Sunday, August 30, 2009

Weekend Handwork

I have discovered a new love! Oh my goodness, truly in love. Chloe and I made our first needle felting pictures this weekend. I am also working on a little standing doll, probably for our autumn nature table. This is our first real beginning with wool crafts. You see, we are a vegan family, have been for about 15 years, and in all that time have never worn wool, leather, don't eat honey, didn't use beeswax. Well, beeswax is actually how this all started. The girls never even had crayons, we just used the nice Lyra colored pencils. We were always looking for some kind of vegan crayon option, which would of course be synthetic. Petroleum based. Then a few years ago we stared wondering why we thought a petroleum based crayon was better than a beeswax crayon. After all, we never gave the girls any other kind of synthetic product, no plastic toys, only cotton clothing. We decided we felt good about choosing to use beeswax crayons and candles. (Totally personal decision for us. Other vegans may of course choose to do whatever they want.) Having the beeswax in our home brought us great joy really. Something about the connection to nature, to those sweet little bees so giving and full of love. The wool decision took much longer. Several years really. But recently we (and by we I mean my husband Jason and I) decided to start using wool. A lot of it again has to do with the synthetic versus natural. We never bought polyester fleece clothing or anything like that, (though we do wear synthetic shoes), not even the supposedly better eco type recycled fleece clothing, it's still just plastic to me. We just wore layers and layers of cotton. And we live where winters are very cold and snowy. I can't tell you how excited we are about the idea of having truly warm clothing this coming winter. I have already knitted wool hats for the girls and Jason, mine is still on the needles. The first wool that I used was from Sara from her own sheep. I really feel okay about using wool from my friends sheep, or purchasing it from a Waldorf homeschooling mother, and even supporting my local yarn shop and other small family businesses. Well, I'm certainly not trying to defend myself, it just really was a big personal decision for us, one that we took our time making (seriously, several years), and one that we feel very good about.

And now back to the original point of my post.. oh how we love needle felting! We didn't have any felt sheets to use as a base, so I just started with wool batting and kept felting layers of that until I had a nice thick base. I had started mine the evening before, finished it the next morning, and then Chloe wanted to make her own. At first she was going to make a girl and a tree, but then she ended up making Snow White and Rose Red. I love hers! I think it is wonderful. Little Chessa I just can't imagine letting use the felting needles yet. Too prone to bleeding and injury she is. But I have some wet felting projects planned for her and I soon. Chloe started another picture as a gift for Chessa, but then got sidetracked making doll clothes. The girls spent their entire Sunday making doll clothes!

Friday was a frustrating doll making day for me. I decided one of the heads was not good enough. I think I am too much of a perfectionist sometimes. In sewing this is fine for me, because after 17 years of dressmaking I can make them nearly perfect. But I'm thinking that in dollmaking there may be no such thing. I made a new head yesterday. So I am ready to attach the heads to their bodies. I will post some pictures as soon as I get hair sewn on their funny looking bald heads...

17 comments:

momma rae said...

i am so excited that you are using wool! i know that was a rather monumental decision for you and j. i absolutely love wool!!! can't get enough of it. wool felt, needle felting, wet felting, wool yarn...i have fallen in love with it all in the last year. so many fun projects await you!

that doll face is so adorable! i am also too thrilled that you are on a doll making kick! the dolls you made the girls for their bdays are beautiful! i know all about perfectionism getting in the way, though! ;)

love you girl!

cakesniffer said...

Hello,

I just recently found your blog and am coming out of lurkdom to say that I really appreciated this post in particular. Our family are long time vegans, but we recently started using beeswax products for it sounds like the same reasons as you. Started out with the crayons, and now we have a candle. I appreciate your choice was a difficult one to make up and I am still struggling with the wool issue, mainly because I do not know anyone with sheep and I am not sure I entirely trust that the wool I could buy from a shop would be ethically sourced. Anyway, just wanted to say I really enjoy your blog and particularly this post. Thank for sharing this.
Jane in BC Canada

Linda said...

Hi Renee,
It must be so wonderful to have come to a decision about using wool. I adore wool, I love to knit, spin and needlefelt. I never thought I could ever have this connection that I do have to wool:) Your needlefelted picture is so beautiful :) I can't wait to see the doll you are making, her little face looks so sweet :)

Have a lovely week,

Warmly

Linda

Tahara said...

Hi Renee...I am glad you are enjoying felting...I also enjoy felting and LOVE wool and beeswax...And honey!...

I really enjoyed this post...I feel the same way about synthetic products, and sometimes I feel rather "left out" or "odd" in some way because we are pretty serious about not buying plastic toys and other synthetic items...I feel better knowing that I am not the only one :-)

suzanne said...

Good evening Renee

I am glad you have made your decisions based on true heart felt feeling. Those kinds of decisions always feel the best. We always access and see whats best at this moment in time. If we need to change again, we do. It's wonderful being wrapped up in wooly clothing over cold Winters...I am with you on the magic of the bee and their wax. Just the smell when using it makes my home all cosy.

Your felted pictures are fiber artists in the making. I know you will just love these gorgeous pictures. the address is www.philosoph.etsy.com

Have a lovely day happy crafters
Warm regards
Suzanne

Heather said...

This is a beautiful post, and I admire your ability to follow your heart, and make the decision that is best for your family.

Gorgeous needle felting as well :)

goldenbird said...

It is so nice that you gave so much thought and consideration in to using beeswax and wool. As I read your post I kept thinking, I wish more people were this conscious. Isn't needle felting addictive? I just love it. Can't wait to see more of your family's handwork.

dkjsv05 said...

Wow I love Chloe's felting picture. I know what you mean about beeswax candles they put out such a positive energy.

Cadi said...

It is interesting how we are all on unique journeys. I have always felt okay with using wool. I assumed sheep were treated humanely, pictured them happily grazing on green hills. Well, I was wrong! So wrong. I now am committed to buying only organic wool or wool from a source I trust (meaning friends). - Your pictures are gorgeous. Such a mystical quality. Thank you for sharing!

alisonguinee said...

What a beautiful post and what a warm and thoughtful place your home is. Wonderful needle felting—must try that again soon—and that doll head is perfect.

melissa said...

it's so interesting to read about your choices as a family and what you're happy to use in your crafting and play. your needle felting looks lovely- keep enjoying it!

leaningapplemama said...

thank you for your comment on my post because it has brought me to your blog!!! i think that it is wonderful you made these decisions after much thought. wool is truly one of my favorite things in the entire world. i like to joke that we are a wool and wood family. my son is obsessed (in a great way) with wood. i am obsessed with wool. i have even asked my husband if we could make our own mattresses out of wool and straw! anyway...i also love needle felting but put it aside because i had so many other crafts that i loved. i recently picked it back up and i am so addicted again:) happy felting...

*pennie*

Angela Mobley said...

ahhh, wool :) Welcome to the wonderful world of wool. Next is sheep! There must be some magical connection that happens between women and wool...although once I had a group of 3rd grade boys stuffing wool in their pockets because they loved it so much!

gardenmama said...

I have been a vegetarian my entire life, and my family is vegetarian... I can understand how important this decision must have been for you. We are very much in love with wool and beeswax in our home. I can't wait to see the doll you are working on : )

Angela said...

Beautiful handwork, Renee! I love the subtlety of the first piece - a very peaceful, beautiful image!

Marina said...

I love the beautiful feltwork you are doing!

Having lived in Colorado, I am glad you will be getting warmth this year from happy sheep :)

4 BOYS ONLY said...

Wow! isn't it funny how we sometimes think we are all alone in our decisions. We too are a vegan family. We too recently started using wool and honey and bees wax. We built bee hives this year to hopefully have our own bees. We built hives that are meant to invoke less stress and we will place them out empty and hope bees make their home there. I feel now that it is more about being conscious about these decisions than being hard core one way or the other. Our very good friends are raising sheep, they are very much loved and well taken care of. In the spring they will bless us with their wool. I am also spinning our dogs shedding fur. So happy I found your blog!