How do you even start to create a piece of art?


It was my first Southern Highland Craft Guild Show.   I would get to see how people responded to my work and was excited by the prospect.  My booth happened to be crowded at the time, but I noticed  a man and woman very intently examining one of my highly textured scarves. When I approached, they asked me if I ever did wall hangings and would I be interested in doing a piece for their bedroom.  While I had not done a custom felted wall hanging before, I had made other felted hangings as well as having many prior years experience as a painter, so I was familiar with the process of creating 2-d art. I thought this project might  be something  interesting to explore.We exchanged contact information and in a week she called. We discussed what they had in mind  in terms of  size , design and color . She was to send me her color swatches , I would come up with some design ideas, match her colors, and we would go from there.

The rest is a pictorial depiction of the process used to create this piece from start to finish.[slideshow]

1. The clients were interested in pursuing the project so I began sketching out some design ideas to send to them.


2. This was the design chosen to be fully developed.


3. In this sketch I am playing with placement of colors and where I would place the different  fabric textures.


4. I made many color sketches, trying to figure out the scheme.


5 .After I had my sketch design approved by the clients, I drew it to onto scale .Then  had it enlarged 40%.  This would be my actual  pattern for laying out  all the wool and fabrics.   The reason for this is:  wool will shrink this much or much when it is made into felt. So in order to get get a finished piece that would be 40 x 16 inches I started with a pattern that was 68 x 27 inches.


6. This is the section of my studio where I concoct all my colors. It took me 2 days to get these colors right on the mark.


7. The wool and silk were dyed, using Pro Chemical’s acid fast dyes. Both fibers had to be presoaked in their respective solutions in order to make sure the dye adheres to the fabric. Then they get steam set which makes them permanent. This takes 60 minutes, after which they cool and get rinsed out.  It will then be laid to dry on my heated bathroom floor which I am so happy I was talked into getting because this is the warmest spot in my house.


8. These are the swatches  of silk and wool that I dyed, trying to match the paint chips that the clients sent me.  Both wool and silk started out white.


9. I needed to make sure the texture I was after was going to look okay, so I made a a tiny sample of a pre-felt that I laid on top of the silk and on the back side of the silk  I laid the loose wool fibers.  The result  I achieved was what I had in mind.


10. Much of the design would be made up of pre-felts, which are partially felted pieces. Pre-felts are used when you want to have more control over shapes you want to make. You make them the same way you would  make felt, by laying the loose wool fibers down, wetting them out with warm soapy water and applying pressure and  agitation.


11.  There were quite a  variety of fabrics that I chose to use in the collage. Now I need to find the right place for each of them.


12. After going through the whole felting process.  I worked on both sides of the silk to achieve the look I was after.


13. So after all the work, the wall hanging is complete. I am really pleased with the results. I like the colors, positive and negative spaces seem to be balanced, and the textures are varied and interesting. I still have to work out the best way to hang it. Any thoughts?

The finished piece of art

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