Today, since it was a holiday from work and school, I wanted to do something fun. I still have readings to do for class tomorrow, and the kitchen needed some major attention today (in terms of tidying) but I still set aside time for fun. Today's fun was doing some wet felting. I love spinning, but felting is another interesting way to use fibre, and the wet felting technique can create some really interesting pieces.
I did four different felts today. This first one used a white base with some dyed fibres on top, and then I used feltable wool yarn in looping patterns to see how it would look when the wet felting was complete. The yarn adhered well to the base and the colours worked quite well together. I'm not sure how I'll use this piece but I like it.
The second felt is the base piece for some needle felting that I plan to do. Once the base felt is dry, it's easy to needle-felt other designs onto the base. This is a kind of woodsy scene (tree shape in upper right, sun on upper left, and a kind of path or stream through the middle. I'm going to have fun playing with this one over time.
My favourites of the pieces I did today are these two similar pieces that I felted with a base colour, onto which I added dyed locks - some mohair (that's from angora goats), some Lincoln, or other long-wooled sheep locks. The locks don't felt into the background quite like other wools do - they tend to sit on the top a bit more. They do adhere in places though, so overall they stick to the base. I like it that they don't felt in completely because it means their texture and curls are still very apparent.
To wet felt, one makes layers of fibre criss-crossed over each other, so that the fibers face in all different directions. Then, after laying on multiple layers of different fibres (colours, types, etc) one sprinkles it with very hot water and detergent. I put it between two layers of sheer fabric (old curtains) and then I start rubbing the design into the background. After the whole thing is wet and bubbly with detergent, I roll it up inside an old bamboo blind, and then in an old towel, and I begin to roll it back and forth. After about 100 rolls in one direction, I change the direction of the piece by unrolling it and turning a quarter turn. Another 100 rolls. Repeat both directions again. Then, I rinse out the detergent and hang them outside to dry. I could do more rolling to make it tighter, but on these pieces I didn't.
The best part is watching the transition from a pile of dry wool going every which way, to a finished piece.