Saturday, 30 January 2010

New Year for the Trees

The 30th January 2010 is Tu Bishvat, New Year for the Tress. Since reading about this festival in preparation for the Festival of the Trees, I have fallen in love with the notion of a holiday designated to tree planting. What a wonderful tradition. To mark this occasion I wanted to create something that honours the renewal of life, and love of trees.

A couple of weeks ago, my dear blog friend Yvette of Felting your Soul sent me a wonderful piece of hand dyed silk. The silk had been dyed with a huge chestnut leaf imprinting its colours into the centre of the piece and had oak leave painted around the edges with natural dyes. I've been so keen to work with silk, yet hesitant to do anything that may detract from the beautiful piece it already is.

So, when my Vicuna wool arrived, I decided it was so special it would be the perfect compliment to Yvette's piece. Vicuna is known as the fibre of the gods, one of the most luxurious fibres in the world. You have to touch it to believe it, softer than silk, just beautiful. The chestnut brown fibre you see in the picture above is the Vicuna.

According to my wool supplier, Vicuna is a relative of the Llama and Alpaca, two animals already well known for their soft wools. Living in Peru the Vicuna isn't farmed or domesticated as most fleece giving animals are, being allowed to roam free through the Andes mountain range.

To honour Yvette's piece, and in attempt to add to it without spoiling it, I laid out a small amount of viscuna oak leaves, and some oak leaves in white merino too. I then laid out spines to the leaves in silk tussah. But that is all i will show of this piece for now. i want to savour it and work on it some more.

Inspired by this piece, I decided to create another nuno felt to submit for January's monthly design challenge. January's theme is 'Japanese'. Nuno felt is a Japanese technique of laying down wool and silk together and driving the fibres of the wool through the silk until they bond and become one.

I am still familiarising myself with this Japanese technique but it is very addictive and the end results are so satisfying.

(silk side up)

(Wool side up)

All of the colours are natural and undyed. There is a real sense of satisfaction about working with the natural palate of nature. This is the kind of work I would like to focus on for 2010.

Thank you for the inspiration Yvette.


I have had a question about how the Vicuna wool is gathered. They are not farmed and the Vicuna is not killed to collect the wool as I have been advised was the process many years ago. My wool supplier advises that:

The reason the animals aren't farmed is because they have an amazing skill for being able to escape! Instead the regions in which the herds graze organise a "Chaccu" every year. Locals form a long line over the hillside and drive the animals into a funnel of coloured ropes which in turn lead into a corral. Once caught each animal is checked over and sheared, with just 200gms being taken from each.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Theme Thursday - Felt

I was very excited and happy to see that the theme for Theme Thursday this week was FELT. Since Christmas, I have been experimenting with nuno felt which is a Japanese technique of laying down wool with silk and helping the wool fibres migrate through the silk so that the two bond and become one.

I think I will play with this piece a little more, maybe add a few beads to add to the feeling of luxury, and then send it to made4aid to help towards the relief funds in Haiti.

Happy Theme Thursday guys and thank you so much for choosing FELT x

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

One world, one heart - Give Away has now ended

A wonderful blogging friend invited me to join in with the magic carpet ride, and to open my heart to new friends and faces.

I have encountered so many magical, beautiful souls in this blogging community, I'm happy to meet more!

And as a gesture of love to friends old or new I offer a felt and silk necklace that is so soft and luxurious. Feels just like a hug.

All you need to enter this give away is to leave a comment which links to you blog or email address.

The draw will be made on 15th February.

Until then, make yourself comfortable and have a good look around.

I look forward meeting you and returning the visit...


Wow, I am amazed and very happy to have had so many responses to this give away. Out of appreciation for all of your time, and those new friends that have chosen to follow Natures Whispers I have decided to extend the give away to two necklaces. Winners get to choose the colours.

Thank you all xx

Sunday, 17 January 2010

The Way Through The Woods

(Markable Witches - Rewards & Fairies)

They shut the road through the woods
Seventy years ago,
Weather and rain have undone it again,
And now you would never know
There was once a road through the woods
Before they planted the trees.
It is underneath the coppice and heath
And the thin anemones.
Only the keeper sees
That, where the ring-dove broods,
And the badgers roll at ease,
There was once a road through the woods.

Yet if you enter the woods
Of a summer evening late,
When the night air cools on the trout ringed pools
Where the otter whistles his mate,
(They fear not men in the woods,
Because they see so few.)
You will hear the beat of a horses feet,
And the swish of a skirt in the dew,
Steadily cantering through
The misty solitudes,
As though they perfectly knew
The old lost road through the woods...
But there is no road through the woods.

Rudyard Kipling

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Green Alice

Nuno felted Stick Alice in Wonderland

Needle felted detail

Alice through the bubble wrap

I made this nuno felt to join in with the fun over at Artspark Theatre. The prompt is green, which is an indicator of renewal. Well 2010 is certainly the year of Alice in Wonderland.

I did not create the design. The design for my latest nuno felt belongs to Jamison Odone who will be releasing his 'retold, and illustrated book of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' on March 5th 2010 to coincide with the release of Tim Burton's Alice Wonderland film starring Johnny Depp.

I think that Odone's illustrations are fantastically clever. The cat reminds me Studio Ghibli's Totoro.

You can visit Jamison Odone's Wordpress blog by clicking on his name or on the book cover picture.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Floating in a Moonlit Sky

Wool laid out

Silk gauze laid on top

Nuno felted

I recently signed up to be a contributor for 'Ideas of Inspiration'. Above you can see my first submission for the prompt 'Winter White'. A nuno felted scene from 'The Snowman'.

I made this yesterday for my daughter who is very poorly right now. I decided to make the child a little girl so that Naomi can imagine that she is flying with the snowman.

We bought the film for my daughter before Christmas. When I was a little girl this film was a really big deal and Aledd Jones was considered to have the most angelic voice. Watching the film with my daughter was the first time that I had heard the Mel Smith narration version which tells how naughty the little boy is, running away with an unknown snowman in the middle of the night, and stealing his fathers motorcycle too! It's quite amusing hearing the story in gravelly East End tones. Even funnier is the David Bowie intro. What was he thinking of in 1982? That hair!

This is my 3rd attempt at nuno felting. I made the wool layering as fine as possible. Some of the facial detail has been lost with the shrinkage, but I quite like the end results.

Monday, 11 January 2010

The Angel of the North

Nuno in snow

Nuno close up

Making the detail

The laying of wool on silk

Silk side up, in snow

For the winter Solstice I had a blog give away. Caio Fernandes of Mien Welt was one of the winners. I was pretty stumped as to what to make Caio that would suit his tastes and also his climate. I'm guessing there is not much need for a felted hat or scarf in Brazil during summertime!

Eventually I decided upon the iconic landmark 'The Angel of the North' by Antony Gormley. I am from the North East so it is a representation of modern art from my home land. It is a sculpture. I often see a sculpture waiting to be made when I look at Caio's work. Angels are symbolic of Christianity which is very important to Caio. To me, the Angel of the North feels like a different type of angel. An Angel devoid of any specific faith, instead, representing hope. This is reinforced by the sapling trees growing around the hillside. The Angel reminds me of Daedalus and Icarus from the Greek mythology.

Its funny how public modern art is received. When this was first erected, I hated it. I think many people perceived it as tasteless and a waste of money. In my minds eye, the angel was originally silver and rusted with time, which made it beautiful. Now I love it. The Angel of the North has become an institution. Happy couples get married at its feet. You can even download oragami or knitting patterns of the angel for free.

Another reason for choosing to make a nuno felt representation of one of Antony Gormley's pieces of work, was that Caio lived in London. Antony Gormley may be better known for 'The Fourth Plinth' project in Trafalgar Square. The project lasted 100 days and invited the public to take to the plinth for an hour each, thus the plinth would be occupied 24 hours a day for 100 days.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

My first Nuno

Tomorrow I travel to London to visit my friend and newborn fairy god daughter, Mia. I wanted to make something bright and cheerful that could either be hung on a wall or used as a little cosy blanket to give as a gift. I had intended to make a picture with elves and toadstools with maybe a rainbow in it, but instead i found myself dreaming of bright suns, Mediterranean skies and beaches, so that's what I made.

Here you can see a pile of ten sheets of prefelt made from my lovely Christmas wools and fabulous washboard (everybody should have a washboard!)

The laying out on silk prior to nuno felting

I literally cut out pieces of prefelt like jigsaw pieces to fit the design I wanted.

The finished piece after nuno felting (wool side up)

And again (silk side up)

Its been quite an educational piece for me. I have not made nuno felt with silk gauze before. It behaves very differently than cotton gauze. For a start, the cotton nuno gauze is very similar to bandage lint, which is good for reinforcing large pieces of felt that you wish to keep thin, but in practice, the wool is felting with itself and not migrating through the gauze.

I made a couple of mistakes with this. I've been reading so much, and asking questions on the felting forum, but in the end you learn most through trying it out yourself. Only then does the advice given and techniques read make full sense.

With this piece, I wrung the reed mat I was rolling it in. Big mistake. I also used boiling water. I later read that this is a mistake too as using hot or boiling water causes the wool to felt with itself and not to migrate through the silk.

I managed to salvage the piece, and I can see the wool hairs poking through the silk when I hold it at eye level. All in all I am pretty pleased with this as a piece of felt. All of the rolling done to make the wool migrate through the silk produces very soft, compact felt. Much better than I usually make it.

I now also have an understanding on how to make my Tiffany designs work best, so all in all, a very productive day.

If you are considering making nuno felt, I found this very good online tutorial.

I would also like to thank Dorie for advising me on another method of nuno felting x

Saturday, 9 January 2010

The Erosion Bundle Project

Whilst over at Love Stitching Red's place the other day, I saw her post on The Erosion Bundle Project. It sounds like a lot of fun and a great incentive to produce a piece of eco art guided by nature and our wonderfully unpredictable English weather, so I thought I'd join in!

Here are some things that i have gathered to include in my bundle. There is a lot of natural coloured wool and wool that has been dyed with use of plants, vegetables or berries. To the bottom right hand corner you can see my blackberry and nettle dyed wools. Next to it is wool dyed in blueberries and felted into the shape of a heart which was a gift from my friend Judy at CJ Stitching & Blooms. I love the heart and have been wondering how best to incorporate it into one of my own felt projects. The erosion bundle will be perfect. I have included natural coloured hand made paper, an olive soap box, leaves, acorns, pine cones and an ear of barley. There is also some small swatches of the predyed pre-felt made from the blended silk and merino that I was given for Christmas. Finally, I added the tag from my feet felt kit which I bought from Yuli Somme last spring. It felt like this should be included in the parcel as making the feet felt was my first encounter with felt making and lets just say, I have not looked back since.

I have wrapped the bundle in layers like the party game 'passy-the-parcel'.

The first layer began with an old key that is no longer needed. I wrapped it in a 50cm2 piece of nuno silk which in tun had oak leaves, pine cones, and acorn cups inserted in between each roll of the silk. This bundle was then tied with a piece of merino lace that I had tried to make into lace jewelry back in the summer (I didn't get very far with that project!).

Next I wound the silk parcel in a mixture of natural blended Gotland wool and some blended Blue Faced Leicester wool. I wrapped some wildflower seed heads inside and bound it with a little apricot dyed alpaca wool.

Next I wrapped the natural wool bundle alongside a sprig of Anglesey heather and dried beech leaves and the last of the pine cones inside a small square of green cotton nuno gauze.

This was then placed inside the olive soap box, surrounded with the dyed wool, wrapped in natural paper and then wrapped again in recycled metallic gift paper before being tied inside a white cotton men's handkerchief and being placed in the snow between the heather and red robin in my front garden.

I will probably move it to my dads garden and suspend it from his cherry tree in the next few days. My dads garden gets a lot more exposure to sunlight, and well, its much prettier and has more wildlife in it.

It will stay in my dads garden and will be left untouched until the end of April/beginning of May, when I will open it again and begin making a piece of eco art with the contents.

Fun stuff!