Small Felted Pockets

IMG_3499These labors-of-love take a while to craft, but the combination of novelty fibers — usually including some yak and alpaca, maybe camel along with merino — plus the simple pleasure of adding embroidered embellishment and some beading; plus the practical uses of the pockets (for business/credit cards, cash, lipsticks, notepads, amulets, antidotes, feathers, magic stones, and other small treasures) add up to some blissful hours in the studio and some sweet items for the shops and my customers.   This photo is of a series I did a while back — they were pretty enough to wear as pendants, and I did attach ribbon to some of them so they could be worn.  As winter softens into spring I am looking forward to fabricating more pockets, adding spring colors and an element of whimsy.   I’ll post images when the current series is completed.

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Published in: on March 20, 2017 at 2:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

Perfectly Imperfect: Felt Making

img_0961 I process ideas and feelings by making art (and sometimes by making pots of soup and sharing them).  In this felted card series, titled “Perfectly Imperfect,” I was thinking about all of the things in life that are NOT perfect, and wondering how to find peace — and even delight — in how things are, in the moment.

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Even when we want to change ourselves or change the way things are, even when we are preparing for action, taking time to find peace and focus on a vision for a positive outcome will guide us and help us avoid limiting beliefs and hurtful behaviors, so we do no harm.

Connecting with my background in expressive arts therapy and holistic life coaching, I hope that my art will nurture others’ sense of what’s possible, in ways that increase well-being.  Right now, many people are feeling dismayed, agitated and fearful; others are hopeful and empowered.  It’s as if there are multiple, competing realities and we wish our leaders could figure out how to work together for the common good.

We also need to look within for leadership in our own lives, homes, communities, work places: what form will our individual leadership take?  What responsibility will we each take?  What will our work look like?

My expression of this work is through my art: Perfectly Imperfect, reminding people of the time it takes stitch by stitch to create anything, encouraging wholeness and delight from a combination of different elements.   My felted cards are little ambassadors of hope and gratitude: I imagine messages of peace and encouragement written on them, and see them sent out, mailed, delivered.

Published in: on February 9, 2017 at 5:12 pm  Comments (2)  

The win/win/win of Artists’ Philanthropy

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Most artists work hard for every dollar they earn.  If they sell at gallery shops or offer work online, they create many pieces of which only some will actually be sold; and how many pieces will eventually sell is an unknown financial outcome.  If they do commissioned work, they spend extra time in the back-and-forth with customers and in trying to read each customer’s mind.  Many artists live simply as a trade-off for having time and freedom to create, and embrace this trade-off mindfully.

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I want to encourage fellow artists to find ways to become philanthropists: offer some work to support organizations that do good in the world.   There are so many groups that hold silent auction fundraisers, and the auction items can be “things” or can be experiential.   By participating, the artist gains exposure — often connecting with folks who are attracted to philanthropy and support of the arts; the attendees have the opportunity to see art work close up and to purchase art work at excellent prices; and the organizations benefit from additional support.

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Even a small item that represents the best of your work and that may not be expensive might allow an attendee to place a successful bid.  Your actions speak for you: your philanthropy communicates your interest and gives your work greater resonance.  Locally, some of the organizations to which I’ve donated work or a portion of sales from my work include public broadcasting, Clearwater Conservancy, PASA (for sustainable agriculture),  an animal shelter, Women’s Resource Centre, Choral Society, various religious organizations, Global Connections (promoting international friendship), museums, For the Love of Fiber…  It feels so good to help these groups, it adds purpose to the hours I spend in the studio.

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When you work, you might set aside a few pieces so that if you’re asked to contribute, you’ll have something on hand; some organizations do not give artists much advance notice, while others ask far in advance of the events.  You may not have the money to give, but you can participate through your creativity!

 

 

Published in: on January 27, 2017 at 4:57 pm  Comments (3)  

Working With Hand-Spun Yarn

img_0944Hand-spun art yarn is expressive, playful, one-of-a-kind… and challenging to use!  In this loopy, stretchy scarf, I combined two small skeins of mostly-merino singles — embellished with lots of curly wool locks — which I had spun on a drop spindle; and used an elongated stitch to knit a very soft scarf long enough to wrap/drape/tie.  I added some dyed remnant sari silk strips as rustic fringes.  Since I had lightly felted the yarn after spinning, this scarf may be hand-washed without losing any of the “full-bloom” character of the yarn.

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Published in: on January 10, 2017 at 7:59 pm  Leave a Comment  

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