Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Experimental Felting #2

Following on from yesterday, I promised to show you my latest bargain felting tool.. it may not be pretty, but my goodness does it do the job?!

Industrial painters roller tray £4 from B&Q, makes a fantastic alternative to a washerboard!

I have an Ashford wooden washerboard, which I rarely use (the woodgrain swole up on its first use making it far to rough to use without covering it in thick plastic first - a real pain).  Glass washerboards cost about £30, so this alternative is a real bargain.  The ridged part is at just the right angle, and the paint trough is perfect for dipping the felt in while you work - its a washerboard & mini sink all in one :).

I did find a few snaggy bits around the edge which I flattened by heating them briefly with a lighter flame and pressing flat with the back of a teaspoon.

Back to the nuno scarf.. 
Once the fibres had migrated through the silk well I added heat, rolled it by hand for a while, then tossed it to get the lovely nuno texturing of the silk chiffon.

Stood on a towel it doesnt slide around while you rub.
I personally prefer it to a washerboard!
Once I was happy with the texture I ran it over my ridged roller-tray to really tighten up the felt.

All finished. 
When first laid out this measured 7feet x 45cm.. finished it measures 4.5feet x 20cm

This still took quite a few hours to make with the time spent laying out & finishing by hand (not counting drier time) using the tumble drier to replace most of the rolling made it physically a much easier job.  I dont plan to do any more nuno scarves in silk chiffon using this method..simply because I find that wool fibres travel through silk chiffon easily with the normal rolling method, and I like to use as little electricity as possible.

BUT...  my second experiment was with synthetic organza which takes forever for the fibres to catch hold of with the traditional rolling.  I have to say I was very suprised & thrilled to bits with this experiment; using the tumble drier the fibres worked through synthetic organza faster than they did the silk chiffon!

When it came out of the tumbler I treated my sample piece the same as the scarf above, heat + tossing then rubbing on ridged roller-tray.  I was left with a very pretty & sturdy piece of nuno.. that I just HAD to make something from

So, I machine stitched around the flower petals to define them and
turned it into a pretty & ethereal clutch bag

I have been BURSTING for weeks and weeks to do some freemotion embroidery onto my felt.  Actually, its been on my 'to do' list for about 3 years now..ever since I first saw Helen Melvins (Fiery Felts) landscapes.  I would love to go on a workshop with Helen..hopefully one day..

More recently RosiePink's beautiful wallhangings, and the adventures of many blog friends have rekindled the desire.  Just over a month ago I managed to find and order a freemotion foot to fit my machine.. it had to come from Texas USA to the UK, and unfortunately it still hasnt found its way here.  The seller is lovely though and has just refunded me.  I have now found the same foot in the UK and repurchased it (why couldnt I find it a month ago?!).. hope the postman doesnt lose this one.  Until it gets here I am making do with my normal open toe foot for my decorative stitching (my machine missed stitches without a foot).

After making this clutch I was left with a decent sized offcut.. so decided to play some more :)

Normal pin fastner sewn onto the back. 
I originally fancied this as a closure for a shawl..

..but it works much better as a companion for the clutch I think.
Next time.. my experiments got even BIGGER :)



ThatFuzzyFeeling said...

What a fascinating posts - great tip to use a paint roller tray, and that bag is absolutely gorgeous! The colours look beautiful, and the stitching finishes it off really well, doesn't it? I've also been inspired by Rosiepink's lovely work, now off to take a look at the other link. Liz x

Charlotte said...

I really like the purse, the embroidery really enhances the design. I am also intrigued by the paint tray washer-board. Being more of a needle felter than wet felt maker I roll using a blind for flat felt making. Have never quite had the courage or skill for the rubbing method.

Heather Woollove said...

What terrific projects, and what a beautiful scarf and clutch! Your new process photos are so much fun and so enlightening! Thanks for sharing this lovely work, Deborah!!! XXO-

Unknown said...

Beautiful!! Both the scarf and the bag! What a great idea using the paint tray to full the wool. Your work is so inspirational and I love the machine embroidery it really gives the felt another dimension!

Fiona said...

What wonderful colours.

FeltersJourney said...

:) Thank you all for your lovely comments.

Heather, I think Im a bit obsessed - I keep taking pics as Im working.. you are all gonna be bored stiff of seeing them!

Charlotte, nothing to be scared of with rubbing.. get your felt very wet & soapy (keep it that way while you rub) and just gently pass it across the board, so long as you check your felt every few passes it should be fine. I use a blind, bubblewrap, towel or just my hands for rolling too - depends on the felt :)


FeltersJourney said...

The embroidery foot I ordered yesterday HAS ARRIVED... YAY

How excited am I? Can NOT wait to try it out!

Annie and Lyn said...

B&Q will be wondering why their paint trays are selling like hot cakes!!

Your tips on tumbling the nuno sound like a wonderful idea that I will have a go at next time. The last time I nuno felted a silk chiffon scarf was horrendous. Roll, roll, roll, roll........ I thought my arms would drop off - and my poor back...

Anonymous said...

Love your gorgeous felted flower - I was looking for a shawl closure and I have a piece of felt left over so I might have a wee play too. I haven't tried before so you have inspired me.

FeltersJourney said...

Brilliant :) Glad my post has inspoired you! Thanks for your comment x

PyxeeStyx said...

It's probably just a language difference, but I'm a little lost. I'm curious what a "Tumbler dryer" is. I'm one of those brave souls that regularly attempt to felt synthetics, and boy do my shoulders pay for it. Sounds like a tumbler dryer might offer relief. Thanks

FeltersJourney said...

Hi Pyxee, in the UK we call 'em tumble driers I think in the US they are simply called electric driers.. looks like a washing machine but dries stuff by blowing air through while it turns and tumbles the contents about.

It really does take the physical strain out of nuno felting with tougher fabrics.. be sure to set the heat as low as it will go (cool / cold is best) and check it often or the results can be dramatic..

Unknown said...

hello you work is beautiful!
I'm also a felter but I'm pretty new to it
I just wanted to ask when you nuno do put fibers on both sides of the silk/chiffon fabric?
or do you put in on just one side?
if it's just on one side how long does it take for the fibers to work through?
I'm having great trouble with this and feel as though im gently rubbing it for ages without anything happening
thank you and love your work xxx

FeltersJourney said...

Thanks LM S :)
I only put the wool fibre on one side of the fabric for nuno pieces. Sometimes I will put it on both sides along the edges to make a stronger more stable edge. The amount of fibre used can vary from very small amounts - to make a lightweight piece with texture etc. Right up to adding nuno decoration on heavierweight items with 6 layers of fibre.

How long depends largely on the fabric. Fine, open weave fabrics - like pure silk chiffon or georgette are lovely to work with, and the fibres will creep through much quicker than with fabrics like heavier silks / silk velvet etc. I find synthetics not so nice to work with.. but that may be just me.

In honesty it can be a long winded task nuno felting.. especially when you're just starting out and getting to know your materials.

My first piece of advice is to use cool soapy water.. if your use warm / hot soapy water the wool fibres might start to felt before they have chance to creep through the fibre.

Also, have you tried rolling your nuno to get the fibres to migrate through? Just be careful to unroll and check your design hasn't shifted and change direction every 100 rolls - or however you prefer to break it down :)

I work fabric side down, fibre on top. Every so often use a sponge to remove excess water, put your hand on top of the felt in progress, flip the felt over your hand so the fabric side is on top of the back of your hand and carefully lift it up to the light.. when the fibres start to migrate through you will see them fuzzy against the light. When you have got good fibre migration you can add heat to start the magic happening :)

I haven't read it for a few years, but Uniquely Felt by Christine White has a good section on nuno and covers lots of other techniques.. it's great book for a beginner.

Hope this helps.. have fun with it xx