Monday, December 13, 2010

Bright Colour on a Rainy Day

Up until the last day or so, it has been raining non-stop for months. Ok, maybe not months, but it feels that way. The sky is grey, the ground is sloshy, and floods are a real problem for many. Not for me, but my little wooden house does run the risk of rotting away. It desperately needs a paint, if only it would stop raining. I lie on my back staring at the ceiling listening to all the watery sounds. Rain on the tin roof. Drops spattering on things. Water overflowing from the little water tank. Gurgles as it makes its way along gutters. And so on. I’m starting to get cabin fever. It’s so grey. Or is it. I’ve hauled myself off the floor and now, looking out the window, see a rush of green and spots of lovely things. The rush of green is, of course, the weeds and grass growing. But in the trees is this extraordinary yellow orchid. Just loving the rain. A little over from that is the beautiful gardenia which seems to flower forever. Its perfect, creamy white flowers. Even the die-ing ones turn a rich wonderful yellow. A stand of elephant ears glistens in this weather. And then I focus on my little african violets, on the kitchen bench in front of me. Forever pushing out little bursts of colour, they seem impervious to the weather. I just love the things that grow in my garden. They are a constant source of joy and inspiration.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Everlasting Flower Brooch

It's been a while between posts and I have been very busy. Not just with the felting, but at this time of year all the bellydance groups have gatherings to showcase what they have been up to all year. So I have been shimmying in sparkley silks and bright colours all month. No pics of that yet. Maybe another post. But I have been making things to give to my special friends and to sell at my local markets. These everlasting flowers are a great present, because, well, they last. They say all the things a flower says, but they go on saying it long beyond the use-by date of a cut flower. Plus you can wrap them with your very own hands and send them overseas. I wear them on coat and jacket lapels, on hats and bags, to keep a scarf in place, or just to brighten up a T-shirt. They are listed in my etsy shop here I'm trying to list a new one each day, so pop in regularly to have a look.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Felt Beret

I was on a roll for a short moment there and actually found time to post on a regular day. But, alas, life got complicated again. What I have done recently is list a couple of handmade felt berets in my etsy store. I thought with winter on the way, there may be a few people out there who are looking for something beautiful and original to keep their heads warm. So, here are the first two. They are made using wet felting techniques. I have incorporated bits of shiny silk and tissue silk to create texture and tonal changes. They also have threads of brightly coloured silk that catch the light and make the surface even more interesting. I am fond of making long tails on my berets. It is just another design detail that sets these ones apart from your stock, standard, mass produced item. They remind me of the beautiful textures you find on rocks and trees which are covered in lichen and moss. If you like them they are available in my etsy store

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Noosa Country Show

My how time flies.... the Noosa Country show has been and gone for another year. Once again I entered the felt artistry sections in the arts and crafts competition. I did really well this time around. Now I know this is blowing my own trumpet, so to speak, but if I don't, who will??? 1st Prize for a felted garment with this capelette. It sits perfectly on the shoulders and the little glass beads in the flower centers make a nice detail. 1st prize for felted accessories with this beret. I just love the colors and the way the silk embellishment creates a sumptuous texture. 1st for felted soft furnishings with my rug. I used corriadale wool in this as it is a tougher fibre better wearing. It is also much, much harder to felt than merino wool. And finally a 1st prize and Reserve Champion in the nuno-felt section with my gorgeous vest.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Richly coloured vests

A couple of blogs ago I described my need to create something to wear to the races. I created a black nuno-felt vest. It was adorned with orchid motifs made from beautiful, subtle shades of purples and blues dyed into shiny paj silk and matt tissue silk. Well a lovely woman approached me at the races, to commission a vest for herself. We chatted for a while, discussing colours she liked (and didn’t like), things she liked and themes she was drawn to. I got her to send me her measurements and off I went to dye silks and cottons to felt into. The end result is this earthy, burnt orange nunofelt vest. She loved the dusty, earthy colours of inland Australia, but wasn’t fond of blue. She loved boab trees and the moon. I was really pleased with the result. My next challenge was creating a few items for the Artistic Felting section in the arts and crafts competition at the local Noosa Show. The Purple flower vest below is one of my prize winning pieces.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

New Season Scarves

It's been a busy few months doing all kinds of non-felt related things. But I finally got back to the creative table.
For the new season I have created a series of lovely scarves. These use rich earthy colours as a base, with touches of bright contrasts to give them a lift.
These three beautiful scarves are listed in Beljays Felt. Click the button on the right to go to that store (unless you are reading this from the store already).
I have other equally gorgeous pieces listed in my Etsy store.
Next week I'll show you the fantastic new vests I am making.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

A Day at the Races

It was the annual Caloundra Cup race day yesterday and, as usual, the local social club arranged a coach journey there and back. Again, as usual, the weather threatened to be bleak, wet and windy, which would mean the grounds would be soggy and muddy.
I'm no longer of an age that is silly enough to wear pretty, strapless, short cocktail dresses to such an event (especially in winter as it is here). Hence the predicament. What to wear. I'd settled on a warm long sleeved skivvy, longer skirt and thick tights with boots, but it needed something.... Again the feltwork came to the rescue. I settled on making this nunofelted vest. The design is made of various hand-dyed silk fabrics which have been cut into petal shapes and laid onto the wool before felting begins. Quite a few brightly coloured silk threads were also added to the composition. After quite a bit of rain over night, the race day began quite cold and grey. But as the day wore on, the clouds cleared and the sun shone brightly. There was however, a wicked cold wind. The lightweight nunofelt vest was snuggly warm. I forgot to take my camera so no race day shots unfortunately.
And how did I go on the horses? Lost my money of course. But it was a fun day anyway.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A walk in the bush

I gain a lot of inspiration from my little bush walks. I find a never ending treasury of colours and textures.
The sun finally came out today. So a couple of friends and I went for an amble in the bush. As you move deeper into the forest, away from roads and homes, it takes on a lovely hush. You foucus more intently on everything: smells, sounds, sights.
This little area is where a tiny creek crosses the path. It gurgles only slightly, as the water progresses on it's lazy journey to the lake beyond. The water is still enough to brightly reflect its surroundings. Where shadows fall, the russetty colours of the tannin rich water glows.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Gallery Ensemble

I went to a friends exhibition opening last week and had a great time. But the lead-up posed a problem. As the weather here is chill at the moment, I wanted to wear one of my berets and scarves. Not an issue in itself but that morning, I realised I had no bag to match. Eeeek! Luckily, I did have time to quickly make something that suited. And while the bag itself is quite simple in its design, the addition of one of my flower pins certainly jazzed it up a bit. Speaking of jazz, the opening had a lovely jazz duo playing. It is a great gallery space in Nundah just to the north side of Brisbane (that's Queensland, Australia, for those international readers). It was a group exhibition, with 14 artists, presenting a wide variety of subjects and styles. My friend, Michele Knightley, creates wonderful, bright landscapes. They are influenced by the brilliant colours in the landscape up here in Southeast Queensland. Have a look at the address below, it's Micheles work at Martin Galleries Take some time to have a look. Bag goes okay with the scarf and hat, I think.

Friday, June 4, 2010

From the Verandah

So I've been sitting on my verandah today, enjoying the beautiful sunshine, listening to the birds, lawnmowers and other critters. A heady mix, I know.
It would have been very easy to just sit and relax, but, instead I listed some new items in my online store.
Here's a bit of a sneak peak.
These are my felt drink bottle coolers. I have never been really fond of the usual ones you get made of neoprene or polystyrene, but when it's hot you don't want your hot hands warming up a cool drink, nor when it's cold do you want to freeze your hands holding a cold drink. These feel lovely to touch and are very easy to keep clean. I just pop one on an empty bottle and soak the lot in room temperature water. Then it goes in the sun and when it's dry I slide it off the empty and it's ready for use again.
The second pic is of my latest 2 flower pins.
They cover the palm of my hand, so are a fair size. The brooch clasp at the back enables you to attach the flower to all kinds of things, from dresses, to coats and hats.
If you like something, visit my store at

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

My new online shop

So one of the other things I've been doing over the last few months is building up my stock of felted works with the intention of opening an online shop.
Now I have now done this and am adding items to it regularly.
It's called Beljays Felt and you can find it here
As I am in Australia, the items are listed in Australian Dollars. Which is easier for those living here. But if you don't live in Oz, don't despair, you can still purchase through Paypal.
I still have many new items at my Etsy store as well, so if you don't find what you're after in one store, you might find it in another.
Please check out both sites.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A lovely little dress

Okay. I know it's been a while since I posted, but life gets crowded sometimes.
So here is the first of my little updates on what I've been up to...
I made two entries for this years' Sydney Royal Easter Show Arts Section.
This dress was for the wearable felt category. It is a nuno-felt construction using hand-dyed cotton gauze and tissue silk as the base fabrics. I have used a resist template and so i is made without seams. Which means it is fully reversable.
I solved the problem of how to make the flowers around the neck work on both sides by putting them on a few beads. By doing this the flowers can be flipped to one side of the fabric or the other.
I love the idea of getting two dresses for the prices of one. Someone else did too. It sold at the show which is great, but I don't have any idea who bought it. I'm sure they will love wearing it as much as I did making it. I also managed a Highly Commended for this piece.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Raising a raucous laughter on a rainy day

It has been grey for what seems like an eternity. In reality it has probably been only 2 weeks. Even so, that is a long time to be grey. And drizzly, and absolutely dumping down with rain. Yes, after months of wishing for rain because the tanks are dry, we got our wish. It has been raining overtime. The tanks are full. The gardens are sloshy. The damp is rising into the house. Yik! As usual, the weather here in Queensland seems to be overdoing it. Although I am fine, high and dry here in my highest wooden house, others aren’t so lucky. After years of drought in some regions here, the residents are now dealing with floods. But, not to be despondent, I have been working with loads of colour on cheery things. At the end of the felting frenzy I have created a very cheerful and happy cat. It’s a teacosy. No, really. It is. If you pull the tail off and shove your hand between the front legs to grab the handle you can pour. My brother nearly fell off his chair laughing when I showed him. I won’t tell you what he said. In hindsight this may not have been the best design element, however, in its defense: it certainly brought some joy into the room on this miserable rainy day.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Chooks Tail or How to make felt

It occurred to me that you may not know what handmade felt is all about. This is not meant to be a tutorial on how to make felt… just a brief description for you. There are many different ways to make it but this was the first technique I learnt. My felt begins with unspun sheep wool. This is just a small part of my stash. I have wool straight from the sheeps back, as well as wool that has been washed and combed. Some is commercially dyed, some I dye myself. Generally, I use merino. It is soft and easy to work with. Occasionally, for special projects, I use a courser type, like corriedale. It is much more difficult to felt but is harder wearing and hold its shape well. Felt created using a wet technique begins with pulling out tufts of wool and laying them down in the same direction. The next layer goes down across the first. And so on, until you have a thick, soft batt. To make the wool really interesting you can vary the colours. In this way the finished fabric has wonderful changes and blends that commercial felt rarely has. This is where the work starts. The wool batt is sprinkled with soapy water. A layer of gauze is placed over this and the water is gently worked into it. Working it further with small circular hand rubs starts to intertwine and tangle the fibres. This is the beginning of the felting process. If the wool doesn’t pull apart when it is pinched and gently tugged, we are ready for the next step. The batt is rolled up in bubble wrap and rolled back and forth for 50 – 100 rolls. Unwrap it, turn it, roll, repeat. This goes on for a while. Definitely a good way to give your upper body a workout. Occasionally the piece can be thrown onto the table; it can squished in your hands; and rolled a bit more. It can take a fair amount of time and effort to work the wool.

Eventually the surface texture of the piece changes. The sheet of fabric, which had become very thin when wetted down, has thickened a bit and shrunk markedly. Voila! It is done and ready to use in whatever way you like. Maybe a tail?