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.

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Comments, felting problem discussed and Clasheen New Year Stash Swap

Thanks everyone for responding to the last few posts that I have published in relation to the road sign.  I have to agree with those of you who said that it did NOT explain what I was doing, I know it doesn’t but I also agree with those of you who said that it would stand out especially because of the colour!!  My thinking at the moment is that I will make a second sign in complimentary colours and the text will read ‘Nicola Brown – felt’.  This could be a permanant feature at the top of the lane and would hang above the studio open sign which could be brought inside if I wanted a day to myself!  I don’t have any passing traffic (because I am in such a rural area) so from that point of view anyone actually driving to see me would know in advance that felt is my thing.

Among the comments was a question from Deb Seeger, a brilliant textile artist who has returned to felting since following this blog, a great compliment, thanks Deb!  You can see Deb’s profile by clicking here and follow the link to check out her work, I particularly like ‘Kissy Fish’ and ‘Heart of Gold’.   Anyway, Deb’s question was in relation to a piece of felt which seemed to seperate into 2 distinct layers when it was felted.  It might be that the inital layers were not laid out thinly enough and this could be the problem, it is definitely better to lay many thin layers of wool in opposite directions (especially if you are using tops) rather than just two thick ones and I would recommend using bubble wrap to aid the felting process.  Another possibility, although I may be wrong in my analysis (still waiting for pics to see clearly) would be if two different types of wool were used for the piece of felt, this actually happened to a friend when she used two different types of wool when making a pair of slippers.  The early warning signs were there when the wool (ordered from the internet) arrived as it did say it was not suitable for felting!  The colour was GORGEOUS however and she decided to go ahead with the slippers, this wool was to be the outside colour and if I remember correctly a black merino was to be the lining.  Using the resist method the slipers were started and worked on for many hours.  It appeared as if the top colour wouldn’t take the water properly but still she persisted – the end result was a soggy mass of one colour and perfectly felted ‘socks’ in the lining colour!  This might not be what has happened in Deb’s case as from the comment it sounds as if there are 2 distinct layers of felt so one solution would definitely be to needle the top layer in place.  Another idea (if the piece is not fulled too far) would be to fully dry the piece, roughen up the texture of the felt with a wire brush where you want the fibres to join, wet out again with hot soapy water and then give it a go with an electric sander before rolling and fulling again as normal.   I hope that this is of some help and if anyone else has had this problem we would love to hear your solutions!

Sign up is now open for the Clasheen New Year Stash Swap!

This is the time for New Year’s resolutions and what better incentive to help you tidy up your stash (if like me it is getting out of hand!) than to make up a nice parcel for your swap buddy full of the goodies that you have been hoarding but never getting around to using. Try and select items that you know your buddy will find a home for using their profile to guide you. Things like yarn, buttons, ribbons, pins, jewellery, zips, stickers, unused presents, paint sticks, craft wire, anything and everything that could find a home with someone else.  We also will be swapping one seasonal receipe as usual and a small little extra.  If you want to sign up for the swap please check out our dedicated Flickr swap group and sign up before Friday 16th January and I will let you know who your swap buddies are over that weekend. Packages need to be sent no later than Friday 6th February meaning that most people should recieve theirs before Valentines Day on February 14th!

Lastly, Happy New Year everybody!

Felted road sign in progress, keep the comments coming!

Sign before filling in with wool

Sign before filling in with wool

As blogged about yesterday I continued creating my new felt road sign yesterday afternoon.  This is going to be a prototype so please keep the comments coming!  Thanks to Micki and anyone who left helpful suggestions on Flickr, I need a selection of ideas for the wording, whatever I make needs to be clearly seen as you drive around the corner near the top of my lane.  For this reason my first attempt simply says ‘Studio open’ and the writing is quite big.  Although the image might not show it clearly the wording and wavy outline around it is in a deep maroon, the oak leaves in the corners are outlined in dark green and the border is a bright orange. 

The sign ready for a lot of hard work!

The sign ready for a lot of hard work!

Anyway, as soon as the image was laid out to my satisfaction I placed it on a bamboo mat and wet it thoroughly with hot soapy water.  Next I rolled the package tightly and tied it up with strong cotton string.  When learning the Osman technique with Mehmet we rolled the rugs up in a large plastic woven mat and then stamped and rolled them on the floor.  This had been my intention with the bamboo but it was obvious immediately that it was not going to stand up to such rough treatment.  My next move was to put on a Jack L cd and roll on my kitchen table for as long as I could having already decided that rolling by foot on the floor was killing my legs!  Does anyone roll by foot and is there a secret?  I know that some people say it is very relaxing and much better for large projects but how do you do it???  The cd played for 52 minutes (notice that I was counting!) and I made myself get into a rhythm and refused to stop until the last notes of the music died down.  Revealing the half felted sign was a big moment, would the words have shifted, had I laid out enough wool, would the fact that I couldn’t stamp on it ‘a la Mehmet’ mean that it wouldn’t felt at all?  The reveal was interesting …. the words hadn’t shifted although a few small gaps appeared where I hadn’t filled in with quite enough wool, the orange looked great and overall the sign appears to be shaping up nicely.  Now I am off the have a quick hot drink and am ready to rock and roll again, another couple of hours rolling and fulling in varying directions and I hope that I will have a large piece of felt ready to hang!