Another exiting felting post by Jan Scott
This is the Guilds display for the 2017 Ottawa Valley Farm Show in March of 2017. Lynda is hiding behind her loom, Ann is about to spend the day making felted beads with the kids, and Merilyn is spinning beside the empty chair where I was working. We do put on an interesting demo!
The Farm show is a huge display of farm equipment, seeds, antique display, farm oriented venders, trappers, government department’s booths, the wool growers co-op, and various breed and rare breed associations. It is really a huge event drawing people not only form the Ottawa Valley but the rest of eastern Ontario. It’s always early March so weather can be an issue. We had a blizzard the second day of the show.
I was getting lots of interest in the pieces I had already completed for the 150th Art Show.
It was time to start the next project. So before the demo it was time to decide what to do next. After much debate between Moose bison and polar Bear I decided to continue with the arctic theme.
By now you are likely starting to guess my working process. So yes it was back to the internet to find reference photos and work out a composition likely from a composite of pictures. Working with a square is a lot more challenging. The eye naturally is drawn to shapes that feel comfortable, shapes that follow the golden mean or Fibonacci to figure out stripe progressions (Rectangles). Shape that have proportions you find in nature. Squares are definitely more of a challenge. But I’m use to a good challenge, you should see my un-spell-checked spelling!
So the quest was on find an image I could made square. but not be too static. So either intensity or dynamic composition was what I was looking for. So find images that cought my eye, then crop to square.
As I perused the inspirational options I thought about the talk Robert Bateman had given at Halliburton last summer. He spent some time discussing some of his earlier work mentioning his frustration painting a polar bear in a snow storm then the next painting was a black timber wolf at night in a dark forest. He had mentioned that white wasn’t just white. So to look carefully and not assume you know your subject just because it’s “white”.
Some images were very interesting but just didn’t want to be square.
Then I spotted this one. The intensity of the look was amazing. The shapes were simple but if I could get the eyes it would work really well. The image dew you in, there was such contemplation and stillness. It was like looking a momentary paws in the action. I liked it! Ok I had my inspiration.
Day one demo
I brought my large foam pad, core wool (Rideau Arcott), and various shades of white grey browns yellow red and blue. (I as optimistic but didn’t think I would get the understructure done in one day.) I got dropped off around 7ish, parking can be very crowded so it was better to get there unusually early and I could set up and get started. Glenn had over time so it was a late pick up as well so I was there for over 12 hours. I got a lot done.
I had premade my background felt layer at home using my wicked 10 needles in a row tool. It was again impressive how well it worked on flat felting.
For the understructure I mostly worked upside down to help get the general proportions correct. I could have made a graph over the photo to make a more exact copy but I wanted the photo to be more an inspiration than an exact likeness.
I was explaining the backing layer that the understructure would be attached to.
I got a lot of “what are you making” in the morning, then by afternoon it was “is that a dog?”
Most said they would come back later to see what I had accomplished on their way out.
A couple more quick shots of the demo in progress before we go on to day 2.
This is a very cool loom from around the 1970’s. It was fascinating to see it working.
Ann had a lot of help making felted beads using pencils. She is really amazing!!
Merylin was busy spinning some of her Sheep’s wool she had dyed herself. She has a beautiful painted wheel.
Day 2 demoing
I had booked off 2 of the 3 days of the demo. So again I got there unreasonably early, got help to get the display set up again.
Today we had Gord with one of his great wheels (he has several)
I had the understructure to my liking and started working from the top down
Amada was spinning on her Hitchhiker wheel. She dose amazing natural dyeing some of which was on display.
As you can see in the foreground of the picture I had progressed to adding colour to my under structure. By the time I hit the eyebrows I was starting to get comments of “is that a polar Bear?”
I chose blue face Lester since my memories of my Grandmothers Polar Bear rug is still vivid in my memory. Since I think the last time I slept on it was over 40 years ago it really did make an impression. It had a yellow tint to the white fur, the fur was stiff but not really course. It was smooth if you patted it in the direction the fur grew. It was a wonderful polar bear I don’t know what happened to it. I hope it is still being loved by small children sleeping on it.
This is the progress at about ¾ of the way through day 2. I was definitely felting faster on this one.
Day 3 of the Farm show demo.
I had a short day of work so rushed back for the final day of the demo. We had a pretty full demo team and the weather was a bit better than the previous days’ blizzard.
Laurie and Julie are Weaving, Merylin was spinning and I was still felting.
I got a lot more of the face done. But it was slow going due to hand blending each section I was working on. I was still finding the hand blending less uniform, which was what I wanted, than using the carders. Also with the different lengths of fibre I was blending with the blue face Lester it was a lot easier to work with it just by hand. I wound up with alpaca as well as wool to get the colours I had wanted.
I had a couple more evenings of touching up the colour and the Polar Bear was complete.
The pieces made another appearance at the demo for Dickenson day in Manotick Ontario.
This is my show and tell the meeting before the show.
Here are all the pieces I did for the 150th anniversary show.
While I was making Polar Bear I thought about my western Grandmother and about my brother who has done most of his work in the North so I am giving this piece to my brother Dave. This is his Bio so you will see why I was thinking of him.
(Dr. David J. Scott is the Executive Director of the Canadian Polar Commission in Ottawa. Prior to his current post Dr. Scott had a long career with the Geological Survey of Canada (GSC), finishing as Director, Northern Canada Division.
At the GSC he also served as acting Director General, Planning and Operations Branch, and led the GSC’s Gas Hydrates and Northern Resources Development programs. From 1999-2003, he was based in Iqaluit, Nunavut, as the founding Chief Geologist of the Canada-Nunavut Geoscience Office.
Dr. Scott holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Geology (McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada) and a PhD in Geological Sciences (Queen’s University, Kingston, Canada) where his thesis research investigated the tectonic origin of two-billion year old oceanic crust in Arctic Quebec. He was a Research Associate in uranium-lead geochronology at the GEOTOP laboratories of the University of Quebec at Montreal. He has published and presented over 80 technical papers.
I am very proud of his many accomplishments. I wonder if he will put it in his northern office his southern office or keep it at home. Where ever he puts it I hope he enjoys it.
I have a PS to this Post Jan won the peoples choice award for her Polar Bear at our Canada 150 Show.