Watching felt take shape

September 17, 2009

 

Part of the reason I love working with wool so much is the magical transformation that occurs when it’s subjected to hot water, soap and agitation. A material that’s as ethereal as a cloud becomes so sturdy that you can fling it around, scrunch it, pull it and wring it without it falling apart. Near the end of the fulling process I use a lot more muscle than you would expect. It’s amazing how something that looks so delicate has so much resilience.

 

 

Roving laid out

Roving laid out

I begin by pulling “drafts” of wool from my roving and laying them down in the approximate shape I want the finished piece to be. This piece is laid out in five layers, with different colours on both sides.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Felting begins

Felting begins

 

The wool is then wet with hot, soapy water and the “felting” process begins by very gently agitating the fibers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished felting

Finished felting

 

 

This photo is at the end of the felting process – see how it’s becoming a solid piece? At this point I can scrunch it up and turn it over and it won’t lose its shape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fulling begins

Fulling begins

 

 

After the felting is complete, the “fulling” begins. This is where the hard work comes in! Fulling is where the felt really shrinks and tightens up – I do this by rolling the piece back and forth. This scarf will have been rolled 400 times at completion. I also start detailed shaping at this point – in this case I’m making a ruffled edge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Finished piece drying

Finished piece drying

 

 

After all the rolling is done, the piece gets a rinse and a soak to remove any residual soap. Then it goes out in the sun to dry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is the finished piece of handmade felt. Soft and light, yet durable and warm.

Oh la la! Glamour shot!

Oh la la! Glamour shot!

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One Response to “Watching felt take shape”

  1. inki said

    Wow, I didn’t know felting and fulling was such an intensive process! Thanks for sharing!

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