Sunday, September 26, 2010

Cheshire Cat

My Super
Psychedelic Cheshire Cat Won First Place in the Living Felt Art Doll contest!
At the end of August I entered a contest sponsored by Living Felt; a Alice in Wonderland themed contest. I was so excited because I wanted to create really ambitious piece for it. Earlier this year I found the wonderful products at Living Felt and I loved how fast their Merino Cross batts felt up. Thats when was doing the Troll Heads in February.. Then I had also found this really awesome neon wool that glowed under blacklight dyed by a seller on Etsy (Zauberzeug) I've made some small little psychedelic critters . At first I just thought I'd do a disembodied Cheshire Cat's Head! Like a Troll Head..only a Cat. I was highly influenced by those comericals of the 3D movie where the Cheshire Cat is totally coming at you with glowing eyes! Silly me I had just imagined using that neon wool in the eyes. I actually made the head first, totally complete in itself. The head is felted on top of a soft foam ball. Then my brain was like no.. you should do a whole cat! So I had these huge football wet felted shaped globey things and at some point I wired the tail and covered it with purple felt. Its a this point I realized I'd mixed up the deadlines for some other things and had to go work on that stuff for a bit. My grinning Cat Face ball hung out with me for a while before I started working on it again. Unfortunately, sometimes when I'm really excited about a project I forget to stop and take work in progress pics. I made a lot of progress at this little Con that my friend Shawnna was at. I was just keeping her company and needle felting away on what looked like a white football with purple tail. I attached the head and the body and covered the whole thing during those exciting hours! At one point some dudes come up and tell me "Man, that thing is sick" in an admiring tone.. I replied and its not even finished yet, wait till I do the stripes! I used foam in the paws covered with core wool, then purple, then felted the neon on and the details of the paw pads. I made my husband hold my Chaucer Cat (my real Cheshire cat) upside down so I see his paw pads. The striping was the hardest part really, it was very tedious. But it was the most fun too. I'd like to say I made a plan and drew it all out before, but I didn't. I just let it flow... the stripes evolved in the best possible way. The tail was crazy because I had to follow the colorway and I almost ran out of green. :( I had so much fun creating such a large piece. I hoped, but really didn't plan on winning! Crazy!

Finished Peace Felt

So I finished felting the Felt Peace "Bound By Angels" wall hanging. I'm very happy with how it turned out! After rolling and fulling I let it dry and then decided to embellish a bit with some beads and ribbon. I had this wonderful strand of Mother of Pearl shell shards that reminded me of the luster of the mohair. Shells invoke the ocean
energy and love and that's Peace too! I made and se
wed by hand the channel for the dowel rod and then did this free-form bunching and gathering decorative ribbon along the top of the wall hanging, really just because I liked it. I plan to mail this off tomorrow to Canada and to my Peace Partner.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Peace Felt

I'm involved in a project that is exchanging felted pieces with other artists and hobbyists all over the world! Today is the International Day of Peace and we are supposed to create them today and then mail off our creations in the next week or so. Yesterday, I went to start my Peace Felt so that I could finish and send it off. I had so many ideas about what I could do or create that I was a little overwhelmed. I wanted to make everything and I wanted it to be perfect! I even was having my husband film a video of me creating it. But I kept getting bogged down. I had to pull off the wool over and over again. I finally got so frustrated with myself I had to have him stop filming. What was wrong? Then it hit me. I had to let go of my ego and my expectations. I thought about what is Peace and the hope of it and what can bring us all together when despite our human natures? Immediately I thought we are all bound together by angels... that we are all reaching across the void of hyperspace, across the oceans, across the continents to connect through our love of this particular art form. That spirit connects to us to each other. Then I thought about the wool itself. The animal that provides it, a sheep. The symbol of gentleness.. I think about end of war.. the lion and the lamb laying down together. Sheep allowed our ancestors to make clothes, shelter and have food. Its strength and warmth keep people going.. the fibers of it are so small yet when a little chemistry happens with some hot water and soap it turns into this enduring thing. Fragile seeming yet all touching each other and bound together by a force that seems almost magical. Peace is like that too. After that thought I just let go of what I wanted my piece to be and I let a higher power guide my creation. So my Peace Felt is called Bound by Angels. And as I finish it today I'm thinking of you Danielle.. my peace felt partner in Canada. Two souls connected by angels.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Wondercraft

Last summer four ladies banded together and started this great mobile boutique and here they are getting some local news recognition!
I have a few things on consignment there and I've volunteered a couple of times. Its just the most awesome concept ever!
(once again scroll down and pause the large green box so you can hear the Fox clip)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

What is Felting

So I often get asked what felting is or isn't. And I get asked how its done. Thinking on that subject I ran across a Youtube video about this wonderful felting exhibit that was in New York a year ago. I can't quite figure out where its gone too, because I'd love to see it in person.
but anyway. Here's the clip. Oh, it might help to scroll down to the bottom and pause the music selection, otherwise it'll play right over the clips. This was like an ad and then the other is from Martha Stewart's show.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Needle Felted Unicorn Creation

“The Unicorn lived in a lilac wood, and she lived all alone…“ These are the first words of The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle and if you haven’t read it then you might not understand my fascination with unicorns in general and The Last Unicorn in particular. I can’t remember when my obsession with unicorns started. I do remember that when The Last Unicorn movie came out I didn't get to see it in the theater. I’m pretty sure that I was obsessed about unicorns before the movie, although I don’t think I’d actually read the book so maybe not. I don’t remember having that “oh they changed that or left or this” moment. I was pretty particular child when it came to mythical creatures. I don’t like mixing them up (unless they already come that way, like a chimera). No wings on my unicorns, please, and no horns on my Pegasus, thank you. I still don’t like werewolves that don’t turn all the way into a wolf. As a very bookish kid I liked mythology, I like legends of the gods, so of course I liked fantasy. I also conducted my own research into things by reading everything… I didn't care if I understood it or not, I just read it. When I finally did read the Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle I wanted to know everything about unicorns; everything, for example, early in the story the unicorn has a conversation with a butterfly. The unicorn is trying to find answers and is asking the butterfly whose answers are made up of bits of poems and songs, because that’s how butterflies communicate. I looked up all the poems…there’s Yeats, Bible verses, and snatches of songs. I think there’s a scholarly paper on the whole thing somewhere, not mine…but someone’s, I’m sure of it. At 11 or 12yrs old I had a need to know. I collected books on unicorn photography unicorn"photography" (damn you, Robert Vavra, you big faker, yet how love them), mythology, history, art, everything. I guess I’m trying to say that The Last Unicorn is complex, it’s not simply a fantasy, but it’s about immortally vs. mortally, about loneliness, fighting fears and obsessions too. It’s also about redemption and discovering your own power within you. That’s all hidden within layers of irreverent humor and fairytale satire.

I didn't have a chance to meet Peter Beagle until just a few years ago. I saw him at an author’s table at Dragon Con in Atlanta. That first time I just looked. I couldn't actually bring myself to speak with him. I didn't want to go all fan girl, although I’m not that bookish, shy, awkward, kid any more I still have my moments. So the next year I did go up to his table and get a book signed, it was towards the end the whole thing so the crowd was thinning and I got to thank him for writing a wonderful story that totally influenced my childhood and adult life. I don’t think I said exactly that. I do remember I starting weeping uncontrollably and apologizing a lot. He patted my hand and said that sometimes he gets like that too. I also met Connor, his manager who responsible for bringing Peter out into the open once more and discovering where Peter had hidden all his stories away. (Find out more about Peter's new projects here. ) Since that tearful, kind of embarrassing meeting I go where Peter’s appearing whenever I can. I got to pitch and help out at his table at Akon in Dallas a few years go when they were overwhelmed. There was another teary moment at Apollo Con in Houston, but I got to hear him sing. I've missed some things, like Peter at Scarborough Faire because I was working at the Castle in OK that month and I missed Akon this year. Last year at Dragon Con I not only saw Peter and Conner again, but to my delight the artist Rebekah Naomi Cox was there too… and I had my own teary moment with her. She is wonderfully enchanting and talented person I've ever had the chance to meet. I had that same soul touching experience I had with Peter Beagle. I also was making little felted creatures and I got to give one to her, I think it was Puss n Boots. I gave Peter a merman and Connor a centaur. All needle felted pipe cleaner people I’d started making out of boredom in the car, starting with a Ninja. (That’s another post.)

So being obsessed with anything about Peter Beagle (I mean unicorns) and wanting to support his endeavors, I had to order the comic book when it came out and I didn't read it right way. I put it away and only about month I was looking for the extra copy I’d ordered for my friend’s birthday did I look through the whole thing and see this contest.

The Last Unicorn Art contest that they hope to put into a book, compiling all the entries and there’s prizes and such. However, didn't even have time to think about this project for while. I got some dates mixed up, I thought I had another month. I've been discovering the nuances of Nuno felting and have therefore have been a bit distracted. So while I could mess with this for another month. It’s probably better that I don’t. Don’t they say an artist is never finished but also knows when to walk away? Mostly, I made this for me… something that I love, and a little tribute to my favorite author.

Okay, enough about my unicorn craziness. I still obsessed by the way, I just try to limit it and I demand that it’s mostly tasteful… Mostly.

Down to the method end of it now... sorry its taken so long. The actual needle felted unicorn is wool over wire armature, its core is felted more solid that anything I've ever felted before. It’s very firm. The body took a week, maybe weeks to create. I've been working off and on this for about month so time a bit compressed in my head. I only had these really big glass eyes and no time to order or make others. This is maybe one of the largest pieces I've made by needle felting, especially over wire. The wire underneath makes everything more difficult, because as I poke and shape the wool there’s a significant increase of needle breakage. I actually broke quite a few. I was in such a hurry to create (and out of camera batteries) that I failed to take pics of the actual work in progress. Bad Joyce, I know. In the back of my mind was also, who wants to see me stabbing a unicorn, really? Good thing I’m pretty philosophical about that sort of stuff. Many times I had to work a little on this and then stop… for fear of over working it or screwing it up. The look of the unicorn is influenced by the description on the first page of the book. “She did not look anything like a horned horse… being smaller and cloven-hoofed…Her neck was long and slender, making her head seem smaller than it was… the long horn above her eyes shone and shivered with its own seashell light…” She really came together in the last couple of days… I sculpted hooves out of polymer clay that I mixed to just the right shade of silver. They kind of came out a bit largish, I think I’m influenced more than a little by Michael Hague. I like those splayed cloven hooves. I ended up filing them down and reshaping them by hand until I got to a size I liked. Once I set her eye in they didn't look quite so large even though she’s based on the mythical description of a unicorn (at least one of them) the Last Unicorn’s “look” is also highly influenced by the animated feature. I totally avoided blue, pink or purple mane, you have to drawn the line somewhere. However, she does have somewhat of a Japanese look to her. Partially, because of those over sized orbs. I had to root the silk mane mixture a ¼” section at a time. It’s actually a blend of silk, wool, and bamboo with a tiny bit of shiny firestar fiber thrown in. It was very, very tedious. Its so soft I thought that if anything was unicorn hair this was. Softer than clouds or dreams or cobwebs.. I love her, she came out better than I could have possibly imagined. I don’t care if I win, I hope she makes it to the book. But this is more about creating a tiny piece of enchantment …unicorn out of wool, wire and silk and a couple needles. I hope you enjoyed this explanation of her creation.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Another day at the "Office"

I don't have a big house, or a studio, but I do have lots of outdoor space. If you're not afraid to be super hot in summer or freezing in winter then you can utilize it to your best advantage. Its taken me a while to appreciate this, but my husband Cedric has generously cleaned up our back porch. Its shaded from the sun and had electricity and lights.. I put a few tables out there and voila instant studio! So I thought I'd include few pics of my "office". My view and how do you like my "office chair"?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rainbows of Color

After a week of rain! So here's the fruits of my labor after screwing up my courage to actually dye wool roving for the first time ever... Its just a little intimidating when you spend money on this bunch of nice wool and you're terrified that all you will have to show for it is a giant dread lock. I also kept toying with the idea that I needed to do this on my stove or I needed a special Crockpot... (actually, a big Crockpot would be nice) Focus! Focus! Okay... so I after completing my research on YouTube. Thank you, new internet connection with unlimited bandwidth usage! Oh, my favorite ones are Rexene's Get Ready to Dye and Spin2weave's Dyeing to Spin Part #3... the first one is so funny and full of practical advice. She showed me that I don't need a huge space to work in. The latter video showed me that I can just heat my wool up in the microwave without burning it. I also looked at countless other videos many of which are for kettle dyeing or yarn dyeing and not hand painting... and some folks well its kind to say they are a yawn a minute. I also figured out what I'm did wrong pretty fast. Well, wrong.. its not exactly wrong, undesirable maybe.. but this wool is mostly earmarked for my nuno felting so I then dyed it to compliment the silk I dyed earlier...
I started this whole thing Sunday and it felt like I wasn't getting a bunch done. I was also fighting the holiday languor. It's mostly waiting. Waiting for the wool to pre-soak, then waiting for the wool to cool, and then finally waiting for the wool to dry and see how it turned out. Hoping that some where that mass of soggy fiber there's artistry and beauty. There's also making the dye baths... realizing that I need way bigger squeeze bottles, improvising with solo cups... forgetting to wear my gloves and ending up with red hands...(my fingernails are still orange) oh, and the actual dyeing. Then today I hung all I've finished up next to each other and thought, thats not too bad for a start...
I like rainbows.. Promises and hope.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Adventures in Nuno Felting

So, I think I'm finally getting the hang of Nuno felting. I started Nuno Felting about a month ago. I took a leap of faith and ordered some dye and 11yds of silk fabric from Dharma Trading Co. I had never dyed fabric before but the silk I'm dyeing is brilliant and wonderful. It creates the base of the wrap or scarf. Then I take tuffs of wool and lay them out in various patterns over the silk. I create layer after layer of delicate wool; sometimes incorporating curly mohair locks, or eyelash yarn or strand of unspun silk for interest. Its like trying to stretch a spiderweb. Each time I do a new wrap or scarf the more I learn about the whole process. I don't have a studio, I live in a small house. Where there's a will there's a way. I have lots of space... outside. So I'm using my covered back porch that my husband cleaned up. Its soo hot here in Texas all summer that getting really wet doesn't bother me. There is the wind, however, imagine having this beautiful delicate creation of wool and silk piled up like a fluffy layer cake and an errant gust destroys all that work! Its so frustrating, to say the least. That only happened once. ONCE!
I found that if I wet the wool down as I go then that won't happen. Then I roll up my wetted wool and silk into the bubble wrap and seagrass matt and roll it back and forth for well.. its a while. Makes me long for a nice steppe pony or camel that I ride with my roll dragging behind it.. (felting old school Mongolian style!) Not to digress, but they really do. Except its huge rugs not scarfs they are making.. Hmm, maybe I just need one of the cats....
Okay srsly, now.
I'm very pleased with the results. And I think Nuno felting in the summer heat might be the next new cardio workout program.. its intense.
Okay back to the felting. For more pictures on this process checkout my Facebook Gypsyharte Arts fan page!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Horse Riding, Reiki, and Yoga!

An unlikely combination you might think, but it actually goes together quite well. I had a chance to experience this first hand this morning at the Rock C Ranch near Rosanky, Tx. Beth and Charlie Parrish manage this 51 acre property out amongst windy prairies, surround by pines and live oak. Here they teach people to relax and enjoy the incredible experiences First we got to know the horse, Bentley, a Throughbred/German Warmblood, first grooming him and feeding him some treats. Then we moved on to a little bit of yoga as taught by Ms Virginia, the ranch's Yoga Instructor. The centering and grounding exercises really let you relax and breathe and loosen all those little tensions that you didn't know you had. After stretching a bit with the yoga we went out to the round pen and thought about mounting up.
Okay this is where it got really interesting , because I hadn't been on a horse since I was 14... I had had a horse and a few lessons but my whole horse horse endly rather stressfully after a few years... so while I still love horses I had to love them from afar and just think that riding wasn't for me.
So faced with this huge animal almost 18 hands high was really quite something. Even with the mounting block I didn't think I could make it in that tall tall place. I was excited and really scared of not making it in the saddle. On the ground his back was a foot and half above my head.. and I'm not exactly the most athletic body shape ever. But Beth and Charlie are so kind and super patient. After some creative thinking and a little panic attack and break on part... I did get on eventually! I watched my husband ride and he had never been on horse at all! And Charlie did some reiki on me to help me release the stuff I'd built up in my first attempt. Then I tried again and was able to make it on! It was very very cool. I loved Beth's gentle instructions telling me about why to tighten these muscles or straighten here.. it made alot of sense. Things I'd forgotten or just hadn't ever heard when I was 12 or so. And Bentley was so sweet and calm and really patient with me too. I dismounted with out wiping out and collapsing on the ground. So think all in all my first lesson was a great success and I really am looking forward going back. They call this inspired riding and I can definitely say that I am inspired and touched by the wonder of it all.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Nuno Felting and Silk Dye

So its hitting 95 and up, and I don't have an indoor studio! Who cares! I'm refusing to let it stop me; so I have been outside sweating buckets on my porch. I ordered some silk and some acid dyes hit youtube and google for some instructions and fearlessly plunged ahead. Dyeing isn't that hard I think I'm getting the hang of it. I also think its helping that I'm dyeing small pieces and I'm using a second hand microwave to steam set my silk.
Nuno felting a laminating technique that involves marrying silk and wool into this new luscious creation. I'll probably be explaining this process later on in detail with pictures... I mostly want to show you my first result. The silk is the base fabric and the wool is mostly along the edges as well as stretching delicately across the center of the piece. I dyed the silk lilac, purple and yellow to match the hand dyed wool roving I had. I include some mohair locks too provide luster and interesting texture. This is a scarf that start out approx 18" x 72" and shrank down to around 15" x 60". The wool fibers are actually driven into the silk so that they come out the other side.. it makes the silk wrinkle and pucker in the where ever the wool is. The silk is glossy and smooth between. This piece reminds me of the inside of irises.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Year New Post

It's a brand new year and I'm totally looking forward to that fact. I won't lie, 2009 was pretty rough on me and alot of others. It's over and done with! So I'm going to focus on the very postive last thing that happened in 2009 and that's my sister, had a little baby girl. Lucy Faith was born on 12/31/2009 and I got to be there to welcome her into the world. I also got to spend time with my sister's three older children and that was pretty awesome too. All of them have a pretty special place in my heart.

I've been really really overwhelmed and busy in the world since about August 2009. Craft shows, Renaissances Faires and Cons are all over now and I'm so looking forward to a little lull and to creating some felting projects.
I'm still trying to keep up the blog on a regular basis, its one of my new year resolutions. I didn't do that great last year but it wasn't to bad, or I hope too boring.