Back in the felting saddle at last and new companion blog Clasheen Uncut!

I had just written a long post about my first felting workshop o f 2010 and aggh, the internet connection went while I was uploading the data and for some obscure reason the whole post was lost bar the tags.  Forgive this extremely short and abbrigged version but I am terrified that the link will go again and  just want to update you on Saturdays return to the felting saddle!!!

On Saturday printmaker and papermaker Sylvia joined me in the morning for her first felting experience.  Luckily the water was back in time although since I’ve been on the computer this morning my immersion has given up the ghost, loads of loud electricial noises and now the wretched thing appears to have stopped functioning.   Thankfully the kitchen range keeps the downstairs of the house realtively warm while the central heating is not working so once Sylvia had selected her wool this is where we decided to lay out her vessel.  She used a combination of apple green, teal and white Icelandic wool with some blue mulberry silk, white cotton gauze and white tencel tops (at least I think that they are tencel!) for surface decoration.

Sylvia working the inside of her felt vessel

 

If any of you would like to have a go felting with the Icelandic wool it is GREAT for vessels.  I am offering simple felting kits and wool for sale through my Etsy shop, just let me know if there is any special colour that you require. 

Sylvia with her beautiful completed felt vessel

 

I am sure that you will all agree Sylvia’s finished vessel is amazing, what a great first felting project. 

Before the internet connection gives up the ghost I just want to announce my new blog Clasheen Uncut!  This is the place where I will ramble about all my non felting projects so why not pop over and have a look if you can spare the time.

Creating a mosaic with prefelts

My sister requested a table runner for her Christmas present and this morning I decided to use up some of the left over prefelts to create a mosaic style mat.  The prefelts were felted from chocolate, turquoise and natural coloured Icelandic wool and my first job was to cut them into 5cm squares using my cutting mat and a rotary cutter.  I then cut about a quarter of them on the diagonal before deciding on the layout I wanted for the simple mosaic design.  The prefelts were quite thick and this definitely helped when butting the edges together.  Once they were laid out I wet the design lightly with very soapy cool water, none of the squares or triangles shifted so I moved on to the next stage.  To felt the whole design together I decided on a light layer of the natural coloured wool as a backing.  The Icelandic batts are so easy to use, no stress getting fibres aligned, just pull out a wad and lay it down!  Once this was done I added some more soapy water, it is amazing how much soap this wool needs compared to merino but once the felting process starts the fibres lock down very tightly and very quickly.  I actually was amazed at how everything held together almost immediately, this was the first time that I had used dry Icelandic prefelts (last time I made them and used them wet immediately) and the whole process took only about 30 minutes after laying out the design to rinsing out the completed felt mat!  The natural coloured wool for the backing created a nice edge to the design and this style of mosaic flat felting is definitely an idea to play around with some more, photos to follow tomorrow.

Tactile felt hearth rug!

I forgot to mention yesterday that I did weigh the Icelandic wool and divided it into two piles.  There was just over 400g per layer and interestingly enough not much shrinkage overall by the time the rug was complete, possibly even less than 20%. 

Starting to lay out the Jacobs fleece

Cotton fabric between the layers of wool

I should also have said that I used green silk hankies both within the fleece and at several points near the edge of the rug but that the white silk tops around the outside might not be silk at all but is more likely to be tencel.   It felt quite different in the hand but as I don’t know where I got it from so this is just an uneducated guess!

Initially I worked the rug hard (several hours) by hand and sander on the reverse and eventually was brave enough to turn it over and work directly on the top.  It took ages for the fibres to start coming together, possibly if I had laid two layers of wool on top of the fleece and then the fabric as the last layer it would actually have been a lot quicker.  Whatever, another couple of hours later and things were beginning to hang together nicely.  When I was absolutely sure that the fleece was not going to come apart I chanced wrapping the rug inside a piece of cotton and putting it through a wool wash in my washing machine!  With the exception of rinsing Osman technique rugs or making beads from waste felt I never use my machine for felting, I prefer to do everything by hand.  This time however since I was in an experimental mood and the Jacobs is extremely slow to felt I decided nothing ventured, nothing gained.  After it came successfully out of the machine I worked it by hand again without any soap.  Another while later I put it through a 40 degree wash and again worked directly on the surface by hand for approx another 45 minutes. 

My finished hearth rug!

The finished rug is extremely tactile and will make a great fireside rug or else something to keep my toes warm during those cold Irish mornings!  More detailed images of the final result are available in my Flickr photos.

Combining raw fleece with Icelandic wool and last call for winter workshops

As promised yesterday I am going to post about the rug I made on Sunday from raw fleece and Icelandic wool but before I kick things off just a quick reminder.  There is now only one adult and child place left in either the morning or the afternoon workshop here at Clasheen on Saturday 5th December and if you want to join me this coming Saturday and learn how to make a felt vessel using a resist please email me asap

Now for the low down about the hearth-rug that I made on Sunday.  Basically I was trying to experiment combining raw fleece with carded wool using the ‘Heart Rug’ project in Dutch Felt as my guideline.  It was a little bit like following a cookery recipe because author Ria van Els-Dubelaar recommends using a long fibred fleece but I really wanted to experiment with the Icelandic batts which are now available from my new Etsy store!  In the rug from her book she uses merino to back the fleece and silk fabric as a stabiliser for the final layer on the back.  I decided to use my beautiful Jacobs fleece (a present from a kind neighbour), Icelandic wool for the base and a middle layer of some cotton fabric that Mehmet Girgic packaged my Turkish rug bases in, waste not want not! 

Firstly I needed to decide which colour batts to compliment the cream and dark chocolate brown fleece, I went for my favourite apple green although I did have a bit of a toss-up with turquoise as well!  The deciding factor was that I didn’t know exactly how much wool I would need and I knew I had plenty of the green but not so much of the turquoise, oh what an exact science I make of things!  Selecting which parts of the fleece I would use was fun, I had about 4 different bags with some gorgeous sections of Jacobs and some dirty dags mixed in as well.  Once my choice was made the raw wool was laid on bubblewrap with the shorn side uppermost, sections were pulled apart by hand a little and silk tops and silk hankies inserted in these gaps.  I also laid some silk around the outside edges of the fleece and then covered the whole thing with a one layer of Icelandic wool.  At this stage I lightly wet out the entire and pressed the soapy water through the wool.  Anywhere I saw the colour of the raw fleece through the green wool batts I topped up the green wool before laying my cotton on top of the bundle.  The second layer of Icelandic wool went on next and then I wet the whole package and started the felting process. 

Pictures of work in progress and completion the rug to follow tomorrow!