Friday, February 13, 2015

DIY: A Needle Felted Tribute to Jim Dine

Well, hey there, love birds. Lemme be the first to wish you Happy Valentine's Day! Or, as it should truly be known, Happy-Hallmark-Marketing-Scheme Day, amiright? I mean, if I gotta hear the chic on NPR try to sell me another 50 Shades of Gray teddy bear (seriously, NPR? You can't go from StoryCorps to PornTeddy in a matter of minutes, it ain't right.) or the radio talk show host tell me that "buying her roses will warm her heart and clear your conscious" (like, ew, jerk face) Ima gonna scream. I'm totes over the commercialism of what's otherwise a beautiful thing: love. After all, tis the inspo for this here DIY.
So last Saturday I was puttering around, stitching a couple of dresses, working on a little painting project, completely avoiding housework; you know, the ushe. It was then I suddenly realized that V-Day was rapidly approaching and I needed a new dress for the occasion. I immediately thought of the artist Jim Dine and was inspired to needle felt a dress dedicated to him! So I promptly set about googling Jim Dine's hearts and found this lovely: 
 I loved it straight away mostly cuz it looked so art teacher-y. Splatters, splats and splashes of color? Say no more, Dine. You had me at splatter (wait, that don't sound right.)
And here's my tribute. I was excited to use some new gold tinsel-y stuff I'd picked up at a fibers shop. I used it in place of the black outline seen in Dine's heart.
Now, like I said, I got this idea on a Saturday and didn't actually start until late that night. Since time was limited, I knew I couldn't spend forever on this here project. So just one heart was to go in the center of this lil thrifted number. 
Whenever I start my felted numbers, I always sketch in chalk. It's the perfect thang because you can just wipe it off with the sleeve of your sweater (ahem. You should see my yellow-y sweater sleeves). And, don't forget, you can needle felt on just about any surface. I've worked on wool, jersey knit and whatever this dress is. Sweatshirt? I dunno. It's needle felt-able. 
 I started by placing my needle felting cushion inside the dress and shaping the heart before I commenced stabbing it. If you've no clue how needle felting works, friend, don't you sweat it. I've got you covered. You can watch these super vintage vid clips where I annoyingly explain the process. My apologies in advance. 

See? Like, insanely simple. If I can do it, well, drunk monkeys dancing on rooftops can do it. So you should be safe. 
 After the white background was complete, the layers of colors were added. I stared with the biggest and lightest swathes of color first.
Then layered smaller and brighter colors on top of that. The gold tinsel was a weird thing to needle felt cuz it wasn't as cooperative as wool. 
 And that was pretty much it. Three episodes of Project Runway All-Stars and I was el finito.
And ready to introduce my students to Jim Dine and needle felting! I hinted that I introduced our new heart-themed mural with an artist and that was, of course, Mr. Dine. I created this prezi for the kids that you are welcome to borrow and change to your liking. I'm really digging Dine's drawings of tools and totally using that theme in a drawing unit. Have any of y'all done that? 
When I introduced my fourth graders to needle felting, they really loved seeing my dress and knowing that I'd used the same technique. For this fourth grade project, I had enough needle felting tools, roving and a foam cushion for each student. They really enjoyed this process and proved that they could handle using a super sharp tool with only a little blood and finger poking. 
 So sweet, right? You can read more about the "Our School has Heart" mural here
Until next time, I do hope you and your 50 Shades of Awkward Teddy Bear have a super heart-filled Valentine's Day! xox!
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  1. I love needle felting and I so love your dress! Beautiful!

  2. Can you machine wash something you've needle felted?

    1. Hey Joni! I usually hand wash in Woolite or spot clean :)


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