I recently heard about a no water, no needle way of making prefelt. I thought I would give it a try and see how it works. It’s fairly simple. You layout your wool on a mat or plastic and roll it dry. When I teach resist felting I usually dry felt the layout by just pressing and wiggling to make it stick together well enough to pick up and move, so we can make the second side. I am sure we have all found that ball of roving in the bottom of a bag that is well on its way to bing a solid felt blob. Taking this idea further just makes sense.
On Sunday it was Library day at the guild and I knew it would be a fairly quiet one so I took my supplies with me. Here is my try at dry non-needled prefelt.
I am using a rubbery placemat and a plastic grocery bag. The Grocery bag is because I put the little piece of plastic in my coat pocket and then didn’t wear my coat. I picked 2 colours so I can see how much migration there is if any. I did jiggle the felt to stick it together, the same way I do when I want to move a layout.
I rolled it 100 rolls in each direction flipping it between as well. It came out very flat and has started to shrink.
I rolled it some more. I had intended to do another 100 rolls in each direction but we were chatting so I am sure it got much more than that, especially on the last set of rolls. It definitely shrunk in both directions but not a lot.
I cut it to see what it looked like. the edges are thicker and flatter than the middle but it’s still pretty solid.
Jan took a movie of it with her camera. It shows how sturdy the prefelt is.
I rolled it again to see how the edges would fair. There were wisps that migrated out in the direction of the rolling. I think it would have been better to just finger rub the edges. There was really no migration to the surface by the opposite layer.
All in all, I think it worked well with very little fuss. Next, I am going to try cutting out some shapes and felting them on their own, to prefelt and on a fresh layout. Have you ever tried this method? how did it go?
This exercise started with me wanting to make some felt cubes and triangular prisms to make a more 3D version of a sky view landscape. the first thing I thought of doing to get the shapes was to felt around some small wooden blocks. I spit some into roof shapes and some in half for shorter cubes. Although this seemed like a good idea it was not very successful. the pointy corners proved to be a problem and adding more wool would just start rounding them too much.
Then I was talking to the group and Lyn said to try squishing them into squares when you making them. Well of course why didn’t I think of that. Now I need to make balls and I had been thinking I should try making a bunch of them, why make 4 if you can make more. I had seen a video of them making large numbers all at once in Nepal. So off to google how to do that. There are several videos on how to do this. Living felt has the best one.
Step one roll up some wool for the beads. I wrapped the wool around a chopstick and poked it a few times with a felting needle to hold it while I make more.
Once I had a bunch ready I added some soapy water. Just ad a little then roll them around the container to absorb it. Then add a
little more until they are wet but not soggy.
Then I popped the lid on and started rolling them around and shaking them until they were felted. This works really well and doesn’t take long at all. I rinsed them and couldn’t believe how dirty the water was.
Now I need to full them, I put them on a towel and used the starburst lid of my container to roll them around. adding pressure as I went.
On to a drying wrack.
I squished a few into the right shapes for my picture
I haven’t started the picture yet. I did make a sheep glasses holder for my granddaughter who just got glasses. I flattened the bottom so it wouldn’t roll. You rest the glasses on the lamb’s nose. His nose I a bit piggish but he was gone to her bedroom to find the best place for him before I could fix it.
And just to throw another spanner( or 2 ) in the works we started having lambs ( early, rams are very sneaky and quick when they want to be) got our new puppy. not sure how much felting will be going on but I usually do best when I have no time. Always seems to motivate me and create ideas.
Like many of you, I belong to some textile groups that would normally meet in person but this year have needed to find alternative ways to work together. One such group is the Farnborough Embroiderer’s Guild (EG). This EG group is quite unusual in that rather than inviting speakers to talk about their practice, we all take it in turns to teach each other new skills. Three months ago we started meeting via Zoom and I have to confess in some ways I actually prefer it! We aren’t a large group but when we meet in person I often end up only talking to the 2-3 people I am sat nearest to, on Zoom the whole group shares the same conversation which is nice and feels very inclusive. The other advantage is the lack of commute, for me, this means I get to eat before we gather and I can have a glass of wine while we play together 🙂
Last month Sue took us through a technique to create foiled pictures; I don’t know about you but I can’t resist a bit of bling! As we are approaching holiday season it also feels very appropriate to share this with you now, I think it would make some wonderful textile Christmas cards and gifts. I hope you enjoy it and feel inspired to have a go!
Although I have played with foils before it was only as decorative finishing touches never as the basis to create a whole textile picture. Even so, I still managed to make every mistake in the book but was pleased to find foils are remarkably accommodating, if you make a mistake, it can (mostly) be rectified with layering more foil over the top.
Unfortunately it did not occur to me to take photos of the process until I was half way through my picture, I apologise for the lack of photos covering the initial stages of the process. The first few photos are where I went back and reapplied the bondaweb on the beak as my initial application had not transferred completely.
This was the reference photo I used for inspiration:
Some useful tips before you start:
set your iron on a low to medium (1 to 2 dots) setting without steam
always use a sheet of baking parchment to protect your iron
work on an ironing board
1: Cut a piece of medium weight, iron-fusible interfacing / fabric stabiliser slightly smaller than the background fabric and iron it to the back of your fabric. We used black cotton velvet but most non-synthetic fabrics will work (synthetic fabrics are best avoided for this technique as they might melt when heat is applied).
2: Draw out your design with a pencil on the paper side of a sheet of bondaweb. If you aren’t confident drawing freehand, you can trace the design from a printed image. Cut out your design, either as one solid shape or in sections if you plan to create a stained glass effect. For the hummingbird I cut out the whole bird as a single piece.
3: Transfer the bondaweb design onto your backing fabric.
If you are using the stained glass technique you might want to transfer one piece at a time, foil it then apply the next bondaweb shape.
4: Once cooled, carefully peel off the paper backing from the bondaweb.
5: Lay a piece of foil (coloured side facing you) over the exposed bondaweb and cover this with a piece of baking parchment, using the tip or edge of your iron, apply gentle pressure to the areas where you would like that coloured foil to appear.
Allow the piece too cool before peeling back the foil backing.
Tip: you can cut out pieces of baking parchment paper to mask off areas where you do not want that particular colour to appear.
If there are areas where the bondaweb has not transferred so well, or you have already applied several layers foils and want to lay a different colour over the top you can reapply the bondaweb but cutting a shape to match the area, I did this for the edge of breast where I wanted the purple to form a solid line:
If you want a sharp edge in a specific shape, it is also possible to cut the foil to match the shape you desire:
6: Continue adding different coloured foils to your design. If using cotton velvet for the backing it is possible to build up layers of different coloured foils without applying more bondaweb.
Tip: keep the scraps of partially used foils, they can be used to overlay different colours on top of each other very pretty marbled colours.
It is possible to “draw” lines of foil using just the tip or edge of your iron, I used this technique to create the feathers on the wings:
It is not very easy to capture foils in a photo, especially the holographic ones so I shot a short video that I hope shows all the different colours more effectively:
Our group met again last night to add some embroidery to our designs, this is how far I managed to travel in the couple of hours we had together.
…and a little sneak peek of my most recent foiled “painting”.
The other day I made a bangle. I have made them before but it has been a while. So long ago, I can’t find the pictures. I know I have seen them recently while looking for something else. I was not as good at labelling things then as I am now so searching didn’t help much. Anyway, for this one, I wanted to use some of my handspun. I have many little balls of yarn as I never make much of any one thing.
To start you need a piece of cord or yarn. Make it the size you want your finished bangle. It will not shrink in size. I used a scrap of yarn.
You need some wool and some yarn. I am using some very dark purple merino but you won’t see any of it when I am done. The yarns are some of my mostly wool handspun.
Wrap the roving around the string. Wrapping down through the hole and back around until its all covered.
At first, I thought I would wrap the 2 yarns side by side. The larger ball was too hard to poke through the hole all the time. I forgot to take a picture of wrapping the pattern I did but you can see here how snug I did it. It is compressing the roving but not a lot.
This is the wrapped and wet bangle.
At this point, I just wrapped my fingers around it and squshed it like making a playdough bracelet. Move the bangle around and around so it was all getting squished. I did that for a few minutes, not very long as I am impatient. I rolled it up in a rolling mat. It’s a piece of the foamy, rubbery shelf liner. I rolled maybe 10 times and then unrolled rotated and flipped it. I did that maybe 4 or 5 times. I wasn’t thinking about it as a tutorial at that point, so I wasn’t keeping track. When I was done it was flat.
Don’t panic, just pick it up and put one hand into the hole and one on the outside and roll it back and forth in the hands like making a playdough snake. Do that all around the bangle until it is round again and feels firm. You could just squeeze it for longer and then roll it in your hands if you don’t want to roll it in a mat.
It really works, it is round and the yarn has given it texture, as well as colour. The longest part of making the bangle is wrapping the yarn. If you were not as neat as I was, you could do it much faster and would have a more textured bangle.
Here it is dry.
You can see it’s a little fuzzy. I wanted more texture and more sparkle. Both Yarns have silk and some Angelina in them. So I got out my trusty dollar store disposable razor and gave it a heavy shave.
There is a lot more texture and you can see some of the minor colours and some shiny and sparkly bits. I had a really hard time trying to capture the sparkle. Most of the little pink dots are sparkle and the orange Bits are silk.
It is too large for me really It would fall off if I would it loose on my wrist. I push it up to my forearm. On a less Rubenesque person or my much younger self, the upper arm would work well. It was fun to do and I should have thought of it for the first quarter challenge.
I thought I would do another one just for fun. I decided it should be bigger this time. For the template, I used a wall clock I had that is to good to get rid of, but I don’t use. I am sure you all have things like that around. To give you an idea of sized it is the typical school or lunchroom clock that is everywhere.
The smaller circle is the one from drawing around the clock. I decided I wanted it a bit bigger so I drew another circle out about 2 inches or 5 cm by hand.
I cut it out leaving a small amount attached to the bigger piece and folded it over to make a second attached circle. I had decided I didn’t want a narrow neck on this one.
Now, you are probably thinking that isn’t very interesting. At least that is what I was thinking. Just to make things more interesting and difficult for myself I decided to add wings in a book resist type of thing. Not satisfied to do that the normal way I decided to make the wings/pages smaller than the rest of the pot. I used the actual size of the clock.
I also separated the pages so the outside edges ended up halfway between the 2 circles on the main resist. I added 2 pages to each side of the resist.
Next was laying out the fibres. About halfway through one side, I was cursing myself for making things so difficult. The problem, of course, was that I hadn’t done a book resist in a long time and had to figure out how best to do it again. You can see I add a piece of silk (I think) scarf to the yellow side that will go inside.
The second side when much quicker than the first
That is as far as I got. That was Sunday. My plan is to do the felting tomorrow and maybe the next day depending on how my knees feel about it. I have a tall table which is great for laying out but not as convenient to rub and roll on. I am going to try to use my tall chair to help with that. I will show you how it turns out for better or worse next time it’s my turn to post. That should be next Wednesday. Have you tried a vessel in a vessel? If not go watch the tutorial and give it a try.
I was trying to think of a topic I hadn’t posted about lately, so had a quick look back at some of my old posts. I came across a couple talking about writing tutorials, but couldn’t decide which one to use as a “Throwback Post”, so thought I’d combine them for a bigger picture, and for those who missed them the first time round! I’ve altered the wording slightly here and there so they fit together better.
In June 2013, I was working on my Polymer Clay tutorial, so I thought I’d do a post about what goes into writing tutorials or e-books. Looking at a really good one, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it’s pretty much just getting someone to take photos while you go through the stages, or at the most, stopping to take photos if you’re doing it alone. Then just adding some text to the photos in Word. Ah, if only it was that simple 🙂 Sometimes the shorter ones can be straightforward if it all goes well, but even then there is usually lots of photo editing, cropping, resizing, etc. and rewrites of the text.
So, what does happen? Well we probably all do it a little differently, but usually I start off with a rough idea, a few things jotted down, then write a brief outline of what I want to include.
I’ll type this out onto Wordpad, then start to give it more definition, separate it into sections then add info about the content I want in each section. I usually do a copy of this new outline with a list of all the photos I need to take for it or sets of photos, then print it out and start on the photos.
I’ll probably re-print the list quite a few times as I work through it and change my ideas. I like to keep a notebook close by when I take photos because I usually end up with ideas for something else I need to include or an idea that will help make another set work better. Also it’s good to take notes about what you’re doing in the photo and at certain stages because it will help to explain the process more clearly.
Even when I’m not actually working on the tutorial, something will pop into my head, so I usually end up with lots of loose pieces of paper with little notes on. It’s like one idea inspires others and you can’t see how you can leave something out without it seeming incomplete. I thought from the original idea for my Polymer Clay tutorial it would be several pages long and just take a few days to do with careful planning, but by the time I wrote down my outline it was already turning into a mini e-book!
Once all the photos have been taken, the most laborious part I find, is going through all the photos…deleting blurry ones first then going back and looking through the rest carefully to choose the final ones. And if you’ve ever taken photos of felt or fibre, you’ll know it usually takes a lot of photos to get the one good shot you need 🙂 I then usually make duplicate folders for resizing. It isn’t unusual for me to have 4 duplicate sets all at different sizes.
When it comes to the writing, I usually start by simply describing the process, trying not to overthink it, and use the photos to illustrate this. Then I pester anyone and everyone to read it through for me, it’s really good to get the opinion of someone who hasn’t tried what your tutorial is about, they can ask all the questions you need to answer but might have missed. Once the first draft is finished, I’ll probably ask Ann, Ruth and Marilyn from the studio site and Lyn from the forum to read through too, it’s good to make sure it’s understandable to people all over, and that there aren’t any words or phrases that are unfamiliar, even to English speakers. It’s strange the words we take for granted that are often questioned. Once I’m happy with all the words and pictures, I work on the layout. That’s where the duplicate sets of photos come in, if a photo used in the tutorial only needs to be small and doesn’t show any detail, using photos of smaller dimensions and file size can reduce the overall file size of the document and subsequent PDF. The finished ‘tutorial’, ended up as an e-book called ‘Polymer Clay Simply Made‘
It doesn’t matter how many times I write a tutorial, and many people will understand this, I always massively underestimate how long it will take. Actually, the underestimation probably increases each time as I think it should be easier/quicker having done it so many times! I started writing a new one in March 2017 on how to make one of those soft, wispy, scruffy, colourful pieces of felt everyone seems to love. We make them in about 45 minutes in classes, so I thought I’d just need one day to take all the photos, except my camera battery died after the layout photos. I probably won’t need all 120 photos, but I like to be thorough! This is the photo of the finished layout:
Luckily, it was bright enough the next day to finish off felting and get the rest of the photos done. This is just before it was rolled in a towel and left to dry:
I don’t know about anyone else, but when I take photos for tutorials, I jabber on to myself in my head, giving a running commentary on what I’m doing. I suppose I’m talking to ‘the reader’, so I can make sure all the steps are covered and I don’t miss anything out. This was going really well while I was doing the layout, I’m usually over-cautious (as the 120 photos would suggest) and end up with loads of photos unused. Let’s face it, even a complete beginner doesn’t need to see every step of the wool tops being laid out 🙂 But when I downloaded the photos and looked through, all the photos of adding the embellishments were missing! Where were they? Did I forget to download them and then delete them off the camera? No, because I didn’t download/delete anything until the 2nd day. So where were they? I must have zoned out as some point, wandered off to get a drink or put music on, then got too engrossed in adding all the yarns and shiny fibres because there were no photos between finishing the top layer of wool, and that finished top photo above. Luckily that was all I’d forgotten. Or so I thought! I wanted to show the versatility of the felt pieces and how they can be made into other things, such as the concertina pieces I’ve made into danglie decorative pieces:
So, while I was ‘on a roll’ with the felting, I took photos of the process of how to do that. Here it is all bundled up:
And then how it doesn’t have to become a concertina piece, but a more 3D ‘sculpural’ piece:
But that meant, not only did I not have any photos of adding embellishments, I also didn’t have photos of the finished dried piece! Luckily, I’m used to myself and how gormless and forgetful I am 🙂 And when you don’t have to take 120 photos of the process, doing a layout is really quick and easy, so it wasn’t too time consuming to re-create the piece and take photos of the missing stages.
If you’re interested in any of the tutorials I’ve written, including the ones mentioned here, please have a look at my etsy shop. I also have some larger, more in-depth e-books, Beyond Nuno, and The Right Fibre, which you can find out about by clicking the titles. And just in case there’s anyone who hadn’t noticed, we also have a ‘shop’ section here, and some of my e-books and tutes are listed there too 🙂
This week has been hectic. I haven’t had much time to do any felting. I did a little bit of stitching on my seascape, but not enough to show you and a little bit on a set of shoelaces. Mostly I made pasties for the market. They are more popular than we anticipated and we are down to the last few. This is a few about to go in the freezer. They get bagged once they are frozen.
I thought you might like to see this post from way back at the beginning of our blog journey. This is one of the first posts I did.
After you have carded your wool and it is still on the drum you might like to have it as roving instead of a batt. This will show you how to use a simple diz to do that. You can make a diz out of almost anything. mine is a piece of plastic cut from the side of a plastic sour cream container, it has a hole in the middle for the wool to come through. you pull a small bit of the carded wool through the hole and turning the drum backwards slide the diz around the drum pulling the wool through in a long rope as you go. the diz rest directly on the drum. You control the amount of wool in the rope by how fast you slide it across the drum as you go around. If its too hard, you are trying to pull too much wool through the hole.
This is just a little something to keep my hands busy, like knitting which I don’t do. I was playing games on my phone too much, to fill time and all that does is waste time and give me a crick in my neck. I would felt or spin but that is not always practical to do so I started making some shoelaces on a homemade kumihimo marudai disk.
Mine is made out of a piece of a cardboard box. It is 4 inches across and has 8 slots to do a 7 strand braid.
This is the simplest one to do so is a good place to start. Count 3 stings left from the empty slot and move that strand into the empty slot. Turn the disk and count again moving the 3rd strand down into the empty slot. That’s it, you just keep moving and turning.
I started this before I thought about blogging about it so I am using black mercerized cotton for shoelaces for my husband. Not the best to photograph. I will leave it large so you can see it better.
I tied up the long ends with small hair elastics so they are easier to handle. Each strand has to be about twice as long as you want the finished braid so they get in the way and get tangled even more than when they are tied up.
This is one Jan was making with nicer yarns so you can see the round braid easier. She is using a bulldog clip to weight her braid so she doesn’t have to pull on it like I do. It’s hanging down the bunnies neck.
You can buy foam disks with more slots so you can do more complicated patterns or if you are cheap like me, just cut more slots in your cardboard disk.
If you really enjoy doing it you can get a proper Marudai.
there are other kinds and shapes depending on what you are doing but you can do round or flat braids on this and make some really nice patterns.
At our guild show this year we will have these on our make and take table. Jan made up some nicer ones (like in the bunny picture) with the instructions printed on them ( there are french instructions on the other side too) for us to use on the make and take table. I see a night of cutting and prepping braids in many colours in my future.
Pre-felt is quick and easy to make. It’s used to make definite shapes in a layout – a shape that’s cut from pre-felt is called an ‘inlay’. Pre-felt is firm enough to cut but loose enough to felt into other fibres.
Pre-felt can be bought ready-made, but if you make your own you can have the exact colour, plain or blended, that you want. You can also add other fibres on top as embellishment.
We’ve used merino wool tops but any wool fibres can be used. Shown below: merino wool tops blended colours and plain.
To make a small piece of pre-felt you will need: merino wool fibres, a round-stick sushi mat, small-bubble bubble-wrap, net, 2 rubber bands, soapy water in a mister/spray bottle, a bar of soap, and an old towel.
Spread an old towel onto your work surface then put a round-stick sushi mat on it. Place a piece of bubble wrap – bubbles down so they will not be against the wool fibres – onto the sushi mat.
Place a tuft of wool fibres, with the fibres running horizontally, onto the bubble wrap, shown below left, then add a second tuft of fibres slightly overlapping the first. Continue laying tufts of wool until you have completed a row, shown below right.
Then add more rows, each row slightly overlapping the one above it, until you have completed the first layer.
Start a second layer by placing a tuft of wool fibres, with the fibres running vertically (i.e. at right angles to the first layer of fibres), on the top left corner of the first layer, shown below left, then continue laying tufts until you have completed a row. Then lay more rows until you have completed the second layer, shown below right.
Cover the wool fibres with a piece of net, then spray warm soapy water over until the fibres are saturated (but not swimming away!)
We prefer to use Olive Oil soap flakes dissolved in water because it’s low-sud, but you can use any soap flakes or dish-wash liquid.
Push down gently on the wool, with flat hands, to encourage the wool to take up the water and to eliminate air pockets.
Hold the net with one hand then carefully draw a bar of soap all over the net. We prefer to use a bar of Olive Oil soap but any soap will work.
Slowly peel the net off…
…then cover the wool fibres with a second piece of bubble wrap, bubbles up so that they are not against the wool. Gently press down all over to flatten the bubble wrap onto the fibres.
Roll it all up snugly in the sushi mat…
…then drain off any excess water.
Put 2 rubber bands around the sushi mat to prevent it unrolling.
Using light pressure, roll the mat 100 times.
We count 1 roll on the sushi mat as going from fingertips through to wrist then back again.
Unroll the mat, smooth and flatten the bubble wrap and fibres, turn it through 90°, as shown below, then roll it up again in the mat and replace the rubber bands.
Using light pressure, roll the mat 100 times. Unroll the mat, smooth and flatten the bubble wrap and fibres, turn it through 90°, then roll it up again in the mat and replace the rubber bands.
Repeat twice more so that the pre-felt has been rolled 400 times (100 times in 4 different directions).
Remove both pieces of bubble wrap then place the wool fibres directly onto the sushi mat. Roll it up, then using light pressure roll it 50 times.
Unroll the mat, turn the wool fibres through 90°, roll the mat up then roll again 50 times.
Repeat twice more so that the fibres have been rolled 200 times (50 times in 4 different directions).
Don’t worry about neatening the edges during felting – they end up looking lacey/cobwebby and can make interesting inlays.
This amount of rolling should result in a soft pre-felt that can be cut, wet or dry, into the shapes you want. It will give you a solid block of colour but the edges will blur into the background fibres.
To achieve a firmer pre-felt, roll it more.
Two pieces of rectangular, turquoise merino pre-felt (inlays) were felted into yellow merino wool fibres, shown below. The top one is a soft pre-felt and you can see how the edges have blurred during felting, whereas the other, shown below it, is a firm pre-felt and the edges are distinct.
If you are going to use the pre-felt straight away there’s no need to rinse the soap out, but if you want to keep it for longer, it’s advisable to rinse the soap out.
The pre-felt is delicate, so take care when rinsing it. The easiest way is to rinse it through the sushi mat until the water runs clear.
Keep the pre-felt rolled in the mat, place it on an old towel then roll it a few times to remove most of the water. Place the pre-felt on a rack to dry.
If you want to make a lot of pre-felts, save rolling time by using a large bamboo mat with several lots of fibres. You can keep them apart or lay them close together then you will get some interesting pre-felt from the joins.
If you’re making a lot of pre-felts for your stash you won’t know whether you will need soft or firm pre-felt for future projects, so make all your pre-felts up to the soft stage then rinse and dry them. When you want to use them you can then choose to leave them soft or wet them to re-work to the firmness you need.