Writing directions to something you do artistically is challenging. If I were to hand you a straight pipe cleaner and say, “shape this wire, wrap it in wool roving and turn it into a flying pig” can you? Many people can, but for those who can’t easily turn an image from their mind into something tangibly representative, they rely on directions. I consider needle felting to be a very simple craft, and I believe anyone can do it – even if you can’t easily turn a straight pipe cleaner into a pig-like shape.
When I create felting kits I want my instructions to be clear enough for someone who has never touched felting needle or wool to understand, interpret, and be able to follow though to a completed project.
As I was learning to crochet I found the easiest patterns to follow were the ones with clear, colour photographs. I wouldn’t know how to write felting instructions without photographs..: swirl a swoop of wool roving into a mustache shape then whoop-dee-loop it into a crescent-like roll and add a twist of this colour and that colour then shape it into a bird and ta-da you’re done…. .
The hardest part, I find, is in taking the photos to show the project from beginning to end, and remaining consistent while completing this over a matter of days or weeks. I don’t have solid “work days” to do any of this, it’s all done in bits and pieces around life and motherhood. So when I’m writing instructions and I have this problem:
Do you see it?
Light. It matters.
I have a whole series of photos of my flying pigs being made -which are what I write my instructions around. I try to take the photos around the same time of day in the same kind of light. I need daylight. I don’t know how to take good photos in artificial light, and I only know a bit about flash and that’s only for big areas, not close up sometimes macro photography of wool work. It doesn’t really matter which, so long as the photos are consistent. I’m picky about those kinds of details.
So, when I started the pig instructions I was working in bright sunlit light. Then the clouds rolled in and honestly in the last two weeks we’ve had all of three (maybe) sunny days … seriously, I’m going to start to wither soon. That many days of overcast grey weather can depress the most vibrant of people. I shouldn’t complain, today was nice and bright – but, of course, I had no time to work on pig photos. If I wait until my husband gets home it’s dark, or the sun is so low it’s shining straight on my table in blinding beams. I feel like I’m constantly chasing the light. The heavy clouds lately have been getting me down.
I wanted to take the photos for the pig instructions against my cutting board to show measure – as that is the most common question when people start one of my projects, because I don’t mention size or weights in my instructions. ( I don’t include that information because it doesn’t matter – you can make your sculpture as big or small as you want with the wool I provide, which is always enough to make one or more.) The photos with the backdrop of measure should give you a clear enough indication of the size I’m working with – and I include the various sizes of pigs I’ve made to show the differences. The problem with the blue backdrop of the cutting board is how it changes in the light. Wool also changes colour in the light, so in most of the photos the pig looks pinkish, but in some of them the pig looks a salmon colour, in others it’s very pale. In print the mis-matched images make my aesthetic brains cells explode.
None of the above photos are colour true enough in my mind – the salmon is close but too saturated, the pink is too pink.
Once the instructions are written and I’m happy with it all, the assembly of the kits is just like filling loot bags but with better stuff -like for your friends. It’s just the writing of instructions that makes it feel like work. (That said, as fun as the kits are to assemble it is a very time consuming undertaking..)
In the case of the chickadee kit, it took about a dozen prints before the final copies were printed, with many edits along the way – and apologies to early kit buyers for parts left out. (I completely forgot to add the part about felting the chickadee’s cheeks in the early versions, among other clarity problems..)
I’m almost there with the pig instructions, hoping to print the first distributable batch tomorrow and run from there. Kits will be available soon via email, facebook, instagram, locally I deliver, and they will be available at Pneumaticity downtown. Etsy distribution is just around the corner. *wink*
I am still working on some simpler kits, some just wool and needles, no instructions, some easy one card notes to follow, hoop kits (and workshops), PDF downloadable instructions, just wool combinations, and follow up chickadee, hummingbird, pig, and heart wool kits. Please bear with me as I find the time to pull this all together. It’s great fun, and I love the excitement around felting and fibre art, your support has made this all so rewarding.SMILE