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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
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…
Firstly, you need wool. The wool will be dependent on what you will be making. I first started wet felting vessels. With vessels, the type of wool is not so important as long as it felts and you are not overly concerned with your outcome. Making vessels is a good way to learn how to wet felt and learn about wool. You want a strong felt for vessels. When making wearables, you will want a good quality, soft wool. Most people use merino. There are different weights of merino. To simplify it, there is merino that is readily available in a heavier weight and superfine merino. The weights vary according to retailer. The lower the number of microns, the finer the merino is. You can make a very nice, soft felted scarf with a higher number of microns, but it will be even softer if the micron is lower. I have made lovely scarves with 23 mic merino as that is what I have. It depends on how you lay it out. Fancy fibers like silk are nice, but not essential to make a pretty scarf. I personally like sari silk as there are a lot of threads in there and they make a nice texture. I think that is enough about wool and fibers. You need wool to make felt. That’s really it.
Secondly, you need water. Water is essential in felt making. I used to use warm or hot water to start the process in the wetting out, but it doesn’t matter if it is cold and I only use cold for nuno felting to start. If you are not careful, you can end up using a lot of water in the felt making process. I try to be as economical as possible with water. My rinsing water is put on the garden or in the watering can I use for washing the dog wee off of the patio. Some of it even goes back into the water butt, except for the vinegar water as vinegar kills plants. I put that on the weeds in the patio too. I use large bowls or the washing up bowl to contain the water so it doesn’t all go down the drain. Some people even use rain water to make felt. What ever clean water is useful.
The water needs to be contained in some way and dispersed. This is what I use.
It is good to recycle whatever you can. Early Feltmakers did not have fancy tools and equipment. They used what they had.
A. I have a spray bottle filled with clean water. It gives a fine spray and is useful for spot wetting or laying a fine mist on your wool or decorative fibers to hold them down a little so they don’t fly away.
B. A plastic jug I got from the pound store. It fits the microwave so I can heat up water. I use it a lot. I will also squeeze excess water back into it and re-use it. You can also use any large bowl you have.
C. A milk container. I poked some holes in the top to use as a sprinkler. I use this a lot especially when nuno felting. This won’t fit in my microwave because it is too tall. As the plastic is thin, it is not suitable for holding very hot water. If I have any water left over, I will store it here for re-use. You can use any plastic bottle and put holes in the lid. I will eventually replace this with another one as the plastic will get distorted. I do not drink soft drinks or use any plastic bottles except for milk although it is difficult to avoid plastic, so to re-use them if possible is good. At least it can be recycled.
D. A ball brause sprinkler. Do you need it? No. A recycled plastic or glass bottle is fine. Would you want it? Probably. It is a very cool tool. I ordered one from the UK and one from Italy with a wool order. They are not cheap. These were initially used for watering Bonsai plants. They do wet out nice and evenly. Do not spend money on one of these when first starting out as you may decide wet felting is not for you. I got mine because I had an extra discount which brought the price down.
You need to add soap to your water. I think you need soap as a lubricant as most of the wool has been washed and the lanolin has been removed. I have seen felt being made from unwashed wool where no soap has been used. In any event, the soap helps the fibers bind together, thereby making the felting process a bit easier. The type of soap used is a personal choice. Use what you have if you don’t want to spend money on a special soap – especially if you are just starting out. Many people use olive oil soap. Olive oil soap does not lather as much as other soaps and is easy to rinse out. It is also kind to your hands. It is probably one of the most natural soaps you can buy. You can buy a large bar of it for not a lot of money from Wingham Wool Works. I buy two large bars at a time when placing a wool order since I have to pay postage anyway. I pop it into the microwave for 30 seconds to soften it a bit and cut a slice off. I have seen the same soap sold elsewhere for a lot more money. Shop around.
I also use washing up liquid as above. It has no perfume or color. I just use a little, sometimes on my hands when doing some rubbing or fulling. The bottle above is actually quite full of water as we had run out of washing up liquid to doing the actual washing up. I will use every last drop of it. When the bottle is empty, it will make a good container for wetting out. I should mention that when I need fresh water for my felting, I will get the olive slice and put it in the jug. I then fill the jug half way with hot water from the kettle and top it up with cold water. The water will still be very hot. This helps with my soap solution for felting. Some people prefer to rub the soap on the netting after it is wet out. There are other ways of making a soap solution. For me, it doesn’t matter as I will pull out the soap bar once the water has cooled down and will use it if my piece is not soapy enough. You don’t want too much soap, but you need enough to be able to slide your hands over the wool easily.
Once you have wetted out your wool, you will need to rub it. However, to make that easier for you, it is a good idea to cover the wet wool with a net of some sort. I found some net material from the charity shop that works for me. I also have some tulle. Some people use old net curtains, or just clear plastic. To help disperse the water, after using my hands, I also use a sponge. It sucks up excess water and disperses it into area that need more. Sponges are inexpensive and you can pick up netting cheaply at charity shops if you haven’t got any at home.
Thirdly, you need friction. This is where people will try and sell you things. There are so many expensive tools you can buy, most of which you don’t need. The felting and fulling process require friction of some kind. There will be rubbing and rolling. You will not be able to avoid it. Some tools actually help with this process, but you don’t need to spend a fortune if you can find things in your kitchen cupboard or at the DIY store.
Here is some of what I use.
A. A bamboo mat. This type of mat is excellent for making ropes for bags, etc. I only bought this recently when I went to George Weil. If you can find an old bamboo blind or mat from the charity shop, that would be great. I have never been able to and I don’t live near Ikea. This one wasn’t too expensive.
B. Pipe insulation. This comes in a variety of lengths and widths. We had some leftover from a project. It is very useful as a roller. You can also use a pool noodle, but I think this is cheaper. I have this one and a longer one for wide scarves. These are relatively soft and gentle on your make.
C. Ridged Roller. Do you need this? Probably not. This is a specialist tool I purchased from Wingham Wool Works. I think it was about £11. The center moves independently from the handles. I have used this to get a nice hard felt on some hats and vessels. You can get more expensive versions of this from other places.
D. Rolling pin. I purchased this from Poundland, for £1. I use this for my small makes. The handles are also very good for spot rolling and getting into crevices. Although I already have a rolling pin, which I have used for felting, I like to keep my food things separate from my felting things. I bought a little rolling pin because I liked using the thinner roller. You can also use plastic rolling pins.
E. Bamboo mat. I couldn’t find the smaller sushi mats like the big one above, so I bought a set of these very cheap. The bamboo is flat instead of round. They are good for felting small items and can be used around the pipe insulation or a rolling pin if you need to get a nice hard felt.
F. Fulling tool. Do you need one of these? Probably not. I got this as a gift when I ordered some silk online from an Etsy shop. It is hand made. I love this tool. It fits my hand perfectly and the shape makes it easy to get into corners. I love it for hats. If you could get one similar as a reasonable price, I would recommend getting one or similar.
G. Fulling tool. Do you need one of these? Probably not. I purchased this from Wingham Wool Works. I had the hubs sand it down as the edges were a bit rough and sharp. I haven’t really used it as it catches on the netting. I need to sand it down some more. It is like a mini wash board. Speaking of which, some people use wash boards. I looked at them online and they can be quite dear.
Bubble wrap. Bubble wrap cannot be recycled. However, it is good to use for your wet felting. The bubbles help with friction and you can use it as a rubbing tool if you scrunch it up in your hands or gently rub your piece on the bubbles. Do not throw it out if you can help it. It is still good if any bubbles pop as plastic is a useful resource for your felting needs as it can also protect your work surface. You can also re-use it for packaging. Sometimes I wrap my little fulling tool in bubble wrap if I need to full something gently.
Not shown, but something I feel is essential for me is a sander. Yes, I sand my felt. It is not a new thing according to some of the books I have. However, you can thank the Russian felters for making it a thing. It saves so much time rubbing. The friction and heat of the machine really help with the process, especially with nuno felting. I have a very basic flat sander I got from Screw-Fix. You need a vacuum to help it suck up dust, so no need to fill in holes. I think my sander cost £15. My husband chose it for me.
People will have their favorite bits of kit. I am showing what I have. When you first start something you want to get everything. Suppliers will sell you anything, even bubble wrap! As I said, retailers need to make money. I sometimes use a paint tray I bought from Poundland. I use it for small vessels as it contains the water and the ridges are great for fulling. Do I need it? No! I like it because I heard that it could be a good thing and I keep it because it works for me and it only cost £1. It also doesn’t take up too much room, so I can use it on the dining table.
So, what do you use for felting that you can’t live without or that you just found in your house?