Monday, August 17, 2009

How firm should you needle felt...when is needle felt "done" ?

The above is exactly why I have not yet listed items on Etsy....yes, it is my "Photo and crafting" room and has been in this disheveled condition for several about 12. The cat litter containers are cleaned out and waiting to become storage for some of the thriftstore nick-nacks and antiques I used to have in this room and I have slowly been packing up to make room for my crafting supplies . My supplies are currently in every room of the apartment, including two over flowing walk in closets, but I am hoping to get most of them into the drawers in this room . I wish the people from the new "Obsessions" show on A&E would find my blog and send me some help .

Below are a few of the projects I have been working on this week . They represent several different styles of felting that I have been experimenting with and tie into the topic for today....

How felted is felted ?

This has always been in my thoughts but has recently. A friend had mentioned that they had bought several felted items on Etsy that did not appear to be felted enough to be durable . The last thing I want is for someone to purchase something from me and be disappointed in it, so I began to look though my own items . Most of my sculptures are very firmly felted and take 8-15 hours of poking . But I did go back and find some of the wool sweater bags that I had needle felted designs of my first projects, were not holding up well . The designs were lifting from the wool .

What I think I have learned from then to now is that the sculptures, jewelry and bags that I needle felted from 100% lose wool appear much more durable then the few sweater bags I needled roving into . I still don't know enough about the process to understand why...I did spend hours poking the designs using what I thought to be Romney but.... might it have been some type of "superwash" fiber that I was sent by mistake or did I just lay down to thin of a layer of roving ? So I did an experiment on one of the bags . I covered the original design...(The wool bag with the sunset and purple mountains with snow) with thicker merino roving (sunset and green valley) . Although the deign is very simple, the poking took about 8 hours to feel it firm up enough and I am still contemplating doing a wet felt to firm it even more .

So what was the problem ? One thing could be that the bag that I bought, thinking it was wool, was actually a blend of synthetic fiber....(I did the burn test) . But I have felted designs onto synthetic fleece scarves and they are still crisp and firmly felted...and have gotten a lot of use . So, answer is I am not sure but I think that the thicker roving and more time has helped .

Above is one of the wool and tincel bracelets that I made for myself . I have a lot of allergies, metal being one of the worst ones, I wear very little jewelry due to resulting rashes but found this to be a nice alternative for me . Slips on and off easily and unlike some of the wools I was allergic to as a kid, the Merino has given me no problems...yea! .

Another "proto-type" of something I hope to sell in the shop (but also needed for myself) are these "agatish" coasters . No more water marks on my table . They only took a few hours to get very firm and have stood the test of a week of use with no problems .
Getting ahead of myself....I found several doll parts while cleaning the craft room...(I used to use the arms and legs attached to wood planks as coat hangers for my wall.yeah, creepy, I know )
I actually tried a new technique for this....needle felting a bowl shape and then placing it over the skull and needle felting it to firm it up . Once it felt pretty snug, I followed with a basic wet felting on and off the skull, then took it off to dry, slip it back on once dry and finished snugging it up with needle felting . A lot of hours for something that probably only I like but I figure it was interesting to see what the wet and needle felting did together .

Back side of a guy I call...."Socrates"
I think I captured the contemplative look of a philosopher...or someone trying to decide between Captain Crunch or Chocolate rice crispies .
Below are some of the needle felted "alien pods" that I plan on using for an alien tree some time next week . I will try and do a tutorial on these as I think they are a demonstration of an interesting texture you can get with the needle . Even if you don't care for the alien pods themselves, might lead someone to other texturing ideas .
Also included are some free form hearts and an experiment in covering a rock that I found on Lake superior . I have a lot of rocks that I want to experiment with this technique .
A close up to show something that is "lightly felted" . This will eventually be my largest "alien pod" which I am entering in the Handmade MN contest called "Purple Rain" . The core of this pineapple size "pod" is Romney, then I layered down black Merino over the whole thing and felted it together, then added several layers of different colored Merino and tincel blends . I like the effect and it can be handled without loosening the wool but might eventually start getting to "fuzzy" if over handled . It feels like a ball of silk at this point but the more I needle felt it, the firmer it becomes but loses some of the softness and the texture of the individual hairs . I will try and show the "after" tomorrow .

Above is the "fake wool" purse covered in the Merino and firmly felted down and below is the first attempt with Romney and if you click on each picture, you can see better what happens when you haven't felted the fibers down enough...(or used superwash or to thin of roving...?), the fibers begin to migrate out of the purse and leave a furry halo that will eventually pill up .

1 comment:

  1. Wow oh Wow, Denise, you blow my mind. So well thought out, so creative, so many neat things.

    And YES A&E find this woman. BEst wishes.

    As for me, have hired a home organizing and cleaning service to come out for a day -- will see what happens on Sep 17. :D



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