Sunday, February 27, 2011

Wet felt play mat Tutorial

 This is the first playscape I have ever done using wet felting . The others have all been 100% needle felted . They were much smaller and took around 15 hours to make . Granted, they have had hills , monsters and volcanoes but I can always add more needle felted dimension after wet felting . 
 I made this an aerial view with some textural dimension . That's where the fun came in and getting to play with all my different fibers . If you click on the picture you can see more detail . The upper right corner with the fighting Ninjas was created using prefelt that I tied some wooden balls into . (I know there is a name for that but I don't recall it . ) The majority of the base fiber is merino that I dyed in shades of green and brown .
 The river is blue merino, bits of mohair and lots of silk . I wanted this to be a spring is coming, (made while we got the last 18 inches of snow fall here) so I added some red and white mohair to represent a field of flowers .
 I used some striped green roving to add crop layout to the upper left corner and a large herd of sheep are white wool nubs . I also laid down some blue silk fibers to represent the creeks running off the larger river . The hardest part for me was not over doing it...I always want to throw as much color into my felting as I have at hand but really wanted a more natural look .
 Assuming you know basic wet felting.....and if you don't , I have some tutorials on the upper left of my blog under "links" . I first laid out the towels, then bubble wrap...bubble side up . The next layer was cotton cheese cloth spread out as evenly as possible .
 The next layer is Shetland with overlapping shingles to make a sturdy base .
The top layer was the merino, silk and mohair . This is how it looked after wetting it all down with the hot water and soap mixture . I don't usually use very much soap but I found that having added more then my usual actually helped keep everything together and ended with a more even felted piece . The last "layer" was bubble wrap with bubble side towards the wool . So......

bubble wrap
cotton cheese cloth
shetland wool
merino and textures(silk caps, fiber or fabric, mohair, wool nubs, yarn)
bubble wrap

Then follow basic wet felting directions .

Have fun ! 

Thursday, February 24, 2011

More experiments in felting fantasy for February

 Above is most of what I have done for this month . A few needle felted pin cushions. a freaky Valentines present for my BF= the hybrid baby doll ......(it's OK, my bf likes weird things ), needle felt animal , a large playscape/table topper, and several nuno felt cape/skirts using some new "cool synthetic" material . I don't usually use those two words in the same sentence but I like how this felts and will blog about it in the next few days .
 This is the present . To start, this began as a traditional needle felt animal but I didn't like the body so I decided to Frankenstein him....awwww, that's creepy . After cutting the felted head of the wool body, I yanked the baby dolls head off and wedged the felted head firmly into the neck hole....perfect fit . Not satisfied with this small amount of gore. I cut open the belly and replaced the invisible baby innards with a needle felt mushroom, tiny cave with bunny and larger bunny in Kung Fu pose . I have several ninja's that I bought for my felted playscapes so borrowed one for the tummy diorama . I then spent another 5 hours, using my permanent markers to make a full body suit tattoo . All in all, about 15 hours went into this present . I "think" he likes it but ....he might just be afraid to tell me that he doesn't....he did watch me decapitate a felted animal and a baby doll with a very sharp knife : 0

 Back to more traditional felting ..... I began this as a needle felt cuff but it was turning out to thick and bulky so I decided to stick a felted ball into the middle and felt it all into one piece to use as a pin cushion. It's large enough for my 4 needle felting tool and several individual needles for easy access . I added a lot of needle felt detail on this and decided to keep it for myself. After spending a total of 8 hours on it....I didn't think anyone would want to buy an $80 pin cushion .)
 The above one is much simpler and small enough to make into a wrist pin-cushion .I used bits of yarn, mohair for the grassy knoll <------not hiding the guy who shot Kennedy, and plain wool for the lady bug . I added some metal flowers, much girlier then my usual tastes but I do try and consider what other people may like once and a while .
 I think this would also make a nice decoration for one of my playscapes or work as a pin cushion .
 (This is just another side of the neelde felt cushion)
 Above is a very dimensional needle felt cuff , a bit out of focus but it's both firm and texturally  soft .
 The above and below are needle felt silk and merino over a needle felt wool core . I was playing around with using silk fiber, caps and fabric to add some shine and texture . I also really like the mohair curls but some people might find them a bit tickly ?

 One thing to keep in mind when needle felting silk fibers or fabric  into wool is that silk is amazingly strong stuff and can easily break your needle if you hit it at the wrong angle . It works best to lay the fiber on small bits at a time . You can't just throw it on the wool rope and start poking but felt in one tiny area until it feels secure then move to the next inch , sort of feeding the silk fibers under the needle like you would feed fabric under a sewing machine foot .

 Sometimes after hard felting something, I like to poke some of the fibers out the other side. creates a really velvet feeling surface .
 Well, this doesn't really go with the others but I will blog about my new playscape and bear tomorrow . One last necklace using the silk caps and fibers over a wool rope . Click on the picture if your interested in seeing more of the silk texture detail .

Friday, February 11, 2011

wet felted smock "take 2"

This isn't much of a tutorial because I am still working out a pattern idea .

What I see in my head is a light weight collar and area to cover the ...uhm, chest area, with silk chiffon ruffled fabric hanging from the bottom of the nuno bodice to waist . What I need to work out is. how long does the felted part need to be so that your "naught bits" are covered . Since I intended this to be a spring top, I don't want the felt to be to thick....(which it is here, due to one to many layers of merino/tencel . ) Ideally, the chiffon, silk mesh or cotton mesh would start right beneath the collar area to form a nuno bodice very little fiber would need to be added to make the fabric not transparent . Make sense ? However, I didn't have the chiffon yet, so I decided to make a solid fabric and do a bit of cutting and sewing experiments before I began the nuno felting with "take 3" once the fabric arrives  .

You can see the basic pattern here, but I am not a pattern maker, (uhmm, stating the obvious again), so this still needs some major tweaking before I can figure out the measurements of future layouts . Just thought I would share the whole learning process and hope that some day I will actually conclude with something wearable . If not....I can always cut the felt experiments up to make small bags and cuffs which is what this piece is bound for.... No waste in felting .
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Tuesday, February 8, 2011

nuno felting smocks with cotton and silk...or...Did a clown throw-up?

 Ok, I know this is probably a color over load for some people, but I haven't really learned the art of "minimalism" . No Zen here....just clowns ; ) and fiber and more experiments with felting . The above picture is a dense silk fabric with metallic edging and merino and lots of silk felted into it .

There's a story...(there's always a story.) For years I would haunt thrift stores and buy every piece of silk clothing I could find....I loved silk though I seldom wear anything but cotton . So, I had bags of silk clothing that I was planning on sewing into a .....something someday...except I hate to sew....ooops. So, when I learned about nuno felting, I was psyched...... a way to finally use my silk . Except that it is all so tightly woven that I couldn't get wool to migrate through it...(which is why I now only use chiffon or mesh silks .) I know other felters seem able to felt with denser silk but I never could get it to felt securely . After a year and a half of tripping over my silk bags, I have finally found a way to nuno felt with it.....spoiler alert....(.it takes a bit of time and silk abuse).

 Above is not an example of that...(I just can't seem to figure out how to rearrange my pictures and loaded them in the wrong order .) What it is is a piece of cotton "mesh" that I cut in half for the above table topper or scarf???? and below "smock" .
 The concept is one that's been ratteling in my brain pan for a while and I finally found the right fabric to try it . How ??? easy peasy . I started with a large platter and laid out a ring of merino and silk and tencel around it . I made it platter size rather then plate size, to allow for shrinking . What I forgot to consider was that the shrinking occurs away from the empty center and towards the fiber/ fabric making the hole larger, not smaller . Again, some basic physics principle that I would have known if I had bothered to take physics in High school instead of just staring at cute guys . 

 End result is a smock that will show a lot of cleavage (or should be worn over another shirt ?) . I still have to sew the sides together and figure out the whole "physics of arm holes"...wish me luck .
 This smock I used a plate to felt around....we live, we learn . It was once a very small silk dress/tunic that was slit up the sides and came with matching harem pants . I cut off the top part and needle felted the new cut top edge with a layer of merino . I did this with both sides of the tunic and then laid them near the edge of the plate and added more roving beneath and above the needle felted fabric edge and joined them with connecting roving around the plate .

If you learn like me...visually, then none of that probably made sense and you will have to wait until I can get pictures of the process which I will do if I remember to bring my camera tomorrow .
 Below two pictures are just close ups of the cotton mesh fabric . click on picture to see more detail . The cotton mesh worked great and I will definitely be looking for more of this to work with in the near future . I think once I work out the sizing, it will make great summer tops with just a bit of wool accenting on the bodice of silk or cotton mesh base . Eventually, I will try and do this with a resist instead of flat so that I don't have to sew the sides but can just felt them together . Stay tuned .

Monday, February 7, 2011

Needle felting with fake fur and real wool...and new shop SHUNKLIES

Above and below are a long planned but very "free form" experiment combining hand sewn fake fur and needle felting . This is not a new invention, there are several amazing crafters combining fake fur and needle felting but this was my first attempt and I didn't bother with things like....patterns but just started felting into a tube of fake fur that I had sewn and turned fur out .

My only experience making fake fur bears was in Highschool....where we cut shapes out of the fake fur and sewed them together....what a lot of work ,lol. I do plan on doing that, at some point but I just wanted to see what felting into fake fur felt like....(or felted like ). It works great, though there certianly is a learning curve and my critter here is a bit lopsided as I just sort of made up a design as I went .

Anywhoooo,expect more of these guys....(I bought several yards of fake fur a year ago and am determined to use it. ) I will share tutorials as I get things figured out .
Below is a bit of alpaca , merino and silk that was first wet felted, then needle felted . A lot of work for not very impressive and learn .'s really soft !
Continuing my bangle addiction...three new merino, alpaca and silk needle felt bangles, I still need to add some glass eyes to the snake bangles...I don't think the needle felt eyes have enough glint in them .

Even though I will never get these on Etsy in time for Valentines sales, I think hearts are always in style.....well, I like them any way and these are very 3D and should make nice pens .
Above and below....more free form needle felting "Dr Suisse Widgets" and beads for jewelry .
and below....a great shop on Etsy for knitters and fiber crafters....she has some beautiful stuff and even shipping from England, has reasonable pricing and fast shipping . Check her out.....


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