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Monday, September 7, 2009

How I felt(ed)

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.

13 comments:

Lola Nova said...

Oh Claire, I love, love those, especially the last two! I want some! I am so glad you took some time for yourself and did something fun (and might I say, beautiful). So cool. I want to come over and play too :)

Lola Nova said...

PS.
The 'cotton candy' in your Etsy shop is so lovely!

Claire said...

Thank you thank you Alex! It's a delight to hear that you like them! I think of you as very talented and as having excellent design sense, so the fact that you like them makes me feel extra-good about them! I'd be happy to make you a couple of felted sheets similar to the last two, if you would like! What would you do with them? I love them, but I don't exactly know what to do with them! Whatever it is has to be something that doesn't have a great deal of friction/wear to it, because the curly bits would tend to come off.

Lola Nova said...

I do like them, very much. The blue one reminds me of the felted fish you made us. The other one reminds me of a fall garden. I probably wouldn't do all that much to them, because I think they are wonderful on their own. I might add some hand embroidery, maybe some very simple beading. Then I would frame them and hang them. Collaborative Art!

Joanna@BooneDocksWilcox said...

they're beautiful, good job!

Becky Utecht said...

I love the pieces with the locks too Claire. I think Lola has a great plan for them. Keep on felting!

Nancy K. said...

Those felted locks pieces are stunning! I especially like the last one ~ because it's 'my' colors...

Beautiful work!

IsobelleGoLightly said...

How beautiful! I love the many colors! Perhaps you could make some lovely felted goatie clothes?

Jenny Holden said...

Fabulous fleecy creations! I love the last two but am looking forward to seeing the finished woodland scene. I needle felt but don't wet felt yet... will try to get going this winter :o)

Mom L said...

I'm totally lost here - you introduced me to this art form but I still don't understand it. However, I'm delighted to leave it to you and others. Your results are beautiful, and I love the colors! I'd probably just use them as mini wall hangings!!! Little tapestries....

Nancy in Iowa

Kenleigh's Fiber Studio said...

That is a very fun day! I can't wait to see what you needle felt to the woodland scene.

thecrazysheeplady said...

Beautiful!!!

Laughing Orca Ranch said...

Neat! Those last two are my favorites! The one with blues and greens reminds me of an ocean scene.

I didn't know it took so long to do felting. I don't think I could do all that rolling without hand and shoulder pain, though.

I think it's neat that you did these, though. They are like fuzzy works of art.

~Lisa