Archives for posts with tag: Etsy

some of my earlier experiments

One of the benefits of teaching to fully engaged students is the challenges that they present to you. I am teaching a weekly course on felt-making; the first class for this new group was last week. All of the students were keen to learn, to do, to make. Outside of the enthusiasm that they brought to the class, they had all done research beforehand on the craft of wet-felt-making.

When we started the class, I gave them a brief run-down on how felting works, what the science is behind it, the basic stuff. Then we talked a little about what we would do over the next twelve weeks. Some of the students were very keen to try out some specific techniques; techniques that I’d seen others do but, admittedly, haven’t done myself. When the internet offers such a wide array of videos, blogs, and instruction manuals, it was a pre-educated group of crafting students who entered my classroom the other day!

a student in the beginning stages of making a hat

This presented a challenge and an opportunity for me to grow. While the class is on, I am “on”. I am engaged fully with the students, I guide and help and demonstrate. Sometimes I must step back and allow them to discover things on their own. During this work-time, they are concentrating and I am quietly watching what they do, or I am preparing for the next step. While this is happening, I think about what we will do in the future, what would serve my clients/students best.

Much of art-making and maintaining a practice in it is about editing. Editing specific works, editing time so that the media of choice fit into one’s life, and editing things that might not seem to fit together until they do. I have, classically, fancied myself to be a bit of a trail-blazer type whenever I’ve started something new. I would quickly learn all I could about it, see what appealed to me, then go off on my tangent to experiment with what I chose. This is normal, I think. However, when I have students who want to try out all the different things that one can do in a chosen medium, I need to be ready to teach them these things I’d seen, not tried, and had previously discarded from my own milieu of work. Because of this, over this weekend I performed some experiments with feltmaking.

there are many ways to make felt, and many potential things to teach

There is a funny thing about this situation. By prescribing myself time to experiment in things that I’d not really been personally interested in before, I have been actively pushed to make use of my new knowledge. An example: felted soap. I make and sell felted soap, now, because I needed a little something to fill in about an hour’s worth of class. Felted soap seemed interesting, sort of cool, and something easily portable for students to make and take home in one day. Now I sell my little bubbly creations in many shops around town, and on my Etsy page. Benefit!

fabric-enriched scarf - the successful experiment

A second example of a recent experiment is building fabric into the layers of wool. A student last week was keen to try this, so I agreed to teach it. I took some time to try it out, and last night I made a very beautiful scarf using this technique. A little back-story is due; as I’ve mentioned before, I once had a job in the fashion industry. While working in a sample-making room I saved scrap pieces of fabric. I prevented good, small bits of fabric from stuffing the landfill. I have many little squares of printed cotton, and I’d been trying to force myself to sew out patchwork bags and skirts out of them. I like sewing from time to time, but not sewing boring things like grid squares. Last night I took two of these squares, and ripped them into strips. I added the fabric into the scarf, and presto! It was a success. I will be making more of them, and adding another aspect to my scarf-making business!

I am looking forward to the next couple of experiments I’m planning… a large vase, and sushi jewelry in felt. Who knows what will be after that! I’ll certainly keep the dialogue open with my students, that’s for sure.

Natasha Henderson is a painter and fibre artist based in Montreal. She teaches art and felt to adults and kids. You can check out her Etsy page and personal website if you’d like to see some of her work.

Advertisements

Felted soaps make really cool presents, and are conversation-pieces.

Felted soap is a lovely and unique gift that just takes a bit of patience, but anyone can do it! You need some wool roving, a soap of any type, a bit of bubble wrap (or a bamboo mat, or a texured waterproof surface), a towel, an old pair of nylons, and then some hot water (even boiling!)

A soap, some roving... a bit of bubble-wrap, a towel.

For the roving, you can ask at your local wool-shop if they have roving, otherwise you might like to order some online.

Wrap the bar of soap in wool layers, placing the wool at right angles. It is good to wrap the soap fairly snugly. If it is too loose, it could cause weird bumps, but on the end it would still be ok. Work a few layers, until you cannot see the soap anymore. Keep in mind that the wool will shrink and shift somewhat as you do this, so what you lay out on the soap will probably not be exactly what you will end up with! The factor of surprise in this is actually part of the fun.

Beginning to wrap the soap in wool roving...

Place the felt-covered soap inside a pocket made from nylon pantyhose. I bought my first pair of nylons in possibly decades in order to make felted soaps. From those nylons I cut a few lengths and tied off the ends to make several pockets, so then I could teach soap-felting workshops. Don’t worry too much if the wool shifts a little while you put it in the pocket; it is possible to adjust the wool when you remove it from the pocket later on.

Pour hot water over the pocket. Rub the soapy mass inside the pocket for about eight to ten minutes. Roll it in a towel to remove some of the lather and excess moisture.

Wool-covered soap in the pocket!

Remove the soap/felt from the nylon pocket, then rub the felted soap on bubble-wrap until the felt is truly felted down and matted against the soap. During this process, you might need to rub a little more water on the soap, or roll it again in the towel if it’s a bit too lathery. Do this until you see that the wool is all stuck together, a few minutes. Try making a few of these felted soaps, and you’ll get the hang of it!

The felt will shrink as you use the soap over time, until there is no soap left and you have a cute little ball of wool that you could cut to turn into a little pouch, or a cat-toy… or even Christmas decorations.

In the process of felting the soap!

I have a business selling felted soaps (amongst other things) and my clients have told me that they love the gentle exfoliation of the wool, how fine and frothy the soap lather is, and that the soap lasts much longer than if it wasn’t wearing such a nicely felted wool sweater! Enjoy!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

Fair Trade
Something tells me that I might want to do a little shopping in the next few weeks. In my world, gift giving is fairly important and my peeps love giving gifts at Christmas.  I like to give consumables, such as special foods or the DIY gift ideas I am sharing with everyone this month. These are always a huge hit!  It feels better giving to others in a way that does not overload their lives with stuff that ends up in landfills.

I can get into quite a state thinking about how gift-giving may be hyper-consumeristic and sometimes supports not-so-shining industries.  I try to use this season as an opportunity to tweak gift-giving. I like to do it right under the Christmas tree and in the kitchen too.  It is important for me to buy an organic, free range turkey because I feel sick preparing an industrially-produced one.  I buy organic and fair trade sugar and chocolate. It disturbs me to think that we are eating and celebrating with chocolate that might have been picked by a child (see Carol Off’s Bitter Chocolate).

If I am not going to make things for others, I try to consider my options as to who can do it for me.  This is where gift shopping comes into play. There are many ways of approaching this tradition that do not necessarily cure consumerism, but will make a small difference. Some of these gifts are fair trade, some of them involve making donations to good organizations. Hannah Sung of the Globe and Mail calls into question the scope of such strategies in Philanthropic shopping: to give and to get. Do we really need to get and give so very much? Maybe not.  Can we actually redeem consumerism by tweaking it a bit? Yes, I believe so.

Some DIFY Ideas.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal.

*In the coming days, we will post some Green Christmas Tips from a few of our friends: Brooke McCartney Langdon, Julie Webb and Jodi Hildebrand!

Let’s face it people, December is one cold, dark month.  So, naturally, we have this urge to light candles, listen to music and decorate.  We spice it up and bring aromatic herbs, spices, citrus and branches into our homes.  Each step outside is an act in bravery as face the sharp chill of the air and trudge along on wintry walks, sometimes taking the time to look at lights, snow flakes and trees.  We head out to parties wearing something sparkling or velvety or both.  We fire up our kitchens with baking, creating, cooking and sharing with loved ones.  Weekend afternoons stretch along nicely with a warm drink and a long book.   Yeah, let’s face it, we love this time of the year!

This month Natasha and Tammy are busy working on all sorts of things!

Gear up for an outrageous number Do It Yourself gift ideas.  One for every day until December 24!

Are you ready for photos on the theme of FIRE AND ICE? Facebook fans can upload their pics for a chance to be a part of this feature!

We have Natural décor ideas,

Ecological and Ethical gift-giving solutions,

and herbal remedies that people will be talking about this month.

Also up, experiments in Recipe Makeovers,

Natural Connections in our verdant city, and

Tips to De-Stress and De-Compress.

So, get in from the cold with a Hot Art Exhibit

and Enjoy a good chuckle with some festive Cartoons!

It’s December!  It’s our second month of Fleurbain.com.

Memoir by Natasha Henderson

Felt is non-woven, non-knit fabric that is made of bits of wool or other fur. Felt-making has been around for a very long time… we’re talking about five thousand years. The contemporary method for making felt is similar in science to the ancient method: a combination of pressure, heat, water, and friction make individual fibres cling together into this versatile fabric. Soap doesn’t hurt the process, either.

Fluffy wool is layered onto bubble-wrap, sprinkled with soap and boiling water, then rolled up and agitated 'til it is done.

I came to start to make my own felt because of three major influences. One, I had always liked felt (and felted) objects. Two, I have a friend who offered to teach another friend and I how to make felt one rainy evening… an evening that also featured soup and beer. The third influence was my own desire to learn another craft that I could possibly make products to sell in my freelance artistic lifestyle.

The main reason I keep making felt is that I find it to be a relaxing and enjoyable activity, and I am proud of my creations!

Felt wool scarf with unrecyclable trash built into it and decorative stitching.

I also find that the process of laying out thin layers of loose wool in a multitude of available colours to be similar, in an odd way, to painting. My background is as a painter; I’ve painted and exhibited my works for years. So when I found a means to make wearable-art out of an incredibly practical material, I was very, very happy!

This craft has opened up new opportunities for me to teach workshops in felt-making, too. There are several people who are curious about this medium, and who want to try things out. I am glad to offer courses in my own studio, and I’ve also had the opportunity to travel to classes to teach kids “how to make felt”. One such event concluded with the kids making their own felt into little puppets. The kids had a satisfying time making their own piece of fabric, and then had a creative time crafting this fabric into their unique creatures.

The latest thing I’ve discovered is felted soap. When I first saw felted soap, I thought it would be itchy, that the felt would fall off the soap and you’d find little fibres all throughout the bath… nope. Thankfully wrong on all accounts! The soap inside makes a good lather that keeps the wool at a gentle level of exfoliation. It’s cool, too, that as the soap insides slowly shrinks (these soaps last longer than naked soaps do) so does the felt.

Felted Soap I made.

Thanks for letting me talk to you about this thing I do. It’s a lot of fun.

Natasha sells her felt wool scarves and soaps at craft fairs, as well as through her Etsy site, HendersonArt.

%d bloggers like this: