Friday, January 21, 2011

January Tart Kit: Wet Felting: A New Way

This month we are using a product that can make wet-felting much easier and less "work". Artfelt Paper is used as the base of the process and will be washed out when the wool fibers have been shrunk and felted.

You are using the foam and felting needle to baste your fibers to the Artfelt Paper. The actual felting will be done with water and your dryer. Determine the size of your project and cut the Artfelt Paper accordingly. You may have to move it around your foam in order to do the basting.

You will needlefelt baste the wool fibers in layers onto the Artfelt Paper, first horizontally and then vertically, gradually building up to the desired density. You may want to draw a design on the paper and "paint" the areas in with specific fibers. While these photos don't show it, be sure to leave a margin of paper around the fibers. 

 Move the paper over the foam to needlefelt the entire area designed. Add yarn, or specific fibers for accent and detail as desired.

Remove the basted fibers and paper from the foam and take it to your sink. With the paper side down, wet the fibers with a spray bottle of cool water until the piece is saturated. The paper will become translucent. Press out excess water before removing from the sink.

On a flat surface, lay the fiber/paper unit on a single layer of a plastic bag. The plastic will keep the fibers from touching and felting into a tube. Lay your piece at one end, making sure the plastic entends beyond the paper and fibers on both sides and the top edge.

Roll the paper/fibers jelly roll style with the plastic bag and secure with rubber bands.

 Throw the banded tube into your dryer for 10 to 15 minutes. It is not necessary to have a hot dryer. You can put it into the dryer with a load of clothes as well.

After 15 minutes, check the felting process. If you want more felting, re-roll the piece and plastic by turning it 90 degrees, secure it and dry it again. The fibers will still be damp and the paper should be crinkled as the wool shrinks, but the paper doesn't. Take the paper/fiber piece back to your sink with the paper side up and pour boiling water over the paper to dissolve it. Finish removing the residue by rinsing with water.

Let the felted wool dry flat. The piece can then be used as the background or applique. You may want to needlefelt other yarns or fibers onto the felted piece.

If you are interested in making a weaving similar to the sample above, simply lay your fibers in a grid keeping areas open. Wet, roll and dry as instructed above.