Learning the Craft
I started this year with ambition to learn many new mediums, but as I have grown fond of tufting and fiber arts I guess I'm dedicating this year to perfecting the craft. I have learned so much, and made so many things! This summer as vaccinations allowed us to attend events I've even done a few local maker markets. I've enjoyed talking to people about tufting, and the types of things they enjoy making. I've worked on some custom commissions from lamps, curtains, rugs and wall hangings. I think my next step will be refining my aesthetic, since so far I've made many different styles including more childlike designs to more abstract natural looks. It's easy to create what people want to buy (apparently smiley faces and rainbows are a hit with kids) but as I refine my tufting skills, I enjoy recreating paintings in yarn, and making abstract landscapes.
What I've learned about yarn:
- It's expensive! You can't beat the natural properties of wool, and in a rug the stain resistant nature and how it keeps shape is worth the extra cost.
- Thrifting yarn takes patience, and you need to look at the cost because it's not always a good deal.
- It takes a lot of yarn to make a rug or hanging- so make sure you have plenty!
- Art yarn and spinning may be my next adventure, maybe next year. Im the meantime there are many great yarn makers on Etsy. I've found that I hand punch needle with fancy yarn, but don't use it in my tufting gun
- While there are so many pretty sock yarns, they just don't work for tufting unless you are doing something delicate and by hand
What I've learned about tufting:
- There is no magic button to make something fast, and usually when I rush it doesn't turn out as well
- Feeding yarn from the center of a skein is the best way I've found so far, I must not have the correct angle on my cone yarns, because they don't always feed correctly
- You can play around with backing material, but I have had little luck with burlap. I like to find vintage linen curtains with the right weave, or I found some wool fabric at a thrift store that worked. Colored monks cloth also offers lots of design options.
- Trimming as you go is a must, I bought an electric shaver from Amazon and it helps me get clean lines as I go. You need to pay attention to what order you are tufting in when you contour and shave as you go.
What I've learned about managing time:
- Not much! Tufting is tricky to sell because of the material and time it takes. I'm going to keep at it and learn more since I enjoy the process and the time it takes me to tuft and finish is fulfilling.
- Eventually I would love to get a more professional gun like a Hoffman, but in order to do that I need a different set-up with pulleys and a space where an air compressor will not be too intrusive. I'd also love a bigger frame to make larger pieces.
- The biggest thing I hope for is a better studio space, right now I've taken over half of our garage, but I dream of a better working space.
Until next time!