Contemporary Dancer Online Workshop

My new 5 week online workshop

Contemporary Dancer – A Unique Felt Sculpture

Friday 17th January till Friday 21st February 2020

Registration for the course is open!

 

This is an exciting online workshop where you will make a free standing figure 20″/50cm tall. You will learn a new, energetic wet felted process that has similarities to clay sculpting and can be easily adapted to make any shape or form. 

The course is suitable for intermediate felt makers and will include simple hand sewing techniques. 

The online classroom is hosted on RUZUKU – each lesson contains multiple videos, presentations and downloadable course information and worksheets to show you, step-by-step, exactly what to do in a simple, clear format.

I am so excited to have developed this course and hope you will join me in January!!

Be on the first course……

Head over to my workshop page for more information:

My 30 Day Challenge 2019

A 30 Day creative challenge for myself starting Friday 31st May 2019.

  1. Create a new piece of art every day
  2. 30 minutes minimum
  3. Drawing, painting, sculpture
  4. Try new materials – recycled, acrylic and oil paint, fabrics, wood, metal, concrete, paverpol, plaster, collage, 2D and 3D.
  5. Log daily with images and text
  6. Daily instagram and FB

Day 1- 31 May

Decorative felt for a bag.

Added a lot of fabric and wool and then finished with free machine embroidery – this was for a bag however the felt was too thick to attach to the purse fixing and will use it to make a pouch bag with a clip closure.

Experimental ceramic figures

I have been developing a way of creating sculptures with a clay and textile mix on a wire frame.

The figures (usually felted) are changing in response to the theme of ‘Fragility’ for the Prism Textiles Exhibition at Hoxton Arches gallery, London next month.

 

There is nothing the least fragile about my felt sculptures that go through a very vigorous, wet felt process. By creating a ceramic sculpture I have introduced an element of fragility to the form – or that is my intention!

 

 

The process thus far:

The figures have a twisted wire skeleton – 2mm and 2.5mm to reinforce the standing leg.

I made a paper clay slip with stoneware clay, paper and water and used this to soak ribbons of cut knitted woollen fabric to bind around the wires – then left to dry.

I repeated this process with the same material to shape the arms and the hips and legs. The torso was formed with solid clay to add a textural contrast.

Once dry I polished the torso clay to bring it up to a smooth shine – but only possible in places so not very sucessful!

Firing the figures

I have placed the figures in a foil ‘saggar’ with a range of colouring materials.

Materials:

  • Seaweed powder (spirulaena)
  • wire wool rusted
  • copper wire
  • banana skins
  • salt

I wrapped fine wire wool and banana skins around the figure securing them with copper wire. Spirulaena and salt was sprinkled on last and wrapped the whole in layers of foil.

Figure wrapped in foil

 

Then out to the yard and my steel bin!

I put a good 30cm of sawdust in the bottom of the bin and lined the sides with wood. I then placed two foil parcels of figures onto the sawdust base. Long ribbons of fabric soaked in white spirit were tucked into the this layer and then filled the rest of the bin with smallish pieces of wood. Finally I pushed more spirit-soaked fabric through the four vent holes, into the layer of sawdust, at the bottom of the bin.

I lit the kiln from the base of the bin – lighting the four fabric ribbons.

Once the fire was really going – about 8-10 minutes – I closed the vents with fire proof fabric kept in place with bricks.

Finally, once I was sure the fire was hot and fierce, I put the lid over the flames and there it stayed for 18 hours (over night).

Link to Raku firing

The materials have added plenty of colour to the figure and happily there are no cracks in the clay!

My final task is to find a suitable base in which to set the figures!

Question – do I add a wire head dress? Gold leaf to highlight? Lacquer? Hmmmm……

 

 

 

Love Iznik ceramic design

Iznik ceramics can be dated largely by their colour and design.

https://www.christies.com/features/Iznik-Pottery-Collecting-Guide-7183-1.aspx

1480-1520: This early phase in Iznik production saw impressive vessels, usually painted in a bold cobalt-blue and white, and often with patterns reserved in white on the blue ground. The decoration is heavily informed by that of other media, such as manuscript illumination, although many designs are also borrowed from the Chinese porcelains that were prized at the Ottoman court.

1520-1540: Turquoise blue is introduced, and decoration is largely painted on a white ground. Designs become simpler, but still frequently take Chinese motifs for inspiration. One rare group, which developed in this period, uses delicate spiralling scrolls with tiny leaves and flowers — known as ‘Golden Horn ware’, because of where it was first found. The period also saw the production of ‘Potter’s Style’ pieces, whose designs tended to feature central compositions, containing realistic representations of flowers in vases, or jugs on small tables.

End of the 1530s: Manganese purple and olive-green are added to the palette of blue and turquoise. Iznik of this period is often referred to as ‘Damascus ware’ because of the similarity that the colours bear to wares produced in Syria. Often large, round motifs with scale-like patterning are used in the decoration, which sometimes represents pomegranates or artichokes. Increasingly, one sees the naturalistic design that comes to dominate production.

1560-1600: This is the phase under which Iznik reaches its highest point. Artists combine a rich repertoire of often naturalistic motifs. The Ottoman Empire is at its height and enormous quantities of Iznik are commissioned, including large numbers of tiles destined to cover the walls of the buildings built by the chief court architect, Sinan. A strong turquoise, emerald-green, black and deep-red are added to the spectrum of colours, and outlines are often drawn in black.

The 17th century: Due largely to economic difficulties, there was a decrease in demand for Iznik in the early years of the 17th century, and quality began to fall. Coarser versions of the productions of the previous century were produced, the colours of works deteriorated — with red often appearing slightly brown — and decoration became less detailed, more obviously executed freehand. During this period, the quality of the paste and glaze also deteriorates, with the glaze taking on a bluish tone and becoming more prone to craquelure. Designs did, however, become freer, with the artist’s imagination often conjuring up unusual designs — sometimes with quirky figural representations.

…in response:

Firing Day

I’m going to drum fire two ceramic figures today – it will be a first!

I am going to sagger each figure in foil to protect them and to see how the organic materials I am adding might colour the figures.

Process

I wrapped two lengths of ceramic insulating fabric around the steel drum just above the second air vent, securing the fabric in place with galvanised wire. I plan to pull the fabric down to cover the air vents, and place the lid on the drum, once the fire is really going. Firing time is about 4 hours and will then leave it all to cool completely before removing the figures.

1. The ceramic figures

  • Wrapped fresh and dry banana peels around each figure securing with a bronze wire.
  • Base layer of foil and a layer of sawdust – this will create a black colour where the sawdust touches the ceramic.
  • Added pieces of rusted steel, table salt and copper sulphate.
  • Sealed the foil wrapping to make a parcel

2. Into the drum!

  • The steel drum is large – added sawdust to the level of the second air vent.
  • Put the two foil-wrapped figures into the sawdust.
  • Trailed three spirit-soaked lengths of fabric into the drum.
  • Placed layer of wood pieces in and around the bin about 30cm below the surface.

  • Lit the fire by lighting the fabric lengths.
  • As the fire grew I added more wood.
  • Once the fire was really going I pulled the ceramic insulating fabric down over the air vents and place the lid over  the top. Ideally I would have a chimney lid but I don’t!

I have left it over night (about 18 hours) and will see how things work out tomorrow!…..

Another interesting YouTube film about sawdust kiln firing

 

 

 

Figures in ceramics – work in progress

 

The Prism 2019 theme is ‘Fragility’ and knowing just how robust the process of making the felted figures is I really can’t imagine them as fragile. However by combining clay with the fibres on wire would create a fragile form – the fibres being burnt out in the kiln….

Problems:

  • I am not a ceramicist! – I did experiment with this technique during my degree but is was rather unsuccessful.
  • Finding a kiln – could ask the lovely people at Brighton University where they have huge kilns that I used to experiment and the Phoenix centre rent kin space – not as big….. or I could pit fire the pieces myself…..

Chris Dunn – great teacher

First attempt 22.10.18

Looks good – shows potential however the clay cracked on drying and on further research realise that I should use a paper clay…

As I have already bought a large slab of stone ware clay and a pot of slip I need a recipe!

Next… paper clay making!

 

The Mollies – large felt sculptures

Life size (in height) felted sculptures in their beautiful new home in Colorado.

The first  Molly, ‘Tall Molly’, took 6 months to develop and has been followed by two more and there is another  in the planning to fill this amazing space.

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Commissions welcomed!

 

Making fab soap for felting

Chemistry in the kitchen

I make my own soap and have done for over 10 years and I always use it to make felt.

There is nothing quite so good as handmade soap and it can be made in bar or liquid form. There are many great websites and YouTube videos now that recount the history of soap and how to make the stuff – not the melt and pour variety but the cold process method  – it’s Chemistry in the Kitchen’!

If you would like to view the my soap course please click on this image:

For the ingredients I can’t find in the supermarket I go to The Soap Kitchen (UK) and there are also plenty of good suppliers on Ebay.

Enjoy!!

 

Felt Bowl

Shades of Time

White, natural Blue Faced Leicester wool bowl, Lino printed with a figurative motif. This small bowl looks wonderful against the contrasting, polished dark wood.

This is an example of a new line of sculptures that I am working on for my Etsy shop. More images and information soon about new products and shop opening.

 

 

Full size sculpture

It has taken me about 6 months to develop a full size felt figure and there have been plenty of problems to overcome along the way when upsizing from a 40cm tall figure to one that is 4 times bigger!

From these small figures…

 

…to this one – 164cm high

The problems I encountered were due to the scale of the figure and they began with the wire.

I tried heavy fencing wire however this just wasn’t strong enough to hold the figure up right one leg so I had a length of steel tubing  bent to follow the line of the spine down to the toe of the standing leg and built the rest of the body around this structure.

The musculature was added beginning with a layer of knitted woollen strips to cover the wire to form a base for the wool fibres. I used Blue Faced Leicester wool, wet felted in layers, to build the shape of the body and a steamer and sander to aid with the felting and fulling.

The final layer or ‘skin’ was felted separately and then stitched onto the the figure.

As you can see from the variety of figures in this post I have made several more! I am now going to experiment with adding the colour and texture straight onto the figures to cut out the rather lengthy processes of making the felt skin, stitching it in place and fulling with steam and sander. So watch this space!