Thanks for all the comments on fulling in a tumble dryer and a few replies!

Thanks everyone for your comments and emails in relation to my last post, it has been really interesting studying your replies so please keep them coming!  Not having a tumble dryer myself I didn’t even know that there was a ‘fluff or air only’ option but this definitely sounds like an interesting avenue to explore, thanks Dawn for that tip.  I also emphathise with Liz when she says that she feels guilty if fulling in a machine.  This is something that I ask myself many times every week, is an item handmade if one uses electronic equipment in the process, ie. a sander or in this instance the tumble dryer?  The answer I keep coming up with is that other artists and craftspeople use tools so why should we not??  Looking at things from this angle seems reasonable but I STILL have that niggling doubt in my mind!  Any thoughts?  As you all know I do use my washing machine for part of the process when making felt rugs, this is as a result of Mehmet’s advice and I don’t feel a bit guilty here since he gave me the go ahead.

Now to respond to Deb’s two comments ……. I didn’t use a dryer for the felted seascape, the white fibres that crinkled nicely were either spun wool or mohair (suitable for knitting) and I just laid them on top of my wool and felted by hand as normal.  If anything I didn’t roll for quite as long as normal as I wanted to keep a lot of texture in the finished piece.  I also used some very fine white mohair (thanks Dawn, it was some of the great yarn from our destash swap!) in an extremely light piece of cobweb felt last week and it felted in beautifully but I did do a LOT of rolling between thin plastic sheeting to deep the felt very smooth and fine.  In relation to rolling in a bamboo blind, I find them great.  Usually I place my bubble wrap on the blind (bubbles facing up) and lay out my work as normal, wet out and cover with more wrap (bubbles down) and start the rubbing and rolling process.  I then roll the whole lot up together as in the image below (have used laminate underlay in this piece but I am sure you get the picture) until the felt isStarting the rolling process in a bamboo blind

starting to hold together.  At this stage I remove the bubble wrap and roll the felt directly in the blind, everything starts to come together much more quickly at this stage as the friction is greater with the bamboo than with the bubble wrap.  I have also tried laying out the fibres directly on the blind as many people actually prefer but I find that using this method I need to unroll the package much more often.   For me I find that the fibres have a habit of migrating through the rolled up layers and sticking together a bit before a surface skin has formed on the felt which is really annoying so this is why I prefer starting on plastic and then changing to the blind.  Hope this makes sense!  You do need to roll the blind quite firmly but once the felt starts to shrink it happens much faster than with bubble wrap alone.


2 thoughts on “Thanks for all the comments on fulling in a tumble dryer and a few replies!

  1. Good morning Nicola,

    You’re welcome! Now, I’m going to have to go back and look at all of your work to see the mohair yarn. I’m so glad that you were able to use it!

    Now, on to the next part of today’s entry…

    Well I’m not going to feel guilty either. If it’s good enough for you and Mehmet (who I’ve never had the pleasure of meeting, but have read great things about, and would have loved to have taken his class), then it’s good enough for me. Why, I have enough to feel guilty about…Like the state of my house right now. Must have been a cyclone that went through while I was sleeping! All kidding aside, I think we’ve probably all had that debate with ourselves about whether or not an item is handmade, if using anything other than our hands. From my perspective, I feel that much of the handmade-iness (I’m sure that is a word) is the thought, creativity and design work that goes into an item. All of my smaller work, is done completely by hand, with no assistance from the washer/dryer. But, sometimes, I do resort to a bit of assistance on larger pieces, where I just don’t have the space to have a piece sitting out for days on end. I use my dining room table for most of my work, and my family would be awfully sad, to see a piece of soggy felt sitting there at dinnertime. (My dog would be even sadder, as he loves to help with clean-up from any stray bits of food that might happen to fall from the table!)

    Hope you’re having a great week.


  2. I just posted on my site about a mistake that happened because I was too aggressive with what I thought tumbling in the dryer would do for my felt! I really wrestle with this, and also with you new post as far as ‘art’ or ‘craft’ and where does my work fit in the mix. Is it too commercial? Not abstract enough? I think that I explore the elements of modern felting with a few exceptions, as far as any other fiber artist, but is it considered art? Why is my work not considered art by some, yet pieces made with commercially made industrial felt are?

    You can’t loose sleep over this. Bottom line is, do what you love to do…..good energy will flow through your work.

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