Experimenting With Felting

Experimenting With Felting

Today we have a Guest Post by Lyn from rosiepink.

Experimenting with felting is the best way to learn, and you learn just as much from things going wrong as you do from things going right.
After making ‘The Fingerpost‘ picture, shown below, I was full of enthusiasm for the ‘chopped up bits of felt look’ and I wondered if I could make a small decorative  pod with it.

2_DSCF1053 Fingerpost Land's End Textured Felt ArtSo I spent ages getting sore fingers chopping up pieces of scrap fulled felt …

DSCF1080 - Copy… then I arranged some of it onto one side of my circular resist.  I had to use tweezers as the felt bits either stuck to my fingers or flew off to the other side of the table when I tried to place them – it was a painstakingly slow job and my eyes went a bit wobbly with the concentration.

DSCF1089 - CopyI then applied two layers of white merino wool before flipping it over to start painstakingly applying little bits to the other side.
This is when the alarm bells started to ring…

DSCF1094 - Copy…I realised at this point that I was going to have a white band running around the middle of my pod … unless I could perhaps pull the white fringe of merino wool from the other side v-e-r-y- snugly around to squish the layers together?
So I carried on to eventually complete the second side.

DSCF1096 - CopyAww – I thought it looked pretty – a bit like a plate of ‘dolly mixtures‘.

I had real nagging doubts about the success of the project but I knew that I would learn something from it so I carried on. As I started to wrap the white merino ‘fringe’ over one part of the edge, some bits fell off from another part.  It was a struggle and it ended up looking like a bag of potatoes.

After I’d applied all the layers of wool, I had an embryo pod that was the thickness of a car tyre. There was no way I could roll it in a bamboo mat, so I listened to the radio while I rubbed… and rubbed… and rubbed until I thought it would be ok to remove the resist.

I cut a hole to remove the resist then turned the pod inside out to full it.  As I did so, several colourful bits of felt flew off the pod – it looked like a boxer spitting out teeth – and lots more pieces were loose.  It was unworkable.

I could see what I’d done wrong.

I should have fulled the pod a bit after removing the resist before attempting to turn it inside out.  It might have been better too, considering the amount of shrinkage of a pod, if I hadn’t put the coloured bits on the resist so densely.

It’s frustrating when things go wrong but valuable lessons can be learned from the experience.  I don’t give up on a piece easily, and I usually keep the felt to re-use, but this pod was definitely a lost cause and as there was nothing I considered salvageable for re-use, I consigned it to the felting box in the sky.

at the bottom of the bin

30 thoughts on “Experimenting With Felting

  1. Sorry to hear that your pod ended up in a bin. From what I can see it could be salvaged; the parts that fell out could be stitched back in empty spaces. The proces you have described reminds me of using wool neps: the can also be very tricky. Do you think that a tiny amount of wool placed on the top of your dolly mixtures would fix them better?
    All in all, you chose wonderful colours and hope you don’t have sore fingers from cutting any more.

    1. Although only a few bits appear to be missing, there were an awful lot of loose ones just waiting their turn to leap off!
      Your idea of a small amount of wool to secure the dolly mixtures may have helped.

  2. What an excellent blog! I certainly learn from the many mistakes I make, and am very happy to learn from yours – without me having to do all the work! Thank you! The colors really did look fabulous, it’s such a shame it didn’t work after all your effort.

    1. I too prefer to learn from other people’s mistakes – much less painful!
      I loved the colours, but hey, it’s all grist to the learning mill.

  3. What a shame it didn’t work out, I was with you all the way, I could see so much potential, in fact I still can even in the binned version, now I’m thinking needle felting 🙂

    1. Not a bad idea. Perhaps if I’d put it to one side to dry then attacked it with a felting needle it might have worked.
      Unfortunately the bin men have already done their rounds.

  4. Oh no…never throw out. Some of my best projects come from what I thought were failures. The felt just had different ideas of what it wanted to be when it was finished.
    When I let go..realize it is still a wor in progress..sometime later it tell me where it belongs. And it proves to me.

    1. I’m feeling really ashamed now. Honestly, I really do keep so many things that didn’t work out, just in case they become useful, and they often do don’t they?

  5. Oh no, not the bin! So much work and effort. I’m sorry it didn’t work out the way you wanted. I know the feeling. It really was beautiful in color and texture. I may have tried the needle or if nothing else glue. You’re right, I’d rather learn from other people’s mistakes. But you made a valiant effort! Thanks for being brave enough to try it and share with us.

    1. It does take a bit of bravery to publicly display your ‘things-that-didn’t-go-as-planned’ and I hope others will be encouraged to take photos of their experiments, as they do them, so that we can share our learning – no matter how it turns out!

  6. Great post Lyn. It does take courage to show everyone our failures. I have been thinking that maybe we should have a swap of UFO’s or failures and then others could make something from what we would throw in the bin. I just found this quote recently “Failure is not the opposite of success. It is part of success.”

    1. Thanks Ruth. Annie says that there’s no such thing as a failure – you’ve successfully found a way that doesn’t work!

  7. Lyn, Thank you SO much for posting your failures, It really helps me feel better seeing that very experienced and talented people don’t produce masterpieces every time out. Don’t feel bad about throwing it away. When you’ve invested so much time and energy in a piece that fails, it’s best to just exorcise the demon.

    1. We are all so happy to proudly show off our good stuff that people could get the idea that everything we do turns out perfectly every time … I wish.
      It did feel a bit like ‘exorcising the demon’ when I threw it to the bottom of the tall kitchen bin!

  8. Brilliant post Lyn, your writing style is always an entertaining read 🙂 the idea for the pod was great too and it sounds like you know how to make it better next time, I look forward to seeing mark II…

  9. Just crushed for you, Lyn, that your pod did not work out. Actually, I don’t think the needle-felting would have saved it, as those very dense pieces just don’t do well with needles (Yes, I’ve tried!)
    BTW, I had never heard the expression “dolly mixtures.” We call the licorice fondant bits “all sorts” here in the States.

    1. Thank you for the sympathy. Interesting to know that you’ve tried needle felting with dense pieces of felt – what exactly happened?

      On this side of the pond we also call liquorice fondant sweets ‘Liquorice Allsorts’. ‘Dolly Mixtures’ don’t have liquorice in them – please click the link in the blog post for a photo of dolly mixtures. They’re terribly sugary and don’t really taste of anything at all, but they’re pretty to look at.

  10. Look on the bright side, there’s probably a family of black headed gulls snuggled up in the pod on the tip right now 🙂 I have a pile of failures from the last few days, my attempts at cuffs. My first few years ago turned out really nice, I just couldn’t get these right, too long, too wide, too thin, too thick, and all the extra fulling made them stiff and hairy!

    1. Haha – I like the image of the gulls in the pod! As for cuffs, it’s easier to make a pretty piece of felt then cut several cuffs from it – bit of machine or hand embroidery, a fastener and you’re done.

  11. It had such promise, I was thinking along the silk line too. a silk cap stretched over the resist t start. maybe if you laid out the wool circles out separately then just place it on top so you don’t have to worry about moving all the little bits while trying to put the wool down. I always think dolly mixture looks like they shrank allsorts for a dolly tea party.

    1. Yes, a silk cap stretched over the resist at the start would have helped and would have looked pretty too.
      It’s been good getting ideas through the comments and I’ll certainly remember them for the next time I do an experimental pod.

  12. How disappointing Lyn, it had such promise and I was envisaging your intended result as I read through. 🙁
    Thanks for sharing your disaster, it gives hope to others as well as another notch on that old learning curve.

    1. Yes Judith, it was disappointing, but you never know until you try. I’d like a pound for every bright idea I’ve had that came to nought – I’d be quite wealthy!

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