I know, that sounds a bit bizarre, but let me explain.
With the upcoming art exhibition to be held in Beerwah in October, the pressure’s on to make more felt wall hangings to exhibit. I already have Mt. Coonowrin, which I have documented previously on this blog, but one’s just not enough.
Today was the day to make another one. I’ve been researching my subject, collected my materials and all I needed was a free weekend and when I woke up to the clear bright day this morning I couldn’t wait to go home and get stuck in. When I say ‘go home’, I’m not a party animal who woke up in a strange house this morning after a drunken rave the night before. I have recently taken on another part time job dog-walking and pet/house sitting. It’s great because it is a rewarding job and I can fit it in around my other life commitments. I’m house sitting at the moment, thus ‘go home’ meant leave the doggie for the day and do my felting at home. Not to mention spend some brief, welcome time with hubby and son.
The toast incident
Arriving bright eyed and bushy tailed, I breezed in only to meet my teenage son in his pj’s yawning a “Morning Mum” with half-closed eyes. This was followed by the sound of an electric toothbrush buzzing in the bathroom – hubby was making himself personable! While I waited for him to finish his ablutions (don’t you love that word?) I hovered in front of my computer noticing a yellow stick it note in the middle of the screen.
“Your dinner for tonight’s in the fridge so you don’t have to eat toast, you touchy thing! … Luv U”
Aw, what a sweetie, he remembered my melt down last week when, stressed at juggling an extra job, trying to organize myself, emotionally detach from hubby, son and my own dog, bring in the washing and get to my next assignment before sun down so I could feed a farmyard of chooks (Australian for ‘chickens’) and ducks, I forgot to take dinner with me and had to revert to toast. I’m a bit of a foodie, so toast was just not the same as dinner.
The next afternoon while pretty much repeating the previous day’s schedule, I managed to throw a guilt trip at my son who was taking for everrrrrrrr to get some chore done that is his job anyway but which I wanted him to do before I left for the evening. I had good reason for that at the time, but can’t for the life of me think what it could have been now. That’s how important it was in the overall scheme of things.
“Oh for goodness sake, hurry up!!! It’s because I was rushing yesterday getting your uniform ready, that I left my dinner in the fridge and had to survive on toast!”
At which point hubby stuck up for son from his vantage point in the office around the corner…
“Don’t pick on him just because you weren’t organized!”
I was feeling so bereft by that time, because oddly enough, despite loving going on holiday and always wishing to be living in some other, more exotic place – which my assignment was – I was feeling desperately homesick and wanting to hug son, hubby and dog all at the same time and tell them I loved them. I’d so looked forward to coming home that afternoon, so I could spend some warm and fuzzy time to make up for my transition into Agent Aannsha Dog Sitter.
Only instead of Happy Families, I’d managed to create a minor drama where my son was crotchety for me guilt-tripping him and hubby was rightly taking his side. A silent tear escaped the corner of my eye and I opened the fridge to take last night’s dinner for tonight with me and escape before I began sobbing.
Too late, I choked one back as I opened the fridge door.
“What’s the matter?” Baz stood behind me quicker than I could take my things and run.
Well, I blurted it all out in a blubbery blobby mess that caused a puzzled look to crease hubby’s face. He didn’t understand me. He never does when I melt down. To me it is perfectly natural and totally understandable that inner tumult can result from a few changes in routine and everything that comes with it. But to Baz, I had turned into an alien and he couldn’t fix a problem he didn’t have any reference for. God love him. I do.
He hugged me warily and I tried to get it together and explain logically what was going on for me. I couldn’t, so I wiped my salty face on his jumper and pulled away still watery. But I had no time to wallow in self-pity, I had animals to feed. I left via my son’s room where I sincerely apologised to him for being mean. He is such a forgiving fellow and hugged me with the force of ten men. Then with a lot still hanging mid-sentence, confused and a tiny bit raw between Baz and me, I got in the car and drove off.
Later that night, I texted Baz only to find that Baz – a man whose longest text to me yet had been “ok” – had texted me:
“Still lu ya, U touchy bugger”.
The most adorable thing a bloke could tell his missus. I melted and in an instant the whole drama dissipated.
…So, the message on my pc was in reference to the toast drama.
What about having to shave my felt?
After Baz came out of the bathroom all squeaky clean, I asked him if that meant I had dinner for tonight.
“You do, it’s chilli con carne.”
“You’re a dream, thank you.”
Half an hour later, Baz off scuba diving, Luke chilling in his room, I set to making my felt painting.
Why I had to shave my felt
The subject of today’s felting is of an entry way north, along Moffat Beach – one of the beaches in Caloundra, on the Sunshine Coast of Queensland, near where I live.
Pic of Moffat Beach thanks to Caloundra Tourism website
The ocean is blue, the sand gleams white in the sunshine, and there are sandy walkways to the beach through sea-grass lined with wooden railings and shaded by trees that are very pleasing to the eye.
At this point, I would like to acknowledge Gusha Visual Media who have inspired my latest work with some of their photos of the Sunshine Coast. In particular, Moffat Beach, which is so beautiful, I wanted to try and capture the scene in felt.
I began with a piece of cream pre-felt 60cm x 60cm as the base. Starting with the sky, I laid several shades of blue, and thin white clouds, then laid the water in deeper turquoises.
Then I laid the white strip of beach and followed with the brown-sandy colour of the path, which I underlaid with brown alpaca to add depth. After that I added the greens of the grasses. Next came the wooden railing and the shading.
Happy with the overall background, I put in the tree using black mixed with white and ochre, and short whispy pieces of yarn for the leaves.
To finish the work at this stage, I added the silks and yarns to give interesting detail and lustre to the overall painting.
As my feet were very sore – that’s a story for another day – I laid the work on a 60x60cm canvas on the lounge coffee table so I could sit for the couple of hours it took to do the layout. I wasn’t sure how much wool would float away as I carried the piece over to the kitchen bench for felting, but I walked slowly and it all remained intact. Once the canvas was removed it sat on the bubble wrap, on a towel to catch the excess water.
After soaping, rubbing, rubbing, squeezing, heating, rubbing, heating and rubbing some more, the picture was finally felted to my liking. I rinsed the soap out, final rinsed with a bit of vinegar and spun it in the washing machine.
As I ironed it flat, I noticed that where the brown alpaca had been laid down, it had migrated through the other colours and the long fuzzy wool filaments covered the bottom half of the painting obscuring the other colours and details! I forgot to take a photo at this point, because I was concentrating on fixing the furry mess! After trying to snip it away with scissors and realising that would take all afternoon, I got a fresh disposable razor from my hubby’s stash and proceeded to shave the wool off the painting!
Despite being worried about losing the underlying detail, and messing up the finish of the felt that was left, I knew I couldn’t leave it furry, so shaved away. I removed a very large handful of alpaca and was happy to see the rest of the painting was intact!
Re-ironed, I was satisfied that the painting was pretty good and after hanging it out to dry overnight, I’m looking forward to adding the finer details with needle felting and embroidery tomorrow.
However – Note To Self – only use alpaca in a felt painting if the painting is of a teddy bear or something else that requires a fuzzy finish!
That’s definitely a tip I’m going to put in a Felting Book when I get round to writing one!
Anyway, here’s the felted wall hanging of Moffat Beach, awaiting embroidery and needle felting. Felted size is approximately 50cm x 50xm.