So what have I been up to lately? Well this and that! I finally joined facebook a year ago to promote my work and workshops. I also opened up my Etsy store, so I have been a bit busy.
I have been lucky to also receive a few commissions. A lady asked me to make her favourite, a dragonfly! Well it’s good to step out of your comfort zone and try new things isn’t it. Luckily it was well received and here it is finished and then a picture when Gloria framed it.
I have a few fairs coming up including a two day fair, so I need to up my stock. I really love making a wet felted picture and free motion sewing it. I didn’t have any sheepy ones so here is one in its fluffy stage and then onto the sewn version.
Because of the upcoming shows and dare I mention the C word – Christmas. I thought I would make a few similar snowy cottage cards, with the view to getting them printed onto cards as I have done in the past. I put them on my facebook page and asked people which one they thought I should use as the card. Votes where across the board, but I have chosen one. I won’t say which I prefer, but which one do you like?
Finally I have a little prize giveaway going on on my fb page. I want to get the following picture printed onto cards also, but I need a title! If you would like to contribute a title that would be wonderful. The persons who’s title I choose I will send a card to them, a small prize maybe, but it was made with love!
Our guest artist today is Leonor Calaca from Felt Buddies shares her method for making felted soaps. You can see more of her work at http://www.FeltBuddies.co.uk
Hello! Today I’ll teach you how to make your very own felted soap.
Before we start however, I’m sure a few of you are wondering, “What on earth is a felted soap?” Good question! Allow me to explain.
A felted soap is, as the name might reveal, a bar of soap that’s surrounded by felted wool. This means you’re basically getting a bar of soap and a washcloth in one product, making the former last longer, while using the latter as an exfoliating agent.
The wool around the soap also makes the soap last longer, and when the inside is all used up you can use the wool as compost material, or keep it as a decorative pebble.
Christmas is fast approaching, and this would make a great gift – it smells nice and it’s useful, what’s not to love? I actually sold out last holiday season!
Let’s get started, shall we?
First, you’ll need the following ingredients: warm soapy water in a clean container, a nice bar of soap with round corners (sharp corners may break through the wool), enough wool to cover the soap with, and some bubble wrap for friction.
A couple of good extra items are a felting needle (I’ll explain why in a moment), and a pair of kitchen gloves.
Begin by carefully wrapping the fibre around the soap. I used a lovely wool top with silk tweed here, but you can use roving or a batt – just make sure you’re using enough to cover the soap, but not so much so that it makes lathering hard!
You’ll need to wrap the fibre in two opposite directions. I like to start by wrapping it horizontally and then vertically because I think the end result looks nicer, but you can do it whichever way you prefer – just as long as you have two opposite layers.
Remember the felting needle I mentioned before? Here is where it can comes in handy: I like to needle felt the ends to make sure nothing comes apart when I’m wet felting. This isn’t absolutely necessary, but I find it keeps things neat.
Once your soap is all wrapped up, it’s time to dunk it in warm water. I highly recommend you go slowly at this stage, as the fibre might fall off the soap or migrate if you haven’t secured it with a felting needle. Squeeze all the air bubbles out carefully in the water and, once you take the soap out of the water, gently squeeze out all the excess liquid and start rubbing the top layer lightly so the fibres start clinging to each other.
Once the fibre is secured, it’s time to help it shrink around the soap. I had a bubble wrap pouch from a mailing bag that I used to help create friction, but regular bubble wrap will work just fine.
Rub the bubble wrap against the soap, checking regularly if your fibre isn’t migrating, you don’t want to end up with bare patches (you can needle felt some extra fibre on those at this stage, and continue wet felting).
Once the fibres start contracting around the soap, you can use your bare hands to continue the felting process. I like to create friction on the ridges of my sink; I sometimes also wear kitchen gloves because the rubber also helps, and I like to alternate hot and cold tap water so the fibre shrinks around the soap faster.
Once the fibre feels compact around the soap, you’re done!
Carefully rise out the lather under the tap, gently squeeze the soap and let it dry; after that, you can add some kraft paper around the soap to make a “belt,” or you can just place it inside an organza bag.
Don’t be surprised if, after gifting this to friends, they come back for more! You can always direct them to this tutorial so they can make their own…
Feel free to ask me questions about this in the comments section. Happy felting!
Thanks Leonor for sharing your method of felting soap. I have a feeling a lot of people will be getting soap for the holidays.
Today our guest artist/writer is Carole Gascoigne aka Craftywoman. She also maintains a Facebook page just for fun — Bagsalicious. Here is Carole’s contribution for the Third Quarter Challenge.
I have to say this is a first all round – first time attempting nuno felting and first time writing a blog for this felting site.
It was a treat to be asked, then came the big challenge: what to write about.
We have a quarterly challenge and this one is to take a photo, take it into a colour palette site and find the colours for a project.
I half completed this challenge, in that I found myself trying to capture the image into a nuno scarf or shawl, rather than, as I had originally envisaged, creating something more abstract.
Armed with my 3mm silk chiffon and pre-dyed coloured fibres, I started to develop my scarf.
Top and bottom I used merino and silk in greens and blues. To the blue part I added white viscose fibres for sheen, and turquoise locks. The poppies (sorry about the blurred pic) were first a layer of raw silk fabric cut up into random poppy shapes in salmony pinks, with pink locks and fine red merino over laid.
All of this, the silk fabric and the fibre design was laid out on bubble wrap – bubble side up.
Then came the hard work. I hadn’t appreciated how difficult nuno was going to be. Initially, I covered my design with net and wet felted the design into place. I then rolled it all up onto a foam roller, tied it together and started rolling. I think I rolled about 400 times, 200 each way – then I removed the net.
I re-rolled about another 600 times, changing the end I started with to ensure all the fibres had a chance to be on the inside and the outside of the rolling.
When I was happy that the fibres had migrated through the silk chiffon I added more hot water and threw the piece on to a towel. I continued doing this until I felt it had been felted enough.
Here is my ‘Poppies by the Sea’ inspired nuno felted scarf.
Carole, thanks for completing the Third Quarter Challenge and sharing your first nuno felting journey with us! It was worth the effort the scarf is beautiful!
Our Guest Artist/Author today is Cathy Wycliff aka Luvswool
Recently, I received some nifty embellishment fibers from Zed (thanks again!) around the same time my Opulent order of batts was delivered, so I decided to combine two experiments.
One experiment idea was offered by Fiona Duthie on her blog and involved combining batts for color overlap or shadowing. I chose moss, chlorophyll, teal and sand. All were Opulent coopsworth batts except for the teal, which was handmade and provided by Marilyn (Pandagirl). As I recall, the teal was a combo of hand dyed Cheviot, Domestic 56s, merino and mulberry silk. I lifted the edges of each batt and overlapped the next color of batt, then wet-felted to the pre-felt stage.
Next, I added the first set of embellishment fibers, shown up-close in the photo below: bamboo staple, banana, milk fiber and crimped viscose.
I wanted to see which fiber proved to be the shiniest. As I worked the fiber in, I was not paying much attention to the coopsworth batts, which did not provide as much shadowing as I had expected. Could be the unevenness of the batts or unequal distribution of the overlapped batts, or perhaps not enough fulling. All of the embellishments added shine, but I think maybe the crimped viscose turned out best, closely followed by the banana and milk. Although the bamboo staple did not provide much shine, it sparked an idea for a future experiment as an inclusion in nuno-felting.
I grabbed my next set of Zed’s embellishment fibers, this time using (top to bottom) black bamboo, pale blue acrylic (looks white in photo), black nylon tops and green nylon.
I placed all of the fibers on Domestic 56’s roving, which I lightly pre-felted. I was pleased with the sample results, especially the grey/black bamboo (top) and the crazy/wild green nylon (bottom).
I’ll definitely want to use these fibers as embellishments in my upcoming projects!
Thanks Cathy! You had some great discoveries with new fibers!
Most of our readers will probably know that apart from the four of us who do this blog, there are a lot of regular commenters who contribute too. We also have lots of regulars over at the forum and we know from the stats that we get an average of 160 ‘unique’ visitors to the site every day. We’d like to give anyone who’s interested the opportunity to get more involved.
You probably know that we’ve already had a few guest artists and writers. And we want to expand that. We want to do more ‘Meet the Artists’ but we’d also like to meet the suppliers who make all this possible: the people who provide us with our fabrics or wool, fleeces and animal fibres; the people who dye the wool, threads, yarns and fibres we love to use; those who sell haberdashery supplies or jewellery findings…anything we use in the production of our felt, fibre and mixed media artworks.
We’d really like to feature more guest writers. The posts we’ve had before were really popular. So, if you have something you’d like to write about that you think our readers would be interested in…a visit to a fibre fair or maybe a farm; your experience of selling at a craft fair or market; a project you’re working on; a tutorial you’ve written or maybe you just want to tell us about your craft, we’d love for you to get involved. It doesn’t have to be a unique article, it could be one you’ve written for your blog. And it doesn’t have to be new, we’re always interested in reading about felt and fibrey things and we may have missed it. You don’t have to have your own blog either or have written something before, and it doesn’t have to be a certain length.
So, if you’re interested, let us know. Leave us a comment in reply to this post and we can email you back, or PM one of us on the forum. If you have something you want to promote or feature for a specific date, like a craft or fibre fair, try to let us know in good time so we can schedule it. Thanks 🙂 Oh, and if anyone missed the post about it on Facebook, the last day of every month is a kind of Promote your Product day, detailed here.
Our first Guest Artist to be featured is Judith from North Yorkshire in England.
This is Nebula 1, one of Judith’s entries for the Twists, Twirls and Spirals Challenge.
It was wet felted with Merino wool and dyed silk throwster’s waste.
You can see more of Judith’s work on her flickr page
Felting 3, 2, 1
Q-3 Three types of fibre you can’t live without?
I can’t live without merino wool, it’s so fine and soft.
Then there’s silk, I just love its rustle its lustre and it takes dyes so well.
I also like bamboo, lustrous and soft.
Q-2 Two tools you use all the time?
The tools I use most are very simple; my fulling roller, made by my son-in-law from an old wooden rolling pin. I use it as a roller with bubble wrap or the bamboo blind for the rolling stage and as a finishing tool at the fulling stage.
My other favourite is the Tupperware star lid – of ‘Shepherdess’ fame. So useful at the rubbing stage, especially if hands have become dry and rough. Just goes to prove that expensive equipment is not a necessity.
Q-1 One fibre art technique you love the most?
It’s difficult to decide which technique I love most, but cobweb felt comes high on my list. I love the challenge of laying out the fibre very finely, resulting in such a delicate fabric. Perhaps it’s just that I’m a bit miserly and hate to waste my beautiful fibre, but I find I have to really try hard to lay it out more thickly for heavier projects! 😉
How did you get into fiber arts?
I’ve always been a ‘crafter’, whether it be sewing, knitting, lace making, batik, patchwork, quilting – this list is not exhaustive!
Some years ago, I saw some amazing felted ‘paintings’ in a local gallery, they were monochrome and mostly of sheep and our local Yorkshire Dales landscape. I decided I’d like to give it a try – although I was well aware that I wouldn’t be able to produce anything approaching the same standard.
The years went by and last Christmas my husband bought me a bag of wool fibre, a mixture of Merino and Corriedale and a couple of books and I was hooked!
Did you study art at college?
The only art study I’ve done are a couple of City and Guilds – Soft furnishing and Decorative Paint Techniques. I particularly enjoyed the design elements of these courses.
What do you like to do when you aren’t creating art?
When I’m not creating art, I like to walk in the Dales, play Bridge, cook, read, join friends for French conversation and spend time with my four small grandchildren. However, spending time with the grandchildren involves a lot of creative play, they just love grandma’s boxes of things to cut, stick, paint etc. The 3 year old tells me I’m just like ‘Mr Maker’ on TV, which I think is meant as a compliment! They also like to felt and the 4 and 5 year olds have made themselves a couple of splendid hats.
I sometimes wonder how I found the time to go to work, then I realise that when I was working I just didn’t have the time to do all the things I enjoy most.
Many thanks to Judith for taking the time to answer our questions and share her work and enthusiasm with us 🙂