Sunday, January 2, 2011

Steps in Building a Felt Painting

Here is a picture of my studio set up with plastic bins of wool in different colors within easy reach.  I am using a sheet of wall insulation board (2 inch extruded polystyrene) covered with ivory felt as my work surface.  I like to cover the ivory felt with a piece of thin plastic tablecloth to keep the fibers from embedding into the board from repeated hand felting. 

In this photo, you can see the original photo I am following and a color chart, which helps me to choose which color I need next, before I go raking through my color bins and forget what I was looking for.
You can also see a pastel drawing that I did of the photo so that I can "get to know" the painting and what I will do with it when using wool fibers.  Here is where I make mistakes, changes in color, shadow or highlight before I start the real painting with wool.  From the pastel drawing, I lay a piece of clear acetate over the drawing and make a line drawing with a permanent Sharpee marker.  Then I place the acetate drawing on an overhead projector and make the pattern any size I want by drawing the lines onto the flannel with a Crayola Washable Marker. 

Whenever I am starting a wool painting, I like to use flannel as a substrate for the following reasons:
  1. It holds the wool in place with its texture
  2. It can take any amount of action from the needles
  3. It completely disappears when enough wool has been felted on to it.
  4. It distorts the least and often recovers when the piece is fully felted and then back felted again (felted from the back side).
  5. It provides a stable ground for wet felting and can handle the thickness and felting of the surface layers of wool fibers when wet felting. 

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