Pictures speaking louder than words again, hope to finish the fulling process later this afternoon! Please excuse the poor quality of the photos taken inside but I did want to share the various stages of this project and it has proved difficult to get clear pictures depending on what time of day the images were taken.
At last I feel as if I am starting to get somewhere fulling Sylvia’s large felt rug. Measurements as of this afternoon are 1.67m X 2.67m so 17cm width ways and 17cm lengthways and finally the rug will be the required size!!! No time to write any more but picturers to follow tomorrow morning and answers to some of the questions people have been asking me here and on Facebook.
Inspired by fellow Feltmakers Ireland member Sharon Wells, I decided to have another go at making myself a soft but structured felt hat that actually fits my very small head. Sharon posted about making the origami hat from Christine White’s book Uniquely Felt on Feltcreative and since this project has always been on my ‘to do’ list and I had a pile of prefelt waiting to be used I decided the time had come to just give it a go! In addition to Uniquely Felt the books that I would recommend for anyone wanting a bit more info about felting hats are ‘Fabulous Felt Hats’ by Chad Alice Hagen, ‘Filtning, Nunofilt & Nalefiltflor’ by Grete Lottrup and ‘Felting Fashion’ by Lizzie Houghton. While Chad Alice’s book is the only one totally dedicated to hats all of them to my mind have helped me work out the various steps necessary to create stylish headgear that actually fits and is wearable.
Like Sharon I decided to work with a square resist 47cm wide. One of my friends actually has my copy of Uniquely Felt so I just had to estimate how much wool I would need for each side, excluding the prefelt I used a total of 84g short fibred merino for the hat but have no idea if that is a lot or a little! I laid out the wool extremely finely on both sides of the resist and then laid my prefelt shapes randomly on top making sure to overlap the edges in some places. Because I originally intended having a brim that would turn back to reveal hand dyed silk fibres from the bottom of the other side, I chose not to position any prefelt overlapping the fourth edge as I was afraid I would forget exactly where the silk was once I started working the felt!
Due to my golf club commitments over the last few days (and I STILL have another golfing engagment tomorrow) I had to felt the hat over several different sessions and this afternoon I was able to finish fulling and shaping it over one of my cooking bowls. Unfortunately, although I do have a hat block it is just too huge for my own head but the bowl worked perfectly so nothing ventured nothing gained.
It did take a long time to shrink this hat enough to fit my head so the next one that I make (and there will be another one!) will have a wedge shaped template, not a square. The other outcome with fulling as much as I did is that the clarity of the prefelt gets muted and the silk almost disappears into the wool, not a problem but definitely something to consider. In the end I decided that I liked the brim folded inside of the hat instead of outside as initially intended, it would of course be possible to wear it both ways anyway! If you are interested in seeing any more views of the hat in progress I have uploaded them to Flickr and as soon as the hat is dry I might ask Alan to take a picture of me wearing it! Tomorrow is another day and I hope to crystalise plans for my American workshops and spend some time answering emails and generally catching up with things.
Sunday was the second and final day of our complex bag workshop and the end of three brilliant days felting with Lyda Rump. Because Cristina and I had worked well into Sunday morning to complete our bags we had a great opportunity to try something else whilst watching Elaine and Carmen’s bags taking shape as they felted and fulled. I decided to make a small felt vessel which had been in my mind for a while and Lyda showed me how to design the template to give me the result I was aiming for. Sometimes another brain or a bit of lateral thinking makes all the difference because I would have used a round resist myself and cut the opening down the middle in a wave, Lyda suggested an oval resist with a wavy top edge and this proved to be an entirely better option. What it is to have artistic ability combined with years of experience!
Carmen and Elaine worked on the various parts of their bags by rolling, pulling, stretching and spot fulling with a felting mouse. When the bags were almost finished they were rinsed thoroughly in clear water and then put to drain in my washing machine with a towel to add a bit of friction and weight. Doing this does not shrink the felt any further but it does remove a significiant amount of water and then you can work the felt further if you want or just stretch to shape and leave it to dry if you are happy that it is fulled enough.
I don’t have a picture yet of Carmen’s finished bag as she decided to do the final shaping at home and felt a beautiful scarf during the last hour or so of the afternoon. More about this in my next post and also some discussion about the various handle options when creating a felt bag.
I would like to say a really big thank you all for leaving such lovely comments about my own complex bag! It is great to be able to feel so connected to everyone through the medium of the internet and I really appreciate you taking the time to leave your thoughts, tips and advice!!
I’ll leave you with an image Lyda took as I was preparing my small vessel on the gravel for a photo, it gives a good overhead view of the scalloped edges of the opening.
Ok, I actually have water again since last night so this morning I was able to complete another felt slipper project and this time incorporate some wet felting to finish! The pictures really are self explainatory but it’s important to note that the rectangle of felt I started with was NOT fulled well (an early experiment using batts) and this is how I was able to wet felt hard to finish the slippers.
This time I cut the rectange into three and then divided one third in two again, doing this ensured that I would never have ‘two right feet’ again!
I sliced a bit off the back of the slippers as when I tried them on before stitching the back I realised that they were going to be VERY long!
I dunked the slippers (one at a time) into really hot water and soaked them before adding plenty of nice unscented soap. Working them in my hands for a minute or two I paid particular attention to the cut edges. Next I rolled them in my bamboo blind before working them on a washboard to shrink and set the shape.
It’s easy to see from this image that the cut edges really needed to be worked well to seal the felt.
Once I was happy that the slippers had shrunk almost to size I rinsed the soap out and and spun them in my washing machine. To finish the shape nicely I put my feet in plastic bags (didn’t want to have to take of my tights, STILL no heat!!) and worked them for a minute or two more on the washboard and banged the edges with a wooden spoon to full them properly.
Voila, my finished felt slip ons! I am actually very happy with these as although I didn’t want to scrap one of my earliest flat felt experiments I had no idea what to do with the piece and it was languishing in my cupboard. Now I can keep my feet warm and wear the felt with pride! NB Check how the wool that I used to stitch the seams has also felted during the process, more pictures of the process on Flickr.
I am delighted to be invited by Anna Browne to facilitate a BEGINNERS and IMPROVERS FELTING WORKSHOP in Mullingar on Sunday 31st Janurary at the Educate Together National School in Mullingar. If you live in the midlands and would like to attend this fun day please book directly with Anna through her blog by clicking here! You can also see what Anna and her boys have been up to with some of my spare felt, gorgeous gifts and inventive ideas abound on her blog Anna Paints.
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 is
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.
I don’t have a tumble dryer but Carmen does! People sometimes post on the internet about zapping felt in a tumble dryer for a short while but this is not something that I have ever done myself. Anyway, Carmen was telling me that she tried it out for the first time the other day and put a rug in her dryer for approx 10 minutes and it worked out amazingly well. I would be really interested to get any comments and feedback from those of you who have tried this out before, did it work, was it a disaster, would you do it again???