I have never found felt cords and balls as simple and easy to make as everyone else! When Sigrid and Ingrid Bannier were in Ireland at the end of November I asked Sigrid how she was able to make her cords so strong and even, here is the method that she uses as I understand it. It certainly works for me!! Lay out a horizontal line of wool to whatever depth you want (depending on the thickness of cord required) with all the fibres running in a vertical direction, as most of us would do anyway when making cords. The big difference is in the rolling, if you are right handed start at the left hand end, if left handed start at the right hand side. Roll the fibres on the diagonal instead of in the normal straight line. It is a tiny bit more difficult when visualising it but quite simple to do, rolling in this way really allows the fibres to form a tight cord. Dry roll for a minute or so, wet lightly with warm water and olive oil soap, roll some more and then wet out as required. Keep rolling and dunking in hot soapy water until the cords are to your satisfaction then rinse and leave to dry. If you want to have curly cords just shape the wet rolls around a metal knitting needle, tie with cotton thread to secure and place in the oven on low to dry. If you check out my Flickr images I have a blue necklace in the necklace set that I curled using this method.
It’s twent past four now as I write this post and today has been a bit hit and miss so far. Carmen was meant to be coming over at lunchtime for an afternoon felting but has been delayed by several hours. In the morning I finished one of her Christmas presents, a nuno felted neck wrap in (as I thought!) a beautiful black silk with a light grey merino. The silk was one of the fabulous sari loom ends that I get from Susan at Essential Textile Art but for some reason the black lost quite a bit of colour during the felting process and now it is a combination of inky black, inky blue and a sort of purply grey, a bit strange to say the least! Anyway, Carmen likes subtle colours so possibly (a big possibly) she will think that I always intended the colours to be this way, whatever the intention I think that she will use the wrap.
My next creation this morning was a fresh squid stew, always a challenge when cooking for any Spanish friends! This turned out very well even if I say so myself, fresh squid, red onions, red pepper, garlic, chopped tomatos, oozo, red wine and fresh thyme, a great combination. The only problem is that now the rice and baked potatos (to go with roast rabbit, nothing by halves here) are well overdone but I guess Carmen will just be happy to get any food at all!
On to my next disaster. Sigrid Bannier had a beautiful punched cord necklace and I had decided to try and make a variation on her theme. My first problem was that although I am now quite competent at making cords after my very shaky beginnings I still have somewhat of a mental block in this department. Because the cord will be punched with the Draper hollow punches that I have recently bought it needs to be both round, firm and tough. What you are looking for is a big thick cord, not the easiest to get really hard. Anyway, I managed to make the cord, punched it and was not a bit happy with the result. Did I mention that when rolling it I used the car mat for a minute and actually gave it rubber skid marks, not the best on a lime, white and grey cord?! It lies dejected on my felting table waiting for inspiration to transform it into something other than a sad holey cord.
Before I discuss the new way that we learnt of making cords at the Anita Larkin workshop, I just want to say that all the techniques we tried over the weekend ultimately unite and allow you to create exciting scupltural 3 dimensional pieces of felt! At first it seems that learning how to make cords is very basic at a workshop for people who have all felted before but you are never too late to learn new techniques. Most of you are familiar with making cords and probably everyone has their favourite method. How many can there be you might ask but I certainly learnt a totally different method from Anita than any I had seen used before. Lay out a long layer of very fine fibres in a diagonal and then lay a second layer on top of these in the opposite direction, also diagonally. If you want to make a thicker section lay some more layers in that place and then dry felt the fibres by lightly moving your hands over them as with wet felting. Using your spray bottle VERY lighlty wet along only the edge of the fibres and then roll them gently into a log shape. If you are going to be attaching this rope to another piece of felt leave the ends dry for the moment. Using the minimum amount of warm water lightly wet the sausage shaped fibre log and with soapy hands roll it very lightly on your bubble wrap, blind or sushi mat. As far as I can see the biggest difference is in the way the fibres are laid on the diaganol and the volume of (or lack of) water used. This seems to make a very solid and strong cord. Shapes that were started as in the previous post may be added on at any time once the cord starts to hold its shape or the cord itsef may be attached to another piece of felt that you are in the process of making. Next post I will discuss inserting wire into felt and wrapping a solid object in felt. I also want to post a few more images of work that I have completed recently to keep the blog a little bit visual!