Student textiles display at Morley College

I spent all of yesterday afternoon frantically trying to finish my nuno scarf so that it could be included in the display of work by students on the creative and experimental textiles course at Morley College.

You may remember that the velvet circles didn’t felt very successfully onto the scarf, so I had to find some way of attaching them. I originally planned to use the embellisher to dry-felt them, but looking at the scarf, I felt that some sort of texture was needed. So during the week I hand-embroidered some with French knots in graded colours from orange to yellow. The result was a lovely tactile contrast to the burgundy velvet.

I went into college intending to use the embellisher on the rest of the circles, but after experimenting on some scrap velvet I decided I didn’t like the effect – it was a bit flat, and the embellisher caused some of the edges to fray quite badly. So instead I attached the rest with machine embroidery, again using colours ranging from orange to yellow.

The good news is that I just finished the scarf in time to be included in the display. The bad news is that I didn’t have time to take a photo of it before it went in the display case. So the photos below aren’t great, as they were taken through the glass case, with all the reflections from the lights and camera flash.

Still, if you’re in the Waterloo area in the next week and have a few minutes to spare, pop in and see the display for yourself. Our tutor Debby Brown has put in a lot of work – I hope we did her proud.

Student display at Morley
Nuno scarf and felt pot
Student textiles display at Morley College
Sample album and embroidery sampler
Student textiles exhibition at Morley College
Eyeglass and smartphone cases made from recycled plastic bags

Morley College, 61 Westminster Bridge Road, London SE1 7HT

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Carding with dog brushes

I’ve been thinking about buying some hand carders for blending wool and merino tops for more subtle colours. I have only a small amount of wool so far, as I’m still experimenting, but most carders I’ve seen seem to be around £30-40.

My tutor at Morley College mentioned that dog-grooming brushes could be a cheap alternative for beginners. So yesterday I bought a couple of ‘soft pin slickers for fine/medium coats’ from Pets at Home for £4.99 each. The size of the brush area is around 10 x 7cm, so it’s about half the area of a normal carder – but with the small quantities I’m carding at the moment, it’s not going to make that much difference. And the rolags they produce are fine.

dog brushes

‘Last Supper’ in lint

'The Last Supper' made from laundry lint (photo by Anthony Scipio, Ripley Entertainment, Inc)

Forget felt – lint is where it’s at.

Michigan artist Laura Bell took around 200 hours to recreate ‘The Last Supper’ in laundry lint (picture above), according to Ripley Entertainment Inc.  It took her another 700-800 hours doing the laundry just to get enough lint – apparently she had to buy towels in the colours she wanted. After Ripley’s bought the artwork, she treated herself to a new washer and dryer.

‘Ripley’s has several other lint art “paintings” from two other artists, but this is our first from Laura,’ said Edward Meyer, Ripley’s VP of Exhibits and Archives. ‘It is the largest lint art piece we have ever seen, and obviously the image is so iconic, we simply had to add it to our collection.’

Blue resist pot

Discovery of the day: Styrofoam felts. Unfortunately.

I’ve mentioned Creative Felting by Lizzie Houghton before as a great source of ideas and inspiration. One of the techniques she includes is for making honeycomb felt, where you trap marbles between layers of wool when you make the felt. Then when the felt is dry, you cut the marbles out, creating a series of cells that look a bit like honeycomb (left).

Lizzie notes: ‘It can be difficult to roll the felt because it has such a lumpy texture, and this is where a washboard can be very useful for applying friction.’

Well, I don’t have a washboard at home, so I wondered whether there was something else I could use as a resist instead of marbles. I thought I had hit on the perfect solution – polystyrene foam pellets. I knew that foam is often used as a flat resist when making felt bags, so I assumed they wouldn’t stick. And the pellets were squashy enough not to make it too difficult to roll the felt.

So I made another two-tone pot as before, but between the two layers of green wool and two layers of blue wool I incorporated five polystyrene pellets, folded in half. Then I rolled and rubbed as normal.

The rolling and rubbing flattened the pellets completely, so I realised that I wasn’t going to end up with 3D cells. Also, because they were now flat, it was quite difficult to feel where they were through the felt, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to find them!

However, when the pot dried, the foam had gone very hard, and I could feel the flat discs very clearly through the felt. So I thought that I could easily cut them out, allowing the inner green layer of felt to show through the outer blue layer.

This was when I made the dreadful discovery that Styrofoam felts. Both the blue and the green wool surrounding the foam was stuck very firmly, and it was a real struggle to remove the discs. Luckily, I had made the felt quite thick, so cutting away part of the felt with the foam still left a thin layer of green felt intact.

Time to buy a washboard.

Foam pellets
Foam pellets - before
Felt resists removed
Foam pellets - after
Blue felt pot
Finished pot