It’s all Clarrie’s fault!

needle felted diaporamaAlan is someone who shows us how to just take life’s experiences, good or bad, and make them work for you. His flexible thinking has enabled him to take on so many creative opportunities because Alan sees everything as a challenge rather than a block. Sonya, our roving reporter, brings you his story this week:

Like some of the wool we spin up, our Alan is indeed a rare breed! He is one of four precious males in our group. To be cherished and wondered at. But not merely because of his rarity but because of his  prodigious output of felted articles. When I mused that he must have made good money out of all this, Alan assured me that has not been the case. He has given away most of his creations!

In 2008 I brought my wife Andrea along to Seaford Spinners to get some advice about her craft work. (You Tube does all that nowadays) The 3rd time I brought Andrea along, Clarrie waylaid me and I just went on from there.

Prior to that I had no experience of spinning at all. I had gone to a felting workshop in Tasmania instructing us on how to felt a hat. I later learnt how to make beanies. But I used the advice given there, as what not to do when felting a hat! So I was a raw recruit when Clarrie got on to me. I used the worst wool imaginable when I started spinning. Short  dirty wool. It was like an anchor rope . I remember Clarrie saying ‘If you can spin that, you’ll be able to spin anything!’   I eventually  got enough wool spun up, to make a really good beanie. Someone else knitted it for me.

I use a circular loom now to make beanies because I’ve never really got into knitting. I leave that for Andrea who is a really good knitter.  (who does remarkably delicate gossamer work.)

As I watch Alan spinning silk looking nearly as fine as a spider web, I think he’s achieved amazing quality and output since his relatively recent debut in 2008.

In 2009 I called in on Highland Felting in Oberon NSW. I bought a book, some foam, some needles and some batts. I had a 10 minute verbal instruction on how to make a hat. Then I went back to the campground where we were staying in Canberra and made one! I’ve made a lot of hats since then. I’ve run workshops here and at Aldinga. I’ve also made some big felted bags, scarves and wraps.

One year we all had to make a doll to hang on the Christmas tree. Most people knitted theirs, but I felted mine. It was a figure that was me.

I started needle felting when doing hats and since then I’ve felted a lot of 3D miniature doggies. One year for the Royal Show I made stand up figures of me and the group of 7 dogs I was showing (See that amazing picture).I won 1st prize for that. I’ve even felted fish! I’m currently needle felting a picture of a poodle, and I’m using dog’s hair. I use a colour print on the paper, and I work on either a canvas or paper. If its paper, I just pull it away when I’ve done my felting. When using a canvas, I can print up the background and needle felt the dog straight on to that.

So here I am today busy with my felting, and thinking it all started with Clarrie, rounding me up and teaching me to spin. So you could sort of say that all this is Clarrie’s fault!   (and what a marvellous fault, dear Clarrie!)

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Needlefelted poodle

We have been enjoying watching Alan’s needlefelted poodle being developed each week. Last week he was needlepointing in a way that sounded like a steam train and we all wanted to woo-woo! This week he was working on the body and is getting an interesting look. It’s very effective in contrast to the darker parts. He has had to  think hard about this and the face will take time and patience. He actually breeds and shows these dogs so this is a picture of a dog he had. She became a dancing dog and looked beautiful dressed up in her show clothes and loved performing. She was always a bit of a star, apparently, so it all worked out well for her. We look forward to seeing the finished picture but , meanwhile , we are enjoying the journey. It’s a lot of work and stabbing!

Textile picture

textile picture.jpg

Marjorie and Christine made this picture together as a creative adventure. It is good to see people combining their skills to challenge themselves and come up with something different. It is all spun wool. Until you try something new, you do not put yourself in any kind of place to learn and grow. Putting two heads together means you have the chance to discuss and develop ideas. Christine did the weaving for the background. Marjorie used her oddments to create the balls of wool, the shells (because we spin by the sea!) and the knitting. She crocheted the basket. The toothpick knitting needles with the red tops are cute. It gave both of them things to think about and then they had to work out how this was all going to go together. Project based learning works because the project forces you to use your brain to rethink in a new set of circumstances and then you have to research techniques and find resources. It’s a voyage of discovery. The picture is very soft to touch. Well done to Christine and Marjorie for creating such an original oddments project which represents us.

Felted bag

Beth brought along a felted bag for show and tell but she also showed us another bag she finished while she was at Monday’s session and then her beautifully, inspiring angel wings cushion. You can see from her bag how much thought goes into colours and texture. Beth likes to play with colour effects and then she produces things which just make you react and think. She has chosen lovely colours for her bag. The tie strap is something she is mulling over. She was wondering about whether to change it or not. As it stands , it adds to the overall visual impact of the bag. The problem might be , it’s a big bag, if you stashed too many things in it the tie strap might not be suitable as a strap. The bag might need something stronger. These are all the things you ponder , consider and consult on when you are creating. If your creation has a functional purpose as well as an aesthetic role to play , then you need to look at the practicalities of what you are making. It’s a lovely bag. Whatever Beth decides will be good!