Hello everyone, I know a lot of the readers of this forum may be experienced felters, but some of you may be turning to us after deciding to experience felting for the first time.
I thought I would provide a simple blog (so that also may mean short!!) to show that one of the many joys of felting is that the basic equipment does not need to break the bank when you are setting out for the first time.
There are many tutorials online to explain the process of wet felting, here is one you can subscribe to through the forum https://feltingandfiberstudio.com/classes/wet-felting-for-beginners-online-course/ I will concentrate here on the tools of our trade.
As with everything in life, you can purchase things cheaply or you can pay much more. So let’s provide you with a list.
Protective cover for your table – if your table needs to be protected from water, you will need some kind of cover. I have a vinyl table cover sourced from a charity (thrift) shop. I have just bought a very good and cheap builders rubble floor protector from a trade supply merchant, the cost was just under £6 for 3m x 4m! – huge.
Bubble wrap – small bubbles, not the large ones. This is what you lay your work on prior to wetting down, bubble side up everyone!!, (to create agitation from underneath) and it is very cheap.
Tulle/netting – this is the material that you lay over your work prior to adding water and soap, you can also use curtain netting if you have any, but like bubble wrap, tulle is very cheap. People buy it to make fancy dress costumes. Sometimes one colour is cheaper than another colour, so buy the cheapest. The colour will not matter and it will not bleed onto your work. My tulle is a very fetching teal colour, and it wasn’t one of the more expensive colours.
Soap – I personally use Olivia Olive Oil soap, it is what I started with and so it is what I am used to. I do know that some felters use hand wash liquid, or dish washing liquid, I tried the hand wash once and found my work felted too ‘soft’, but please do experiment and find what works for you. At the minute I am paying £1.69 for 125g of soap, so not a huge amount, and it lasts a long time.
Water container – you can spend your hard earned money on a ball browser to sprinkle little droplets of moisture onto your work or you can buy a liquid laundry bottle. Use up the liquid to wash your clothes, rinse it out thoroughly with water, jab five small holes in the top with a knife, and voila! you have a water sprinkler. I find this works well even when I have very fine, flyaway work to wet down, put the tulle over and sprinkle away, my work rarely moves, maybe it dare not!!
Hand Carders/blenders – here is a fantastic saving, you can throw your money at a couple of fancy hand carders that do actually look lovely. I have seen them for sale up to £44 for the pair, WOW! or like me, you can buy two dog slicker brushes £3 each, (yes from a pet store!) and do you know what?, they blend the colours!! Ok they are smaller than the expensive carders, but it just means you have to blend a few times, not a great problem!
Sushi mat/Roller Blind – if you are wanting to shrink your work for whatever reason, maybe to fit into a certain picture frame or canvas you may need to roll it. I have a small sushi mat for small projects.
I bought this large window blind for shrinking the larger pieces, and cut off all the extra hanging cords, again, not at all expensive. I actually picked up another one in a charity shop the same. I was thinking ahead to a time I may run my own classes, to have a spare.
Wool – I am afraid this is where I cannot recommend cheaper alternatives, but that does not mean you cannot shop around for the best prices. I will list a few sites for you to look at, they all deliver worldwide.
Before I go I would like to share this great ‘cheaper alternative’ that my husband came up with. I started presenting my work in mount and backboards (mat and frame), so I thought I would have to buy a print browser stand to display them at craft fairs. I looked on line and the wooden cradle type ones seemed to be around £30. I explained to my hubby what I wanted one for and he said you need a magazine rack……well take a look at this thing of simple beauty…..
Not only was it less than half the cost, but it is far better, in my opinion, than a wooden cradle type because as it is acrylic you can see all of the piece you are displaying, I love it! It is a table top item rather than floor standing. It is sturdy too, check them out if you ever need something for this purpose, you won’t be disappointed.
I hope I have helped a little with my cost saving suggestions, of course any savings you do make means you can spend more on lovely wools, a win-win situation!
Please share your cost saving tips with us all.