So you have an old sweater or thrift store find that you’ve put through the washing machine to felt. Or you’ve knit an oversized wool hat or slippers and put it (them) through the washing machine to bring it (them) down to size. Maybe you’ve made a scarf and decided, after you’ve invested a lot of knitting hours that it looks fairly plain and needs some dazzle. It looks like a plain piece of wool — not quite what you envisioned. How can you turn it into a work of art, worthy of your time and reputation? Embellishing with needle felting can transform a plain piece of felt into beautiful work. Needle felting is painting with wool. Through needle felting your plain piece of wool felt is transformed into a one of a kind work of wearable art.
However, embellishing felt can feel overwhelming when faced with a blank piece of felt and needles, wool roving but no ideas. In this article I reveal a rich source of inspirational ideas that will transform all your felted pieces from now on.
Design Ideas and Copyright Laws
First of all, if you are making something to give as a gift, or for you own use, you are free to take any visual design idea off of the internet. This is not a violation of copyright and you don’t need permission to use visual designs or ideas from the internet on your own personal work that is not for resale. However, if you plan to sell, barter or make any kind of financial gain from a design idea, and the design is copyrighted, which would be the case of all visual designs on the internet, unless otherwise stated, you do need the permission of the artist. That includes designs that you publish in book or ebook format.
There are two other kinds of designs on the internet which you can freely use in your work, even if it is for resale, without asking for permission. One is the design that is no longer under copyright because of the age of the design. Most designs that are 100 years old or older are considered “public domain” because the designer is dead. You can freely use these designs in your own work without asking for permission. Many famous works of art fall in this category. A grey area here is where a design that is in the public domain, is used on a modern work and you copy the modern work, rather than the original design. For instance, if Van Gogh’s Starry Night is reworked by a modern artist, but the colours are changed to sepia shades. Only the original work is in the public domain, not the derivative work.
Another type of design that you can copy from the internet are works that are release through the Creative Commons licence. Works under the creative commons license are designs that are either reworkings of designs that are in the public domain but released under a new derivative work, or they are original designs that the artist has generously offered to the public for free, sometimes as a give away to draw web attention to their other work. Works released under the creative commons license sometimes ask for a attribution link,when the design is used on the internet, but not always. Read the full disclosure and attribution agreement to ensure that you are abiding by the intent of the designer when using designs under the creative commons license when there is money to be made. Here’s more information about the creative commons licensing categories to help you stay within the intent of the law.
One designer that releases designs under the creative commons license is the Graphics Fairy. Have a look at her designs if you are looking for nostalgia to use in your own work. You can copy these designs on various kinds of transfer paper using your computer printer and then use them for embroidery, needle felting or even just use the design in ink on fabric or paper.
Dover Publishing has also released a number of design books that have designs that you can use without obtaining permission in works that are for sale. These designs are mostly works that are in the public domain. The books come with a CD that contains each design in various digital formats to allow you to change the size and digitally build on the individual design. This is what I have used from my examples in the following articles. (coming soon).
My design came from the Dover Publication
Dover Publications CD Rom Books-Celtic Designs For Artist & Craftspeople
This is part 1 of a 2 part series on transferring designs onto wool for needle felting. See part 2 – how to transfer the design here.
Here are a few other Dover Design Publications. There are too many to chose from so I’ve only listed a few:
Tomorrow I’ll write about different transfer mediums that you can use to transfer a design to your own wool or another fabric to needle felt or print a design.
What is your favourite source of design inspiration? Share it in the Comments section.
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