Fourth Quarter Challenge Or How Felt Doesn’t Like To Be Rushed

Fourth Quarter Challenge Or How Felt Doesn’t Like To Be Rushed

I was in a bit of a hurry to come up with something to post about today. I decided I would go ahead and try out another glass cover in the style of a 60’s artist. Last quarter, I created a similar piece based on Mark Rothko. 


Photo Courtesy of 1stDibs

I searched for artists painting in the 1960’s and found this photo of Stanley Bate’s Year of the Dragon. This looked interesting and I thought it would work in felt.

I kept the photo handy during layout and the first layer was all about values. I wanted to use the black and white prefelt to achieve the correct values once covered with a variety of colors. I laid out the prefelt on each side of a rectangular resist. And this is where the rushing felt problem really began. The two types of prefelt were different thicknesses. I should have done a light layer of fiber underneath the prefelt first but didn’t think of that until later.

I wet down the prefelt and then covered with a variety of yellow to red colors with pops of blue. I made this layer pretty thin. Also, not thinking ahead and trying to get done in a hurry.

I started felting and noticed several areas that were already developing holes. Sigh… So I did add more wool on to the thin areas and moved forward. But the hole problem continued and finally, I just ignored the holes and moved forward with fulling.

The shrinkage was totally different than the Mark Rothko inspired piece due to the use of prefelt. I had thought that perhaps the prefelt would add an interesting textural aspect but it just seemed to develop weak spots between the various pieces. More sighing…

And here’s the result. I ended up not getting enough shrinkage around to fit over the jar I used last time. Instead, I used a large tea tin. If you enlarge the photo, you might be able to see some holes.

I turned it inside out and decided I might like that side better than the original outside. It even looks more sixties to me. You can definitely see the holes here. I guess I can make the holes a design feature and turn it into a light.

How many years have I been making felt? A long time. Do I still try to rush things sometimes? Of course. Will I ever learn? Doubtful. Perhaps it’s just human nature or the world we now live in, that causes me to be hurried when I really should take my time. How about you? Do you get in a hurry sometimes when creating? I’m not sure why I do it when I am rarely satisfied with felt that has been rushed. Taking a deep breath and slowing down.


17 thoughts on “Fourth Quarter Challenge Or How Felt Doesn’t Like To Be Rushed

  1. While sad for your disappointment, I am also perversely pleased to hear I am not the only one paying for impatience with disappointing outcomes, I know I should sample before embarking on a large project but rarely ever do but I just adore that turquoise blue next to the rusty reds, a really striking colour combination!

    I suspect most people will not notice the holes, but if they bother you, is some carefully placed embroidery or bead work called for?

    1. Thanks Teri, it is nice to know that other people are impatient too 🙂

      I had definitely thought about adding embroidery to the piece and I’m sure it would help. But as I am not sure what I’m doing with the piece, I might not want to add any more time on it. We’ll see. Glad you like the color combination. That’s what drew me to the painting to begin with.

  2. Stanley’s painting is fab!

    Your felt may not have turned out as you planned, but show the piece to someone who had no idea of your plan and they would think it lovely!

    The felt has the essence of the painting and the colours make the felt so alive. The holes are part of the organic feel and marry well with the pretty edge.

    You got away with breaking the golden rule about rushing the felt. Leave it as it as – perfect!

    How many years have we been making felt and we still think that sometimes we can get away with rushing the felt … we usually regret it.

    1. Thanks Lyn, I should embrace the way the felt wanted to be and not worry about it. It definitely wasn’t a total disaster and hopefully, reminds me to take my time.

  3. I agree with Lyn, if you don’t know in advance what you are supposed to be seeing you wouldn’t see anything wrong with it. I prefer the coloured side to the black and white, although I do like monochrome pieces, your colour combinations look really good together. I am sure that, with your ability to see reality in the abstract, you’ll be able to make something of the piece if you can’t bear to leave it as it is.
    Yes I’ve rushed and failed. Early in the first pandemic lockdown I made myself a cowl scarf, black on one side and vibrant silk fabric on the other. I was so

  4. Done it again, I keep pressing the wrong keys – new keyboard with some keys in different places. As I was saying:
    I added some resists (masking/painters tape) in different patterns between the fabric and the felt to increase the “ruched” effect. I was so pleased with the result, I made one for a friend in her favourite indigo/blue colours. The I started to rush. Another friend said she’d like one and after 4 attempts I still hadn’t managed to repeat the effect, with each attempt getting further from the prototype. That was a result of jumping in with both feet and not stepping back and remembering exactly what I had done the first time round. The fact that the fabrics I was using were all different fibres and textures which gave different results didn’t help. Too much speed and not enough thought.
    I’m another one who doesn’t sample – usually because I don’t want to “waste” the fibres and fabrics that I have available for a project, afraid that there won’t be enough to finish.

    1. Thanks Ann, right now I’m not sure I want to take any more time with this piece. I will probably leave it as is and perhaps repurpose it at some point.

      I totally understand your frustration with trying to repeat what you were pleased with in the first scarf. I know it would be helpful to record what worked and what didn’t so I could look back and achieve similar effects or avoid past mistakes. But I don’t do that so many times I have forgotten how I did something or as you say, don’t take the time to put the thought that it needs into it.

  5. I like it and as Lyn said if you don’t know what it is supposed to look like it looks fine. I rush all the time, sometimes because I am trying to do to much in to little time. sometimes its because I have to many ideas in my head. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. At least the failures make good dryer ball middles.

    1. Thanks Ann, I guess I’ll leave it for now. It’s okay. You do have a good use for your failures, for sure. I have never tried a dryer ball. Perhaps I should have that on my list 🙂

  6. Still a relative novice here, but … your article helped me to realize why work that I did not turn out as expected (different prefelts did not full as expected and I got a number of weak spots). In my piece (impressionist feel to it), I am trying to needle felt into these areas (takes work to develop an even texture where desired but it is starting to succeed).

    1. Thanks Linda, it’s good to hear that my mistakes helped you to understand what was happening with your piece. I did have a brief thought of filling the holes with needle felting but decided I didn’t want to spend any more time on this piece. It will just have to stay as is for the moment.

      I would love to see how your piece turns out. If you’re a forum member, we’d love for you to share a photo.

  7. I agree with Lyn. I really love the colours, I prefer the ‘outside’ view over the ‘inside’ view today, but tomorrow or next week I may change my mind. A brilliant article for learning, thank you.

    1. Thanks Marie, I have to say that the ‘inside color’ photo doesn’t really show the true colors well. It’s much more colorful. But true to the entire post, I rushed the photos too.

      I think it’s important to show projects good and bad, to portray what really happens as opposed to showing only ‘perfection’.

  8. Oh my gosh Ruth I am forever rushing once inspiration strikes – at this stage I should know better and recognise the ‘danger’ signs. It used to happen a lot with my sewing and I finally managed to get that under control and think things through before cutting. Now it’s my felting …. eeek looks like I will be hitting the century before I learn.

    That said, I am the very opposite when it comes to writing and often find I am blocked. People advise free flow (whatever comes to mind) which I still have difficulty doing. Perhaps it is the same when creativity comes to call – we need to just let it flow, regardless of the consequences – how else do we learn and experiment.

    I love the painterly effect of the coloured side of your piece – the blue really pops. Turned inside out it reminds me of a cityscape. looking forward to seeing it lit up. Also holes have become de rigueur so you are on target.

    1. Thanks Helene, it’s good to know that I am not the only one rushing through things. I guess it is part of the culture at this point. I have tried free flow writing before and it’s definitely not an easy task for me either. You see holes in everything these days, don’t you?

  9. I really like the piece that you made (and prefer the original colorful side) and the idea of using the black and white prefelt for values is brilliant. I actually do not see any holes. When I think of rushing my felting, I think of not allowing enough time to let the wool fibers migrate through to the silk fabric or entangle with each other. I don’t see what you did as rushing it. Maybe you just needed another layer of wool to make it sturdier or some silk fabric so as not to get any holes. Did your black/white prefelt layer totally cover the resist? If so, then why would you have any holes at all? Generally when I make a vessel or a hat, I use at least 4 layers of wool on each side of the resist.

    1. Thanks Beth, I appreciate your thoughts. I guess the result wasn’t too bad but I just didn’t give enough time for layout and thinking through how the piece would shrink. That’s a good idea to use silk fabric to prevent holes. I did need a bit more fiber added since the prefelt did not totally cover the resist. It didn’t look like there were holes but they developed as the piece progressed. Yes, I normally use more layers of wool but I was thinking about this one maybe having light coming through, so I wanted it to be lighter weight. So, the holes are probably not that much of an issue after all.

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