Monday, April 9, 2012

Felt Journals - Student Work

I've been so excited to share these journals with all you handstitchers out there.  Chad Alice Hagen and Jackie Cardy, we dedicate them to both of you and your lovely, inspiring work.  I had the kids visit your blogs as homework before we started.
This is the work of my 2nd year 3-d students.

First of all we started with hand dyed wool fibers from my friend Lori Lawson of Capistrano Fiber fame and Joanna Gleason of Fine Woolies Ranch in Colorado.  Each child had a choice of a neutral foundation batt in white, brown, grey or black carded wool, then they got to play with the hand dyes that they layered on top of the foundation.  Ala Jackie Cardy, I also put out hand dyed velvets that they could cut into shapes and layer into the colored wool roving as it was being laid down.  The hand felting was fun and messy and we had to do it outside the room on the lunch tables.  Our brand new principal, Dr. Ronda Buss, walked by and I'm sure she thought what the heck is going on with all those soap suds.  LOL

This first piece I'm showing off belongs to senior Borah Lim who is an incredible designer and craftswoman.  All of us love her piece.  Fantastic color choices.   
The kids had a choice between using the coptic stitch to bind book with or the long stitch.  Borah is using the coptic stitch.  Also notice her hand spun yarns.  Borah hasn't spun since I taught her in the 7th grade, but because it's a global skill, like riding a bike, it came right back. 

This next gorgeous work belongs to freshman Karisma Dev.  I love all the beads she stitched into the work along with her needle felt swirled designs.  But I am truly inspired with her unique closure.  She took 3 pieces of rebar and braided them, then hammered them into place to flatten.
And before she braided she threaded beads onto the rebar.  The close up shows this along with the leather closure.
After the hand felting was dry, the students could needle felt designs to further embellish their colorful felt.  They were required to sew down lots of beads, and they were also required to use perle cottons to hand stitch additonal designs.  And somewhere in there they had to machine stitch on the felt with colorful threads.  You can see all of this in Karisma's close up above.  So you are thinking wow, these are a lot of requirements?  Yeap, these kids jump thru hoops for me, and it requires a lot of aditional time at home.  I would say the average number of hours that went into these pieces were between 50 to 100 hours.
Next we have senior Pauline Yang's beauty.  She started on a white batt.  A lot of her flowers were needle felted separately and then attached.  She has also done a lot of beading.
It's really fun to see the close-up that shows off  her details.

This next incredible piece was created by junior Rita Labib.  She knew beforehand that she wanted a larger journal, so her's is about twice the size as the others.  I really like how she didn't cut off the organic felted edges, and how that allows the journal papers to show thru.  What you can also see below are the horizontal velvet strips Rita has embedded into her felt
But what really grabs me about her piece are the nails that she embedded into the felt (below), and how she needle felted and beaded over them.  Stunning!

This next colorful, very modern looking design belongs to very creative senior Noel Kim.  Loving her color choices, her horizontal and vertical stitching lines, and her beaded squares.
This close-up below really shows off how cool this design really is.

This playful landscape journal above was done by junior Joyce Le.  She also took advantage of her organic edges and used them in her format.  Love so many elements and details she incorporated from the wire to the floating leaves.

But my favorite thing was the brass compression coupling that she used for her closure, and the cool tweedy fabric that she used to attach it with.  You can see part of it below.  What you can also see is the inside leather lining that these kids had to glue down to their finished felt piece, and her signatures.  The students were required to have a minimum of 48 pages.  

I had so much fun finding the leather for this project.  Instead of going to Tandy Leather and paying thru the nose, my husband took me to his favorite haunts, the thrift stores in the city of Orange on Olive Street.  We were able to find 5 leather and suede men's jackets, and the two of us spent a couple nights carefully ripping them apart until only big flat pieces were left.  I didn't pay more then $4.99 per coat.  YES!!
You can also see on Joyce's piece above, the blanket stitch that the kids were required to use to give the outside edge a more finished look.  Yeah, yeah, I know, I made them do a lot of work, but look what I got out of them  :).  Just so you know, I did one too, and Jim can tell you I also spent a ridiculous amount of hours stitching on it at home and in the car, so I could demonstrate to them each step of the way, except, I haven't finished mine yet.  Almost, just have to finish my closure, then I'll post it.
And now we have the amazing, hard working junior, Nida Fatima, one of my favorite students this year.  Oh yeah, I'm not supposed to have favorites, well, I do, we all do, I just admit it.  LOL  So anyways, just look at this lovely, sensitive journal.   The cut aways, the feathers, the beads, but it's the backside below that I love the most.  Tremendous piece kiddo, even though you do talk too much in class.  LOL  Love you to pieces!

And speaking of lovely, just look at what senior Andrea De Leon has made.  The flowing needlefelted heart, with the bead accent, you worked hard woman!
Below we have senior Ingrid Huang who also worked her worked her fingers to the bone in this piece, with lots of stitching and beading.  Love those zig-zags!

And lastly we have junior Kevin Tang, who is one of the hardest working kids that I have this year.  You will find Kevin stitching not only during my class and then back again at lunch, but if his teachers allow it, in every single one of his classes.  Kevin had the most difficult beading plus lots of circular machine stitching.  Fantastic work Kev.

To all of you, I'm so very proud to show your work to all the pros out there.  I truly appreciate all the hard work and effort you give me.  I know, yes I do know I push you hard but it's only because I know what all of you are capable of.  We only have 8 more weeks to go and I have so much more in store for you , so hang on, it's gonna be a crazy ride!  I'm not done with you yet.  :)


  1. Wow! And I don't use that word often! You have taught your students so brilliantly and they have done you proud. You must be thrilled. I am very honoured to be an inspiration for their work and to be mentioned in the same breath as Chad Alice hagen whose work I love.
    Congratulations to all of you and keep up the good work.

  2. wow, look at all the work that went into these, i bet the makers are quite proud as well!

  3. Debbie -- those felted, stitched and beaded pieces are amazing. I have to agree with Jackie above. My first reaction also was 'WOW", and then another "WOW" and another as I scrolled down the page. Your students should be so proud of their work.

  4. WHERE were you when I was in high school?! These are brilliant, I can't pick a favorite. Such wonderful executions of the many different requirements. They will remember and be so grateful to you for pushing them to be their best. just grand. & a very happy belated birthday to you!

  5. These are so beautiful! Your students are are ecclectically talented--they can do anything!

  6. these are incredible works, functional pieces, each with a story to tell... what a great exercise you set up and what fine work your students did running with it!