I've had a brilliant week! A friend sent me though a link to a great deal on a current, top of the range, refurbished iMac yesterday and I am now eagerly awaiting it's delivery next week. Very exciting! In between looking at pics of it and stroking them lovingly I have had time for a bit of a play on my needle felting machine.
Hand dyed silk velvet and matching colours of Angelina Fibres (LHS) and silk hankies (RHS) along with some silk fiber sample packs at the top of the pic.
I am wanting to use this gorgeous piece of silk velvet I got from Unique Stitching at this years AQC in Melbourne. It's screaming 'background' and the velvet has great sheen and depth in the dye tones that would make a stunning night sky. Lorraine Roy's brilliant art works in my interview with her have inspired me to do some more work with snippets and scraps - great timing as i've just finished cutting all the corners off the dozens of colours of silk my Mum brought me back from India so they don't fray in the wash.
The way i've spread out things in the picture above is my way of working when I've got a very vague idea of what I want to do based on a product or technique. I pull out the fabrics and products I want to use in colours that I think will work so I can view them all together.
Often I'll jump right in at this point but when I'm trying materials or a technique I haven't used before I'll often do a test piece - especially when one of the items is unique or expensive as with the hand dyed velvet.
I read somewhere that using silk hankies over silk velvet gave a great surface texture, so thought i'd try this out. Problem is since I'll be working on a largish piece (fat Q size) how to stop it distorting on the needle felting machine and how to felt to enhance rather than hide the beautiful texture of the velvet.
Enter the test piece:
Water soluble Vilene, a snippet of the silk velvet and a silk hankie being layered ready for felting.
Click pics to enlarge - This is the test piece that I've separated into 4 squares and felted each differently.
From left to right:
1. Felted from the top only.
2. Felted predominantly from the back (this created more pulls in the silk velvet and gave a rougher less shiny texture that I feel compromised the look and feel of the velvet).
3. Felted from both sides.
4 Felted with a layer of Angelina fibre and an additional silk hankie.
For this piece I added some silk snippets on top of the silk velvet, the RHS I felted without securing them in anyway and that gave a more random 'scraggy look. The LHS i covered with lightweight bridal tulle to felt and then removed the tulle mesh after. This worked well to hold everything in place though you do have to be gentle removing the tulle - most of it doesn't sink into the created fabric even after needle punching but every now and then it clings. You could also secure with a second layer of water soluble Vilene.
I've rinsed out and lightly hand felted the finished test pieces but await a sunny day where I remember to photograph them - will hopefully post pics soon. My consensus is that the snippets secured with the embellisher are a little 'scraggy' for the idea I have in my head but may make a good background layer to secure others with freemotion stitching. The silk hanky over the velvet worked well but I think I will use this more for shadow areas as it did still dull the sheen of the velvet a little too much for an all over use
Before starting this test piece I emailed my friend Fiona Hammond from Chiatanya Designs who does wonderful needle felted pieces and she gave me these great tips:
1. If you are making a reasonably-sized piece ( greater than 20 cm sq), you are likely to notice some stretching out of shape. I had this happen in my background needle-felted fabric for my Maharajah's Fantasy Bloom piece (which is about 40 x 60 cm, from memory). I made this with wool roving - quite a lot of it layered up - onto Solvy. As well as stretching beyond the size I thought I was making, it did look a little bowl-like in parts. I got it fairly flat by ironing it intensely after washing out the Solvy (I can add a special soleplate to my iron that allows me to iron pretty much any fabric using steam settings).
2. When it comes to needle-felting your snippets of silk and threads to the velvet etc. background, you will find that your little snippets will change shape and move around as you needle-felt them into the background. If you are happy to just do it and see how the pattern/ texture turns out, you might find it great fun.
If you want your cut snippets to maintain their shapes you may well end up frustrated, because this rarely happens with small pieces, in my experience, particularly if they have little points. This is because the act of needle-felting the bits will push the snippets out of shape somewhat while pushing them into the background. The snippets will often also seem to get smaller when you needle-felt them into the background. And you have to be careful how you hold them in place as you do the needle-felting. Don't be tempted to use fingers.... I use the pointy end of my seam ripper, but you still need to be careful to keep it away from the felting needles so they don't break on the seam ripper.