Experimenting with Paper: Felting and Joomchi

Experimenting with Paper: Felting and Joomchi

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.

Six pieces of mulberry paper laid out over yellow wool batt.

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.

Six pieces of mulberry paper felted to the surface of yellow wool.

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.

Two pieces of mulberry paper felted to the surface of yellow wool.

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.

Two pieces of mulberry paper felted to the surface of yellow wool.

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.

Two pieces of mulberry paper felted to the surface of yellow wool.

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.

Photo of pink joomchi - layered and manipulated mulberry papers.

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.

Photo of green joomchi - layered and manipulated mulberry papers.

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.

26 thoughts on “Experimenting with Paper: Felting and Joomchi

  1. Ruthlane – Thank you for sharing, I have not heard of Joomchi. You did a wonderful job explaining the steps to make your beautiful works of art – especially the green design. I appreciate you!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post Mary Ann. Joomchi is an interesting process, especially since it really relates to wet felting.

  2. Like Mary Ann, I had not heard of Joomchi before Ruth, so thank you for this wonderful introduction. Great post! Excited to see how you develop your findings.
    Hélène x

    1. Thanks Helene, I have some other ideas about using paper in felt. I’m not sure what else I will do with Joomchi, but I enjoyed trying the process.

  3. Yep, I had to ask Mr Google what it was. I was going to ask what you’d do with the process, but on seeing the green one you made at the art group I think I can guess. That one looks just like some of your nuno felted backgrounds for pictures. I wonder if painting on the paper before you Joomchi it and/or felt it would be another step in the learning journey? Though you’d have to use acrylic paint to avoid it washing away I suppose.
    Is the felted paper and joomchi flexible/soft enough to be needle felted? I’m sure you’d be able to sew through it so I suppose it might be. Is it flexible enough for surface embellishment on 3D items like pots do you think?
    Questions Questions and all sorts of vague ideas rushing around in my head and I’m sure yours too.
    A great post Ruth, thanks.

    1. Thanks Ann, it seems that most people haven’t heard of Joomchi. It could definitely be used as a landscape background but it is pretty stiff once dry. I’m not sure needle felting would work but the Joomchi could be sewn, especially with a sewing machine.

      It’s interesting that you ask about acrylic paint on the mulberry paper. Karen L. has done some experimenting too and just sent in one page of her experiments from her sketchbook. You can see that here:

      As I know from the Paper Fabric Lamination process (one of my online classes), the acrylic mediums and paint act as a resist to felting. So small areas covered with paint work, but not the entire piece. You could use permanent inks or dyes to mark make or color the paper first and then felt them in. The ink wouldn’t resist the wool migration like the acrylics do.

      Yes, the surface is flexible enough with the felted mulberry paper to create 3D objects. It’s very similar to the surface of nuno felting.

    2. Ooh yes, it’s all sounding good, lots more ideas fizzing around now. I must write them down before I forget them.

  4. Paper can be used on 3D objects. I joined a workshop on this many years ago, though due to an injury could only watch and not actually take part. If you look at Tanja Gawain’s FB page you will find she was on the same course as me and did masses of work using this technique – she is a very prolific feltmaker!

    1. Thanks Ladies, I will be continuing to do more experiments. I have other ideas and look forward to trying them out.

  5. Interesting post Ruth, it looks like we’ve been doing some similar experiments recently. The Mulberry paper certainly felts well doesn’t it. I’ve also tried mark making with different paints and inks before felting it. I’ve added one of my sketchbook pages to the Community Photo Page to show you two of my samples and will have the rest in my next blog post. Have fun with your papers!

    1. Thanks Karen, we have been traveling down the same path without even knowing it. The mulberry paper felts much more easily than I thought it would. Loads of possibilities. I haven’t done any mark making on the paper first but it reminds me of using the paper fabric lamination technique. So I have other ideas to try and may have to get more paper in different colors! I look forward to seeing more of your experiments.

    2. Likewise Ruth, I’m wanting to try different weights of paper too as all mine is 30g. So much to try, so little time to do!!

    3. I’m not sure what weight paper I have. Most is really lightweight but I do have a heavier piece that is embossed. I will have to try that to see if it will felt through and if the embossed part is lost when wet.

    4. love your samples Karen, did you lay wisps of wool between the 3 layers of mulberry paper?

    5. Thanks Teri. No I didn’t add any wisps between layers, I just wet each piece of paper and laid one on top of the other. It felts so easily.

  6. Really enjoyed reading your post Ruth, felting with paper has been on my to-do list since a friend gave me a couple of pieces of kozo paper in different weights after a class she took. Apparently they spent ages using electric sanders to attach the papers to their felt.

    1. Glad you enjoyed the post, Teri. Go for it, it’s very easy and no need for a sander or any other special equipment. Just treat it like you would embellishing with silk or other fabric. I look forward to seeing how your experiments go.

  7. Ruth a very clear post which will no doubt spur others on to try it. Looks like we will be seeing more from you….landscapes?

    I did manage the course with Fiona Duthie quite a while ago, but haven’t yet gone further with experiments/making an artefact unlike Lindsay Wilkinson who was very successful in this regard with her seed heads.

    Looking forward to your next exploits with the paper.

    1. Thanks Antje! And how did you guess 😉 I can already see how the paper would make some excellent birch trunks. So on to a second quarter birch in spring!

      I loved Lindsay’s seed head/pods with the paper. They were gorgeous. I am going to try some 3D experiments as well as the landscapes.

    1. Thanks Ann, I had decided to start without using any wool on top to see what happened. I thought I would probably have edges that lifted or poor adherence. But it was easy to felt and it is well attached. Very simple really. If you have mulberry paper, you should give it a try.

  8. Thank you, Ruth. Your presentation of a new form of felting made me curious to investigate more. I found a YouTube channel that describes the process. I am taken with it being so easy to create and the layers of colors blending into each other. I think I have some Art Papers that were found clearing my parents house. I sure hope I kept them now! It’s wonderful we have your continued interest, in delving deeper into other forms of felting, so we can learn more about it too If anyone is interested, the Joomchi artist I found follows: https://youtube.com/@LouiseJannetta. I want to find some bright mulberry papers in the psychedelic hot pinks, oranges, yellows and purples of the 60’s. I made lots of giant, tissue paper flowers, in my lavender “granny glasses”.
    😂 I felt pretty cool! 😎


    1. Thanks Capi! It was fun trying out the Joomchi and it does have many possibilites with colors blending, holes, and perhaps even sculptural form. I hope that you give it a go as it is a simple process. I have some hot pinks/pink/red mulberry paper if you want some! I remember those tissue paper flowers!

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