Tag Archives: needle felting

Dancing with an Angel

21 years of an Angel Exhibition

Thursday 31 January – Saturday 30 March 2019

The Gallery, Gateshead Central Library

This week sees the opening of the 21 Years of an Angel Exhibition. The show marks the end of Angel20, a yearlong programme of activities in Gateshead which began on the Angel of the North’s 20th anniversary in February.

I delivered a one-day workshop as part of the programme. We made needle felted replica angels. During the workshop, participants learned how to create and felt over, a wire armature.

The basic armature is covered with polyfill – this can be needle felted to build the form, saving the need to use wool fibres at this stage.

The shaping of the Angel was entertaining 😊

It’s important to keep things simple at this stage though as greater definition can be shaped once the wool fibres are added.

We used rust coloured merino tops to match the Angel’s construction materials- it’s made of weather resistant Cor-ten steel, containing a small amount of copper, which forms a patina on the surface that mellows with age.

Details were added with a deeper brown fibre.

Then thread was used to add finer details.

Each angel is mounted on a ‘landscape’ created from a fish tin and fabric

Needle Felting Workshops

You can vote for me in this years Craft & Design Selected Maker Awards!

Craft & Design Selected Maker 2016

Needle felting is a lovely craft to learn on a cold January evening!

Yesterday brought the first frost of the year to Newcastle but I was warm and cosy working with a lovely bunch of people, introducing them to the fabulous art of needle felting.

We were working with Merino wool fibres in a whole rainbow of colours to make needle felted brooches. It’s a quick project – easy to achieve a good result in a couple of hours. People learn the basic principles of needle felting and go home with a unique brooch!

It’s amazing to think that this craft is relatively new – the needles that we use, either individually or in sets of 3 or 5 in hand tools, were originally used in their hundreds on industrial machines to make sheets of felt. The felt might be for munition cases, piano keys or fuzzy felt!

Its important to learn how to handle the fibres we use as well as the felting needle. Merino is lovely to work with and comes in a whole array of colours. The long strong fibres felt quickly and easily, forming a firm base that can be further embellished with beads, stitches and chiffons.

Felting needles come in different gauges for different tasks, although on this introductory course I tend to stick with size 36s which are sturdy enough to quickly mesh the fibres together and also useful for adding some detail and definition.

For a short beginners’ workshop like this, I like to use cookie cutters, it’s a quick way to get a good shape, speeds up design decisions and saves fingers from (most) of the risk of stab wounds! So I have a good collection of metal cutters hearts, flowers, stars and animals in various sizes. Participants choose the cutter and their colours, so everyone ends up with a unique brooch.

The other essential piece of equipment is a foam block, to protect furniture and limbs from those sharp needles! I use upholstery foam of about 5cm depth cut to size at 15cm square. This makes a good size base for a cookie cutter and a foam block will last through several sessions before it gets too damaged. (I must find a good way of recycling the damaged ones…cut them up for stuffing/ moisture retainers in plant pots??)

So with all the essentials, bags of enthusiasm, hot drinks and delicious biscuits (Thanks Ben!) we had a great time and I think all participants are planning to experiment further with this craft…

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George Weil is a good source of fibres and other felting equipment. I also use Heidi Feathers for needles. Pinterest is a great place to look for ideas and inspiration too!

If you’d like to have a go get in touch! I bring along all the equipment and materials.

Thanks to all who took part and to SW for organising!

Here’s some comments from the evening:

“I very much enjoyed the evening – learning something new in excellent company was lovely! I’m looking forward to doing some more.
Donna is a great teacher.” JD

“Had a super evening and learnt something new. Not often you can learn a new skill and produce something in 2 hours! ” AL

Summer Time Workshop

Just to show that it hasn’t ALL been about maps lately!

Back at the end of May I did a One day Workshop with a group of Y9 High School students. They had been given the opportunity to exhibit as part of the Alnmouth Arts Festival 2015 in the lovely Aln Gift Shop . So we had the task of making something appropriate in one day.

After discussion with their teacher, I took the group through my ‘Tin Can Metamorphosis’ workshop, where simple mackerel tins are upcycled to become beautiful miniature works of art. The Y9 group used the technique of needle felting to create seaside and holiday scenes that were then housed in the upcycled tins.

(I should point out that the tins were emptied of their fishy contents, washed and dried before they became artworks – and yes, I eat a lot of mackerel!)

As you will see below, the outcomes were stunning, all reflecting the individuality of their makers and showing great skill and creativity.

Big thanks to all the Y9 pupils and Mrs Brown, I really enjoyed working with you all and hope you had a great day as well!

Many thanks to the Aln Gift Shop for taking the time to display the work so beautifully, staging it with similarly themed gifts and artworks from their stock.

And thank you to the Alnmouth Arts Festival for giving me a name check in their programme:)

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New work developing

I’ve been concentrating on smaller landscape pieces this week – here’s some pics…

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These are preparation for ‘Along the Way’ a piece inspired by journeys through Scotland. I love the way houses and farmsteads hunker down amidst the hills. Often the trees look blasted and twisted by the wind and rain, forming shapes that stand out against the skyline as if they are stitching the clouds to the hills.

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Here it’s nearly complete but needs those trees to be added in. I’ve added texture with machine and hand stitching using wonderful Oliver Twist threads. The dry stone wall combines stitch with needle felted wool blanket fabric.

And here’s the final piece available now at Etsy

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