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Hi, I’m Judi and I’ve decided to finally do the things in my life that I never got around to earlier, like felting and printmaking and ceramics. Generally, all the creative activities and I am having so much fun. I’m so old, I no longer care if I make mistakes and miss perfection. I have come across some really brilliant activities and I’m writing this Blog because I want to share these with you – as you might like them, too. I’m not the brightest or the best at any of them, but that’s not going to stop me!
Inside, where I live, I still feel youthful. I look in the mirror and I can see I’m somewhat deluded. I find that when I’m doing stuff like felting and painting I feel happy and absorbed. I guess some of you feel like that, too.
So far, I’ve come across wet felting, needle felting and nuno felting. There’s probably other types too but I’ve not yet met them. It’s all good.
Why? The colours of the wool rovings and cute little curly tops and the slinky silky fibres are a delight to just collect and put in a box. Better still, is getting them out, laying them down, lathering them up with soapy water and rubbing the hell out of them to work the magic. If it goes wrong, blame the soap or the temperature – when it turns out well, take a bow baby.
Because felting is such a good thing, I’m impelled to share the joy with you. I’m going to run a few felting workshops in Kennerleigh.
Another time, I’ll be posting about ceramics and my ceramic garden totems.
Words for today…from ee cummings i carry your heart
here is the deepest secret nobody knows (here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows higher than soul can hope or mind can hide) and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
This kit containsthe wools,carded batts, silks and yarns in a wide range of vibrantcolours and textures. Price is £30 to make a wall hanging sized 60 cm by 45 cm plus £3.10 2nd class P&P.
Kit also includes …
Artfelt Paper The design can be pre-drawn onto the pre-cut Water Soluble Artfelt paper as a useful guide to laying down your colours. The paper dissolves once you add the warm water to start the felting process.
Newcomers to felting can receive the kit with a draft design layout of fibres to get started. See below. Or, you can do your own thing!
Cotton Scrim Scrim backing is shown here on reverse of the felt. It helps to give soft structure and strength to thinner felts. However, it can also be gently pulled away to provide a windowhanging or two way felted picture, that looks good from both sides. I use this as backing material to add a soft strength and structure to your wallhanging. The wool fibres penetrate through the open weave easily thereby aiding felting. Also, this additional first layer allows you to obtain a good finish with only two layers of wool fibres instead of three. So, it’s less bulky and easier to felt. Secondly, because I cut a larger piece of scrim than the project, it enable you to create a top or bottom hem or border which is useful when you hang your picture from a pole, dowel or branch later. The scrim can also be gently pulled away to provide a windowhanging or two way felted picture, that looks good from both sides.
You’ll only need …
Work surface, waterproof covering, old towel, 2 sheets of bubble wrap, foam roller or pool noodle, plastic bottle with water and soap.
The Artfelt water soluble paper is pre-cut to size and ready for you to draw your design template. Or, I can pre-draw your preferred design for you, together with colour guide. See below.
First, clear the deck and prepare work surface by-
1. Laying out a towel on table. 2. Placing first sheet of bubble wrap on top of towel – bubble side up. 3. Laying out the cotton scrim on top of bubble wrap. 4. Lay out the water soluble paper (with pre-drawn design) on top of the scrim.
Design Layout. First stage is lay down the base layer using mainly the carded batts of wool, looking like cotton wool. You will lay out 2 layers of wool. First the foundation or base layer using the batts. These can be torn or cut to a rough shape, or, you can shingle them in smaller pieces.
The second layer (shown in Green) is the Design Layer, where you build up details by gradually adding small embellishments of contrasting or complementary coloured fibres. See above. In this example, I’m building up both layers of one colour at a time. You may prefer to lay out your base layer first, in all the colours of green, red, blue, yellow, purple, pink etc… It’s your choice.😀
Having made a start with the green, follow your template guidelines and gradually add in other colours, remembering to lay down base layer first before adding the details and embellishments. You can see how I’ve moved on to add the reddish carded batts. I will keep returning to the initial colours to add details if I want.
The next few pictures show in greater detail how I start to add detail and interest to the second red layer by using twirls and swirls of different shades of Merino wool tops. I’ve introduced pinks, Scarlets and wisp of violet. I use very thin wispy pieces and try out various positions until one clicks!
Notice that, as the colours come up against each other, I make sure the fibres not only touch but definitely overlap each other. The fibres need to lock on to each other in order to fully felt later on. More on this later!
Next, I added in the first layer of light blue batts. Notice how the reds, blues and greens overlap in the section on the right in the above photo. *Close up photos. If the fibres don’t fully touch each other, there will be a hole or a thin, weak spot here later on. It’s important to think about the structure of the wallhanging, as well as its design. The finished piece will be quite large and heavy, so it pays to keep checking for weak fault lines.
The pale blue batt has a soft cotton wool texture. It is made by carding together wool fibres using a pair of hand carders or a drum carder. Using batts saves time spent shingling individual layers of fibres. It is useful for covering blocks of colour.
Next, I add the second layer of embellishments to the blue section. I’ve used dark and royal blues to contrast with the pale blue base. Later on, I’ll pop in some turquoise streaks to make it more vibrant.
Yellow is the final base colour to be added. Because the yellow areas are quite thin, I’m not using a carded batt for the base layer. Instead I’m first shingling 2 or 3 light layers of buttercup yellow merino wool tops to create a base before I add oranges, pinks etc in the second design layer. It’s starting to take shape at last! Keep checking and tweaking and rearranging the components of your design. Gently press down with palms of your hands to slightly compress the fibres so they get to settle into each other. This will aid the felting process later on. You can move things around. Nothing is fixed or unalterable at this stage. Enjoy it. Walk away from it. Look at it upside down.
Above, I’ve added contrasting colours of shocking pink and orange to the base yellow layer to make it ‘pop’. Notice how extra colours have also been sprinkled on to other sections, as well.
As the design lay out nears completion, I can add the final touches. Blue and orange curly locks on the central panel. Pink and turquoise Angelina fibres are sprinkled around, making sure that some strands of wool fibre trap them on to the design. With so much going on, it’s a good idea to re-shape or redefine the key shapes of your design. Using the pencil yarns to outline shapes or to create overarching swirls is a useful tool. Adding pencil yarns restores some cohesion and unity to the picture.
Tulle Netting traps the design. I include 3 pre-cut lengths of tulle netting which you use to carefully place over your design when you have finished laying it out. The netting traps the fibres in place and so protects your design. In this large project, you can cover each section with tulle as you go, allowing you to overreach it safely. When the design layout is finished, ensure every section is covered. Take care when lift ing the netting as fibres will stick to it! Once this is done, the project can be wetted down or dampened down so you can press gently downwards for 5-10 minutes without rubbing, or massaging your work. Introduce it to the warmish water gradually. Don’t drown it or drench it!
Finally, add the tulle netting carefully when you are satisfied with your lay out. The netting helps to protect and preserve your design as you move forward into the next stage of the process.
Wetting Down. Use all 3 pieces of netting to completely cover your design so that you can sprinkle warm water all over your project. Don’t drown or drench it. Gradually, add the water like it’s a gentle shower of rain, making sure it is equally and consistently damp all over. Press down gently onto the piece with the palms of your hand in order to disperse the water without disturbing the fibres. No need to add soap at this point. Water should be tepid or cool. This process should take 5 to 10 minutes at least. It’s a gentle pressing down action only. No massaging!
Excess moisture can be soaked up by patting down with a soft sponge and squeezing out the water.
I use a ball brayer to spray the water as it creates a gentle shower of rain effect. Equally good, is a plastic bottle with holes punched in the lid.
Rolling Out. I find insulation foam is an excellent roller. Pool noodles, rolled carboard tubes and roalling pins are also useful. Save all your larger sheets of bubble wrap which provides gentle friction that accelerates the felting process.
Roll your felt inside the two layers of bubble wrap ( including the cotton scrim and Artfelt paper) into a tight sausage and secure each end with elastic band or old popsox.
Roll a towel around the sausage to prevent slipping during the rolling out process.
Next, the Felting Stage begins! A few notes to begin with… Take the second piece of bubble wrap and place it bubble side down on to project. (You can keep the netting on for another 5-10 minutes before carefully removing it.) The felting process needs warmer water, soap and friction to work successfully. It is a slow process. It can get quite physical when the rolling starts later. Take it in easy stages. If you get tired, you can leave it, and return to it the next day. When this happens, I gently sponge off the cold and stale water first, and then add a refreshing warm to hot spray of water to revive it before continuing to felt again.
From this stage on, follow the usual wet felting routine of gently massaging the fibres and increasing the vigour with circular and firmer movements for 15-20 minutes.
Get ready to start the hard work of rolling out the picture 200 times in one direction and 200 times the other way! Keep unrolling and rotating and rolling by 90 degrees. It’s not easy or quick, but the more you do this, the smoother the final felt.
(By the way, I did not actually wet this project at all as it was to demonstrate the lay out. See above. I have sent you the completed ‘jigsaw’ ready for wetting and rubbing and rolling.) However, if you want, just have a look at how I built up the design and then …take it all apart and start again with your own design!
I have included an extra bag full of wools and a bag of silks, sari silk slivers and Angelina fibres in a smaller bag so you can add lots of extra details.
Published by Felting in Devon
Felt artist, Fibre artist, Wet Felter, Nuno Felter, Felting in Devon workshops, View more posts
Felting a large tribal Rainbow Wallhanging in fine Merino wools embellished with mulberry and tussah silks and felted tassels and balls.
About the Rainbow wallhanging or window hanging kit …
Would you like to craft a lasting memorial to signify these dark days? My huge tribal Rainbow wallhangings and window-hangings have been acclaimed by people searching for a more meaningful and spiritual artistic expression for their inner hopes and fears. I’ve had orders from all over the UK – from the south west of England to the north of Scotland. We’ve all seen the emblem of the rainbow 🌈 used as a sign of thanks and a symbol of hope in strange, uncertain times. I found that by adding a wider range of colours in wools and silks, I was able to scale up the simple rainbow to felt a large embellished wallhanging to be a lasting witness to my experience and a beautiful heirloom for my grandchildren. Why is it Tribal? I added vibrance and depth by blending and combining a range of shades of each of the seven colours of the rainbow. Pops of pink and turquoise radiate from the arc, beneath a canopy of sky and the edges of each colour are woven into fringes extending beyond the lower edge – all combining to give it an ethnic, tribal feel. I needlefelted symbols and cyphers into one side of the piece to represent Coronas, agape, omegas and kappas as I wanted it to signify yet mask my feelings. This project will take you several days to accomplish, but working with these vibrant colours and being able to walk away and return to it afresh will be a transformative experience.
What’s included in the price?
Online link to detailed step by step illustrated instructions on how to make a tribal Rainbow wall hanging. To make a One Metre Square Wall-hanging Kit costs £45 + £3.70 P&P. To make a 50cm by 50cm tribal Rainbow Wall-hanging Kit costs £32 + £3.10 P&P. Each pack comes in a calico bag for your felting and with a bar of hand-made olive oil soap and my ceramic porcelain maker’s mark to authenticate your work. Each Kit contains ample amounts of: Sixteen shades of fine Merino wools in all the colours of the Rainbow. Embellishments of:- Mulberry and tussah silk fibres. Curly tops. Felting pencil yarns. A hand carded batt of blues, whites and greys for the sky canopy. Extra wools to make the fringes, tassels and felted balls. One metre square of ArtFelt paper on which to lay out your design. (This paper dissolves with the addition of warm water and soap during the actual wet felting process.) Four strips of tulle netting, equal to more than one square metre, to hold your design in place whilst you are working on different sections.
What you will need
A large table or work surface you can use for a few days at least Large sheet of bubble wrap. Old bath towel to lay on table. Spray water bottle. Warm water. Soap. A foam insulation pipe to use as a roller in the wet felting process. Your imagination to run free!
Judi Binks at Felting in Devon
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Text me on 07837 436395. I always try to respond within a few hours.
Available as a gift. £45 + P&P.
You will need…
A large table top or work space that you can reserve for this project for at least two days.
Plastic sheeting to protect work space.
Old bath towel to cover the work surface and soak up the water.
Two sheets of bubble wrap measuring at least one square metre.
A large net or lace curtain to hold the design in place when it’s under construction and before wetting down the wools.
A sheet of water soluble Art Felt paper at least one metre square on which to draw out the rainbow template denoting the coloured arcs. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
Plenty of hot water in plastic spray bottle or braiser. Hand soap or liquid soap.
Design concept …
Felting is not an exact craft so perfect lines might not be possible so allow for these possibilities.
Symmetry is an important aesthetic, however. Think about the inner arc, the violet arc. It could be semi- circular, heart shaped, a tear drop, a face or a symbol – something that is unique and special to you.
Think about the sky backdrop which is not only decorative but structurally important when hanging, as the final piece will be heavy.
Colours of the Rainbow
Do you want simple paint box colour in each of the seven arcs or a gradation of hues and shades of each colour to add tonality and depth to your rainbow? If so, select your colours and lay them out in various combinations to achieve a satisfying effect.
Remember …you will need decreasing amounts of fibres as you move from red down to violet. It is vital that you divide your selection of all the hues into two equal piles before you start so you don’t run out before completing each arc.
Draft your rainbow design on to the ArtFelt paper using all the space as there will be shrinkage. Label each layer with Colour to remind you when laying down the fibres.
I usually start laying out from the bottom left and work up to the apex before working down to the other side. This will ensure you don’t run out of fibre.
The Sky can be added on separately after the rainbow is laid out. See later pictures.
The fringes and tassels can be added once the basic rainbow design has been laid out. Fringes are a useful way of adding length to the project and for using up left over wools. Stitching on felted balls to the ends of tassels also adds to the fun.
When you open your kit, you’ll find at least 16 different colours of Merino wools, mulberry silks, angelina fibres and curly tops, as well as 2 sheets of white pre-felt, netting and bubble wrap. There’s also a printed copy of illustrated instructions.
Below, I’ve made 13 short real-time videos to help show you how to approach your project, step by step. Hopefully, it will you the confidence to be creative in your composition and help you put your own individual stamp on it.
This post is all about creating your composition. It’s the fun side of felting. This is the critical process where you can spend as long as you like getting it just right – before the actual wet felting process begins. It’s also the most absorbing part. The actual felting process is simple and will be shown elsewhere. This is sheer creativity. After 3 hours in the workshop, most of my students took home wet partly felted pieces to finish off later! I love looking at their pictures which show such happy faces and everyone’s picture was unique. Thank you.
Part 1: Contents of the kit
( Sorry about quality of filming: this was done on my mobile, with only one hand free to work the wool, and, it was unscripted.🙏 )
Part 2 Getting started on the sky by blending the blues
Part 3 More about carding fibres to blend colours
Part 4 Laying down the fibres for sky and middle ground moorland
Part 5 Foreground composition element of pasture
Part 6 Completing the first layer of landscape background
Part 7 Starting from the top – adding the second design layer
Part 8 Adding the sheep
Part 9 Adding close up details of stalks and grasses.
Part 10 Snips and nepps, flowers and field texture
Part 11 Adding Silk Threads for shine and texture
Part 12 Adding texture, tone and perspective to your composition
Part 13 Adding the finishing touches to the composition
Some of my beautiful students with their Sheepscapes. Missing you all. 🥰🌈
It’s a really good idea, firstly, to look at all the possible colour combinations and designs of your wools. Designs can be uniform or random. The basic scarf can be embellished with silks, remnants, curly locks etc, so do a dry run by moving colours and textures around first.
Make at least one quick colour sketch in your notebook as a reminder.
Samples or Testers
You’ll find some extra wools in your pack to create some samples, which will indicate shrinkage,thicknesses, textures and colour matches. I usually make 3 samples or testers of 10cm squares. This will save wasting your precious wools later on and help avoid costly mistakes.
Divide your wools in half
If you’re planning a balanced or symmetrical design, split your main wools in half and work outwards from the centre in each direction. This avoids running out of fibres and ending up with uneven, unmatched scarf.
Use length of silk chiffon or habotai as insert.
Unless you are determined to make a thick woolly scarf involving at least 4 layers, use a silk insert. Why?
1. It will make the final piece lighter, softer and stronger, without having to use lots of wool layers. You can achieve this by fully encasing the silk scarf inside two layers of wool, like a sandwich.
2. It will feel smoother around your neck. The silk insert can be fairly short – about 40cm- to feel the benefit. It doesn’t have to run the full final length of the scarf
3. If you’re new to felting, you will find full Nuno felting of wool fibres through the silk to be quite difficult and tedious, so this method is easier if you follow the guidelines below.
Mark out template of silk scarf on bubble wrap.
Use a Sharpie to draw round the outside of your silk insert on the bubble wrap. Then, remove the silk for the next stage.
Decide on length of scarf and allow for shrinkage.
I also mark out the shape of the scarf on the bubble wrap to provide guidelines for laying out drafts of wool fibres.
Start to lay out all the drafts of wool in one direction first. ( Vertically ) Make absolutely sure that that the fibres overlap the edge of the scarf template by at least 4cm along the lengths and by at least 15 to 20 cm at each end.
Make sure each successive row of fibres overlaps each other by at least 3cms. If not, the wool will not attach or felt.
The drafts of wool should be drawn away carefully in an even fashion. No clumpy tufts! Aim for an even and uniform covering. It’s better to lay down two thin layers than one big clumpy layer. I’ve used red for the base layer. My lay out of fibres is patchy her to show you the base layer.
When you have completely covered the base layer, press down with your hands to check for any empty patches and infill.
Lay down the silk inset on top of first wool layer.
Apply second layer of wool.
Think of the silk as a cheese slice inbetween two slices of woolly bread.
This time, lay down wool in horizontal direction. Pay attention to corners at each end by strengthening with good coverage of wool.
Overlap the edges of silk with wool.
It is essential that second layer of wool goes over the silk edge and attached to wool all the way round. You are encasing the silk in wool. Here, I have used multicoloured wool fibres for the second layer to illustrate this method.
Add silk embellishments.
You can add in any silk fibres, scraps, curly tops on this layer, but you must always attach wool to silk. Even a few wisps of wool laid on top of silk scraps will help to glue the silk in place. Never silk on silk- always silk on wool or wool on silk.
The wool pencil rovings will attach okay as will the two wispy pre felts I made for you as they are both made from felting wool. Curly locks can be added to either end but remember to anchor them down with some wisps of wool on top.
Seaside seem a long way away from here in mid Devon lockdown, so here’s a link to lovely Rosie’s tutorial. I’m busy making free crafting kits for kids in rural Devon and have just finished my large 🌈 Rainbow window hanging for the local community stores which has remained open for us.
Don’t forget, if you’re following any of the free tutorials, do remember to share photos of your work with us.
Words lack power at times when confronted with daily death tolls.
With a simple image of the ubiquitous rainbow in mind, I emptied my bag of wools on the table and started laying out bands of colour across the whole of the table top.
The intensity of the colours reflected my feelings.
Weirdly, as the water worked its magic, the solemnity was lightened when I noticed that the inner arcs of indigo and violet were entering the realms of Georgia O’Keefe …
The mysteries of the female form were transformed into a fuzzy flower just in time as my husband came into the studio, saying, ‘that’s nice – what’s that supposed to be?’
I started felting and also formed fringes by adding random drafts of wool running off the rainbow ends and finishing with felted balls.
Starting to visualise it as a window hanging, I added the sky overhead and checked for structural weaknesses. Adding the water had made the project very heavy, yet incredibly fragile, before it was even partially felted. The weight of the outer arcs of colour pulled away from the smaller inner arcs in places.
Wet felting is exciting and expressive and I loved the rampant giddy rainbow.
Needless to say, I was delighted that the reverse side looked good too, so I added embellishments by needlefelting silks and symbols on this side and left the wet felted side in its unkempt state.
Above is the embellished side which will be visible in the window from outside the shop.
The outer red arc is self inscribed with corona curves flattened and the orange arc carries two stylised Omega symbols. Each arc radiating outwards from the central violet heart-flower carries a motif in the colour of the preceding arc.
Above is the wet felted side which will face the inside of the shop window. It has been reinforced with fine cane to stretch it and prevent it from folding inwards – owing to the weight of the wool.
In total, it took one woman:-
16 hours, 1.5 kilograms of wool, 20 grammes of silk, 4 litres of warm water, 50 ml of liquid soap and one needle…
to make her response to COVID19.
The final felted piece measures 100cm by 105cms.
I’d love to see what you’re doing and how you’re expressing yourself and your feelings through your crafts.
Live long. Be happy!Kennerleigh Community Stores & Post Office Sunday 19th April 2020.
After a heavy workout of felting a tote bag, I decided to take it easy and just play around with wool. I have been inspired to try some of the exercises in the book Creative Felting, by Lizzie Houghton. Although she explains how to make felt, pre-felt and other basic things, this isn’t really a how to book to make anything in particular. It is a way of looking at colored wool and putting them together with other materials that you wouldn’t normally think about doing.
I decided to make small samples of 8 inch squares. I did make an 8×8 inch template to work from. I am trying to work in order. These are the first three experiments. The lower right is Merino with a little bit of viscose and silk fibers. It isn’t easy making circles from tops. I wet them to make it easier. I…