Color Mixing with Drum Carder

Color Mixing with Drum Carder

Experimenting with color mixing by drum carder was on my list of to do’s and I got around to that this past week. I created a sample with similar colors when color mixing by felting alone in this post.

First off, I had to get the drum carder out and find a space for it on my studio table. The chosen colors were blue green and red orange. I wanted to see how the drum carder mixing differentiated from the felted layers of the same colors. I used the same proportions of colors that I used in the prior sample, which was about 3 to 1 red orange to blue green.

Here is the batt that I created with those colors. The photo on the left is one run through on the drum carder and the photo on the right is two runs through the carder. I then tore the batt in half as I didn’t need that big of a felt sample. So I still have another sample I can make in these colors.

I wanted to try a different way to texture the bark so I used some cut up pieces of heavy interfacing (Pellon). It’s probably about a quarter of an inch thick. I peeled apart a layer of the batt, put the interfacing pieces down and covered with the rest of the batt. After felting, I should have split the batt into two equal pieces, that would have worked better than a thinner layer on the bottom.

The front is shown on the left and the back on the right after felting. As you can see, the interfacing came through the ends as I didn’t have enough wool covering the ends. And the back shows that I had too thin a layer under the interfacing pieces. But it was easier to see the interfacing to stitch around. The interfacing was not thick enough to feel through the wool and didn’t give a good texture. (Doesn’t the photo on the left remind you of a short rib?)

I then added some free motion machine stitching so the texture was more evident from the interfacing pieces. I also trimmed off the ends that were showing and did a little needle felting repair in those areas.

Here are the two pieces side by side. The one on the right does have silk nuno felted on the top too. Which do you think works better? The carded sample is more homogeneous in neutralized red orange but I do like the mottled appearance of the layered color mixing on the right. The carded sample definitely needs more value contrast than what it has now. How do you mix your colors of wool? We’d love to hear about over on the forum.


13 thoughts on “Color Mixing with Drum Carder

  1. I agree that you need more contrast in the carded sample, possibly adding darker fibres between the Pellon pieces before felting? Or you could add more darker colours with your machine stitching after felting – or both!
    The carded sample also seems more red than brown than the felted one was, but that may be just how it appears on my screen.

    1. Thanks Ann, that’s a good idea to add darker wool on the Pellon pieces. That would combine the two ideas of color blending. I could definitely add more stitching but I wasn’t too enthused with this sample at the moment. Maybe I will cut it up to use for the next sample. The carded sample is definitely more red than the layered sample.

  2. Mixing colours works well either with a carder or by hand – it just depends on the effect you want – although it’s easier on the hands using the carder if you want a large quantity!

    In this instance the felt that you mixed by hand does have a better colour.

    1. Thanks Lyn, the first sample was just layers of color, none of the wool was mixed together, just the felting process caused the migration of colors.

    2. Ah yes – you put it down herringbone style – just looked back!

  3. Nice experiment. I think you would get a more even blend doing it on the carder and it would also depend on the ratio of the colors, how many passes and to get really creative, adding color only in certain parts of the batt so you could have more of a contrast in certain areas. Have you tried using a hard felt as a resist? I would love a drum carder but currently cannot justify on. I do blend by hand, on hand carders and the blending board. It just depends on what I am making. What’s next?

    1. Thanks, I have tried the hard felt as a resist and that is actually my favorite so far in this series of samples. I have another of the carded batts so I may try Ann’s suggestion above with hard felt in the center.

  4. I think it depends on what you are looking for. for a more realistic natural bark I would say the one on the left. If you want it more stylized then the one on the right with the nuno felt, even without the green it looks less bark like to me.

    1. Thanks Ann, I am not trying for a realistic bark at this point. Just playing around and seeing what happens with different techniques.

  5. I always really enjoy your experiments and agree there are pros and cons to each of the samples. Also tree bark is so varied that almost any texture works. For me it’s a question of context: what effect are you trying to achieve? I look forward to seeing what you do next.

    1. Thanks Lindsay, usually I am just experimenting instead of trying to achieve a specific effect. But you are right about there being many kinds of bark.

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