Learn New Tricks & Finished Work, “Kitchen Sink Mandala”

I felted a wall hanging in January. It’s been hanging on my kitchen wall, supposedly done. But it just…needed…something, some sort of edging to go around the piece. I’ve had a hankering to learn hand-heaving techniques lately and had seen a book on the glorious inter-web called 200 Braids, which is really more than just braids. After over-experimenting and way too much deliberating, I selected a knotting structure, technically known as “double opposite half-hitches over a core.” Fun stuff. I could do it all day. And I did.

Thus, introducing the finished piece, “Kitchen Sink Mandala.” I intend this as the first in a series of three. Most often used in reference to Buddhist spiritual practices, mandala are images or patterns that symbolically represents the cosmos, as interpreted by the human perspective. The psychoanalyst Carl Jung also saw the mandala as “a representation of the unconscious self.”  The lotus-like shape I’ve chosen is not the usual shape for a Buddhist mandala, but is seen in Hindu yantras, and also in Christianity (rose windows). This was an idea of meshing worldviews, reflected in the form and use of numerous materials that blend overall. While the other pieces in the series will consist of one piece, this mandals uses two elements that hang separately, a sort of “existing independently, but working together” idea.

Kitchen Sink Mandala 36 x 36 x 3/4″

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Here’s a detail of that knotted edging.

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I threw a lot into this thing, yes, everything but the….

I try to reflect the meaning of a piece not only in the visual language, but also through the materials. And…it was just a lot of fun throwing all sorts of things into the felting process. The main element is natural white Shetland wool. Then there is angora wool(goat), silk fabric, silk fiber, hemp fiber, various synthetic yarns, and ceramic beads.

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My first attempt at felting it in the washing machine didn’t exactly work out, as I didn’t have the room or setup to do some things that, in the end, you really just can’t skip. Here are some pics from the initial layout, after wetting it down, and then rolled up and tied,  ready for felting. I basically took over the living room for a day. For scale, the sheet is about four feet across.

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But I worked it out in the end. Live, learn.

St.Lukes – felted wall hanging

This piece I started as part of a live demonstration at Paint the Town – St. Lukes Hospital’s annual benefit in late September. I demonstrated wet-felting, as most people probably haven’t seen this done, or know anything about it. The initial idea was to finish a piece at the benefit, but even with a lot of prep work, it just wasn’t feasible.

The main shape was wet-felted, which was completed at the benefit. The pink dots were blended into the back of the piece with a felting machine, or embellisher. Originally, I was going to just put pink dots on each of the sections, but I added the stitching for contrast and texture. I sort of tried to come up with a name for it, but I always thought of it as the “St. Lukes piece,” so might as well leave it at that. It’s approximately 24″ accross.

St.Lukes - hand-dyed shetland wool wall hanging
St.Lukes detail
Machine needle-felted spots and metallic stitching

This is also backed with a commercial felt for hanging on the wall.

The colors are hand-dyed from Shetland wool. I have a thing for hot pink and (especially) purple lately, which might sound bizarre to those who have known me for years. What can I say? I have no logical answer for you. It does not stem from K-State (those who know me well should know that!). I avoided purple for years due to my anti-sport and superfluous school spirit policies.

Glacial – Felt/Ceramic Wall Hanging

I finished this in October, but I’ve been bad at blogging lately. I’ve been having problems getting accurate photographs of the fiber work.

The main section of Glacial features natural colored fleeces from the farm, wet-felted. The “buttons” are pit-fired earthenware with amorphous, needle-felted wool attached to each. It is backed with a commercial felt fabric (ie., not craft felt) to hang on a wall. It’s about 18-20″ across.

Glacial wall hanging
Natural colors in Shetland wool
Glacial wallhanging detail
Pit-fired buttons with amorphous wool "nubs" (I don't really know what to call them).