Jun 082016
 

Felted Toy Making Classes (for adults)

Instructor: Lorna Rankin

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Saturday June 18, 1-4 PM

Felt stuffed animals

$40 includes materials

Stitch your own little stuffed animals from handmade and commercial wool felt. Create one or more animals in class while learning basic hand sewing construction techniques. Leave class with instructions and patterns for several animals! Choose from a rabbit, squirrel, deer, horse, camel, sheep, bird or chickens.

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Sunday July 24, 1-4 PM

Wet Felted Butterflies

$40 includes materials

Create a soft felt butterfly, realistic or fantastic, that can easily be made into a glove puppet, wall art or table coaster, or small ones can be easily mounted on broach pins or hair clips. Learn basics of laying out wool designs then use soapy water and hand rubbing and rolling techniques to felt your butterfly into a sturdy fabric suitable for for years to come. Butterflies will be about 10 inches wide.

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Sunday August 21, 10 AM – 5 PM

Wet felted playmats and play scenes

$150 includes materials

Create an imaginative felted wool play scene or landscape for your child’s small animals, people or car play. Examples of possible thems include farm, meadow, city streets, pond, and under the sea. Learn how to lay out designs in colored wool, then use soapy water and wet felting techniques such as rubbing and rolling to felt your wool into a durable fabric sturdy enough for many years of play or display. Finished play mats will be about 24 by 30 inches.

Location: all classes held at Allen Creek Preschool, 2350 Miller Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

Preregistration required. To preregister and make a payment email Lorna at feltinglady@yahoo.com

PayPal and checks accepted.

May 082014
 

These are a sample of some of my latest flowers.  They now all include a combination pin and hair clip!

These are made by wet felting the petals, leaves and center ball separately and are then hand sewn together while adding a few sparkly beads.  No two are exactly alike!

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I so much enjoy making these.  They really fit into my lifestyle as a mother of a toddler.  During the day I can felt some petals or leaves when I have a minute or two, and that is all you have with a toddler.  And at night, after he goes to bed, I can sit down and sew and bead a few of them together.  I really enjoy adding all of the small details, little whisps of accent colors, sparkle ad some silk fibers now and then.

Dec 202013
 

This was a special request and a fun challenge.

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The customer asked for this motif to be put on his hat.  I knew I could do something like it with prefelts, but that the result would be fuzzier than the inspiration photo.

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I heard back from the customer that he was very pleased with the result!

Oct 122013
 

Wet Felting Class: Flowers and Seamless Bags

Saturday November 23rd, 2013

1-4 PM

$50 includes materials

At the home workshop of Marge Mills, 9540 Waters Rd., Ann Arbor, MI 48103.

Email me to register for this class.  feltinglady@yahoo.com

Space is limited and a $25 deposit is required to reserve your space.

Seamless Bags

Make a small purse or pouch (up to 6″x6″) using the resist technique.  Students will learn how to wrap wool around a resist to create seamless felt objects.  This is the basic technique used to make larger bags, baskets, hats, slippers and mittens.  Simple surface design will also be taught.

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Felt Flowers

Use wet felting techniques to make beautiful and unique felt flowers.  Flowers can later be turned into pins, hair clips, or adorn hats and bags.

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Sep 272013
 

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I’m trying out a different form of bag.  The handle is created by slitting the felt near the end of the felting process.  The handle is held in the grip of the hand rather than slung over the body like most of my other bags.  There are several advantages to this.  It makes a bag that is more suitable as a project basket than a purse.  Also there is no handle/strap for me to make or purchase or sew on.  This is going to greatly reduce the cost of the bag.

Sep 032013
 

For the most part my research method for re-creating historic hats is to see a hat in a period painting and try to make a felt hat that looks like that.  When looking at later period European art I see a great variety of hat shapes that can be achieved through the same wet felting method.  Essentially a felt hood is made, a partially felted bell shape.  Towards the end of the felting process the hood is stretched onto a form.  The hat continues to be fulled (shrunk), molded, folded and trimmed until it is the desired shape.  The hat then dries and can be worn.

One hat shape in particular shows up over and over.  At first they may seem like several different hat shapes but I’d like to propose that it is all the same hat with slight variations in top and brim shape.  I like to call these Robin Hood hats, because they look like what our modern culture expects a Robin Hood character to wear.  I propose that what makes these hats the same is the brim folded up on one side and stretched out on the other.  The hat can be worn with the brim in the front or back.  It may have different sun or rain shedding abilities depending on which way its worn.

Here are a few examples of the hat in period artwork:

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Luttrall Psalster, England, 14th century  (I question the source of the last two as the style is different, but that’s what the info provided said.)

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15th century Germany, Hans Thalhofer Alte Amatuer und Ringkunst

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These three are from unknown sources.  Please let me know if you can identify where/when or what they are from.

Perhaps these are also “the same” as a full brimmed hat that someone simply turned up one side for some reason.  However let’s just assume that most of these were made that way to begin with, so that makes them different hats from the full brimmed hats.   Some of the hats are completely round topped and it is possible to shape those directly onto the wearer’s head or use a head shape form.  The pointier topped ones can be shaped on a pointier hat form or carefully poked into shape by hand.   The brim is then turned up on one side while it is pulled out on the other.  A variety of styles can then be achieved by cutting the brim to different lengths in  the back or front.  Some hats fold the brim to a point, while others allow it to round out a bit in the front, perhaps providing better sun protection. The two colored look is easy to create by laying different colored wool on the inside of the felt hood in the beginning of the process.  It is also reasonable to assume that the shape of the hat conforms to the wearer’s habits, much like a leather shoe quickly molds to the wearer’s shape.  The brim could be elongated by the wearer continually tugging it down to shield the face or turning it around to get out of the way.  Some wearers may also change the shape later by re-wetting and reshaping their hat to crisp up the shape or change it to their own personal tastes, making it more or less pointy for example.

There is evidence of a fully formed felt hat industry in Western Europe by the 14th century.  I believe that this style of hat would bridge the gap between home made hats and artisan created hats.  I think this because it is an easy hat to create for beginners, but this style can also be varied and embellished as fashions begin to change.  Each person only needs one or two hats like this, and it makes sense as a culture begins to rely more on specialized artisans that most people would buy their hats rather than make them.  The shoe making industry would be a comparable example.

Here are some example of my hats I’ve made in this manor.

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I do sell these hats.  Check out my catalog or my Etsy shop for more information.

Aug 282013
 

In the last couple of years I’ve been expanding my felt work into making toys.   I’ve always made the balls but I also started making small dolls and animals that I cut and sew from my handmade felt sheets.

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Because of my experience as a preschool teacher, I am inspired by the Waldorf educational philosophy which values simple, open ended toys made from natural materials.  I believe these kinds of toys allow children to play more imaginatively without feeling pressure to recreate or be limited by the bounds of a character that is specifically created and marketed toward children (like Disney characters).

There is quite a bit of work in these little animals, which probably makes them too expensive for most families with young children to purchase a whole play set.  However they are not difficult for most people with hand sewing experience to create.  So I am introducing kits for the animals.  The kit contains everything needed, but scissors, to create between one and five animals, depending on the kit. Besides being wonderful toys for young children, these kits make great hand work projects for older children.

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These are for sale on my Etsy store.  So far the rabbit, sheep. pig, chick and hen are available.  A horse, camel and elephant will be available soon.  Let me know if you are interested in one and that will hurry me along.

Jul 112013
 

I was thinking about creating some new motifs to felt onto purses this year.  Many of the folks that buy my bags are attracted to ancient and primitive symbols.  I thought about labyrinths and how it would translate very well in felt.  Just curved lines, should be easy, right?

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So I sat down to create the labyrinth and discovered I couldn’t, yet.  Because I’m laying the design directly down onto wet wool, there is not a way to pre-draw or use a stencil as a guide.  And the lines are not laid in order, so its hard to get the spacing right.  Just looking at the design its hard to understand how to create it.  I knew I would have to learn to draw the design before I could felt it.  So I did some research and found this website:  Labyrinthos.  It shows how to set up a seed pattern that creates the spacing for the pattern.   Nifty!

Here’s how my design evolved:

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For some reason I was assuming this was a Celtic design, but I found out that this basic design if found throughout the ancient world.  Amazing what that says about the human experience.  Some things are just universally part of us, no matter where we are from.

Jun 032013
 

I’m busy gearing up for two big summer events.  I’ll be selling with the Ann Arbor Fiber Arts Guild at the Ann Arbor Art Fair, July 17-20.  Their booth is on State Street at the corner of the diag.  And for those in the SCA I’ll be selling my things at Please Touch Pottery, which is on the Street of Gold, between the barn and Currie Rd.   So stop by and say hello!