As I told you in my last post about our trip to New York City, I visited the Met Museum’s Watson library. I am doing research on ancient felt making patterns in and around Central Asia.
This is one of the books that I found in the library and it had loads of illustrations with different patterns. But, the book was written in Russian. I went ahead and scanned the illustrations and hoped that I would be able to get it translated when I got home. It took me a few days to realize that I knew someone who speaks Russian, Galina! She is a member of The Felting and Fiber Studio Forum and will be teaching another Fantasy Fish online class soon. Galina kindly translated for me and also told me a little bit about the book. The book is about the Nogais, a Turkic ethnic group, who now live in the North Caucasus region. This is “next door” to Central Asia and since these were nomadic people, I think I will include their patterns in my research. The book was written by Fatima Kanokova and her doctoral thesis had a theme of “Decorative Art of the Nogais.” Thanks so much Galina for your help!
I took one of the floral patterns from the book and enlarged it. I then painted it on paper in the colors I was going to use. The colors were limited to what size and color of prefelt I had available. I used a very lightweight commercial prefelt and decided I was going to need at least two layers and then a backing piece of prefelt. I did try and do a little dry felting of the two pieces of prefelt so they would stick together during cutting. This wasn’t very successful. I would highly recommend using a thicker piece of prefelt to begin with and the cutting process would have worked better. Next, I needed to decide how I would transfer the design.
I was thinking of using the freezer paper method like Lyn used with her pigeon/rubber ducky piece but then suddenly remembered that I had some Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy that I had bought for free motion machine embroidery. I did not like using it with the sewing machine or hand sewing because it gummed the needle up so much. But I hoped it would work with the prefelt.
The Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy has a paper backing on a sticky, water soluble fabric type stabilizer. So I traced the design and cut it out with a craft knife. I cut very carefully, so that I could use both portions of the design for the negative and positive shapes.
Here it is after cutting and you can see the negative and positive shapes that resulted.
Next was to peel the paper backing off and position the pieces on the various colors of prefelt.
Here is the prefelt with the cut shapes of Sticky Fabri-Solvy stuck in place. Now on to cutting them out. I tried cutting them with the craft knife but the two layers of prefelt kept shifting around. So I used a small, sharp scissors to cut out the shapes. Again, I was very careful so that I could use both the positive and negative shapes in the two different colors.
Here are the shapes after cutting. If you look closely, you can see the cutting wasn’t perfect. Again, this would have been easier with one piece of thicker prefelt.
Now to put the pieces together in an inlaid fashion. I used a piece of white prefelt behind the red background. If I had been thinking about it, I should have used a piece of red prefelt. Then you wouldn’t be able to see any movement of the cut shapes if it occurred during felting. But I didn’t have any white prefelt for the brown background piece. I decided to cut the edges of the brown piece and add a red background.
Here’s the brown piece after cutting and adding the red background. I didn’t inlay the brown into the red background, I just laid it on top.
On to felting everything. I covered both sides with a nylon curtain and wet the pieces down. Hopefully, you can see that the Sticky Fabri-Solvy mainly stuck on to the nylon curtain and then peeled off. I washed the remainder of the stickiness out of the nylon curtain and preceded with felting as I normally do. The little bits that were still stuck on the red prefelt dissolved. I’m sure the whole thing would have dissolved without pulling it off with the nylon curtain. But sometimes this type of water soluble fabric leaves a stiff residue and I didn’t want that to happen. So I was happy with it all peeling off easily. I had tried to peel if off before I wet it down but it would have damaged the prefelt. Also, I found that with the stabilizer in place, the pieces fit together easily and held their shape better than the other pieces that didn’t have any stabilizer. It didn’t really matter with the end result anyways.
And here you can see the two pieces after felting. The one on the right had a bit of ruffling edges since the prefelt in the center was thicker than the outer edge. But that didn’t matter because I was planning on trimming the pieces after felting.
Here are the two pieces after trimming. This method worked great and now I have a useful purpose for the roll of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy that I have.