This is a guest post by Kim Winter of Flextiles.
A few weeks ago, Ruth posted about how the shape of a seedpod she made using prefelt was influenced by differential shrinkage. I thought I would try out this technique with a couple of variations. 🙂
This is the seedpod I was inspired by. I found it on a beach in Thailand, but I have no idea what plant it is from!
Unlike Ruth, I didn’t make “fresh” prefelt. I have a box (or three!) of old felt experiments and pieces I don’t like very much, which I am happy to cut up and reuse in new pieces. Technically this is not prefelt but actual felt. However, roughing up the surface with a wire brush usually loosens up enough fibres to allow it to attach to fresh fibre.
For this experiment I decided to use a felt tablet cover that I didn’t like, as it was very thick (I think it was two layers of merino sandwiching a layer of Gotland).
I worked inside out on this piece, partly because I wanted some spikes protruding from inside the pod and partly because I have found that it is easier to attach the prefelt or fabric this way.
First I made some spikes.
Then I cut out some vaguely diamond shapes from the tablet cover and roughed up the inside surface (which was white) with the wire brush. I laid these upside down (that is, purple side down) on the circular resist.
Then I covered them with a thin layer of orange merino. I laid it in a circular pattern because I wanted the piece to shrink more around the circumference than along its height.
After wetting down and a bit of gentle rubbing, I turned the piece over, folding the felt diamonds over and covering them with more orange merino. After wetting down and minimal rubbing, I added the spikes in the centre with more merino, rubbing very thoroughly to ensure they were properly attached.
Once I was sure that the spikes would not detach, I rolled the piece, rearranging the position of the spikes every time I changed direction.
When the felt passed the pinch test and I could see the darker outlines of the prefelt coming through, I cut a hole in the opposite side to the spikes and removed the resist.
I continued to roll the piece to start the shrinkage and firm up the cut edges and then turned it inside out so that the spikes were now on the inside.
To help with the fulling I immersed it in hot water and continued to rub and roll, sometimes turning it back inside out to continue the shrinkage and shaping process.
The spikes were actually a little bit short, so I curled the top edges of the vessel down and pushed up the bottom a bit to ensure they protruded properly. Also, I wish I had made them a different colour – maybe red.
And quite a lot of the Gotland has migrated through, so the final piece is a bit hairy. I might shave it.
Thanks to Ruth for the inspiration!