Thursday, 28 January 2010

First steps in felt

I have a destructive nature, I can't help it. I pull things apart to see how they work, I have a go at making things myself in a gungho sort of way. Sometimes it works and sometimes its an absolute disaster.... Usually something triggers it, in this case, it was a beautiful teal evening dress.

I bought a dress. I don't often buy dresses because they don't often fit me, but I was supposed to be going to dinner with my sponsors at work and I didn't think I get away with jeans and a faded NIN gig t-shirt this time. Oh no. The only problem with my dress is that it is teal blue. Nothing I have matched it and nothing I could find matched it either. It's too bright to wear black with and it was too cold for chiffon wraps, and in my head I had a perfect picture of what I wanted to wear. That doesn't help.

I'd never made felt before - so decided to start with something simple. Yeah... right..... that'd be like reading the instruction manual or writing an essay plan... or practising a presentation *laughs*

Well, what do I know about felt? Not much. It's that stuff I had as a kid with a fuzzy background and little fuzzy animals that stuck to the fuzzy background. I remember putting cheetahs in the sky because I was bored (hey come on, it's more advanced than most kids, who'd just eat it). It's what I did to my ex-boyfriends new cashmere sweater. Felt is made of fibres. Fibres have to mat together to form a fabric. Fibres mat with friction, water, detergent and heat.

I needed fibres. I found I could buy fibres on-line (I actually bought them from the http://www.worldofwool.co.uk/) that sort of matched my dress. Then I got distracted with other really pretty fibres in other colours. I bought Merino wool tops (wool roving), I had no idea if I was right or not, I just guessed as I had ten minutes before group meeting to do this. What could possibly go wrong?


So this is what I started with. Lesson 1: If you are going to do this, what I ordered is way too much. Seriously, I have enough woool roving in my house make a fuzzy felt collage the size of New Mexico, complete with life size teal blue flying cheetahs.

I was thinking about friction and decided on bubble wrap as all the little bubbles make for a rough surface. More friction = less effort. I'm liking the concept at the moment.

So I spread out the bubble wrap and started to layer on the fibres, just by pulling lumps of the fuzzy end on the roving skein. It seemed to work, but I will be hoovering them up for the next fifty years. I don't know how sheep cope.


After a while of inhaling blue fur and resisting the efforts of the God of Static Electricity to turn me into the cookie monster, it looked like this:


Well, I needed to make it wet to have a hope of it actually felting, so I went off in search of detergent and warm water, whislt really hoping noone opened a window - or indeed exhaled, for fear of returning to my living room in a flurry of psychedelic sheep fuzz.

Nothing like being organised before you start a project...

Okay - warm water, a bar of soap, a spray bottle. What could possibly go wrong...

...other than a build of pressure because of the steam inside the spray bottle. At that moment, parts of the kitchen got cleaned that don't normally see the back end of a scouring pad, but hey ho... you live and learn... and the burns will heal. Hand hot. Repeat after me.... hand hot. Got it?

Water, soap, bottle, wet sheep. Job done.



I carried on building up layers here as if you've ever dismembered fabric you can see the changes in direction of the fibres helps to hold it together.

That was the logic... I even made it a different colour :)



This process went on for quite some time! Once I'd built up the layers I soaked it and rolled it up in bubble wrap, squeezing it by kneeling on it. I carried on rolling in and unrolling in different directions until the fibres matted together. This isn't as easy as it sounds, as detergent and slippery bubble wrap is not the most compliant material, even if it does make a satisfying popping noise when you kneel on it.


I had to put some towels down as I kept squeezing out the water from the sides and even though my carpet is blue, it isn't that blue. Eventually though, it started to hold its shape.


A quick rinse under the shower to get rid of the detergent, drying on towel on the radiator and it's done :)

Woohoo! A wrap that maches my dress :)


In an odd twist of fate though, my sponsors never made the dinner that night because of the snow - so we took the rest of the lab instead.

Who were wearing faded gig t-shirts and jeans. Ah well.

1 comment:

odd.sox said...

Very enjoyable read. Doesn't it take a long time though! The result looks really good. Hope you enjoyed wearing it. If you've got loads of fibres left it's fun trying needlefelting too...