Welcome to Part 2 of this experiment (Part 1 was featured on June 20th). If you have not already done so, you may find it useful to read the first part and then reading this will, hopefully, make more sense to you.
My first attempt at this experiment was not a complete disaster. I was happy with the way the expanded design had shrunk back to its original size. You might remember that because the layout was only one way (top/bottom) and little merino fibre was used (20 grams), I was working off a shrinkage rate of 100% on the vertical and 30% on the horizontal. The pattern maintained its geometric shape which was a real positive. However I needed to solve three issues:
- How to control the amount of viscose I used on the design (the viscose used for the first experiment resulted in the piece weighing over 50 grams when my previous lampshades averaged 30 grams)
- I needed to see if I could find a quicker method to lay the thin black roving I used for the outlines.
- I wanted to see if I could control the amount of wool fibre which travelled through the viscose (while at the same time fully felting the shade down to its desired size.
Three issues to sort. I set to work.
Issue #1 controlling the viscose weight:
I felt it would be good if I could weigh out the viscose before laying it down. This might have been a straightforward exercise if I was working in only one colour but, given there were six colours to consider, (all of which covered different area sizes) it would be a big challenge to divide out the weights per colour. For example, if I added 2 grams of each colour to the design the larger areas would be more scantily covered and the denser smaller areas might not let the light through. Time to sleep on it! By morning I felt I had the solution. I would use viscose paper. Last February I was kindly invited to make a video tutorial for my national association, Feltmakers Ireland and as part of my preparation work and work for the tutorial I made the paper.
Next I needed to make some pattern pieces from my expanded design which I could use to cut out the viscose paper. The symmetrical design meant that I could limit my pattern pieces so I noted the number of cut outs I would need for each piece. Also, I worked out my colour scheme as some of the pattern pieces fitted into different parts of the design but required different colours. Lastly, I weighed all the cut out pieces and was happy that the overall weight of the shade would not exceed my previous ‘successful’ ones:
Issue #2 Black Roving:
Next, it was time to see if I could tackle the issue with the roving. You might remember that it was laborious to lay in the first experiment as the strands at the edges tended to ramble once I sprayed them with water. This time, I decided to dry roll the strips of roving prior to laying it down. It did not take very long and was quite soothing to do. By the way, the wooden tray you can see in the photo has a non slip surface (Ikea) which is great for carrying drinks and also provides enough friction to roll the fibre. I love multipurpose tools! I did not over-roll the roving – I just tidied it as you can see in the photo.
Then, I started outlining the design using the method Ildi showed in her wonderful blog. I found it a lot quicker to lay out and the design stayed in place. That said, I will investigate the pencil roving to see if there are stockists in Europe. I sprayed water on the roving as I worked which helped keep it in place.
Next, I filled in the colour using my cut out viscose paper, spraying it with water as I filled in each colour.
After this, I laid out the merino tops (20 grams). I decided this time to use a white for the background. The layout of the merino is identical to that described in Part 1. The method used for bringing the piece to pre-felt stage is covered in Part 1 so I will just insert some photos here (apologies if the narrative looks a little fuzzy). When it came to joining the sides, I added a little extra viscose paper to cover the split (plus a little of the black roving for the lines):
Issue # 3 the transfer of merino through the viscose:
Once it was ready to roll, I rolled the piece leaving the decorators plastic and the resist in place. I determined this time that I would use rolling to get most of the shrinkage so I kept rolling it until I was happy that it was well on its way to the final size. (Apologies, I lost count!). Also I wanted to handle the outside as little as possible so, when I removed all the ‘protectors’ I used gloves to handle the piece. Then I turned the piece inside out and continued rolling.
Next, keeping the gloves on I did a little kneading and throwing but it was a lot gentler than last time. Also, the duration was quite short as I was quickly reaching the required shrinkage. I kept the measuring tape close by and regularly checked:
I turned the piece and, with the right side showing, fully rinsed the piece and compared the sizing and pattern to the one made in Part 1. I knew immediately that the shade required a little more work as the central design was still an oval and it needed to be a circle. I sprinkled it with a little hot soapy water and continued rolling until it was the required dimensions. Then I rinsed it again and ironed it, shaping it as I worked:
Thoughts on the result:
I am quite pleased with the finished lampshade. The colours were dictated by the viscose paper I had to hand but the overall result is quite interesting. The colours definitely come into their own when the light shines through (yes! It worked!) I had mixed various colours when making the paper so I wonder what would be the outcome if each ‘page’ was a solid colour. The outlines were pretty structured and the lines remained straight. Also, because I ‘protected’ the viscose and either kept it covered or wore gloves when working it (and, of course, rolled it a lot more) there was very little transfer of fibre through to the viscose. Part 2 was a lot more successful than Part 1.
The biggest challenge now is how to photograph using my phone! To be honest, I don’t think the photos do not do it justice. So I took identical photos, with a flash so that the colours are visible and without the flash (which shows the light shining through the lamp). Here is the finished piece: