Our local art group made some Joomchi a couple of months ago and since that time, I have been thinking about adding paper to the surface of felt. I realize that there is a well known online course about how to do this, but I have not taken the class and these are my experiments on adding paper to felt. If you haven’t heard of Joomchi before, it is made from layers of mulberry paper that are wet down and agitated. Essentially, wet felting layers of mulberry paper together. If you search online for it, you will find YouTube instructional videos and some beautiful artwork made with the technique.
I have a variety of mulberry papers in my stash that I used. I cut a 2 inch square from the different papers and laid these out on a couple layers of short fiber merino batt. I figured that the pinks and reds would probably run from leftover dye in the paper but that didn’t concern me. I just wanted to see how the paper would felt in.
I covered the wool and paper with a synthetic sheer curtain on both sides and wet down with cold water. This seemed like nuno felting to me, so I followed my routine for nuno felting. I treated the piece gently, used cold water until the fulling process and rubbed over the surface of the paper pieces to encourage the wool to migrate through the paper. I fulled mainly by rolling but did do more aggressive fulling in hot water once the paper was holding in place.
Here is the result. All the paper types felted in very well. You can see that the red paper shared it’s dye with a couple of the white pieces of mulberry paper.
The close ups show that the paper does crinkle a bit but it is adhered well to the wool. I like the use of inclusions in the paper and the surface is interesting.
The fibers in the top pink paper almost look like a silk but I don’t think they are. It’s probably that the fibers take the dye differently than the paper pulp.
As you can see on the red piece, the “tinsel” or whatever the gold strands are, migrated almost completely out of the paper. If you pull on the gold strands, you can pull them right out.
Now on to the Joomchi. Most of my mulberry paper is red and pink. I used about 5 layers of paper, wetting down each layer as it was placed on a corrugated rubber surface. I then used a piece of pvc pipe and rolled over the papers. I kept turning the paper at right angles and also flipping over to the other side. Once the papers began holding together, I crumpled them in my hands, then gently pulled them back out flat and continued to crumple them. I thought the texture that developed due to the fibers of the paper beginning to break down was very organic and beautiful. The process also causes shrinkage of the papers, another similarity to felting.
Here’s the piece that I made with our art group. I borrowed other paper colors so I didn’t have to use pink/red again. You can see a bit of my red at the bottom left corner.
It was fun experimenting and I’m happy with my samples. Now to consider how I can use this in my work. Have you done any experiments lately? We’d love to see or hear about them, you can upload a photo here.