3D Wet Felting Experiments (Part One)

Some people close to me are giving up eating animal-based products this month – Veganuary – while others give up alcohol – Dry January.  As I’ve set aside some time for playing with 3D wet felting this month I’m going for ‘experimentanuary’ which is much more self-indulgent and shouldn’t be compared with the other examples but what the heck?!

I’ve had various ideas simmering in the back of my mind for a while, so now is the time to bring some to the boil:

  • Last summer I noticed some particularly lovely fungus growing on a dead tree trunk.
  • Since the wonderful Gladys Paulus seed pods workshop I did in November I’ve been thinking about how to felt sprouting seeds.
  • A couple of months ago I saw a call for submissions for an open exhibition across three local galleries (Creek Creative in Faversham, The Fishslab in Whitstable and Beach Creative in Herne Bay) with the title ‘Map’ – to be interpreted as widely as you like. 

From a sprouting seed to fungus on a dead tree I’ve been mulling over the idea of ‘mapping’ life cycles.

First I think about texture. I’ve stitched a piece of thin grey Shetland wool pre-felt into ridges with no specific end in mind so I loosely wrap it around a lozenge-shaped resist covered in 2 layers of wetted brown Finnish wool – all from carded batts – to see what happens (I usually use wool tops so this is another experiment). 

First experimental pod

The remains of the ridges give an interesting texture and I like the top where pre-felt was lightly pushed together – it reminds me of the ‘seam’ on a walnut shell. 

I remember some thick lacy fabric (maybe linen) I’d found in a charity shop which created an interesting texture when I felted a sample so I dig that out and decide to give it a try.

Sample of second-hand fabric when felted with merino wool

I cut out two egg-shaped pieces of the fabric and a slightly smaller resist (to give me a seam round the middle), lay three layers of white Finnish wool on each side of the resist, put the fabric on top and add some tufts of wool on top of the fabric, particularly round the edges.

Here’s the pod as I’m ready to cut out the resist and start fulling more vigorously and the finished item – which I think looks rather like an almond / walnut hybrid. I like the texture and shape.

I wonder what would happen if I used darker wool under the fabric and if I didn’t put any wool on top, so I decide to have a go. 

I’ve already made the ‘sprout’ section from a green dyed Perendale carded batt with two leaves at one end of a felt rope, unfelted wool at the other end so I can felt it into a seed pod.  Using the same resist I snug the unfelted end of the sprout under 3 layers of natural grey Shetland wool and add the fabric.

I put the unfelted end of the sprout next to the resist
Shetland wool added

As I rub the pod I wonder if it was wise to try the fabric with no wool on top because it doesn’t look like anything is happening for quite a while but it’s one of those times when you just have to have faith in felting and keep going. I’m relieved when I look side-on and see the wool hairs coming through. 

Looking at the edge I can just see that the wool is coming through

Here’s the pod when it’s dry.  I knew I would need to stiffen the stem for it to stand up in the way I want.  Although it’s fulled very hard, as soon as you tilt it it won’t hold the weight of the leaves. I got some advice from the forum here on using GAC 400 so thought I’d try that.

Finished felting but the stem needs stiffening (it’s leaning against the wall!)

Here’s where I’d like to be showing you the finished pod but unfortunately I bought the wrong product (GAC 500 instead of GAC 400) so I’m now waiting for the right product to arrive before I can go ahead.

While waiting, I’ve made another seed pod based on something between a sweet chestnut and a hazelnut using 3 shades of Finnish wool. 

I’ve also made the rest of the ‘lifecycles’ pieces….or at least I think I have, but I keep thinking of other things I could add, like maybe a stag beetle, so who knows?

There’s a danger of this becoming a very long blog because I’m having so much fun. How many pieces will I submit to the exhibition? Will my entry be accepted? The submission deadline is later this month so I don’t yet know the answers to those questions. In my next guest blog spot I’ll show how I developed the log with fungus and lichen, a piece of (mostly) flat felt for them to sit on, and let you know what happens about the exhibition. 

About Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork

I’m a passionate wet felt-maker living by the sea in Whitstable, Kent, UK & working out of a small studio in Faversham, Kent. I draw a lot of inspiration from the beautiful coastal scenery and local wild birds which can often be seen in my felt work.
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17 Responses to 3D Wet Felting Experiments (Part One)

  1. Anna Ashton says:

    Lovely to see what you’re up to Lindsay! Looking forward to seeing your stiffened sprout!

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Haha, thank you, Anna. It’s a lesson in patience and making proper test pieces. I was too impatient and did try using the wrong product on my sprout before my test piece was fully dry which was foolish (and annoying).

  2. RovingOne says:

    Fascinating to see Lindsay. Well done for stretching your boundaries and its good you’ve been inspired by your Gladys Paulus workshop. I don’t do enough experimenting.
    I completely underestimated the size of your pieces. I was imagining the sprout to be about 12cm long. Photos of you holding them adds a sense of scale.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thank you, RovingOne. I sometimes feel I have my head down too much making things for sales. While this can be satisfying, I absolutely love trying to work out how to do new things and asking myself ‘what would happen if……’. I feel very lucky to have time this month to do lots of that.

  3. ruthlane says:

    Wonderful experiments! I love the texture you achieved. I have been continuing my experiments too, leaning towards “pods” or “seeds”. So I’ll join you in experimentanuary 🙂

    Good luck with the GAC 400. I look forward to seeing your fungus and lichen.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thank you, Ruth. I know you’re a fellow experiment-lover and look forward to seeing what you create with seeds and pods.

  4. annielynrosie says:

    Not too long at all – love the post and your sprouting pod – it’s gorgeous! All your experiments are fab and you’ve really achieved a lot in experimentanuary even though it’s still only the 13th!

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thanks for your kind comments, Lyn. I must have been storing up lots of ideas to get me through what can otherwise be quite a dreary month!

  5. Antje says:

    A great post Lindsay. I love the texture you’ve created for your sprouting seed and looking forward to finding out more about GAC 400.
    As you know I love seeds too – aren’t they addictive? I see ‘seeds’ & ideas everywhere even out grocery shopping! Your Experimentanuary is looking very creatively productive. I’m somewhat jealous as I’m having a tidyanuary – no new creations until a few things have been cleared & tidied!

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thank you, Antje. I’m a little sad that I’ve pretty much used up all that fabric as it did felt in an interesting way. Tidyanuary sounds like a very good idea: my studio is exceptionally untidy at the moment to the point where I’m very likely to trip up so maybe I’ll do that in February – which has the advantage that it’s shorter!

  6. Very cool experiments. I too am very interest in in how the GAC400 works. The seed pod is marvellous. I am looking forward to seeing what you do next.

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thanks, Ann. The GAC 400 finally arrived 2 days ago so I applied it yesterday and am trying to leave it alone while it drys. It’s quite damp & cold here so it may take a while.

  7. Marilyn aka Pandagirl says:

    Wonderful experiments Lindsay. I love your sprouted pod!

    • Lindsay Wilkinson Artwork says:

      Thanks Marilyn. They’re fun to make so once I’ve sorted out how to make the sprout stand up I imagine I’ll be making others.

  8. Kim says:

    Thanks for posting your experiments and explaining your processes. I love to see the transformation!

  9. Pingback: 3D wet felting experiments (part two) | feltingandfiberstudio

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