Hand Spun & Felted: Art Yarn

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I spun all of these yarns with a drop spindle, first blending the fibers for (all but one of) them with my workhorse Louet drum carder.  After spinning, each skein is lightly felted: worked in alternating baths of hot and cold water, to which I’ve added a bit of pure, lavender-infused soap; then each skein is towel-dried and thwacked on a hard surface about ten times til the fibers “bloom” into full texture.  After they dry, I wind them into balls.

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Now they are  waiting to be used: embedded into felted scarves as surface decoration and fringes; fabricated into wearable skeins; crocheted into cowls; tied around packages; worked into fiber projects as embellishments.  These yarns are highly-textured combinations of all sorts of fiber with curly locks, fabric strips, little tufts of baby-soft Cormo fiber, remnant sari silk threads.  I hope that in seeing these images, you feel the joy and gratitude I feel when I work with these fine-quality fibers!

Published in: on December 18, 2016 at 7:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Felted Dot Scarf

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The weather outside may be icy, but in my studio things are warm.  This felted scarf with a dot motif is 9″ x 66″ — long enough to wrap in different ways — is crafted from 3 layers of very fine merino (with some soft curly locks added at the two edges as fringe) and felted just to the point of still having a graceful and soft drape.  It weighs just 4 ounces: soft, warm, one-of-a-kind. The underneath layer is a warm red, the mid-layer is a deep aubergine, and the top layer is ruby red with dots in every color.

 

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img_0852I will be delivering this scarf to The Gallery Shop in Lemont, PA — unless it finds a good home before delivery!

Published in: on December 18, 2016 at 6:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Eco-Dyeing and Printing

Happy to be taking Nicola Brown’s online course in Eco-Dyeing, and looking forward to setting up a little outdoor dye kitchen again!  Here are some images from my prior efforts to learn this magical process…

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My little outdoor dye kitchen from last time.  This time I won’t be using the crockpots, but instead will be using some vintage aluminum pots, the old aluminum turkey roaster seen in this image, and one fabulously large 80 quart aluminum stock pot on my two-burner electric stovetop.  And I’ll use a lower and very sturdy table, to make it easier to access the largest pot.

The brass and copper vessels, along with the old tin cookie cutters (seen on the left of the table)  can be used to influence the hues obtained from botanical elements.  I’ve been gathering leaves, onion skins, acorns, elderberries, chestnuts over the past weeks.  Next, I’ll fabricate some felt shawls from un-dyed white merino wool and silk fibers to add to the stash of various silk scarves and silk yardage in my stash; and soak some old tin cans and iron nails to create “iron water.”    I would love to learn this process well enough to confidently share it with others, because the experience of gathering botanical elements and working outdoors, of bundling the yardage and the elements together and steaming/processing them, then letting things cool and set — and then the dramatic reveal of  unbundling — it’s all so grounding and satisfying.  And when it’s done you have something unique, wondrous and perhaps even purposeful, and you’ve learned some things to apply to the next exploration!

Published in: on October 15, 2016 at 2:31 pm  Leave a Comment  

Art As Antidote

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This may look like a fiber pizza, but it is the layout in-progress for a felted card series.  My working title for the series is “The Antidote,” because the hours I spent in the studio filling my work tables ( with approximately eighteen inches by eight-and-a-half-feet of fiber,  around five ounces) felt like the antidote to the anxiety of this dismal election season.

The base and much of the embellishment are from one of The Yarn Wench’s (a.k.a. Lynn Wigell) Wild Card Bling Batts.  I usually fabricate my own batts on my beloved Louet drum carder, or I layer wool and other fibers for my work; but Lynn’s creations are so jam-packed with curls and artistically-blended tones that it’s pure pleasure to open up one of her batts as inspiration for a studio day or for spinning some yarn.  To her batt I added silk fabrics and more curly locks and additional merino wool wisps.

Sometimes in crafting felted cards I work on developing individual small compositions, each one to become a separate card; other times I just let myself experiment with layering different colors and fibers to see how they will interact in the process — and then I look for areas that can be cut into card-size shapes.

This was a fun experiment: free form and wild and wooly.  In fact, when completed, this layout offered about fifty areas that were interesting small compositions to cut into cards, and the leftover pieces will provide “pre-felt” yardage with shimmer and texture for future work.

If you would like to learn how to craft felted card images, please let me know via private message or email (aspangborn@gmail.com), providing your email address;  and I will add you to my list and contact you with info about winter 2017 workshops.

Here’s an image from an earlier series, crafted from layers of merino and silk fiber, with some silk fabric embellishment:IMG_4540

Published in: on October 15, 2016 at 2:17 pm  Leave a Comment  

Creating Your Life: 7 Weeks of Color!

I’ve created a Facebook Group, “Creating Your Life: 7 Weeks of Color!” to nurture creativity by inviting people to join me in focusing on one color each week for seven weeks, starting September 12. I’ll provide inspiration and wholesome snacks (just kidding… no snacks) and welcome members in this “closed group” (only members can […]

via Creating Your Life: 7 Weeks of Color! — Wooly Bliss

Published in: on September 3, 2016 at 3:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Eco-Printing

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Preparing by gathering late-summer elements: elderberries!

 

Published in: on August 31, 2016 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Simplicity, Service, and the Goose That Lays the Golden Egg

IMG_0455In the story of “The Goose That Lays the Golden Egg,” that poor goose is always cut open by greedy folks who think that there will be a treasure trove of golden eggs inside; but instead, once opened it’s just a regular — and now, dead — goose.  There are no golden eggs inside.

I think about this cautionary tale often, and lately I’ve been thinking of how it relates to my own desire to “do it all” — not because I am wildly productive, but because I want to plan possible, rather than impossible, days; and to feel encouraged at the end of the day; to feel patient and realistic, optimistic and humble; and live gratefully within the means of my energetic output that is the equivalent of one small golden egg per day, keeping my promises to myself and others.

I have to rediscover this attitude every day, throughout the day.  Simplicity and “not doing” is the preparation that makes whole-hearted, loving participation with others, as well as creative work, possible.

Published in: on August 8, 2016 at 9:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Art Work

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Sometimes our days are a twirl of extreme happiness and extreme sorrow: all in one day we hear fantastic news from someone we love and we sense their elation; we comfort a friend who is grieving; we reach out to someone in need of healing; we are stunned and shocked by the world news.

We might choose one or the other state of being: happy or sad; or perhaps the qualities of joy and anguish could cancel out each other, leaving us numb.  We might seek to numb our own sensibilities one way or another, rather than accept so much emotion.  How can we celebrate a moment of great joy and also honor our grief and helplessness without feeling ourselves ricochet?  What seems like an either/or choice doesn’t have to be a choice.

For many artists I know, we navigate this as we do our work: we let all of the feelings flow through us, beyond words, and flow from us into our artistic expression, which then speaks for us.  Our gratitude, our trembling and tears, our longing for understanding and grace, our hope: powerful art contains the energy of these swirling elements of experience.   We can feel each singular emotion and also a synthesis of all the emotions resonate deeply within us, and perhaps find peace in a simple way, just by accepting how much is going on within and around us.IMG_0455

 

 

Published in: on July 20, 2016 at 6:52 pm  Comments (2)  

Creating Your Life: 7 Weeks of Color!

 

IMG_0391I’ve created a Facebook Group, “Creating Your Life: 7 Weeks of Color!” to nurture creativity by inviting people to join me in focusing on one color each week for seven weeks, starting September 12.  I’ll provide inspiration and wholesome snacks (just kidding… no snacks) and welcome members in this “closed group” (only members can see posts) to share images and ideas related to each week’s color.

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Your participation might be in the form of what you wear, experience,  eat, or create; in meditations, photos, readings or explorations.   I’ll offer guidance along with glimpses of my color-related studio work, and hope that the abundance of color will tickle your senses and encourage your creativity!

To join, you can either type the name of the group (“Creating Your Life: Seven Weeks of Color!”) in the search area of your Facebook page, just as you would search for a person’s name; and when you arrive at the info for the page, click on the “Join” option — or you may send me your Facebook-related email address (either via email at: aspangborn@gmail.com or by commenting to this blog post) and I will add you to the group by adding your email.

Please send me a message if you have any questions.  I hope you’ll join me in this simple and free experience!

Published in: on June 28, 2016 at 3:53 pm  Comments (1)  

Inspired by Mark Nepo: “Fame or Peace”

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These words are from Mark Nepo’s day book, “The Book of Awakening:”

“Fame or Peace

“Rather the flying bird, leaving no trace, than the going beast, marking the earth.”  Fernando Pessoa

“Much of our anxiety and inner turmoil comes from living in a global culture whose values drive us from the essence of what matters.  At the heart of this is the conflict between our outer definition of success and the inner value of peace.

Unfortunately, we are encouraged, even trained, to get attention when the renewing secret of life is to give attention.  From performing well on tests to positioning ourselves for promotions, we are schooled to believe that to succeed we must get attention and be recognized as special, when the threshold to all that is extraordinary in life opens only when we devote ourselves to giving attention, not getting it.  Things come alive for us only when we dare to see and recognize everything as special.

The longer we try to get attention instead of giving it, the deeper our unhappiness.  It leads us to move through the world dreaming of greatness, needing to be verified at every turn, when feelings of oneness grace us only when we verify the life around us.  It makes us desperate to be loved, when we sorely need the medicine of being loving.

One reason so many of us are lonely in our dream of success is that instead of looking for what is clear and true, we learn to covet what is great and powerful.  One reason we live so far from peace is that instead of loving our way into the nameless joy of spirit, we think fame will soothe us.  And while we are busy dreaming of being a celebrity, we stifle our need to see and give and love, all of which opens us to the true health of celebration.

It leaves us with these choices: fame or peace, be a celebrity or celebrate being, work all our days to be seen or devote ourselves to seeing, build our identity on the attention we can get or find our place in the beauty of things by the attention we can give.”

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As I develop a simple website to synthesize my holistic life coaching practice, expressive arts workshops and studio work, Nepo’s writing reminds me of my original intention — to nurture creativity and well-being  — and illuminates the path I’m longing to follow.  I feel reassured: that it’s OK to keep my plans simple and modest; and that it’s good to focus on giving attention rather than receiving it.

Published in: on June 27, 2016 at 1:37 pm  Leave a Comment