Wednesday, April 2, 2008

An Embellisher Teacher comes to Call

Catherine Smith teaches the embellisher class at Portland's premier sewing center, Montavilla. She found me via the blog here and we have been corresponding for awhile...and yesterday she came to visit for the day, bearing knowledge and inspiration! She brought lots of different materials for felting for me to examine, including different kinds of silk and wool roving, angelina fibers, tools I hadn't heard of, books and magazines that were new to me...just a born teacher, she is. We ate cookies and talked, ohhed and ahhed for about 6 hours. It was such a treat.

She wouldn't let me take her picture which was a shame because she is very pretty! But I could photograph the angelina flowers on her shirt...these were made with a sheet of angelina and her embroidery machine.

And while we are on the subject of angelina--which I had never used before, and which by the way you can purchase at this great website, DesignsByDawn--here is a butterfly Catherine made, also with her embroidery machine and angelina.

More butterflies made with angelina and her embroidery machine...these she gave to me! Aren't they obvious candidates for a crazy quilt?

She made this bowl with her embroidery machine and angelina...I think it is absolutely stunning. She used metallic thread in both the top and the bobbin. (Different machines handle the various makes of metallic threads differently, and Catherine knows them all. When I go to her house she is going to help me really nail metallic sewing with my humble Brother machine.)

Catherine brought a whole palette of angelina fibers, both the fusible and non fusible kind, and let me choose my palette and create my own sheet to use in future projects. So here is my first angelina!

OK, on to the felting.
Catherine brought several of her projects to show me how different felting techniques and materials can be used.

This piece uses many of them. Some of the silk is just barely "tacked" on the surface with the embellisher, while the base behind it is felted to make a smooth surface. The fuzzy yarns were hand couched, to preserve their fuzziness, but yarns can be felted into place as well. The purple base is commercial felt, and she uses a cotton batting as a foundation. Beads were added last.

If you have already beaded your piece but there is more felting you want to add, Catherine showed me a great new tool by Clover that is just the thing:

Click on this picture so you can really see it. This little gizmo has three felting needles and you can very articulately felt in fiber right alongside your beading (or whatever). This is a must buy, I think.

This is a felting base, also made by Clover. You put your hand felting onto it and punch into the bristles...instead of into your hand or lap. This little item is spendy, about $20, so I think I will find an alternative solution. Styrofoam, for example...

Indeed, felting has so taken off that the business world has recognized a receptive market for new products...such as this blank woolen totebag that is already felted and ready to decorate. She bought it at Fabric Depot in Portland for about $15.00. It was made in Nepal.

This is a sample that Catherine left with me that really intrigued me. Some of the fibers are totally blended into the background with the embellisher, and then they get progressively looser, to the point where they need to be couched on by hand. This concept has so many possbilities, especially for nature type scenes.

Finally, Catherine brought the latest copy of Jenny Haskins' Creative Expressions magazine, which I had never seen before. You can purchase it here. This sweater was created by the Japanese fabric artist Nobuko Ema, and the magazine has detailed instructions for how to create the gorgeous embellishment on it. The look is simply to die for, in my humble opinion.
Thank you, Catherine, for a lovely day!

Switching gears entirely, here is a link my brother just sent to me, from the Museum of Scientifically Accurate Fabric Brain Art. (I am not making this up.) As my brother said, "It's not just the intersection of science and art, it's the intersection of science and fabric art! You are part of an amazing, demented, brilliant community, my dear!"
Isn't it so?


Kay said...

What wonderful stuff! You're going to adapt it beautifully, I'm sure. I'm in awe of the metallic stitching on that bowl, especially. My Viking does pretty well, but would never do that.
That felting thing from Clover looks like a plain old scrub brush to me.
And finally, I've seen that brain art somewhere; can't remember where. I'll have to go back and look at the web site to see if I can figure out where it was.

Threadspider said...

You must have had the best time with Catherine, and what a wealth of new ideas and techniques and materials.

It's the butterflies that really caught my eye and yes, I can see that technique on a crazy quilt. Wonderful stuff.

Grangry said...

Oh Allie! I would be green with envy if you hadn't shared this! Thank you. That sample is indeeed very interesting.

Amy Munson said...

What a fantastic day. I have some angelina tucked away at home, I will have to dig it out and explore the possibities.

Maureen said...

Green with envy! you must have had a wonderful day and your photos show some beautiful things. Don't think I'll take up the brain art - doesn't inspire at all - maureen x

Judy S. said...

What a fun and interesting day! I'm going to have to check out that sewing store the next time we go to Portland.

Linda of has done some interesting ATCs with Angelina and stamps....looks like it's rather versatile and beautiful to work with.

Unknown said...

Oh, this is too fabulous! I wish I could have been there. I have been playing with Angelina but it looks like scribbles next to a masterpiece compared to what she has done!

Micki said...

Thanks so much for sharing all of this wonderful eye candy. She has some beautiful and fasinating items there. You must have been in seventh heaven visiting with her. I know I would have been ;-)

Guzzisue said...

the butterflies are beautiful, I bet you can't wait to try them. Sounds like you ha a wonderful day.

Possibilities, Etc. said...

A day in Paradise, for sure! Thanks for taking us with you. Now I'm looking forward to your visit to her house.

Bethel of Bethania said...

Wooh Allie I bet you didn't sleep much that night after such a wonderfully exciting & exhilarating day with Catherine ... I bet your mind was making wonderous things ... just blows me away with what can be done with the embellisher... off to a Craft & Quilt fair tomorrow - they better have a machine there so I can sees for myself, I think ... ha ha ... OOroo ... Bethel

Lin Moon said...

Thanks for sharing all the felting info - just love all the great pix! I just recently bought some needle felting supplies. Decadent fibers has a foam pad that you felt onto that is ten inches square and only costs $8. I have used it for felting by hand and it works great. I don't think Styrofoam would be a good choice at all - it could get very messy.

Lin Moon said...

Thanks for sharing all the felting info - just love all the great pix! I just recently bought some needle felting supplies. Decadent fibers has a foam pad that you felt onto that is ten inches square and only costs $8. I have used it for felting by hand and it works great. I don't think Styrofoam would be a good choice at all - it could get very messy.

Julie said...

What a lucky duck you are! Oh to have someone who teaches felting embellishment come to visit!!!! A truly inspiring and joyful day no doubt. I always learn something when I visit your blog - thank you for that. I also loved your brother's comment about your art community :-)