As we enter into Autumn I can feel a new routine taking shape and have been having fun experimenting this week in the hive. Firstly I have been trying out some dyeing techniques, using natural dyes such as cold tea and beetroot juice, with some success!
The rings and the button were bleached bare (like the ring in the bottom right of the photo) before I gave them the treatment. I soaked two rings in the water I had boiled a few homegrown beetroot in overnight and the button in the remains of a mug of rooibos with the teabag still in it. As you can probably see, both natural dyes were quite effective. The curtain rings are more of a deep warm brown than purple but I am really pleased with how they turned out. The button is exactly the shade of reddish brown I was hoping for so I will definitely try that trick again, especially as it really was a spur of the moment idea.
As well as upcycling old wooden things I have been experimenting with this tired set of Fuzzy Felts that I have had knocking around the sewing room for a while. I remember playing with sets like this when I was a child, though I don’t remember whether I actually owned any, I believe the ballet set was my favourite. Extremely tactile and with opportunities to create your own scenes, as well as a sheet of the accompanying suggestions, they kept you entertained for hours!
This sweet, but incomplete, farmyard set tells a nostalgic story of egg collecting, driving a tractor and caring for the animals. The faded figure of the cart horse pulls a wooden cart over the flocked board past a random mix of geese, cats, lambs, pigs and a duckling teaching her duckling to swim in the tiniest pond ever seen. There are fences to make pens, shrubs and trees and a dog kennel to make the domestic farmyard scene that bit more authentic.
I have decided to salvage some of these thinning felt pieces by attaching them purses and sharing them out in quaint little compositions, that give a snapshot of life on the farm. I started by stitching this girl onto the horse and then carefully sewing them both to a piece of dark green velvet. The colours are still bright on the horse, though the edges are pretty fuzzy. Stitching them on did neaten the edges but the fragility made me hesitate to sew any more on.
Despite the thread being a close match, the stitches needed to be quite large to secure the felt so were a little bit too visible for my liking. They were less prominent after a pressing though and adding a handful of vintage buttons resulted in a pleasing more three dimensional effect. I also think that the green velvet provided a suitably fuzzy background for the felt shapes, so I cut out some more to make more of the zip coin purses that prove so popular on my stall.
Remembering the large bottle of wood glue, I bought to seal the edges of the hessian rug back from a few weeks back, I made the decision to stick the felt scenes on their fuzzy backgrounds instead, as this would undoubtedly strengthen the edges. So I spent this afternoon assembling little farmyard scenarios, painting the backs with PVA and pressing them carefully onto ready cut pieces of fabric. I have to say, I have been having quite a lot of fun and all sorts of fuzzy feelings!
I have so far resisted any risque poses, but the I might be tempted to sneak a little humour in there somewhere. I just love those tiny illustrations that hark back to pictures in Ladybird Books and the Twinkle comics I saw on the shelves in the local newsagents when I was a little bee. The little pieces are reassuringly soft in my adult fingers.
I am looking forward to experimenting further when they are dry.
Until next week