Friday, September 16, 2011

Four-Shot Rob

Moving took a toll on my income.   It was clear that our family finances required me getting a part-time job of other sorts with actual money coming in.  I am very capable and intelligent, but my actual work experience is not going to get me serious money in the job market.  Having been an established yoga teacher for over a decade in MI, I am now unheard of with too few students and too few classes.  And who wants a 45-yr-old chorus gypsy if she can't really dance anymore?

Through my son's baseball team, I met Deb, the owner of a brand new local coffee shop.  As of two weeks ago, I became a barista at West Side Perk.  Back in June, when the shop was about to open, Deb informed me that the shop would be featuring local artists' work and if I had anything to display, I should let her know.  Which got me started working on small felt paintings this summer.

With my thoughts full of coffee, I made a brief sketch and then fleshed it out in detail in wool.

Then came the usual felting.  Wet, soap, roll, rub.  You know.  But what I ended up with was far from pleasing.  The wool wasn't evenly distributed so areas shrunk at different rates, the entire piece pulled awkwardly in different directions.  I had a completely different being on my hands.  Still vibrant and interesting, but not working as a single painting.  I cut apart the pieces.  I was thinking they could be a set of coasters, but the time and materials make them way too expensive even at wholesale pricing.  Now I'm working on figuring out how to mount them individually.  I'll keep them a set, but a set of four that can be rearranged however the lucky owner chooses.  I'm calling it Four-Shot Rob, in honor of one of the regulars at the coffee shop.  Guess why we call him that?

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

The Shawl That Had Its Own Ideas

School has resumed for the year and I can devote more time to felting and less time to schlepping.  This is not to say I've done nothing all summer, wool-wise.  I just haven't blogged about any of it.  So let this first post-summer blog be about an experiment, one of many I undertook this summer.

Before I left MI last winter, I saw a woman in a gorgeous fisherman's knit shawl.  At least I thought it was a shawl.  I admired it and she let me really look at its construction. Not that I wanted to knit one like it;  I wondered if it could be a template for a nuno-felted shawl.  It was created like a fat T.  One long piece that draped around the shoulders and hung down in front on either side, with a square attached that covered the back.  I sketched it; I estimated the measurements.  And then we moved and it had to wait.  In July, I finally pulled out the initial sketch.  I cut two finished scarves and some patterned silk material I had.  I chose wool and yarns I thought might work with the colors.  And I started.

The colors felt like autumn and fire and molten lava and turning leaves.  I layed strips of chestnut wool to create seams and to add design elements on top of the silk.  I thought I would use red and burgundy yarns in the process, but as I continued, the work changed.  A variegated brown yarn with specks of green and gold and orange got added.  Wisps of merino wool in colors of fire joined the design.

I let the piece sit for several days before felting.  I usually do this to give myself time to feel done with the design.  When I was finally ready, it took several hours of wetting and rolling and rubbing and throwing.  And when I was done, it did not hang at all like the shawl upon which I had modeled it.  In fact, it became clear that it required a bit of hand sewing to become what it really was: a vest with a ruffled collar.