Order of process continued …..

Following on from yesterday’s post the shaping and fulling of the vessel takes a lot of time once the opening is cut and sealed.  The steps that I go through are as follows …..

  1. Insert one hand inside the ‘package’ and pressing around the outside where the resist meets the seam work the felt from both sides to even out any potential ridges
  2. Once this is done I then turn the vessel right side out and check the design for loose pieces
  3. For the smaller vessels I had no problems with the design not integrating into the white merino but for the larger ones it seems to be necessary to check each prefelt design and then using a Clover needle felting tool (5 needles in a spring loaded holder) go over each design element to ensure everything is felting together well

    Securing loose edges of the design with a Clover needle felting tool

  4. Once I am happy that all the elements are cominging together it is time to apply some pressure and start to rub, roll and felt strongly using whatever method I fancy as I work on different parts of the vessel.  At this stage I might roll or rub on bubble wrap, the table or an excellent ridged mat I brought home from America (fridge shelf liner I think!), a great present from one of my students.  You could also use a car floor mat although I do find that sometimes they turn pure white merino a nasty grey colour!
  5. I still have soap in the felt at this stage and soon I will blow up a balloon inside the vessel to try and work it into as round a shape as possible.  Pouring HOT water from the kettle over the vessel I work it with soapy hands over my washing up bowl in the sink
  6. After a while I take it out of the sink and upend it over a large glass salad bowl.  Now I start to stiffen the felt by banging repeatedly all over the surface with a long handled wooden spoon
  7. Periodically I roll the whole balloon encased package on top of the ridged mat and spot full with a felting mouse before plunging it into HOT water again and doing some more rubbing in the sink
  8. Next I rinse it thoroughly in HOT water before turning the vessel inside out, inserting another balloon and repeating the rolling, banging  and rubbing process on the other side

    Inside out vessel starting to get stiffer and take shape

  9. I keep alternating between banging the vessel into shape now, stretching it with my mouse from the inside and rewetting with extremely HOT water.  When I am happy that the vessel is almost shrunk to size I turn it right side out for a last rinse before putting it in my washing machine and turning on the drain and spin cycle.  Now I don’t have any balloon inside the vessel as I want to spin out as much water as possible using the machine
  10. Once the vessel comes out of the machine I inflate another balloon inside it before the final session of banging and stiffening
  11. When I am finally happy with the strength of the felt and the final shape I leave the vessel on the balloon to dry fully sitting once more inside my large glass salad bowl

Today I have spent about 4 hours banging and rolling this latest vessel and at last it is resting around its balloon to dry.  As soon as I am happy that the felt is totally dry (probably a few days because it is a big piece) I will burst the balloon and take some pictures.  I don’t like my surface decoration as much as the last vessel I felted but I was concentrating more on the size and shape of the piece and wanted to use up the prefelt I had from a previous one last week.  Tomorrow is my sister’s birthday so I am having a felt free day but on Wednesday morning I will start my largest vessel hopefully using Cathy’s yoga ball for the shaping and shrinking, watch this space! 

As you can read from the process above I am stiffening these vessels by shrinking and fulling the felt to the degree that they are strong and hold their shape without the use of any additional stiffeners.  My next post will examine some of the ways in which to add different solutions (PVA, artists medium etc.) to aid the stiffening process and it would be great to stimulate debate about this process, thanks to all of you who have already commented on the topic here and on Facebook!

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Just organising swap partners tonight and a little bit of nuno felting!

Just organising the swap partners tonight for our first Clasheen Crafty Swap of 2011!  Welcome to all returning swappers and a big hello to our new members, you are going to love this event!!!  I am almost back to normal today, probably about 90% of my usual self with just a bad cough periodically but nothing much else to worry about.  There were two meetings (golf club, what else!) I should have been attending tonight and another tomorrow evening  but I have put in my appologies because an early night snuggled up in front of the stove calls, not a drive in the current wild wet and windy weather.  This morning I felted a highly textured nuno scarf and then knuckled down to felting a one off wrap, a bit more unusual this one but you will have to wait for more details and some pictures tomorrow!  My ArtL!nks vessels are really calling out to me but I just want to get a couple more smaller projects out of the way tomorrow and then from Wednesday onwards I can start the really large vessels and get a good run at them.  ‘Till then …..

Felting kits for sale in my Etsy store at last!

My first batch of felting kits are finally up for sale in my Etsy store as of this afternoon.  I can’t believe how long it has taken to get to this stage, really I am kicking myself they were not up earlier but truthfully I just seem to have been totally snowed under with other important things as you may have guessed from my recent posts! 

Some of the wool for my new flat felting kits

Each kit contains between 110g and 120g Icelandic wool in mixed colours, a small bag with various embellishments which might include beads, buttons or fancy yarn, bubble wrap and full written instructions on how to make your flat felt masterpiece.  The kits make ideal presents for crafty male and female friends, both adults and children alike.

After Christmas (not going to be too ambitious about the date this time!) I will also be offering nuno felt kits, felt jewellery kits and simple felt vessel kits.  Realistically I need to write up clear instructions for all the tutorials, order in  more silk for the nuno kits, cut out resists for the vessel kits and basically take some good images of each individual kit to upload to Etsy.  The weather has been so bad here recently that I have not been able to take individual shots of the flat felting kits (they kept flying off the table this afternoon in the wind!), at the moment I only have the one photo but in the absence of any others I guess it will just have to do for now!

Felt vessels and great swap package

I have now uploaded some images of the felt vessels that I made for the Blueprint exhibition to my Flickr account.  With the exception of one bowl I decided to use all undyed fibres and keep the theme simple and stylish.  Probably the vessel that I am most satisfied with is a grey and white bowl with three oval pebbles stitched on as embellishment. 

Natural wool, stone and linen vessel

Natural wool, stone and linen vessel

Carmen gave me some raw linen thread to use for the stitching and I must say it does lend to the overall effect.  It really reinforces the thought that I have to get a bit more comfortable with a needle, judicious stitching can really enhance the style and feel of an item particularly when the thread has been chosen with care to complement or contrast.

The Clasheen Crafty Swap for Summer is well underway now, currently we have 98 members in our group and the numbers are growing weekly!  Swapping is a brilliant way to make friends and swap goodies with partners from all around the world, my most recent and wonderful swap package arrived on Monday afternoon from krobin in the Ravelry Cowl Swap.  In this secret swap we had to knit or crochet a cowl for our partner, send yarn and another cowl pattern and also include a few little extras taking into account the likes and dislikes of our swap buddy. 

Fantastic swap package
Fantastic swap package

My brilliant package included the hand knitted cowl, 3 crochet hooks, chocolate, yarn, pattern, pretzels, incense, my favourite ginger and orange bath lotion, ginger soap and some tasty chai tea!!!  Need I say more, EVERYTHING is me to a tee!

For my secret partner I crocheted a cowl in a silk/merino mix and finished it off with three buttons from my stash, hopefully my buddy will like it as it is in her favourite autumn colours!  I have bought some locally produced yarn from Cushendale Wollen Mill and yesterday got some chocolate and little extra goodies when I was in Carlow to complete my package.  Hopefully I will get it all together this afternoon (in between some dreaded cleaning in prep for Alan’s arrival home!) and it will be winging it’s way to the States tomorrow morning.