Thursday, May 26, 2011

Felting with Sarah

A while ago we had a workshop on wool felting.  We felted pretty coasters and a doily. Here are the instructions for this fun technique. 
Supply list:
bubble wrap
poly satin curtain (4 mm normally, but depending on what you are working on it could be 1 mm)
tulle netting
hot soapy water
embellishments (silk fiber, pieces of fabric, etc.), optional
a cookie sheet
thin rubber gloves
a towel or a rolling pin
1. Find a place where you can be messy with soap and water. A cookie sheet is good for preventing spilling if you work on a table.
2. Lay down bubble wrap a little longer than the length you want your project to be.
3. Lay down poly satin curtain. This can serve two purposes:
-you can trace on it a blueprint of your project (e.g. a circle) that you can follow when laying out your wool
-adds more friction
4. Start laying down a layer of wool: you can lay it horizontal or vertical.
5. Lay a second layer down, but if your first layer was horizontal, your second layer should be vertical and vice versa.
You can also put more layers down if you're looking for a thicker product.
6. Next, add on any extra embellishments by using soap glue.  When adding fabrics as an embellishment, make sure to add fibers over the top.
Soap glue is when you have a higher concentration of soap than water mixed together.
7. Add tulle netting over the top of the fibers.
8. Next, get hot water and soap and begin slowly pouring the mixture on the fibers a little bit at a time. Always pour, then stop and spread the water out with the palm of your hands. Just continue this until all the fibers are fully saturated.  You should start by pouring the hot water on gradually so that it shocks the wool into fiber locking.
9. Start vibrating the fibers by rubbing your palms against them.  Also, put some pressure on the fibers every once in a while by pressing down on them. Change how you apply pressure every so often .
10. Continue putting pressure against it until you are able to lift the center of the tulle and the fiber clings to it as you pull it up. Once the fibers start sticking to the tulle netting , you can begin rolling it up on a towel or rolling pin.
11. Once rolled up, start rolling it across a surface in every direction. Do this for a few minutes. It helps the project shrink.
12. Go through steps 9-11 a few more times, then wash the soap out and allow to dry.
Additional tips:
a) Remember that the wool will shrink as you felt it, so the finished product will not be as big as intended. Always make your dimensions larger than what you want your finished product to be.
b) Some things can differ depending on the type of wool you use, and what you want your product to be. The thickness will also depend on the type of wool you are using. For instance, cobweb fibers are thin so to make something thick you'd need more layering.
Instructions were graciously provided by Sarah Crocker-Buta, a member of the West Alabama Fiber Guild. Thank you, Sarah.

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