Mohair and merino transformed into a light and airy cobweb felt scarf

The natural mohair locks that I brought home from the States are a gorgeous mixture of silvery colours and I thought that they would combine beautifully with some more 16 micron merino from Filzrausch, this time a black and white roving perfectly named ‘Zebra’! 

'Zebra' merino and mohair locks

Cobweb felting is not a technique that I have great confidence in never having had a chance to participate in a workshop on the subject.  Instead I’ve learnt from books and practical experience and to be quite honest this latest attempt is by far the best scarf that I have felted to date using this interesting method.  If any of you do have some tips and advice about the topic please leave a comment, all info gratefully recieved and put into practice for future projects!  Anyway, I laid out the roving along the full length of my table and then teased the fibres out as wide as I could possibly get them without breaking the strands or leaving any areas too open and exposed.  Once I was happy with the layout of the merino I teased the mohair locks with my fingers and laid the curls loosly in position.  I decided not to place any merino at right angles across the scarf because the mohair acted well to strengthen the felt and I wanted the black and white of design to run lengthwise and really give a sense of movement to the finished piece. 

Cobweb scarf blowing in the wind

I rubbed, rolled, stretched and re-rolled the scarf for much longer than usual in order to create a super strong and well fulled cobweb felt.  In some early cobweb experiments I don’t think that I rolled for long enough because after the scarves were worn for quite a number of times they almost seemed to continue felting further widthwise with use.  Maybe that is a feature of this type of felt, as I say I really know very little about the subject although I think that this scarf has totally stopped felting and fulling and I hope that it will stand up successfully to many happy seasons of wear!

One idea clarified and great news about an Arts Grant from Carlow Co Council

One of the ideas that I have been playing around in my mind with for Sculpture in Context is a really large felt cobweb sparkling with dew and catching the early morning sunlight.  To this end I have been thinking of ways to make the cobweb strong but not too thick, it needs to be strong enough to withstand the weather but fragile looking enough to suggest delicacy and light.  Tomorrow I am going for a site visit to the National Botanic Gardens and hope to find a likely spot to place the cobweb when designing my submission, stretched between some trees or draped over a suitable shrub in a slightly sheltered space would be ideal.  I would love to work on a much larger scale than I usually do so yesterday I decided to utilise one of Mehmet’s rug bases as a sample piece and see how it would felt into a finished form.  My reasoning was that the cotton backing would add strength to the strands of the web and I think that I have proved the point pretty successfully.  Check out this image of the sample piece hanging from one of the trees at the entrance to my front field.

Sample cobweb

Sample cobweb

The cotton backing from the rug base meant that the felt when fulled is strong and surprisingly flexible.  In the photo I have just draped the piece over some branches of the tree, for a bigger piece my intention would be to secure the edges of the cobweb with either wire or strong fishing gut allowing a little bit of leeway for swaying in the wind.  I also would like to string some clear glass beads and add them to the felt, these would add to the suggestion of sunlight falling on dewdrops. 

Detail of the centre of cobweb
Detail of the centre of cobweb

My other bit of news today is that yesterday I got confirmation from the Arts Office in Carlow Co Council that I was awarded a grant of E200 to go towards my trip in July to the international felting symposium ‘Felt in Focus’.  This takes place in Denmark and I am very excited as I have also been notified by the organisers that I have secured places on both the top two workshops from my wish list!  Will post more info during the next couple of weeks about the symposium.

Amazing Alpaca

Delving through the goodies in my delivery from Germany has sparked so many creative projects it is almost hard to concentrate!  I decided to work my first piece in Alpaca without adding any other fibres and see how it reacted to felting.  The fibres looked absolutely amazing laid out on the bubble wrap, exactly like a long hank of beautiful chestnut hair.  They were really quick to felt and surprisingly I found that they felted particularly well in the opposite direction to how I had laid them out.  Because I wanted to make a long supple scarf I had just laid one layer, almost as fine as cobweb feling.  Anyway, pretty soon I had a really soft but pretty narrow scarf, really luxurious, but a bit plain.  I do like some items to be very unadorned but next time I am going to add a little of the finest merino wook and a few silk strands to see what the difference is.