Thanks a million to Sheila Ahern who mentioned me in her excellent article in last Sunday’s Independent Newpaper. Here is the link for any of you who might like a peek, the main thread of the piece is about felting becoming addictive and some of the prose made me laugh out loud!
Yesterday I mentioned the basic tools that I use when felting and today I am going to give a brief overview of using prefelts in your work to get defined outlines, also a little mention of the Osman technique prior to Mehmet Girgic’s workshops later in January.
Prefelt is basically what occurs when you start the felting process but stop working the fibres as soon as they have started to form a cohesive fabric and before they have started to shrink. By washing carefully and drying your piece at this stage you can then cut the prefelt into any shape you like and place it on top of freshly laid out wool fibres. The result of this is that the cut out shape retains its clean lines and you can have much more control of what your finished piece will look like than with the usual method. If you are a bit impatient like me, you can actually cut the piece when wet and use it immediately, if you do this it is best to have the main layers of fibre wetted out before placing the prefelt in position. You also don’t have to rinse out the prefelt if you will be using it within a few days of making it, only if you want to store it for a while. I like to spend a bit of time sometimes dreaming up interesting combinations for my prefelt, I often try and include metallic threads, silk, angelina, things that I might not want a huge amount of in a finished piece but enough to add some interest to the work.
The Osman technique as taught by Mehmet Girgic is another way in which to get clean outlines. This is the method that I used for my road sign, note how obvious the outlines of the oak leaves are. With this piece I laid out the oulilne of the words and the leaves on top of a prepared base, this base was quite thick and comprised of layers of natural fleece and a top layer of heavy duty muslin which had been worked to the prefelt stage. In this method you roll the dry roving into a thin thread, dip it into extremely soapy water, wet the section of base that you wish to work on and then ‘draw’ your outlines with the wet roving. Because you have already wet the base and dipped the wool into soapy water the roving sticks very well to the backing. Once you fill in all the areas that you want to have colour you then wet out and roll, stamp, roll and stamp your piece again. This method is great for rugs and large wallhangings so why not give it a try? Mehmet will be arriving on Thursday 15th January and facilitating two 3 day workshops in rug making, check out the workshop page for full details. A couple of people have had to drop out at the last minute so if anyone is interested in a place please contact me asap! This is an amazing opportunity to meet and work with a world reknowned tutor.