I don’t have much time to write today so here are two more pice of my latest nuno felt vest/stole and the answers to a couple of questions I’ve been asked.
Yes, this vest is fulled in the dryer so NO rubbing or rolling!!! I will be including full instructions about how I do this in my section of the new book. Please note though, I don’t always use the dryer, just sometimes depending on what I’m felting, what my mood is at the time and what end result I’m aiming to achieve!
The muslin that I used was bought from Kiernan’s, my local habadashery. I think that it is a little finer weave than what you call muslin in U.S. or Turkey, definitely not as loose a weave as cheesecloth or gauze but rather more like a hybrid of the cheesecloth and your muslin. Hope this helps Carole, the nearest weight that I’ve seen over in U.S. reminds me of the beautiful new 50%silk/50% cotton fabric Sharon and Emma had at The Tin Thimble last spring, do you remember that???
Anyway, I’m sorry that the quality of the images isn’t great especially the back view. I snapped them while the wind was howling a gale and I couldn’t get the back shot to stay still at all but at least you’ll get an idea of the shape!!!
Felting time is very precious at the moment as almost every waking hour is spent helping Alan in his local election campaign. This morning he had an appointment to officially register with the returning officer so I was thrilled to get started on a nuno felt sleveless tunic that I have been planning ever since I got Lizzie Houghton’s new book, is it really only 3 days ago that it arrived?? Anyway, yesterday I did a very small sample piece using cotton and the short fibred merino from Filzrausch before felting a nuno scarf using ponge silk. I was amazed how easily the Filzrausch wool migrated through the fabric, if I had been asked to guess I think that I would have thought that it would felt too quickly and therefore not be a good fibre to use for nuno. This morning I laid out a very simple design on natural coloured cotton and after a bit of stopping and starting (to go out and drive the canvassers) I managed to finish the prep work and start the felting process. Because of the large size, at least 50% bigger than I want the finished top to be, I laid out everything on one of the plastic mats that I bought from Mehmet Girgic. At the moment my felt is lamost fully shrunk and I am just letting it dry out on top of the Rayburn. In the morning, time permitting, I will sew up the sides and then finish the felting process. Watch this space for some photos of the finished item, I hope that it will be reversable!
Thanks a million to Sheila Ahern who mentioned me in her excellent article in last Sunday’s Independent Newpaper. Here is the link for any of you who might like a peek, the main thread of the piece is about felting becoming addictive and some of the prose made me laugh out loud!
Yesterday I mentioned the basic tools that I use when felting and today I am going to give a brief overview of using prefelts in your work to get defined outlines, also a little mention of the Osman technique prior to Mehmet Girgic’s workshops later in January.
Prefelt is basically what occurs when you start the felting process but stop working the fibres as soon as they have started to form a cohesive fabric and before they have started to shrink. By washing carefully and drying your piece at this stage you can then cut the prefelt into any shape you like and place it on top of freshly laid out wool fibres. The result of this is that the cut out shape retains its clean lines and you can have much more control of what your finished piece will look like than with the usual method. If you are a bit impatient like me, you can actually cut the piece when wet and use it immediately, if you do this it is best to have the main layers of fibre wetted out before placing the prefelt in position. You also don’t have to rinse out the prefelt if you will be using it within a few days of making it, only if you want to store it for a while. I like to spend a bit of time sometimes dreaming up interesting combinations for my prefelt, I often try and include metallic threads, silk, angelina, things that I might not want a huge amount of in a finished piece but enough to add some interest to the work.
The Osman technique as taught by Mehmet Girgic is another way in which to get clean outlines. This is the method that I used for my road sign, note how obvious the outlines of the oak leaves are. With this piece I laid out the oulilne of the words and the leaves on top of a prepared base, this base was quite thick and comprised of layers of natural fleece and a top layer of heavy duty muslin which had been worked to the prefelt stage. In this method you roll the dry roving into a thin thread, dip it into extremely soapy water, wet the section of base that you wish to work on and then ‘draw’ your outlines with the wet roving. Because you have already wet the base and dipped the wool into soapy water the roving sticks very well to the backing. Once you fill in all the areas that you want to have colour you then wet out and roll, stamp, roll and stamp your piece again. This method is great for rugs and large wallhangings so why not give it a try? Mehmet will be arriving on Thursday 15th January and facilitating two 3 day workshops in rug making, check out the workshop page for full details. A couple of people have had to drop out at the last minute so if anyone is interested in a place please contact me asap! This is an amazing opportunity to meet and work with a world reknowned tutor.
Here is a photo as promised of the wallhanging I made last Saturday after Jean’s workshop by inserting the piece of printed muslin I created into a larger piece of felt. I was very happy with the result although after Bernie’s beautiful photography not a bit happy with the image I took! This week I am up to my eyes with the batik course I am taking at Grennan Craft Mill and Open Week at Borris Golf Club. Images to follow tomorrow of work in progress with the batik.
I had a great time today at the Demense Yard, Castlecomer with the ‘South East Textile Group’. We meet one Saturday a month and either one of the members or an invited guest hosts a workshop. Today Jean (one of our founder members) showed us all how to create and use a lino print and in the afternoon we were using a printer to transfer images to a special medium and then iron them on to various fabrics.
As my drawing is dreadful I decided to use the lino cutting as an opportunity to explore the possibilities of creating a tag or logo for my work. I created a simple logo using my initials and some lines. Once I had gouged out the lines a bit deeper than my first attempt I was very happy with the end result, thanks Jean for a great tutorial.
The printer here at Clasheen has just run out of ink so I jumped at the opportunity to use the group’s new printer and transfer some images on to the special paper that Jean had brought. Deciding not to draw anything myself, I used some fantastic images of African women from a recent issiue of a fashion magazine that I had. Armed with these as I was going home, I spent the hour driving home planning how I would incorporate them into a piece of nuno felt. My biggest concerns were should they be colour fast once I started to wet felt and would the image shrink too much and become unrecognisable once shrunk and fulled. FANTASTIC success!!! I wanted to experiment with a wallhanging so I ironed one of the images onto a piece of white muslin and then laid it on a large piece of apple green commercial needle felt. This needlefelt is new to me and came from Wollknoll in Germany, usually I would create any prefelt from scratch but have been wanting to experiment with larger pieces in a limited time frame. I then laid out apple green, navy and marine blue merino on top of all but the actual image. These colours were chosen as they picked out the main colours in the clothes the African ladies were wearing. A little white and red wool to highlight and away I went and wet the wool. No problems with the dye from my printed muslin running and because I had positioned the fabric on top of the needlefelt it did not actually distort too much when fulled. I am so pleased with the result and hope to take a photo tomorrow once I decide whether to embellish the piece further or just leave it as it is. I would welcome feedback if anyone feels like making a comment as soon as I post the image of the finished piece!