Fun with Felt Board

So I got an app called Felt Board by Software Smoothie. This post isn’t a review of the app – you will be able to read that when its published at Smart Apps for Kids. This is to share some reflections as well as some pictures that won’t be included in the review. I also thought it would be a good way of alerting folks to two giveaways for the app that are running right now, just in case you wanted to try and win yourself a copy.

The giveaways are happening at Smart Apps for Kids and Seven YuckMouths & Autism. Or, if you want to just go ahead and buy the app – here’s the iTunes link. It’s only $1.99 right now!

I remember two felt-board boxed sets from when I was a child. One was a jungle themed one that I wasn’t terribly fond of and the other was based on Swan Lake, the ballet. It was fun setting up different scenes with Siegfried and Odette and dressing up the corps de ballet in various costumes and shoes. I don’t recollect ever dressing up or playing with dolls but I do remember being the set designer and choreographer of my own little felt ballet, which leads me to believe I enjoyed it at the time.

As I played with this app I felt the same sense of satisfaction I recall (or at least seem to recall) getting back then. It was fun, trying to pull together different scenarios using only the felt pieces I had available. Around the same time as I got Felt Board I also grabbed a free app code from Starbucks for Snapseed which is a funky photo edit app, so I decided I would play with that as well and customize my various felt tableaux. I ended up with my Classic Movie Series – all of which I posted to Facebook. For those of you who aren’t friends with me there, I thought it would be fun to share the pictures with you here. I hope they make you smile.

The Shining

This was the first film scene I created and the reason I was inspired to do it was because I had used the castle in putting together a felt board fish tank and for some reason (the central triangular piece probably) it reminded me of the Timberline Lodge. Timberline was used in the film of The Shining as the exterior location for the Overlook Hotel. I had visited that location many years ago (just a pit stop in order to take pictures) – its on Mount Hood in Oregon and the felt mountain background seemed to me like a reasonable facsimile for the Cascade mountains. I wanted to allude to the hedge maze which is an important feature at the end of the film and that’s why I included the bushes you can see at the side of the building. There was no axe (in a kids’ app, go figure!) but the pirate sword looked sufficiently machete-like that it seemed to me to convey some menace. I applied a vintage tint and crinkly texture in Snapseed to try and give the picture a retro 1970s but also slightly unreal (possibly even imagined) feel.

Raiders of the Lost Ark

I wanted to do Raiders as soon as I saw the hat in the accessories section. It was a challenge because there are not a lot of items in the app that I could use for contextual background. I decided to add the monkey as a nod to the thieving, Hitler-saluting capuchin in the movie, so it then made sense to add a tree for him to hang out in. The chest chock-full of doubloons seemed a good way of representing both the Ark and the treasure-hunting aspect of Indiana Jones’ character. I put a fishing rod in Indy’s hand as it seemed reminiscent of a whip. I then washed out the colour of the finished picture a little and gave it a grainy texture for a sand-on-papyrus effect.

Top Hat

This one was also inspired by headwear – I saw the Top Hat and of course immediately thought of the 1935 film with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers and Irving Berlin songs like Cheek to Cheek.  Obviously I used Snapseed to make this picture black and white but I also added a little grainy-ness to give it something of an old-movie feel.

Wizard of Oz

In contrast to the previous two pictures, I decided to try and put this one together when I noticed the blue and red shoes and thought of layering them to create Dorothy’s footwear. Yes the cowardly lion is a big orange cat but there are little details other than Dorothy’s socks and shoes that I really like – the blue tinge of the knight really evokes Tin Man for me, the Scarecrow’s brown blob nose is perfect and the layered yellow bushes enabled me to put together something that at least suggests the yellow brick road.  I really saturated this picture with colour and the overall look still makes me smile.

American Beauty

I was scrolling through the landscape section and those deep red leaves caught my eye. They’re not petals but I thought that when layered, the overall effect would still work, at least at first glance. It took a loooong time to drag and place each leaf although I confess I did not cover the whole board but cropped the picture, then added a centre focus so it has a blurry, dream-like quality. What I realized when I was putting this together is that I’m flexible when it comes to using the felt pieces that are available but when it comes to detail I can control, I’m a bit of a stickler. For example, I googled the original image from the film and zoomed in to ensure that the colour of the girl’s eyes and eyebrows were correct.

When an old friend saw the pictures I was sharing on Facebook he asked what on earth I was doing, so as part of my explanation I decided to whip up a picture for him. He gave me the DVD of  Trading Places as a Christmas present one year and we’d watched it together a few times so I put together this:

Trading Places

I was annoyed that I couldn’t get the fish under the beard but I loved the grungy filter I could apply in Snapseed – I felt it gave the right feel to the picture which, after all, reflects the extremely grimy, low point in the life of Louis Winthorp III.

As you may be able to tell, I have been really having some fun with this app. I find the juxtaposition of adult-themed pictures created within a kids’ app particularly satisfying (apologies to the developer here) and frankly it’s been a hoot applying art aesthetics to felt pictures. I’ve been able to dust off and smile over some old childhood memories but most of all I’ve loved being able to create something. I have no craft, so when it comes to art I have always been in the passive role of observer. I suppose I could try something conceptual but hey, I’m no Marcel Duchamp. This app allowed me to actually create some pictures despite my complete lack of craft and that’s something I really got a kick out of doing.

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6 Comments on “Fun with Felt Board”

  1. Teriann Morgan March 16, 2012 at 4:05 am #

    I was a felt board fan as a child too. So are my kids, the little pieces drive me mad. So, I too love this app but most of all I love seeing your creations. We just need a gallery to show them now!

  2. Natalie March 16, 2012 at 6:37 am #

    I really cant wait untill i get this , i loved it so much as a kid and i think it is brilliant for an iPad as teriann mentioned , i used to lose pieces all the time with this no pieces can be lost ! i really cant wait to use it .

  3. Mindy Staples Douglas March 16, 2012 at 10:52 am #

    This is so wonderful, Deanne. You are so incredibly creative and talented! I am really impressed and can’t wait to see more in your film series.

  4. CMarieGo March 19, 2012 at 12:59 am #

    I love it Deanne!! The Trading Places pic was my fav and made me chuckle:). Who says you’re not crafty?? You are very talented!

  5. Mama Be Good (@mamabegood) May 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm #

    You will not believe. I’m searching for a real Wizard of Oz felt board and it took me straight to your blog. It’s a small world.

    • OMum22 May 26, 2012 at 4:19 pm #

      That is funny!! Good luck with your search 🙂

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