Friday, October 14, 2011

Worth trying

A couple of months ago I attended a one-day beginner workshop run by the Fibre Basket Makers of the ACT. We made a little mat - which would also have been the base of a basket, if we had time to learn how to turn the corner. I'm quite happy with my mat, flaws and all. It's like a large coaster, and fits perfectly under my small 2-cup tea pot.

The day was fantastic, I'd been wanting to try basket weaving for ages, and now I want to do more. One day. For now I am letting it percolate a bit - I'm not ready to dive headlong into another craft - and for this one, although a lot of the materials are free or cheap, they take some time and expertise to collect and prepare, and a lot of space to store.

I was speaking with one of the original group members about my fledgling interest in basketry, and how I had a few thoughts about finding ways to combine it with my felting work. Her response was cautionary. She said that people often have these ideas for combining different crafts, but tend to find that it is more difficult than it seems.

I've been thinking about this a bit. To come to a course run by expert artisans with years of experience, thinking you could learn a few basic techniques and then be able to throw them in a melting pot with some other craft, and expect to come up with something brilliant and new.... it certainly could be seen as a bit arrogant, or at least naive.

In my defence, even before the course I had no illusions about how quick and easy learning basketry would be. But the broader point is interesting - combining different crafts/arts, or different media, poses special challenges, and you generally need to have some expertise (if not a lot of it) in each area.

All of this is a slightly over-thought introduction to this.
An attempt at felted beaded knitting. I have quite a lot of beads, and had never really tried knitting with beads. So I thought I would try it in a felting project. At first I worried that the heavy washing and agitation would damage the surface of the cheap wooden beads. And then I realised that I liked the idea of them becoming weathered through the felting process.
And they really did change a lot, and I like the effect.
What I really don't like is the way the loops of wool holding the beads didn't shrink into the fabric the way I wanted them to. The weight of the beads has kept them dangling off the side in a really goofy way. It doesn't help that the design isn't great - I just whipped these up to try the idea, but I don't think a single round of big beads looks much good on these pods. I might try again with smaller beads, but I suspect I'll end up concluding it's not worth knitting the beads in; better to just sew them on afterwards. After all, I really love sewing pieces of felt together or sewing beads on - the thread disappears in a very satisfactory way.


Rhonda said...

I can't believe that an artisan discouraged you from experimenting with new ideas. I say go for it. If one thing fails you learn a new thing.
I really like your beaded pots. What if you never thought you could make a pot out of yarn - or a pear. Try new things - very rewarding!

m1k1 said...

I agree with you that the look of the battered beads adds to the pods. You can always batter them and then sew them on to the felted fabric.

amy said...

So were you hoping to get the beads to sink right into the fabric? That's a really interesting idea and worth tinkering with a bit more, I think.

Lovely basketweaving. It has always struck me as something that looks deceptively simple.

Jejune said...

Lovely work!

Basketry is a great craft, I used to do some ages ago, and my MIL is quite an expert. I have a book or two on 'natural baskets' and creative basketry made with ALL sorts of materials, including paper and pine needles, which you're welcome to borrow if you're interested, just let me know :)

Carly said...

People don't discover new things unelss they try - sounds like a great idea and i think you should go for it! love the felted baskets and the woven piece as well.x

Sheep Rustler said...

I don't do a lot of felting but I have certainly sewn beads onto it afterwards. And if you wanted them to weather, maybe you could through them in the washing machine with the felting (in the toe of a stocking, or something). And there is NOTHING WRONG with experimenting!!!

Bells said...

that kind of discouragement is to be frowned on I think. I see no problem with saying you're keen to learn something new to see where it might lead with other media.

People with that sort of approach shit me!

My immediate response to the beads in the pods was that it looked great. I can see why you might be a bit unsure about the way the beads don't sink properly into it. There must be a way!