Some of the first felt objects I made were vases: made around a flat u-shaped resist that I designed to try to get a good even layer of felt on the base (wobbly bases not being good for vases). Every so often I get the urge to make a few vases, so I thought I’d show you some I’ve made recently.
My felt pictures are often inspired by my coastal environment. So, I thought I’d make some coast-inspired vases.
I prefelted some recycled silk scarf pieces to make pebbles then added pebble shapes to the lower section. The sea area had a pewter-coloured merino base with blue and green wisps of wool plus some silky fibre for the sea foam. The wave was a combination of some sort of knitted yarn I’d also found in a charity shop, with added mohair and the same silky fibre (I’m not completely sure what it was, it was just hanging around and looked suitable!)
I made 3 in total – here are the other 2.
Sometimes it’s the materials themselves that suggest pieces rather than the local scenery. I put some beautiful bright coral-coloured dyed locks against contrasting duck egg blue and teal merino and thought that might be interesting
Continuing my vase-making spree: I’d dyed some merino for a workshop last year and I thought it might be a good idea to use up some of the hand-dyed wool on vases.
Now enter stage left the plant pot. A friend who’d previously bought a plant pot holder from me asked about making one specifically to suit a plant she had. I wrote a blog a while ago about my love / hate relationship with commissions but that was about pictures – I felt much happier about a plant pot as it’s not such a big commitment.
I was keen to include her in the design so I did a couple of very quick potential design sketches and consulted her on the fibre colour choices. As the plant was only in a plastic pot with holes in the bottom, I scoured my local charity shops and found a beer bucket to make the plant pot water-tight.
We decided to go for coral / pink / burgundy colours to highlight the under-sides of the leaves and an overall texture rather than a leaf-shape pattern.
I decided to do the top of the inner 2 layers green so it would show when you look down at the pot. With hindsight I should have done the whole of the inner layers green but I wasn’t sure I had enough of the green so did the lower section white. I carded together various colours of merino and silk fibre rather than use the fibre labelled ‘carded’ on the fibre picture – but keep and eye on that as it comes back later on….. Then laid locks on top.
And here’s the plant in its personal designer pot. My friend was very pleased with it.
Then it was back to the vases but with a twist. I recently found in a charity shop an old chemistry lab heavy glass 3 neck flask and, as ever, I thought….I wonder how that would work with felt. There’s a little corner of my brain that is devoted entirely to felting possibilities and it kicks into play whenever I’m mooching about charity shops, which is often!
On the same day I found some interesting yarn in another charity shop so I splashed out a further 20p and thought I’d bring these 2 finds together.
I was clearly wearing my sensible head that day as I made a sample with the yarn to make sure it would felt and see how it came out. Even more sensibly, I used it on both sides of my sample (I wish I always remembered to do that) so I could decide which effect I liked best
I stared to ponder the engineering challenge of the 3 neck vase and decided I’d have to have a hole underneath. Usually my vase covers are solid on the under side and the glass slips into the top. With this I wanted the felt to fit tightly round the necks so I’d have the glass entry point on the base. I carefully measured and calculated at least 40% shrinkage then made my resist. This time an upside-down U-shape
I laid 4 layers of natural white merino over both sides of the resist then ran a single strip of the yarn around. I then added single black nepps below the yarn line, more densely near the yarn and just a few further down the shape. This seemed like a good idea but it took absolutely ages to separate out individual nepps, pick out only round ones and of a similar size, and then place them where I wanted them to sit. One of those decisions you regret before you’re half-way through but can’t bear not to finish as you’ve already invested so much time in it!
Anyway, here’s the finished vase. Actually, I’m pleased with the pattern, although I’d intended the yarn to sit a bit further up the flask. I’d not properly taken into account how much of the felt would be underneath.
I thought I’d find some more old 3 necked lab flasks. Having consulted both EBay and Google it rapidly became clear that they are not to be had. I have not found a single similar 3 neck flask (there are new ones which are much thinner and tend to have domed bases, no good for vases). The nearest I could find was a similar heavy glass 2 necked flask which is on EBay for £40. £40! I now feel I can’t sell my vase as I don’t want someone to buy it for the flask and rip off the felt! So, that one is staying with me, at least for the time being.
And finally we come back to the pre-mixed fibre I mentioned (labelled ‘carded’). If you’re ever lucky enough to visit World of Wool in Yorkshire, you’ll see they have two huge skip-type bins full of ends of lines and wooly remnants (one with coloured fibres and one just cream /white). There’s a low fixed-price per weight for the content of each bin and you can ferret out all sorts of hidden gems. I can spend a long time almost falling into those bins. This mystery fibre-mix was one such find.
I thought I’d make a vase using that plus a piece of a pink silk scarf I’d just found in a charity shop. That day, alas, I was not wearing my sensible head and didn’t think to make a sample: partly because I didn’t have a lot of the fibre and partly, well, because I just didn’t think about it.
I laid out 2 layers of a matching pre-dyed merino, 2 layers of the mystery fibre and a strip of silk and set about felting. Fairly soon my error became clear. The mystery fibre was not felting at all. I persisted. It still didn’t felt. I persisted. And persisted. In the end it did felt, presumably with help from the 2 inner layers of merino. It shrank more than I’d expected and the fibre hadn’t been all that keen on pushing through the silk, which means the silk ruching is rather loose in places. But it’s fixed completely round the edges and anyway, I like a bit of loose ruching.
So, here are my recent adventures in vase-making, with a little diversion via a plant pot. I hope you’ve enjoyed them. Do you have a favourite?