I bought a new fibre to try out a couple of weeks ago, Kapok fibre. Like cotton, it grows around the seed of the plant, but is much lighter and softer. As much as I like fibre tops, I do like the shorter staple fibres, especially with coarser wools for the way they interact with the wool and produce more ‘natural’ looking effects. They often seem to mimic things you find in nature such as cobwebs, fungus or mould, which look solid but are really soft or fluffy when you look closer. This first panel is natural white 23 Micron Merino. I took a ‘piece’ of the kapok fibres and teased it apart, sames as you would silk noil, and laid it across the wool. It’s hard to see the Kapok at all.
I know a lot of people don’t like curly or coarser wools for felting, especially if they mainly make felt paintings or want a brightly coloured, smooth, firm felt. But I’m the type of person who loves textures and shades and tones as much as colour, and love rocks and tree barks just as much as flowers or minerals. So, if you’re like me, you might like thse next couple of pieces which I made using Shetland and Finnish wools. For this first one, I used grey Shetland tops and added fluffed up, teased apart Kapok fibre:
I like the effect the thinner parts of fibre produces:
One of the areas where the fibre was denser:
I made the Finnish piece double sided. I first put some teased apart Kapok fibre on my template, then added the brown Finnish tops. I added a layer of black Finnish tops, then blended some Kapok fibre with black Finnish noil and added that. I added some Kapok fibre on its own in a few spaces and blended a small amount of Kapok With black Finnish top and added that too. This is the brown side:
This is the black Finnish side:
A close up of a dense fibre part:
This is a close up of the Fibre blended with the wool:
Do you have a favourite coarse of curly wool? What do you use it for? Do you have a favourite embellishment fibre? You’re welcome to link us to any pics or come and post about it on the forum.
20 thoughts on “Kapok Fibre”
The kapok works really well Zed – that’s something you’ve taught me because I only thought of Kapok as ‘stuffing’ material for soft toys etc!
My favourite embellishing materials for felt are: silk material (that I usually cut from ‘floaty’ charity shop scarves and blouses), hand-dyed scrim, 100% yarn and silk tops.
I did see it used/sold for stuffing and pillows too, I’m tempted to make myself a kapok stuffed pillow it feels so nice! 🙂 I like your dyed scrim.
Enjoyed looking at your samples, Zed! Other than samples, how do you like to use the curly wools in felting? I particularly like Navajo churro wool for curly wool felting, and I have some in gray and fawn colors. For embellishment fibers, I prefer using silk roving (laps?) and tencel.
Thanks, Cathy 🙂
I like the curly wools for thin or cobweb felt, and to add texture and character to felted pieces, they’re great for loose danglie embellishments too or at the top of vessels.
What will you use this for, Zed? The end result looks really nice, and I’ll be honest, I’m not one for coarser fibres, but this looks very nice indeed 🙂
Thanks, Leonor 🙂
I honestly haven’t decided what I’ll use my pieces for yet, I did wonder about a larger collage type piece, but I do like having the pieces for reference when choosing wools and fibres. I’ve used a few in frames too, just because I liked the look of them.
I love all the textured effects of the different wools. I will have to try the kapok. Great job Zed.
I mostly use merino, but have used coarser fibers for samples, the handbag I did or vessels. Since I like bling I use a lot of silk for embellishment. But I also like using organza ribbon. Lately I’ve been trying more scrim. I’m always experimenting.
Thanks, Marilyn 🙂
I’m with you and Lyn on scrim, there’s nothing it doesn’t look good with.
I like the look of the Kapok – I do think you could use the Kapok (and curly wool) for a landscape as I think they would give the picture more depth. I guess my favorite curly wool is Wensleydale but that’s mainly because I have a lot of it as I bought a fleece early on and have never used it all.
I think coarser wool breeds make good handbags because they seem to wear better.
I think the kapok would look good with curly wool, I might have to try it with something dark like Gotland.
I think I’ll use coarser wools if I make any more bags, the back pack I made with Merino started to pill after a few uses even though I used a layer of silk to hopefully make it more hardwearing.
Great photos! I’ve not worked with kapok,looks interesting.
Thanks, Laura 🙂
great sample Zed. I have never heard of kapok before. It looks like milk weed fluff. I like the Finnish wool and C1 wool New England felting sells but it is to expensive. I love Wensleydale Teeswater and Massum for curly locks and the tiny curls you get form Blue Faced Leister. and of course silk every way it comes.
Thanks, Ann 🙂
I love the tiny curls of Bluefaced Leicester too, it’s like nothing else I’ve seen.
Kapok seems to be very interesting.I’ll get some when I make my next order.
I use all sorts of embellishment fibres and use different textiles too. I can’t say which is my favourite.
Just don’t sniff it! (tiny fibres!)
Well, the more wools and fibres and fabrics we use, the bigger the variety of results 🙂
I am producer of Kapok Fibre from Indonesia. If you want to know please contact me at email@example.com
I did try felting with kapok fiber too and i love it. I did try with 19 mic wool, sliver and 21 mic wool , my favorite is the one with sliver, creates amazing texture. Planing to make a jacket that will look amazing.
Wow, a Kapok embellished jacket sounds awesome! Will you post a link to a photo when you’ve made it? 🙂