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The latest, and probably the last Secret Stash competition, from Spin Artiste is over and on this occasion we came in one vote short of the top position.  More importantly, we came out with a ton of ideas and a greatly expanded knowledge base.  I think we really stretched ourselves this time and in doing so, learned a whole lot more about manipulating natural fiber.  A big thank you goes out to all of those who organised the event, everyone who dared to take part and to all the lovers of the fibre arts who took the time to vote.

In order to grow, you have to stretch the envelope; push and shove at the boundaries and that is the real beauty of the Secret Stash competition.  To receive a package of materials that one might otherwise have ignored or overlooked and then, bound by constraints of

time and rules, to create something artful and appealing is challenging indeed.  The only flexibility available to the artist is their willingness to try something different and I am quite sure that everyone who has taken part in these challenges has encountered the same feelings of doubt and been nibbled around the edges by tiny fears of inadequacy.  This particular challenge swished around with a dozen other life challenges and time was not on our side …but we made it.

One of the most important elements of the challenge is in listening to the gentle voice of the ingredients.  I believe that everything wants to be something and this packet of vibrancy cried out to be seen, to be noticed, to be illuminated.  Illuminated?  Like a lamp?

A mooring buoy, washed up on the edge of the lake presented itself as the perfect form upon which to felt the body of the shade, but the multi-coloured hand painted roving from Wild Hare Fiber, was insufficient to hold a shape.  I carded a batt from some of the tight brown sheepie locks from …miscellaneous fibers? – felting that over the roving and then turned the whole inside out to keep the colour on the outside.  The felting was very demanding.  It had to be thin and cobwebbed, in order to allow the light through, but not so thin that it would tear and permit the light bulb to glare; too thick and it would be a dark room!  An evening of felting dragged into the night, as the felt was pummelled and rubbed down to a mat and teased out to a veil.  The balance finally emerged.

The pale brown ‘Miss Elaneous Fibers’ inner worked perfectly, better at reflecting the light, whilst the colours of the hand painted roving remained strong on the outer surface.  The yarn was one of those freeform delights.  Cutting the exotic cloth into thin strips on the

bias, provided elasticity and edge curl.  So, with a basket on my lap, containing a riot of Just Ducky locks and Naked Ewe fabric strips and whatever glittering ‘baubies’ could be extracted from the supplies, the gaudy yarn was core-spun onto a short length of chunky, waiting for this particular moment, to be released from my box of odds-and-ends.  Yet more teased locks from Miss Elaneous, were offered into the great orifice of the spinning wheel, blending everything together and providing the necessary key for attaching yarn to shade.

The resulting yarn was randomly, but carefully, needle-felted onto the wet-felted shade, careful not to disturb the Chinese lanterns of red and gold silk, and the whole thing sewn to the cage using a finer yarn spun from the thoroughly exhausted, Miss Elaneous locks.

The lamp was David’s doing.  Using only a length of high-tensile bright-steel fencing wire, the lamp took as long to make as the shade, but it was worth it, skittering the light in all directions.  This seemed like rather a large addition to the project, but no less than required to enable the shade to be displayed, and more importantly, to be used.

The bell-rope tassel was dismantled, with disturbing difficulty I might add, and I prayed that whoever put this thing together, presumably in some distant land, was well rewarded for their efforts!  The glittery thread was welcomed into the fray of the yarn and the baby tassels, separated from their sparkling umbilical, were dangled as individuals from the steel springs.

Sarah’s Forest Room skein-lette was the perfect length to entwine with the steel spring that suspends the whole affair, accompanying the electric cable from ceiling hook to lamp.

Finally, the beautiful, home-grown, paper tags from ForestRoomArtYarns were too good to miss.  These were ‘feathered’ using a razor blade and suspended on the fine wire that had bound the big tassel.

If I were to set out to make a lamp shade, I would not have elected these materials to partake. As it turns out, the lamp is a delight to turn on and so be turned on.  Thank you to all who gifted time and energy and talent into this entire project.  The tentacles of your energy have reached far and wide.

..and ‘Illuminated’ turned out to have an alternative meaning, since the gold embossed yarn resembles the illuminated manuscripts of old, an art form which my husband has a passion.

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