Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Crates: Painted and Ready for Prop Use in Photographs

Mini crates complete!  Shall be using shortly in one of my photographs, perhaps as a platform for photographing fused glass barrettes.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Trying Out Concepts in Photoshop Prior to Building: Miniature Theater Set/Props for Merrikin Designs/Felt Artistic Creations Photo Background

The past few days I have spent working on a miniature theater (I often create props/sets for local productions and I just love the theater world in general) to be used as a set for my own 3D artwork (needle felted wool figures, fused glass jewelry, etc).

I've been playing with the idea of using blocks to support the fused glass barrettes to raise them up in the picture frame a bit. Originally they were to be black but then I started thinking about the crates I made for a production of Lady Pirates of Captain Bree.  Perhaps they would work as a miniature prop as well?  However I didn't want to spend the time painting a mini version only to find it detracted from the glass art so I decided to test out the idea in Photoshop first.
From Lady Pirates of Captain Bree Set.

I began by isolating each component to test on stage in Photoshop using the lasso tool and then cutting/pasting into the theater file.  Quickly added a color overlay and some shadows to give more of a realistic feel of what I could expect if all items were physically present.

End result: I think it works. Stay tuned - will show the actual painted blocks on the mini stage in my next post to see how they turned out.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Needle Felted Wool - Creating Custom Pet Portraits/Sculpture - New Website,

Nimbus (aka Silver Cloud), English Angora Rabbit

My latest work has been creating custom pet portraits in needle felt but before I discuss the felt work, let me introduce the newest member of our household. Meet Nimbus (at left), an English Angora rabbit.  Only pet I've ever owned that I can write off as a business expense.  With each daily brushing, I gather about a cotton ball's worth of angora wool.  The fiber is unbelievably soft and since it is combined with merino wool, goes a long way.  I find that angora works great in my latest endeavor, the dog sculptures.

Toby, Havanese dog
 "Toby" is the second Havanese dog I have done.  I love this particular breed and with the longer fur, it allowed me a chance to incorporate the angora fiber into the piece. I left the angora in its undyed state. The pure white of the wool seems to add a glowing quality.  Can't wait to try dying it although it does felt (during the dye process) easier than Merino...might be tricky to dye. Will attempt the method as in my last post with gradual temperature shifts in the dye bath/rinse.

"Sable", a Mastiff, was done as a memorial sculpture.  About 3" H x 3.5" W, Sable was built on a wire armature. Core wool then added and then as the form neared the desired size, dyed Merino wool was felted. No beads or polymer clay accents used...just fiber felted over wire. I love his pose with extended leg. Think he is my favorite felted animal to date.

Next on my felted projects list...a grumpy cat of sorts. Hope to have him done in a few days and will post the finished piece on this blog.

If you would like to order a custom pet portrait/sculpture, please visit my new site, .  I have full body sculptures (palm sized) or you may have a wearable pin/brooch made of your pet's head or shallow relief full body.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Dying Merino Wool using Jacquard Procion MX and Acid Dyes

Abominable Snow Bunny
I have been doing quite of bit of needle felting lately (see my most recent figure, the Abominable Snow Bunny, at right) and have found that I need more color variations than what I can currently find pre-dyed roving.  As I have plenty of Procion MX and Acid dye on hand for use on silk, I decided to try it on wool roving since it is also a natural fiber.

My next felt project is going to be a frog but I found I did not have the greens on hand that I wish to use.  I took small jars and put them in a pot with water.  I mixed small quantities of dye in each year with vinegar and water.  The next step was to wet the wool with room temperature water and then submerge in the jar.  Once the wool/dyes are in place in the pot, I see the stove burner temperature to "3" which is just below a low simmer.  Once the water is hot to the touch, I set the timer for 40 minutes.  After 40 minutes, the burner is turned off and allowed to cool to room temperature.  When cool (usually 4-5 hours), rinse in room temperature water, and allow to dry.

Here are a few things I discovered through experimentation:
  • I found I had more consistent coverage with dye when the roving was wet with plain water rather than tossed into the dye dry.
  • Braiding the roving before submerging in dyes also helps with preventing felting of wool.
  • When removing the roving before it is allowed to cool to room temperature in the pot, it tends to felt (see image below.  Roving to the left of the red line was removed from pot while still hot and rinsed in warm water.  Roving to the right of the line was allowed to cool to room temperature).