Archives for posts with tag: Craft

finished felt

This autumn, we are offering a chance for you to learn (or re-learn!) about the process of making felt fabric from loose wool roving. In this one-afternoon class (about 2 hours) each student will learn the process of felt-making, and produce their own colourful, soft merino wool scarf.

Afternoon classes are being offered Sunday October 27, Sunday November 10, or Sunday November 17 from 3-5pm each day.

Felt is an amazing material. Real felt is made from wool or other animal fibres. It is compressed, agitated, boiled, and manipulated until it becomes a single piece of fabric. Felt was developed in every culture where herding animals were kept, and used not only for clothing but for housing and industrial purposes too.

Class instructor Natasha Henderson is a visual artist, painter, crafter of wool scarves and other wool objects. She loves making things by hand and teaching others how to do so, too. Join in the fun in a supportive environment. Class is mostly offered in English, however, Natasha has a rudimentary knowledge of French, and Francophone students have enjoyed her classes.

Workshop is located in Fleurbain at 460 St Catherine West, Suite #917, H3B 1A7, Montreal. Registration by email or in person. Email for more info: Fleurbain(at)gmail(dot)com

Cost (materials included) is $50 per class.

Felt sushi... higher in fibre

Wanted to get in on Four Weeks of Felt (aka I Love Felt) last time? Well, here is your opportunity!

cutest credit card holder EVER

In Four Weeks of Felt, students will learn how to make felt in the wet-felting process.

We will make:

* a flat project (the ever-popular scarf!)

* a simple form that can be crafted into a cell-phone case or small purse or other nifty little object

* a larger, more complex form using a resist technique (either a larger purse or a vase/vessel, or a tea-cosy)

* jewelry, practical and decorative shapes and little objects (including felt sushi!)

Classes will be held in Fleurbain Tuesday nights, March 27 to April 17, 6:30-9pm. Cost of the four weeks, including all materials and taxes, is $160.

Instructor Natasha Henderson is a visual artist, painter, crafter of wool scarves, puppets, and cat-toys. She loves making things by hand and teaching others how to do so, too. She has years of experience teaching workshops in painting, felt-making, and other crafts. Her work (including felt scarves) can be seen in various galleries and shops, as well as being available online.

Please note class size is limited, so reserve your space today by emailing fleurbain@gmail.com.

We are close to McGill and Place des Arts metros, with plenty of street and paid parking nearby.

Tea’s on!

We all do it. Don’t be ashamed. If you know how to knit, you have some… FAILED KNITTING.

An anecdote: A friend of mine announced she was pregnant with her second child. In anticipation, I bought a pattern for a cute little sweater. Friend had baby: A girl! So I bought some pink-ish wools and started in.

A year later, it evolved into a first-birthday gift.

Many other years later, it evolved into something for one the child’s dolls, perhaps.

Yet more years later… and I will be incorporating the pieces and bits of knit into some scarves.

I have done something like this a couple of times before. Once I felted an unfinished knit charity quilt-square (I missed the deadline, of course) into the end of a scarf. Here is a photo of the finished scarf:

my scarf!

I have more recently created a similar scarf. This time I used a finished, knitted scarf I wasn’t happy with, and sewed on (by hand!) some ruffly chiffon. I have this for sale on my Etsy page for a few days, and if it doesn’t sell it is MINE.

a knitted scarf and some chiffon find a new life together

Some of us just aren’t true knitters. We can’t find happiness with what we make; however we are continually drawn to trying again and again. The path to peace within the realm of knitting is perhaps in finding a mixed-media outlet for yourself. Sew on knitting. Felt with knitting. Re-purpose knitted bits. Go on, you can do it. Do It Yourself.

knitted bits of pinky wool will find their ways into scarves

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

*note this would work with crochet, too… and there’s nothing stopping you from making something like a cup-cosy out of your little knit and crochet bits. Small is good…

scarf with rescued materials in it

Go to any craft fair, fashion expo, or design show these days and you will undoubtedly find upcycled clothing. Old garments, say for example a beautiful coat or sweater that developed wear and tear over the years, could be combined with another garment to be new, fresh, and exciting.

In Montreal, there is a hip shop in the St Henri neighbourhood that caters to this idea. La Gaillarde features finished clothing by Montreal designers, as well as sewing/alteration classes in their sewing room. They also sell fabric remnants and used garments that are ready to be worn as-is, or upcycled into something more enticing.

At the Biodome in Montreal, every winter there is a craft fair that features crafts and clothing and all sorts of exciting things made out of over 75% post-consumer waste. Many of the offerings I saw last year were of better quality, more stylish, and clearly more functional than their brand new counterparts.

This article in the Guardian newspaper outlines some of the challenges that manufacturers and retail stores face in regards to textile waste. The manufacturers must be more responsible, and we as the purchasers of garments must be more accountable for what we do with them as we finish. It does take an effort. As the article says;

“…the various fibres that comprise clothing make reprocessing and recycling a challenge. Some materials such as cotton and linen can be composted, but petroleum-based fibres such as polyester have little chance for reuse. Few municipalities accept textiles into their recycling programmes… the result is a resource that is not as easily recyclable as aluminum cans, glass, or even plastic.”

scarf with unrecyclables

The ability to truly recycle textiles is rare. We will donate unwanted (but still wearable) clothing to charity, but what do we do when there are too many holes or stains? We usually throw them into the landfill… Though I am not anywhere near perfect in this regard, I have tried to save fabrics from this fate.

I make felt wool scarves, and have been incorporating bits of used fabrics into them. Also I like to take unrecyclable (yet durable) materials, such as plastic/foil catfood bags, and use them within the scarves, too. This is more fun than anything, but I hope that my efforts have diverted yet more toxic landfill from accumulating!

Check out some of the DIY ideas we posted over the last while on Fleurbain… you can use old garments for these things, too!

*Coasters

*Braided Rug

*Mittens, Cushions…

*Scented Sachets

And have some fun while you’re at it!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

nesting bowls in felt are cozy, homey, and cute

Felt bowls are cute, no doubt about it. Little fuzzy display bowls that can fit into one another, that’s even cuter! I decided to make some nesting bowls today, and documented the process to share with you.

If you know how to make felt already, and are looking for a craft that will provide you with two or three hours of crafting and will be suitable for an Easter display or gift, look no further. If you haven’t made felt at all yet, I would advise you to first try making a piece or two of flat felt, to get an idea of how felting works.

some of the basic supplies

To start, I gathered my basic felting supplies. I used bubble wrap, soap, a kettle of water, loose wool (roving), scissors, and a measuring tape. You might also like to have a towel on hand, a bowl, and perhaps some paper and a pen.

a trick to cut your templates: fold them in half to ensure each side is even

I thought that I’d like to make three little nesting-bowls. I choose three colours of wool roving that coordinated well together. I decided to blend colours for two of the bowls, and wanted to add dashes of all the colours on all the bowls. I had intended to just make single-colour bowls, but I couldn’t help myself! Obviously, you can use whatever mix of colours you would like.

The basic procedure for making the bowls, no matter what size they are, is relatively simple. The challenge was to make bowls that would “fit into” one another… to account for sizing and so forth. I decided to make a simple bowl shape, then add 1 inch on every side for the next size up. I added about an inch or so to THAT one for the largest bowl. I cut all these templates out of bubble wrap. In retrospect, I’d have preferred to have made some smaller bowls, too. However, as I had saved my templates, I can make smaller ones at a later date.

three layers of roving, and the template on top

To begin any sort of resist felting, lay out three layers of wool roving at right angles to each other, so that they extend about 2 inches past the template-size. In this case, I made sure that the top of the bowl didn’t have this extension, because it would be left open in the end. If I’d wanted to make a more spherical object, I could have extended the top end too. I like to lay my template under my piece of bubble wrap as a guide for the first overlapping layers. However if you find that is too hard to see through the bubble wrap you are working on, you can trace the template shape onto a piece of paper and place this under the bubble wrap to guide you. Remember it is important to extend up to about 2 inches PAST the template-shape, in order to create a meshing of wool.

Once the first three layers of roving have been placed, gently spray some lukewarm water onto them. Be gentle, allowing the water to just fall onto the wool. Next, place your template on top of this. Make sure that the top aligns with the top of the wool. Remember there should be almost 2 inches of extra wool all around the rest of the shape. Take this extra wool and fold onto the template.

encased, with soap on it... ready for boiling water!

The final step before really felting is to lay three more layers of wool roving, at right angles to one another, on top of this. Try to fill the entire “template” area, even though much of it is covered around the edges. This will ensure that there are no holes or awkward seam parts to your bowl.

Spray the wooly work again, being gentle. Then drizzle  pure dish-soap overtop. Pour some boiling (or very hot) water on it, and then lay another piece of bubble wrap on top. Pat it (if it’s not too hot to do so!) and rub it. Pay special attention to rub the seam area… we really want the wool there to mesh quickly. After a minute or so of patting, flip the work over, and pat the other side.

pay special attention to the edges, to ensure the wool meshes

Try opening the bubble-wrap up to rub the wool directly. Within a minute or so of patting and rubbing, you should be able to gently lift the object. Pry open the top part, and gently rub the edges. If it’s fused, force it open. It’s ok at this point; you can do almost anything to this malleable mass.

this doesn't look much like a bowl... but it will!!

Lift the object, turn it in your hands. Rub the inside and outside of the seam area. If there are sparse patches or holes, try adding a little more wool roving on top. Put some more soap, a dash of water, and gently rub it in your hands. Work on the seam area, and rub the entire object.

Turn it inside out, and rub the inside on your bubble wrap. turn it back outside-out, and rub the whole object on the bubble wrap. Keep it open, don’t allow it to lay flat again.

After a few minutes, you can gently drop the object onto the table. Do this a few times, trying to hit a different part of the bowl each time. Start to hit it harder; and focus on any bumps or strange parts. It is almost magical, how the wool will tighten into felt as you do this. It will shrink quite a great deal, too! If you have a bathtub nearby, try hurling the wooly mass into it several times. Start more gentle, then hurl with all your might.

while hurling, rubbing, getting the bowl felted and fulled and shrunk. ten seconds later, the seam had disappeared. Like magic.

If the bowl is cold, pour some more boiling or hot water on it. Friction, compression, and heat all conspire to turn wool into felt. So, more heat can’t hurt!

Finally, when your bowl is looking like a bowl, set it. You can set it “rim-side-up” on a table, or you can stuff it with bubble wrap (like I’ve done in the examples) and turn upside down. Like a sweater that you lay flat to dry, wool felt will have a memory. It likes to maintain the shape that it is left to dry in.

after being felted, fulled, and rinsed, I formed my bowls by cramming bubblewrap into them, and leaving overnight on my table.

If you are in the Montreal area and would like to take a felt-making class, please be in contact with me. I will be teaching this technique (and more!) in workshops of varying lengths. Happy felting!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

creation during a previous workshop

The brains behind Fleurbain, Tammy Schmidt CHT and Natasha Henderson BFA, are pleased to announce an exciting new service: Customised Workshops.

Combine these two women’s talents for an inventive and innovative experience that is tailored to meet your needs. For groups, clubs, corporate teams, or just a gathering of friends, Tammy and Natasha will craft a unique workshop with the greatest of expertise and care.

Tammy is a Clinical Herbal Therapist with an extensive knowledge of herbal remedies. Outside of her clinical practice, she excels in creative Green ideas for the home, bath, and beauty. Let’s not forget that she is brilliant in herbal/cooking fusion! Tammy will encourage you to grow and create while you learn.

Natasha is a graduate from the Emily Carr Institute of Art in Vancouver, with experience in teaching painting, felt-making, crafting, and general creativity to groups of adults and children alike. Natasha is an empowering instructor who invites the potential in every student.

Fleurbain will come to your location for workshops, or we can meet in our central studio location. It’s up to you.

in the midst of cooking/herbal infusion

A very few ideas for your workshops: Herbal bath treatments and notebook making; Team-building mural painting with a herbal tea session; Puppet-making workshop for kids or adults; Painting with herbal pigments; Informative nature walk while drawing from nature; City-scape walks, seeking nature in an urban environment; Crafting workshops with groups. Check out the two-day experience we hosted recently, in which we steeped herbalism and crafting together to create a unique Spa Weekend.

creative learning through activity

The sky is not even the limit… Give us an email at fleurbain@gmail.com to see what we can do together. Please provide dates and location desired for the workshop, as well as a rough idea of number of participants, their ages, and the purpose or reason for the workshop (eg team-building, fun event, educational, etc).  We will put together a package customized for you and your group.

Please note that we are in the Montreal area.

Fleurbain is proud to announce that we will feature a different artist in our online space every month. Our first artist is one of the women behind Fleurbain, Natasha Henderson. Artists who are interested in being featured are welcome to email:

– three to five jpegs of their work (no larger than 1200 pixels on their longest side, at least 300 pixels on their shortest side)

short descriptions of each piece (Title, Medium, Size, Date)

a link to their personal website

 and an artistic statement/short biography (about 200-500 words) to: fleurbain@gmail.com.

We can’t guarantee that everyone will be featured, but why not give it a shot!

Truffles with nuts and chocolate dusting in de...

truffle magic!

The pinnacle of the dark, dreary days of winter is a purgatory that rests between Christmastime and Spring… February. Installed into February is a day that is supposed to be a celebration of “Love”. Many lament the commercialisation of Valentine‘s Day, and resent the high expectations and sadness that come with so many of our holidays.

Traditional Valentine’s expectations dictate that one should enjoy chocolates, give expensive gifts, and be in love. Well, let’s take some of the good from those traditions and embrace them! Even if you are single, you deserve some chocolate. Actually, you deserve more chocolate. Feeling a bit bloated after a winter’s eating? This is an opportunity to sharpen your skills in making HEALTHY treats. Herbal-infused organic chocolate truffles, anyone? Or perhaps a cup of Healthy Hot Chocolate? True love. Love is in a good cup of tea, a soothing bath that invigorates the spirit, or a beautiful hand-made gift box to hold treasures.

The brains behind the Fleurbain concept, Tammy Schmidt, Clinical Herbal Therapist and Natasha Henderson, visual artist and arts instructor, are offering an Herbal Creativity Spa Weekend workshop in February. There is an option to take one or both days during the Herbal Creativity Spa Weekend, on Friday the 11th from 7 to 10pm and Saturday the 12th from 1 to 4pm.

Friday night, we will enjoy a relaxing glass of wine (or herbal tea) with some dessert treats and fine cheese. Participants will learn how to make an herbal Love Potion. The Love Potion is a special euphoric herb that is distilled in a vodka base. Everyone will get to take home a sample of this to try themselves! Tub Teas are all the rage, and for good reason. What could be better than infusing your entire body in an organic, herbal bath that is designed to soothe the body, mind, and spirit? Participants will learn some of the properties of the herbs used in this special Valentine’s Tea Bath, and take home a sample. Finally, we will make a Boudoir Gift Box, a gift box made from scratch that will be decorated with fine fabrics, papers, lace, and beads. It will be suitable as a gift box for chocolates, jewellery, fine treasures… and can be re-used to hold your favourite special things.

Saturday afternoon starts off with a healthy, delicious beginning. Participants will learn how to make Healthy Hot Chocolate (yes, this version is truly healthy), and enjoy a cup. While sipping our treat, we will make organic chocolate truffles, which will be flavoured with high quality, organic herbs for unique flavours. These are perfect to tuck into the Boudoir Boxes made the previous evening. Then we will think about the physical and mental well-being that a good bath brings, and make a felted soap loofah for our next bath. These soaps combine sheep’s wool with a high-quality Ginseng or Evening Primrose soap to be an exfoliating and moisturising addition to your bath. Finally, we will create a batch of Love Tea to take home and enjoy.

All courses use the finest quality, pure and organic ingredients. Take one afternoon or evening for $75, or treat yourself (or a friend!) to both sessions for $135. Location of workshops will be in a Montreal artist’s studio, converted to a Valentine’s Factory for our workshops. Please email fleurbain(at)gmail.com for information and registration.

You need: -Paper  -Good solid cardboard  -Scissors or cutting edge  -Gluestick  -White glue or rubber cement  -Cheesecloth or similar fabric  -Pretty paper or fabric for covering  -More pretty paper for inside of covers -Thread and needle

As I mentioned once before, I managed to take a book-making course during my final year of art-school. We learned various techniques to make books, and some of the simpler ones I’ve outlined here. I did promise to go over the method of making a “real bound book”, though, and now it’s time to deliver on that promise! Happy New Year… let’s make us some books!

A classically bound book has a few elements. There is a cover, there are the pages, and there are the things that hold them all together.

The little parcels of paper pages that are sewn together to make the body of the book are called signatures. When I make a book, I make my signatures first. I decide on how many sheets will be in a signature, and then I decide on how many signatures will make up the book. In some situations, you might only have so much paper available, so this guides the size and number of pages in the book. A single piece of paper that is in a signature is actually four pages, if they were numbered within the finished book. A paper-piece in the signature is the height, and then twice the width, of the finished page, folded in half. You can layer two pieces of paper, or three, or four… or many. It depends on how thick your paper is. Normally, for “art-grade” paper (thicker) I would layer about two or three pieces of paper in a signature. An older book in my collection has about ten very thin, but strong, layers of paper in each signature.

In the inside of a signature, you will see the stitching. This is an old book, finely crafted.

Once you have decided on your layered papers for a signature, you fold the pages in half, re-layer them, and sew a little stitch or two down the centre. I recommend knotting at each stitch on the outside, binding edge of the work. This will add strength and stability to the binding, and to the signature. Use about three or four strands of thread to add even more durability. Make your stitches on the “inside” of the signatures about a half-centimeter, and make the stitches on the “outside” about two centimetres. Don’t worry about the outside, binding edge of the signature, it can be messy. You won’t see it later! If you were to rip the outer binding off of a finished book, though, you would see a mix of knots, threads, glue, and something similar to cheese-cloth covering the whole mess.

When you have a number of signatures ready to be bound, the next step is in to bring them together. I can’t show you this in person, unfortunately. But simply put, just weave a threaded needle between the threads that are on the “outside” of the signatures. Knot. Tie. Weave. Make it sewn together… keeping the thread OUTSIDE. Don’t puncture the papers again. This will all be hidden, so don’t worry if it looks bad. Just try to keep the inside of the pages neat-looking!

As soon as the signatures are bound together, you have the basics for a book. The next step is to make the cover. Cut two pieces of good cardboard to a little bit larger that the size of the inside pages. Good, solid cardboard is normally found in craft stores. If you don’t have any, use your imagination. You’ll want a material that is pretty tough, that you can cut, and that won’t roll up with a bit of moisture from something like glue. An old piece of rubber or plastic could be interesting…

Once you’ve cut the outer covers, you can cut a binding-cover, too. This is big enough to cover the ugly, outside edge of the bound-together signatures. It’s ok if it is a little thinner than the depth of the book. This piece just basically provides a little structure and protection to the sewn-together signatures. In some books this piece is rolled back and forth to form a rounded-binding, in others it is straight and flat. For your first book, though, perhaps just leave this piece flat.

One of my early books: Signatures, Three cardboard pieces to make the cover, Decorative covering. Note I also sewed some pretty gold thread along the edge of the bound signatures.

You need an outside surface for the covers… a piece of fabric, a piece of decorative paper… and old fancy pillowslip, a shiny satin skirt, anything that is pretty will do. You just need enough of this to cover the outside edge of the entire book. If your decorative paper or fabric is thin (like satin or fine paper) you should glue it to another piece of good, strong and flexible paper (such as rice-paper) first. Lay this piece out on your table, pretty-side down. Lay the two covers and the little binding-cover next to one another on this piece. Keep a small distance of about 1/8″ between the covers and the binding-cover. This space is important so that the covers can open and close… this is a hinge. Make sure that this pretty covering extends at least an inch past the edges of the cardboard covers. Rub a bit of glue-stick on the surface of the cardboard covers, then place them again on this pretty covering. Press flat with your hands, just making sure there are no “bubbles” or lumpy bits of glue. Fold the edges in, glue down to the inside of the book-cover with white glue or rubber cement. What you are doing is sort of like wrapping a present, and you are doing the outside first.

Next, take your bound signature-pages. Using a bit of cheese-cloth (or similar fabric… I’ve used a number of woven, light-weight fabrics at hand for this task), cover the ugly outside edge of the bound-together signatures. Make sure there is about two inches extending past the edge, as though the cheese-cloth wants to grow into a book cover. Rub white glue or rubber cement glue over the cheese-cloth, so that it is truly adhered to the outside edge of the binding. Let this set. Good time for a coffee or tea. Cake. A film. Really let THIS glue set.

Here you can see the "decorative inside page" that is glued to the front cover, and slightly glued to the front page of all those signatures.

FINAL ASSEMBLY: Once this signature-set is dry, take the cover that you’ve previously prepared, place the signature-set in place, and glue the cheese-cloth to the inside of the covers. It helps to know that there will be a final, decorative piece of paper attached to cover all the mess. I recommend using a bit of glue-stick, then closing the book to set for a few minutes. Open the book, and rub in some white glue. Close it again, and leave it at least half an hour to really set. You can check it a couple of times to make sure it hasn’t shifted, but be careful.

Once it is dry, the very last thing is to add a thicker, decorative paper to the inside of the covers. This paper is cut to just a little shorter that the original “double-page” size, and you need one for each inside cover. The function of this decorative paper is to cover the inside of the cover (remember the “wrapped present”?), and also to be a decorative front and back page. Glue (with white glue or rubber cement) one side to cover all the uncovered-part of the inside covers. Glue a little bit on the first page of the signature-bundle, so that it is stuck to this decorative paper… about 1/4″. This way the book is solidly made, and is held together by the cheese-cloth as well as the decorative paper. Set it aside… let it dry thoroughly. Press it between some heavy books, leave it overnight. It’s all in the layering…

This old book is made with a gently rounded binding-cover. You can see the importance of leaving space between the three pieces of cardboard, so that the covers can hinge.

When you examine an old book from your shelf, or look at my photos here, you will see the basic elements to a bound book. Don’t be afraid… my first bound book was a gluey mess. The binding-cover was cut too big. I used an ugly fabric to cover it. However, by making my own book, I was then inspired to work out a fun comic to live inside the book. This developed into the first storyline for my “Cluck and Lurt” comic series! Drawing in my own book was inspiring for me. I hope that you are inspired to try some book-making yourself.

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Crafting something from basic materials is a rewarding activity for anyone. When you have made something “from scratch”, you develop a sense of intrinsic accomplishment and pride. In addition to the pure joys of making, there is the final physical object that you can use and display. Crafting and art-making is good for you, and can be used in a therapeutic manner.

A child makes a piece of felt.

When people make new things, they need to focus. When people learn new crafting skills they coordinate their minds, hands, and memory to work in synch. People with short attention spans, various levels of learning abilities, or who find it difficult to connect with the world can develop their focus and connections. I have seen this seemingly magic process in classrooms, where I have taught workshops in felt-making and sewing. Little children with major problems really do love learning, and hunger for the sense of accomplishment achieved when they learn a new skill and have something exciting to share with their parents after class. This sort of craft-therapy is useful to increase children’s engagement with the idea of learning. Focus is a skill that can be exercised like a muscle. The more a child uses the “focus muscle”, the better they are able to use this “muscle” in “sports” other than crafting… it really becomes one of their skill-sets.

A child shows off his weaving.

Crafting in a therapeutic manner also increases a person’s ability to connect with others, to adapt into the role of being a student (or a teacher, for that matter). Problem-solving as one navigates learning the new (yet often traditional) techniques of crafting creates team-building, forms human connections, and encourages storytelling. An example: A group of teenagers get together to learn how to knit. There are problems at first, some of the kids don’t want to be “Grannies”. One of the kids becomes a bit of a leader, saying “Well, I loved my Granny. She was cool.” The kids settle down, reminisce, share some stories, and help one another with their knitting. They have formed connections with their past and with one another, and are acting both as students and teachers as they learn their new (old) craft.

Very young children learn how to sew by hand.

Development of fine motor skills and hand/eye/mind coordination is another benefit to crafting and art-making. Obviously, if one takes a pencil or paintbrush in one’s hand and applies it to paper, there is a cause and effect. The artist is making something. The artist sees what happens when they move their hand a certain way. They try it again, a little bit differently this time, and see the changes. They register this change, and with practice the movements and effects become skills of which they are more in control.

Through art and craft therapy, people learn new skills, feel pride, and reconnect with traditions and a sense of history. They develop hand/eye/mind coordination and learn to focus. Crafters can work in teams or groups to teach others their skills. Crafting is social, fun, and a beneficial activity. As a person who has led several arts and crafts workshops with all sorts of people, I must say that the idea of a career as an Art Therapist is an exciting one!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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