Archive | September, 2015

Further Thoughts on Materials Used

Reparation_backpiece_frontsideReparation_backpiece_backside_backlitI closely observe the materials I choose to work with.  I had mentioned making wet felted partial felt from DHG’s Merino Top. I had laid it out very fine giving it approximately 90% shrinkage. I had fulled it to 60-70% of its possible shrinkage before I cut the fence patterning from it and from the white needle felted batts from DHG. The black wet felted partial felt shrank down smaller than the same fence shapes cut of the white needle felted sheets because they were thicker with more wool/area. The black partial felts were also thinner when fulled and had more drape. The white needle felted batts, being thicker, had more airspace to compact with the machine stitching, offering me the ability to emboss the surface. One material or approach isn’t necessarily better than another, just simply different. If you pay attention and study your materials you can choose what products or ways of working will best achieve your desired effect.

The bottom beach glass encasement in the first image of the outer side of the back piece shows the white wool gauze as it shrank down in the fulling process. As the wool gauze encasement side shrinks and the silk fabric side did not, the beach glass was pushed to protrude more from the other side. The holes in the fabric grid between the warp and weft can still be seen, but had the white needle felted sheet had more shrinkage like the black partial felt those holes  and the structure of the woven wool gauze would no longer be visible.

The second image showing the inside view of the back piece, back lit, reveals how the bottom piece of beach glass is pushed out unlike the pieces of beach glass above it that are held in the middle of the fabric. This image also reveals the gorgeous detail of the light shining through the machine stitched squares. When the light shines from within and radiates through and out more is revealed then when the spotlight is directed, absorbed, lessened and then reflected….

Handstitching….the Reparations









I use silk fabric of a lower momme weight as it’s more transparent, allowing the shape and colors of the beach glass to be seen. The lower the momme, however, the more vulnerable the silk fabric is to being snagged. I used the most delicate 3.5 momme silk chiffon from Dyeing House Gallery on the inside of the chest and back pieces to illustrate the internal wear of my neck tissue and our vulnerabilities that we as humans tend to hide from the outer world. As I fulled the pieces, the warp and weft threads of this delicate silk fabric encasing the glass, shifted and created a distressed look. Even more severely, as the wool shrank around the perimeter of the silk encasements the beach glass began to push apart the warp and weft threads of the silk, threatening to slip out of the encasement like a slipped disc in the cervical spine. I chose to hand stitch or repair the distressed fabric so that the beach glass wouldn’t eventually push its way out. The variations in the hand stitched patterns of lines and grids represent the various modalities I have tried implementing to mend my distressed neck tissues and bones. I chose to stitch a fiery red circle around the most vulnerable areas of the silk fabric where the beach glass would surely slip out if not mended to draw attention to these acute and inflamed points.


For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

Free-motion Machine Stitching

photo-35photo-33I delight when it is time to transition from the wet felting process to the machine stitching. Of course, it is nice to not have the hands constantly wet, but it also marks the end of the constructive part of a piece. With all 6 of the components of the piece, Reparation, completed, it is time for the surface refining. Free-motion embroidery compacts the airspace that is remaining in the felt creating a stiffer fabric as well as an embossed surface, an effect that is more dramatic when the felt is thicker and not as densely fulled. Now that I had made a correlation between this piece I was making for the DHG Charity Project and the current condition of my neck, I began making design choices informed by that condition.  I created a checkerboard of stitched squares running along one side of both the chest and back piece because the tight stitching as well as the controlled grid illustrates the energetic block from the muscle tension on the right side of my neck.



On the opposing side of the piece, I stitched around the white wool nepps, leaving the thread line that was drawn as I moved from circle to circle to present more of a flow and movement.

For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

Hinging Clasps

photo-38photo-36I get excited about felt hinges and their dual purpose as clasps…this airy wool fiber that has qualities of softness and vulnerability felting tight into a mechanism that has a strong industrial nature.  When I felt wool fiber into solid forms, I begin by systematically preparing the general forms by bundling or wrapping crosshatched fibers with ample airspace (think something between cotton candy and a cotton ball) so that the wool fibers have space to intertwine as the mass of wool shrinks into an integrous felt fabric (think Q-tip or suede). The more the fibers intertwine the less vulnerable the surface fibers of the form are to abrasion and pilling, important considering the wear a clasp will endure.  Pictured are the dry prepped forms for the 4 hinges that will connected the two black dry prepped cords with hoops on the ends to the hoops on the chest and back pieces already made for the DHG Charity Project.



The tightly fulled/shrunk and much smaller hinges are pictured here soaking in hot water to make sure the soap has dissipated out of the form and into the water before a final rinse and drying. You can see a variety of clasp styles in my jewelry work on the website under the NECKLACES category from single clasps to more complex systems as well as clasping systems used on a vessel. Now that all the components of the piece, Reparation, have been felted/fulled, the stitching can begin…

For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

The Chest & Back Pieces

photo-29I had decided the piece didn’t feel strong enough  with only a focus piece to lay on the chest of the wearer. I wanted the piece to feel more like wearing armor and having a fence or a stone wall of glass on either side of the heart would create that expression. Therefore I made a chest and back piece as seen here laying flat on my studio table. The space between the chest and back piece is too small to have the necklace encircle the neck, so the next strategy of making was creating the clasping mechanisms to join the two pieces into one….

photo-39During the making of this piece for the DHG Charity Project to benefit the Anna Meyer Children’s Hospital, I have been struggling through issues with my neck muscles and cervical vertebrae. As we are influenced by our environments and experiences, it wasn’t surprising to see how the daily visualizing of my spine and efforts to deduce the issues and heal have influenced the making of this piece. I had x-rays of my neck taken and as I was looking at them through my studio window into my backyard, this connection became clear and I decided on the title of the piece, Reparation.




For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.



Building Layers and Encasing the Glass

photo-28After placing a base layer of fabric on top of the partial felt cut into a fence pattern, the beach glass is placed on top of this fabric in each negative space of the patterning. Depending on the thickness of my fabric choices and how hard it would be for the wool fibers to maneuver through all the layers, I will sometimes lay a fine layer of fiber ontop of the partial felt before covering the layout with another piece of fabric to act as a “glue” to bond all the layers together. The final step is to edge the piece with strips of partial felt to cover up the fabric edges and in the case of this neck piece, I added two solid felt hoops for part of the hinging and clasping mechanism.

As seen here, the blue Murano beach glass is trapped between two layers of fabric, well not quite yet…once the layout is rolled to initiate the felting process the fibers from the partial felt fence patterning will maneuver through the layers of fabric locking the pieces of glass in the silk compartments.

For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

Fabric Felt Fusion and Encasements

photo-27The two main reasons I encase beach glass in fabric pockets, aside from the conceptual nature of the inclusion, is to give weight to the textile and to see the color and shape of the glass. With the beach glass spaced evenly in a pattern across the surface of the otherwise light and flexible fabric, the textile takes on a quality reminiscent of the movement of a reptile’s skin or the movement of a spine.  In order to also see the beach glass I tend to use a lower momme weight of silk with more transparency.

For this project, I requested Dyeing House Gallery’s 3.5 mm and 6mm silk chiffon as well as their wool gauze pictured.  I was curious to experiment with the wool gauze as it has an initial open weave structure which would close up depending on how much the surrounding felt was fulled. Gauze fabric has medical associations as well, making it an appropriate fabric to employ in this  piece for the DHG Charity Auction to benefit the Anna Meyer’s Children Hospital. I developed a deep connection with gauze material after a terrible burn to my right arm had me in a routine of swaddling my arm in medicated gauze for weeks on end.

For context of this project please read my first posting and those that followed about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.





Beginning the Surface Designing

photo-25I have been incorporating fence patterns in my work for sometime now as well as other protective imagery such as stone or brick walls and wood grain. I began placing pieces of beach glass encased in silk in the fence’s negative spaces as a symbol of light, clarity, and transparency. You can see this way that I work felt in my body textiles as well as my recent neckpieces at

Considering the work for Dyeing House Gallery’s Charity Auction was benefitting the Anna Meyer Children Hospital, fence patterning seemed an appropriate place to begin my designing… thinking about eradicating or blocking their dis-ease. Also, I had been gifted a collection of beach glass from Murano, Italy by a former student, Terry Heintz. It included a grouping of blue glass that I couldn’t imagine a better purpose for…to symbolize hope and clear blue skies. My intention was to create jewelry for the project and a piece that would present on the chest protecting the heart. I began cutting the negative spaces out of the stack of both partial felt I had made from DHG’s Merino top and a layer of both DHG’s white and black needle felt. Interesting that the design I cut referenced the spinal column. More on that in the next posting….

For context of this project please read my first posting about the DHG Charity Project in STRONGFELT’s Blog, INTRIGUE.

An Invitation I Could Not Resist

I was contacted by Annalisa of the Dyeing House Gallery in Prato, Italy back in January 2015 about a special project that they had initiated and asked if I would like to participate. The basic concept was that I would have choice of the company’s products to create with and would then donate some of that work to DHG for an online auction to benefit the Pediatric Oncology Ward of the Anna Meyer Hospital in Florence, Italy. A nice idea, no? My style of working wool would reach new audiences through the DHG website, other felters would see that I am working with DHG products through my blogging and I would receive a variety of DHG products of my choosing to continue to work with. What really locked me in to participate in this project, however, was the idea of my work being auctioned off to help fund this well-known Children’s Hospital that was built in 1884 and that offers its services free of charge. That is what the name STRONGFELT is about…not just quality of material, but integrity in actions and communications.



I requested a selection of colors of DHG’s extra fine Merino top (L to R: storm, white, coffee, dune, beaver, tulle, dark) and wool nepps. Here, the fibers are laid out in my STRONGFELT STUDIO to make wet felted sheets of partial felt with a potential of some 90% shrinkage and sprinkled with wool nepps to offer some random surface texture that I can play off when free-motion stitching.









I always make my own partial felt as I can control the thickness of the layout and how much I felt/full of the potential shrinkage of that weight of wool per area before I cut up the sheets to use in my designing. I realized that DHG also sold needle felted sheets so I requested some yardage in black and white to incorporate in my design work. I was curious to see how my wet felted partial felts compared with the thicker needle felted sheets when incorporated in the same piece. I stacked all the sheets together and began cutting out some shapes for my jewelry pieces I was envisioning. Stay tuned for the projects development….