Saturday, January 26, 2013

A rose by any other name ...

Today I finished another project I've been working on, helping a friend who is creating some theatrical costumes. She's divided the project up into bits and solicited help from a large group of friends and colleagues, so I've only a rough idea how the bit I've done will fit into the final costumes. My mission was to needle-felt a pair of twining roses onto a linen panel which (theoretically) will become part of an apron over a long folk-art style skirt.


This is the first time I've actually tried to accomplish something with needle-felting and it turned out to be easier than I thought. I think needle felting is one of those activities where you learn the basics in minutes: Step 1: stab felting needle into wool rovings. Step 2: don't stab yourself*. Step 3 to infinity: repeat steps 1 and 2 till the wool is felted into a shape you like. Learning how to manipulate the rovings and where and what angle to do your stabbing is where the mastery comes in. (* Really - don't stab yourself! Those felting needles are *wickedly* sharp. I have proof, but didn't think that would be a picture worth sharing).

For this project I was pleasantly surprised to find that wool yarn can be basted onto a linen background with only a few minimal stabs, essentially drawing on the fabric with yarn. I mixed the yarn colours together for some variety. Once the lines were drawn, a little persistent stabbing has them felted down in practically no time at all. Well, okay, a little time, but not nearly as long as you'd think.

I made a happy discovery while attaching the felted leaves. I was stabbing along the leaf center line and - hey presto! - the edges folded up in a very leaflike way, which gave me a clue about how to make roses. My instincts told me to "build" a rose from the outside to the center using separate circular petals to get a more realistic look, and it worked out well I think. I had an "uh-oh what next" moment as I neared the center, then realized that by pinching one quarter of the innermost and smallest felted circle I could create a bud with the rest of the circle forming a petal around it.

There are 2 roses on the apron front, both about 6 inches across (remember: they need to be seen clearly as roses by the audience). But even at such a large size they're not very heavy since wool rovings are quite light and airy, even after felting. I also had a hand in one of the other costumes so I'm looking forward to how all the costumes come together and seeing the finished production.  

I had no idea how easy it was to "draw" with wool on fabric ... now that I know how *not* to stab myself, I've got all sorts of wooly sketchiness ideas going through my mind. Cool. Or is that ... warm?

2 comments:

George Wright said...

excellent job on the roses, both photograph and actual handwork!

now you are ready to make something for yourself!

Rose

tina said...

The roses are great! I just picked up needle felting supplies this weekend to try my hand at it. I'm motivated by the need to repair a wool coat but am looking forward to playing too.