they didn’t get passed around after getting swapped. So I have good pictures of the ones I got, and some general pictures of the ones I didn’t. Here are all the pictures I do have.

There’s only one group of ATCs left to post, and I’m going to write that post right now, so it should be up in the next day or two (I’ve gotta spread them out you know, don’t want to spoil you). Now a life update. The wedding went incredibly well! No real hitches and no major disasters, which was amazing and also really relaxing. I’ll post pictures of the dress my mom made for me (it is such an awesome dress that I wish I had other places to wear it to!), the fabric flowers that Virginia made for us, and a highlight or two from the wedding soon. We also bought a house in October! Life has just been blowing up with things to do! Once I get my work room into more order I will post pictures of that as well (it’s getting there, but I still have boxes all over the floor and want to get that dealt with before showing anyone).

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