Book Resist Tutorial by Teri Berry

This is a guest post by Teri of Teri Berry, a forum member, who is a wonder at making three-dimensional felt items including some fantastic hats. After my post about the First Quarter Challenge, we had a discussion on the forum about “book resists” and Teri offered to write a tutorial on how to use a “book” resist to make a more complex shaped felt item. Thanks Teri!

Following on from the Q1 Challenge, there was some discussion on the forum about what a “book resist” is, I’m sure these resists go by a variety of names but I think”book resist” is a pretty apt description as the “pages” of the resist do look a lot like a strangely shaped book. This post is a description of how I like to work with this style of resist but if you have any tips or alternative ways of working please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Getting Started

You will need some flexible plastic sheeting, stiff enough that it will stand up on its own if you hold it by the edge but flexible enough that it will fold in half without breaking.

I like the plastic that carpets come wrapped in but this isn’t very easy to come by, an alternative are the plasticised (wipe clean) table cloths. As much as I love foam underlay for resists, I find it a little bit thick for this technique, especially if you want to use more than 2 layers, but it will do if you have nothing else.

Take a sheet of plastic and draw a line down the middle (this is where you will join your layers) then let your imagination go wild and draw out the template on one side of your line. I have added some photos of the resists and corresponding felt structures at the end of the post if you need some ideas to get you started.

Tip – make sure any pointy tips are rounded, if you don’t, they will poke through the felt and create a hole.

Tip – try to avoid putting wide sections on the end of narrow stalks, it’s not impossible, but it will make it harder to get your resist out.

Tip – remember the felt around the middle of your resist will open out to form a space. This can be needle-felted together at the firm prefelt stage if desired.

If you want a radial sculpture where all the arms are the same, fold your plastic in half along the straight line and trace your design onto the other side.

Stack additional sheets of plastic under your design, if you want your sculpture to have 7 or 8 arms you will need 4 sheets of plastic, if you want 9 or 10 arms you will need 5 sheets.  Pin them altogether then sew along the line down the middle. You can use a sewing machine if you wish, but set your straight stitch to long so as not to perforate the plastic too much, as this could make it easy to tear when you come to remove the resist.

Tip – if you find it hard to push the needle through the plastic, gripping the needle with a pair of pliers might help.

Tip – if you want an odd number of arms in your sculpture keep two of the felt leaves together while you felt over them. Similarly, if you think you would like to use the same resist shape for making several sculptures but with different numbers of arms, use enough sheets for the largest sculpture and then reuse the same resist but encase 2 or more pages of the resist in wool to reduce the number of arms in your final sculpture.

Cut around your design, through all the layers of plastic.

Getting Wet and Woolly!

Start laying out your wool, at least 2 fine layers will be needed, more if you want don’t want your structure to shrink very much or if you want it to be sturdy / functional. I typically use 2 layers for lampshades and 4 layers for more structural sculptures. I like Blue Faced Leicester wool for this type of work but wrote a post on how several different wool behaves for small sculptural pieces here if you are interested.

Once you have laid out at least 2 layers (in opposite directions) wet it out.

Then lay a piece of painters plastic (or a strip of plastic bin liner) over at least half the wool then flip over one of your pages.

Fold the wool over the edges as you would when working with any resist being careful to smooth out any folds of wool where you are working on the outside of a curve.

If you need to cut the wool to fold it around an indentation in the resist, avoid cutting the last 1 cm/0.5″, to avoid creating a hole in your wool.

Then continue laying out your wool over the next 2 “pages” open in front of you (one page will be partially covered by the wool folded over from the previous page). Cover with some decorator’s plastic but before you flip to the next page, go back a page and fold the wool ends over so it is all nice and neat.

 

Continue laying out wool and flipping pages as you work your way around the resist.

Note: where you have folded the wool over from the previous page of the resist, if the wool is already quite thick, there is no need to add more on the reverse of the page, this usually happens where you have a narrow projection, as on the top of this resist.

Tip – if you are finding your resist is becoming a little lop-sided with a big pile of wool covered pages on one side, flip the first 2 or 3 pages (on the bottom of the pile) over to the other side from underneath. That should even it up and make it easier to lay wool on the remaining pages.

Tip: laying a few strands of wool across the top and bottom joints (where the pages are stitched together) will help prevent holes like this one from opening up when the resist is removed:

You are now ready to start felting…

Use  a piece of painters plastic to gently rub the surface of each page in small circles, paying particular attention to the edges of the resist. I find going over the entire surface of each page 50 times is enough. The plastic should glide easily over the surface, if it doesn’t add some more soapy water.

Tip – If you are working with lots of pages you might find it helpful to remove the painter’s plastic as you complete each page so you know when you have reached where you started.

Tip – don’t forget to felt the pages at the back, the ones lying face down on the table.

Tip – work your circular motions from the edge of the resist towards the centre, this will help prevent wings / ridges of felt forming on the edge of the template (unless of course that is what you are trying to do!).

Do the “pinch test”, your fibres should be holding together well by now but if not, go through another cycle of rubbing (it may help to add some hot water too).

Removing the Resist

Now we have to decide where to make a hole to remove the resist. For most templates, a hole near the line of stitching makes it easiest to remove the template but anything is possible! I make my hole just big enough for 2 fingers, the hole will stretch some more as you pull the resist out so don’t make it too big.

Depending on the shape of your template, ones with long, spidery arms are the most fiddly, you may need to gently gather and work the felt over the resist in order to get it out without stretching or tearing the felt.

Once the resist has been removed hold the felt up to a light and look inside, through the hole where the resist came out, for any thin spots. Any holes should be repaired now , before fulling begins. Now you are ready to knead and throw it, stopping every 30 seconds to check the arms aren’t felting together. This is also the time to start rubbing it in any directions where you want it to shrink and to start shaping it.

Once you are happy with the shape, folds etc. it can be stuffed while it dries.

Variations:

Try adding wings by laying wool off the edge of the resist.

What would happen if you stitch different shaped resists together or stitched them at different positions (not just down the middle)?

How can you fold / shape / manipulate felt pods made from the same resist so that the final sculptures look very different?

Some example resists and their results:

 

Posted in Community, Guest Writer, Tutorials | Tagged , , | 35 Comments

To Sample or Not to Sample

This isn’t as exotic as sampling Swedish wools, but it was a lesson in the benefits of sampling.

A while ago I had showed you a pile of scarves, blouses and remnants I had purchased to try nuno felting.

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While they all passed the “blow”  test or looked or felt like they would felt well, there were a couple of big surprises.

When I make samples, I usually use prefelt and small samples of each of the fabrics on the same piece.  This way they are all felted the same way in the same amount of time in the same way.

Here is a picture of a couple of them before felting.  The upper left was an open cotton weave, the upper right was a scarf of unknown origin.  The lower left was a remnant that was sparkly with some embroidery and the lower right was part of a silk blouse.

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This isn’t a very clear picture below,  but the second from the left was the one scarf I purchased I thought was perfect for nuno and was looking forward to using it on something special.  To the left of that on top was a scarf that felt like it had some lycra in it below was a piece of lace and sequin on some type of mesh. The third from the left was an organza with sparkle.

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Boy was I mistaken.  After all the others were felted I continued to work on the flower and sparkly pieces, but they wouldn’t felt.  I was really glad I didn’t invest in a big project to use the flower scarf.  I even tried it on another piece of felt. You probably recognize the purple on the left that I used for my jewelry roll.  The scarf on the right also felted nicely.  I even used some wisps of wool on top of the flowers, but they clumped together and there were only a couple of threads on the flower piece that caught.

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Here’s a closeup of the right one.

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The other samples turned out nicely. The blue green and red were silk and the gold a polyester organza.

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The one on the right below was a burnout fabric which surprised me it felted so well. On the left a silver gray polyester organza.

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The blue on the left was a piece of lycra which didn’t do well either, but I wasn’t surprised at that. Above that was a piece of acrylic yarn that felted nicely.

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The blouse felted very nicely and I’m sure I’ll use that for a special project in the future.

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I was also surprised at the sequin and mesh.  I thought that also had a lycra base.  I loved how the mystery blue scarf turned out.  It has a shine and felt like a polyester with something else.  It has a very nice texture.

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My favorite was the brightly colored scarf.  Now, I wish I had yards of it instead only part of a scarf.

20150509_131214I don’t always do samples, but if I want to use something for an important project I’ve learned its best to take the time to do it.

Now I know what to expect when I use these fabrics and which ones not to use for felting. Although a couple of them might work with coarser wools.  But that’s for another time.

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Swedish Wool and Nuno

A couple of months ago we had a really interesting guest post from Zara about felting with Swedish wool breeds. She kindly sent me some batts to try for myself, and they were all breeds I hadn’t tried before. The first one was Rya, which ‘have a short, fine undercoat and a long, lustrous, wavy to straight and rather coarse outer coat’. I embellished my samples with black Bamboo tops and White Viscose tops, I liked this photo of it on an angle as it shows the contrast between the matte bamboo and shiny viscose:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAJust like Zara’s sample, my felted Rya made a nice thick, firm and hairy piece of felt. This close up of an area of bamboo tops shows it in more detail:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe second piece I made was using Svea X Finull, emnellished with some flax and hemp. This made a nice firm piece of felt, a lot softer and less hairy than the Rya:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs you can see from the photo above, the flax and hemp don’t stand out very much. This is a close up of some flax:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd a close up of some hemp:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last piece I made was the Jämtland, embellished with soy tops and Milk protein. The Jämtland made a nice firm felt, but much softer than the Svea X Finull.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThis is a close up of some of the Soy with some Milk near the bottom

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI’m not used to using batts and found the finer the breed, the less ‘accurate’ I was with laying them out, getting thinner, lacier edges.
I bought a couple of scarves recently for nuno felting and took a few pieces to the well being centre last week to try out. The blue pieces are from a polyester scarf and the green flowery one in the centre is linen. I was surprised when I saw the label because it looks a lot like many viscose scarves I have, which look similar to silk chiffon, but shinier. I thought they looked nice together:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI love this texture:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also love the tangley texture more open weave fabrics create:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAApologies for the late post, my Dad turned up unexpectedly demanding a cup of tea and entertaining for a couple of hours :)

Posted in Experiments | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 20 Comments

My turn for a Giveaway

I am going to give away some fiber. The winner will get approximately 100gr of one of these multicoloured Merino batts.  I couldn’t decide which one to give away so the winner will get to pick the one they want. All but the last are textured. They are good for felting or spinning.

Brown

Brown/orange

orange

Orange/yellow

pale green

Pastel greens

pink

Pink/purple

purple

Purple/pink

I will announce  the winner on January 24th. To enter just leave a comment on this blog post.  Good luck.

Posted in Design, Fiber Preparation, Giveaways | Tagged , , , | 92 Comments

Winner of the Screen Printing Class Giveaway

Thanks to everyone who entered into the giveaway for a free class spot for Experimental Screen Printing on Felt.  I appreciate those of you who posted on other social media as well.

Online Screen Printing on Felt Class

The winner of the free class spot is: Willi

Drawing for Class Winner

 

Congratulations and I will contact you soon to give you more information about the class. If I don’t hear back from you by January 20th, I will pick another winner so please respond right away.

If you didn’t win, there is still time to sign up. You need to sign up before January 20th and the class begins on January 22nd. The class is a real bargain at only $45 for tons of video and a PDF with all the information and instructions each week. So if you’d like to learn many different screen printing techniques on felt, this is the class for you. Sign up here. 

 

In case you didn’t see this scarf on my personal blog, this is a nuno felted scarf that I recently made for my sister. I will be giving it to her soon and I hope she likes it. You can read more about it on my blog here.

Posted in Giveaways, Nuno Felting | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Little Steps

Between recuperating and traveling, I haven’t done much heavy felting lately.

I have been doing  some small projects to try to stay in touch with fibers.

The one felt project I did do was to make some felted rocks for my son Matt in Florida.  Last time he visited us, he was intrigued by the felted rocks I keep in the guest bathroom in a crystal dish that was my mother in laws.  Since I had made his wife, Lia, a clutch purse, I thought I would do something for him.

20151130_133447 20151201_155954I used different wools, silk throwsters waste, silk roving and yarns to embellish them.

I didn’t find the right dish before I brought them down there, but will look on our next trip.

While I was doing a little felting, I decided to try felting some soaps.  I had never done it before and had bought several bars of Yardley soaps. (Purple and Blue on top.)

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One was English lavender and the other aloe.  Both were very fragrant to the point I had to put them in another room to dry. Too perfumy for my taste.

I have a small pillow I use to sit on at my vanity.  I had some matching old sheets and decided to make two covers for them. Yes, I could have felted a cover, but I wasn’t ready.  Besides I feel guilty about my Pfaff sewing machine sitting idle. So, I cut out two cases, stitched them and added a design just for fun.

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What projects have you been working on since the New Year started?

 

Posted in Wet Felting | Tagged , , , , | 24 Comments

Fourth Quarter Challenge

What happened to the other 2 Quarterly challenges?! As Ruth said, this year we’re focusing on felting techniques. My first thought (rather obviously, most of you will think) was embellishments. I’ve blathered on enough about embellishment fibres in the past year, so I thought maybe something we can get for free or even which might usually get thrown away. So I settled on ‘Threads and Yarns’. They might be ‘free’, but also it might not be something everybody just saves as a matter of course, so I thought giving you a few months warning will help you prepare well in advance.
So, what kind of things was I thinking of? The everyday things we use in felting and fibre art, nothing special, nothing we have to go out and buy, all we have to do is not throw it away. Things like sewing thread, long bits, short bits, natural, synthetic, even silk:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEmbroidery threads and floss:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow about all those annoying threads that unravel when we tear some fabric, and have to pull off to neaten it? The bits of cotton:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThreads unravelled from gauze, scrim or cheesecloth:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShiny and sparkly organza:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe stuff that refuses to unattach from our hands after tearing silk:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd any other scraps of threads unravelled or unwoven from fabrics and scarves we’ve torn, dismantled and deconstructed to use in our fibre art:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd then there are yarns. Any yarns … bought, made, natural, synthetic; neat, chunky, plied or arty. Big or small, it doesn’t matter if it’s a foot or so, or the odd few inches left at the end of a project.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou might even have a pile of knitting you unpicked, save that too!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOther things which come to mind are bits of twine and garden string, that raffia stuff you get wrapped around flowers, the tassels cut from the ends of scarves. All you’ll need now is some envelopes, bags or tubs to save them in and something to label them so you don’t lose track. And I’ll try to come up with a few uses for them in the next 9 months! ;)

Posted in Challenges | Tagged , , , , , , , | 29 Comments