Catching up on AEDM

IMG_20111106_144735 I am happy to report that we have power again.

It has been an interesting week. I have been amazed at what all was accomplished in the space of a week.

Yesterday I finished felting this hat. It is supposed to have a nice pillbox shape with a scalloped edge. In reality it has much more of a bubble effect.

I know that it still needs to have a stiffener added, to help it hold its shape, I use have not gotten to that step.

Peeking out from underneath is my first attempt at a hat stand. What I can say about it is that it works. I will need to play around with the design to get it to work the way I want it to work.

I had a clever plan to start with a stack of my photos and sketch, and then watercolor sketch and then possibly paint my favorites over the weekend. Spending the week without power made me decide to bunt. I do want to get back to that, but this hat was midway through the felting process when the power went. I wanted to finish it before I went off to the New England Fiber Festival .

I had a great time, and even found a pattern that I thought I might try knitting lace. I talked myself out of it, because I decided that it should be knit in oranges and fall colors. I like them, but they are not the best choices on me. But I did decide that I should look for a similar pattern, with only a lace edge to get me started.


All about Llamas, copyright and creative commons.

Llama by Ernst Vikne, Some rights reserved
Llama by Ernst Vikne, Some rights reserved

Yesterday, I suggested working from a photo of a llama. This morning I found a Llama photo that I could share with you, as the owner was kind enough to give it a creative common licence.  You can find the original photo by Ernst Vikne on his Flikr page.  Clicking on the photo will take you to the licenses page.

Anytime you want to create something to represent another one of the key steps is identifying what makes this what it is.   So far, I have identified my four leg creature as having a long neck, tall stick up ears, a flattened wedge shaped head and face and skinny feet and dark hooves.  Using Llama wool means the brown I choose is an appropriate color. 
What I noticed now is how the neck and the legs bend. Also important is how the neck connects to the body and the shape of it. It is  very different than a horses neck.  The shape and fur of the body is also important.
I wanted to be able to go ahead and post this early so I am not putting today’s post up at midnight again so I will have to add pictures of my llama later.
More on the copy right stuff.  Recently a friend of a friend had an article she had written and posted on her blog used and her copyright violated.
It turned into her 15 minutes of fame. (Just do a quick search for Monica and Cook’s Source if you missed this one)  It has made me more aware of  intellectual property of others and the risks of putting my work on the internet. 
Do I want to be able to share what I am learning in this process, yes.  Absolutely, that  is why I blog.  Would I want someone taking my stuff and using it without my knowledge  for their commercial gain. Not at all.
In creating my needleworked critters, I look at pictures of the animal I am creating. I usually look at several so that I get views from all angles so I understand how the animal is put together.   So normally, I do not feel that I need to credit the photographers, as I referencing their work, rather than copying it.  Now, if I where take my little llama,  pose him just as this llama is and photographed him against a barbwire fence in a field of yellow flowers, then once again I would need to credit the photographer as that would be me building upon his work.
So why have I detailed this process?  Part of what I want to teach in creating needle felted animals is how to create your own unique and original animal rather than just showing you exactly how I did it to create my Llama.  Once you have learned the basics of needle felting, you can pretty much look at someone elses creation and make one just like it.   Why not take it the further step and create your own based your observations.
One of the terms of the creative commons licence is:
  • Share Alike — If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under the same or similar license to this one.
  • In keeping with this, This post of my blog will also be under the creative commons licence.

    Rennata Tropeano, Some Rights Reserved, 2010

    Needle felted llamas


    In order to take the covered form and make it into a finished llama you have to refine and shape it more like a real llama.

    I suggest working from an picture. Needle felting can have as much variety as drawing. By calling the covered form a llama, a lot of people start to see a llama.

    If I had said horse, or other four legged long necked critter, that is what they would have started seeing. I tend to start with the head and face, because that  that tends to be a well defined area on an animal, while fur, wool, feathers often obscure the shape.

    I am using a three needle pen by clover. This could be done with a single needle, it would just be a little slower.


    In looking at pictures, I decided that our Llama’s face need to flatten out a bit. The way to create flat planes is to use the needles perpendicular to the plane you want to create. The need is pictured in the position for the top of the head. The pink arrows show the angle for the other plains.  To create a rounded shape, you use the needle at a wide variety of angles

    The next step after the face would be to tighten up the legs, esp. the lower part of the legs.  Because like their friends the cows and the shaven sheep, the llama have skinny feet. (taken from the Suburbs song, Cows) Pictures will follow.

    And now our candidates for best support , in The return of the Llama.

    image of  bases for needle felted animals
    Free Standing Llama

    My daughter is a big fan of Llamas.  As a result one of my first attempts at needle felting involved a Llama.   That poor sad llama had two main things going against it, The first being a serious difficulty  standing, and the second being that our cat loved the llama as much as my daughter. The cat literally loved the llama to peices.  While the llama could be refelted back together again, it seemed that the standing issue became more of an issue with each repair.  It was clear that this poor llama needed a better support system.  Needle felted sculptures are held together in one of three  ways the I know of. They are just felted together and built up, this results in a solid dense sculpture.  They can be  sewn together, I have seen this used mostly in doll type creations.  Another way they are built is over an armature.  The armature can be most anything, but the most common I have seen are fabric,  paper and wire.  I think of wet felted wool as a fabric,  I know of some who argue that it is, and others who argue that it is not.

    The Llama and sheep bases shown in this picture are created out of pipe cleaners also known as chenille stems.  They are then wrapped with the fiber you are going to felt.  These have been wrapper and have had just enough felting to hold the fiber in place.  Different animals can be created by altering the basic shape to match that of the animal you are trying to create.

    Tomorrow, I will take pictures of the finishing process as I work through it.


    Needle felting

    Welcome to further adventures  in needle felting.

    Playing with the range of choices. I am having a lot of fun playing, trying new things and learning as I go.  I am finding that one of the really nice things about needle felting is that is very easy to pick up and put down.  Right now I am putting a lot of effort into writing as the word count for Nanowrimo requires that. I find that during this time I tend to stay away from the creative activities require a transitional or warming up period.  Painting requires gathering materials and setting up, or the drive to the gallery where things are already set up.  Drawing for me requires a sketching or warm up period before I can really get into the drawing.  I am finding needle felting to be something that I can just pick up and know what I want to do next.   While I was at the New England Fiber Festival,  I saw a lot of needle felted items. Some I liked, and some I did not.  There is a huge variety in styles, from some that were just enough stabs to hold the items together,  much like the dress part of the red head angel in my photograph, to some items that were fine art sculptures.

    It was at the fair that I saw a lot of ornament kits to make felted ornaments using the cookie cutters.  Some where thick and structural like the needle felted bear I made. Some were barely thick enough as to not be see through with ribbon or yarn bows added.  I was not so fond of that type, as I felt they ended up looking a lot like a child’s cut out of commercially made felt.

    Yesterday I tried the angel shaped cookie cutter. The first attempt I thought came out too thick, and almost abstract.  When I made the second one thinner, it had the above effect, so I added on some color and started building up depth.  I am not satisfied with either one.  I am not sure where I am going to go with them, or if they are just learning exercises.

    I did learn that the cookie cutters, while an excellent tool for making simple basic shapes, may not work as well for the more complex shapes. I kept thinking how much easier it would have been to build the second angel in the same way I had the doll.

    Learning is good, and the making was fun, so all and all I count these as a win.

    When I went to add this to the day’s list of links for AEDM,  I saw another artist making a self deprecating comment about their art.  These always make me very sad, as I hope everyone is getting more enjoyment than frustration out of their creating. Just remember there is a big difference between I am not completely happy with it, and it is bad.

    Mistakes are gifts that teach us something, learn from them. Do not let them get you down.

    So Simple Needle Felting.

    imageI took this picture with every intent of writing a long and detailed “How to Needle Felt a Teddy Bear”

    The day happened and instead of being a simple smooth day, much craziness and drama ensued.

    I will most likely come back and edit this post to include a detailed how to, and will link back to it.

    But for now, the super simple directions

    Materials felting fiber in two colors.      Embroidery thread      Felting needle    needles   felting block or pad.
    Cookie cutter in desired shape.

    1. Stuff main color of fiber in cookie cutter.

    2. stab with needle.

    3. Roll  contrast fiber into desired shapes.

    4. stab with needle

    5. Place contrast shapes into place on top of fiber in cookie cutter.

    6. Stab with needle.

    7. Remove cookie cutter

    8. Embroidery details


    More felting fun


    Yesterday I continued with the felt creations. I am quite happy with the way the mushrooms came out. The fire and firepit seem a little out of scale. I want to play a little more with the shape of the logs.  I think the tree would be better with a wire frame. I also want to play with some different fibers to create leaves.



    IMG_20101104_191901 IMG_20101104_191916 This  is another one of my experiments and a painting I am working on.

    I am trying to decide which type of background to paint to put behind my

    felted doll creations, So if you take a look at the doll from yesterday, which one seems more like the world in which she would live?

    Maybe it is because I am working on making sure that my characters in my story are not living in a white box that I want to also create a whole world for the needle felted characters to live in.

    Opinions encouraged.



    I thought you were writing?


    Today I was going to get all caught up on my writing. Except today was the first day of a new fiber show, The New England Fiber Festival at the Big E. So much yarn, fiber and wool. I have been wanting to do some needle felting, so I bought some rovings in different textures and colors.

    How could I just package it all up and not play with it ? I decided to keep it short, so I set a timer and created the start of this little doll.  I just had to post a picture, but instead of just taking a quick snapshot with my cell phone and calling it good, I had to build her a setting and get out the fancy camera.

    I love creative play. I think that many times adults forget why it is kids play. It is relaxing, fun and makes you smile.

    I can not explain how energizing it was to go look all all the beautiful yarns, sheep, Llamas and all the cool things that were made or to make things out of them.

    More creating and more playing, but for now it is time to go write.

    My Official Opinion as an Artist on Fiber arts and beyond.

    Rennata Tropeano, Fingerless Mitts, Some Rights Reserved
    Fingerless Mitts


    Last night was my weekly knitting group,  We take turns knitting in a Yarn and Thread Studio, a Law Office and an Art Gallery.  Last night we were at the Art Gallery.   Several of the ladies who were knitting projects of exceptional beauty made the comment. “I wish I was creative.”

    One of the women told us how she designed this incredible triangular shawl, that looked like a night sky at  twilight, yet her  explanation had many of the things people say that make creative people feel small inside.  It is only knitting,  I used a technique I learned here, It is not some special expensive hand painted yarn…  STOP! That shawl was a fine example of Fiber Arts at its best.

    My little bumpy uneven fingerless mitts are in my Official Opinion as an Artist,   Creative.  I have no problem calling them a fiber arts project.  I also know that  they would never win any prizes in a knitting show,  as I put my effort into other area of my art, not my knitting. However, This does not make them not creative.

    A teacher who is constantly coming up with all kinds of fun projects and ideas, was one  of the ones who said I wish I was creative.  It is sad how those little words of self deprecation hurt not only yourself but other creative people around you.  Her own scarf is all knit stitch,  in a wonderful variegated yarn, that is beautiful, soft to the touch and just makes you want to take it and wrap it around your neck. I watched as she looked at the shawl and then looked at her own.

    I then gave her my Official Opinion as an Artist, that her scarf was also creative and why.

    What gives me the right to have an Official Opinion as an Artist?  I choose to have one, that is why.  For a long time I had an opinion as an aspiring artist, and I wondered when I would go from being an aspiring artist, to being an artist.  I asked an artist I knew and they told me when your art is featured in a television program. Okay, that happened when I was in elementary school. Have I been an artist since then?  Another Artist said when your work is published. Odd, that happened when I was in High School. Have I been and Artist since then?  I thought more on it and decided that this was something that meant something different to different people, and that no one was ever going to tell me You are an Artist now.   Maybe I should print up a bunch of cards and issue them to people who need them.  __________________ is an Official Creative. or ___________________ is an Official Artist.

    If you would like to see a wonderful piece of Fiber Arts, please check out this silk shirt and Elizabethan outfit.

    Some Rights Reserved Photograph Fingerless Mitts