How to wet felt a Wall hanging or large picture

Felted wallhanging.
This Wallhanging measures approx. 60cm by 100 cm.

Wet Felt a Wall-hanging Kit

This kit contains the wools, carded batts, silks and yarns in a wide range of vibrant colours and textures.

Prices start at £30 for a wall hanging kit 60 cm by 45 cm + P&P £3.70.

Wet felting Kit contains merino wool tops, batts, yarns , silks, scrim, water soluble paper

Kit also includes …

Silks and curly tops for embellishing felt painting.

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!

The design of wools and silks can be laid out ready for y our wet felted wall hanging.

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.

Cotton scrim is pre-cut to size and used as a backing material for wet felted painting.

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.

Artfelt water soluble paper complete with design and colour guide ready for laying out fibres.

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.😀

adding the first layer of fibres.

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.

Adding on the second layr of fibres as embellishments.

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!

laying out the first layer of red fibres.

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!

Adding detail and embellishments ot red layer.
Close up of red embellishments.
Cloe sup of pink and purpole added to red base layer.
Lighter green yearn adds detail to green batt.

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.

Building up the colours of the design and adding more and more details.

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.

Neighbouring fibres must actually overlap each other in order to felt fully later on.

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.

Adding detail to the wallhanging layout.

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.

Final layer of yell is introduced to felting.

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.

Continue adding details of silks and yarn and contrasting colours.
Use pencil yarn to outline and redefine areas of interest in felt painting.

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!

Tulle netting used to trap the design of wools and silks.

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.

Tulle netting used to trap the design of wools and silks.

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!

Water and soap needed for wetting down process.
Lay second layer of bubble wrap bubble-side down onto felt painting.

Excess moisture can be soaked up by patting down with a soft sponge and squeezing out the water.

Sponge down to soak up excess moisture.

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.

A ball brayer.

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.

Foam insulation used for rolling out the felt.

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 up into tight sausage and secure with ties.

Roll a towel around the sausage to prevent slipping during the rolling out process.

Roll inside a towel.

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.

Here’s a link to Basic Wet Felting technique on my blog. Basic Wet Felting technique

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

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Felt artist, Fibre artist, Wet Felter, Nuno Felter, Felting in Devon workshops, View more posts

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