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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
It is great fun making felted balls – especially with the help from enthusiastic children! The balls can be used to make jewellery, toys, mobiles, embellishments, costume and more.
Merino wool is particularly good for making felt. It has a long fine fibre which felts readily and is available as natural, and in a choice of 27 different colours. £12.50 for 70g. pack of 7 colours – including postage.
The wool fibre needs water, soap and elbow grease to cause the felting. An empty detergent bottle with a spray attachment filled with hot water with a few drops of washing up liquid works well.
The spray bottle helped to regulate the application of the soapy water.
Instructions for making the Felt Caterpillar:
Felting the balls by hand
Take your wool fibres and pull until a small loose handful comes away from the roving.
Gently shape the fibres in the hollow of a cupped hand and spray a little soapy water onto them.
Pass the fibres to your other hand and spray the other side of the fibres.
Bring your hands together, cupping the loose fibres between them. Gently begin to rotate your palms to make the shape of a loose ball.
Increase the pressure and speed as you feel the ball begin to take shape. Add more soapy water to help with this process.
Sometimes the fibres create folds and cracks on the surface of the ball. To repair these, add a few strands of the wool fibre, lay them across the surface and repeat step 4.
The ball can take between 5 to 10 minutes to become fully felted, depending on the density required. When you are happy with it, rinse in clean water and squeeze it a few times by rolling between your palms.
Place the damp balls in the airing cupboard to dry
I had a really interesting query from Kelly about framing felt paintings, so I’m going to copy the answer I gave her for all of you to read.
The picture above is not important, but the frame and mounting is shown quite clearly. *(The picture above is double mounted with a frame inside the main frame made from mounting board. It is traditional to cut the inside edge of the inner mount at 45 degrees, which can be done fairly easily with a very sharp Stanley knife.)
It’s important to mount your work and enclose it in a deep frame so that the felt does not press against the glass.
You will also notice that I add my ceramic mark of my initials JB set into a sheep’s head. I designed, carved and fired this ceramic so it is as unique as a signature. Finer artists than me, will embroider their name.
Suggestion for Mounting a Felted Picture
1. Cut a piece of corrugated cardboard 10mm smaller all round than the piece of felt, so it is not visible behind the picture. 2. Make sure the felted picture is completely flat, then stitch and stretch the felt onto the cardboard from behind.
3. Stitch into all four corners and halfway inbetween on all 4 sides, making a total of 8 sets of stitches. On average, about six stitches at each of these 8 points will secure it well. A standard needle and cotton or nylon thread was used.
4. Then, get some mounting board ( buy online) of your desired colour.
5. Fix the back of the corrugated cardboard onto the mounting board with double sided sellotape. The size of the mounting board should fit inside your chosen picture frame. It’s best to buy a picture frame with a deep rebate of more than 12mm; as this will give room for the glass plus the felt picture plus backing plus mount board. 15mm rebate is ideal.
6. Seal everything into the back of the picture frame using gummed tape (available on internet). Do not use masking tape as it will come off!
7. Put in two hangers on back of picture frame, screwed into rear of the picture frame, about one-third of the way down from the top. Attach the cord, between the hangers, using 2mm white nylon picture cord (available on internet).
8. My husband made the frames, but I know that the IKEA Ribba range of picture frames are both cheap and deep!
9. Notes were dictated to me by Martin Binks who Framed my pieces.
My favourite reason for wet felting is painting ! I love trying to recreate the effects of water colour paints when I’m wet felting a picture. To achieve this painterly effect, I lay down a few, thin layers of wool at a time and leave at least three areas of white space. Gradually, I build up the layers, especially with the sky. It’s often useful to partially felt each layer by gently rolling a few times and then softly squeezing out the excess moisture.
I find this helps the maintain the integrity of each layer of colour and prevents it from becoming muddy.
The technique of glazing in water colour painting refers to the process of letting one layer of colour drying completely before overlaying it with another colour. If you were to paint another colour on top of a wet colour, the result would be muddy.
This very careful technique of building up fine layers is used by one of my favourite fibre and wool artists, Valérie Wartelle, who specialises in large scale abstract expressionist landscapes.
Let me show you an example.
I wet felted the picture above, entitled ” Devon Sheepscape”, after having spent a weekend in Halifax at a workshop with Valérie and she made me think about textures and layers, taking very small steps. So, although it’s not in her abstract style, it’s still expressive. I wanted to get beyond the ‘fluffy white sheep’ idyll – charming though it is.
You’ll notice a ceramic mark I made to ‘sign’ my work. I carved the mould in clay and pressed it into porcelain clay roundels, which I then bisque- fired before glazing and a final firing.
If I could embroider, I would have used that method instead. I made loads of these porcelain marks and will enclose one in every pack of wool I send out.
I am inspired by the landscapes of Devon and of South West France and always want to reach out for my coloured yarns to recreate the landscapes I walk through.
Here’s a picture felted last year of a Charentaise corn field in late August: a storm is threatening and the corn is just going over because of the endless scorching summer heat.
The one above shows the unbelievably Azure blue sky providing a backdrop to the fields of sunflowers and bales of hay. It’s not representational, but I’ve tried to capture the blues and golds of the scene. In the picture below, I attempted a more expressionist scene of reflected lights on the water on a summer night near la Rochelle.
Having told you a little about why I love felting landscapes, it all started with learning the basic techniques of wet felting pictures. I’m now going to set out some basic instructions for wet felting a picture. If you feel inspired to have a go, I can send you a bag of merino wools and silks to get started.
Wet Felt Picture
How to make a picture:
Wet felting is an ideal way to make a picture. You can also wet felt a background, and then use needle felting to create finer details.
There are many ways to wet felt and you will find your own favourite methods. Here is a simple method to make a picture for which you will need:
soap (olive hand soap is good or a even a gentle washing up liquid such as Ecover),
hot water (as hot as you can stand, cooler if felting with children)
2 pieces of bubble wrap which are slightly bigger than your prefelt (old packaging is perfect!)
Lay the pre-felt onto a layer of bubble wrap (bubbles upwards)
Using thin layers of colour, just enough to cover the background, layer up the picture onto the pre-felt, starting with the background first, such as sky, mountains etc, then work your way forwards through the picture.
Wet the whole picture with a mixture of warm/hot water mixed with a little soap (a spray bottle is good for this).
Lay another layer of bubble wrap over the top. Spray a little of the water mixture on top to help your hands slide.
Start gently rubbing over the bubble wrap, very gently at first, in little circles. Once you have rubbed over the whole picture, you can go again, a little stronger this time. Repeat, building up the strength of the rubbing as the fibres begin to felt. You can lift the bubble wrap to check on your picture below.
Try pulling at a few fibres to see if they are felting together.
Once the felt is fairly strong and the fibres are fixed into place, both layers of bubble wrap plus picture can be rolled up, with an elastic band placed on each end.
This ‘sausage’ can then be rolled backwards and forwards 20-30 times.
Unroll the sausage and look at your picture, which will have shrunk horizontally. Pull the picture back into shape a little, then turn it a quarter turn and roll it back up.
Roll the sausage 20-30 times. Repeat turning and rolling two more times.
Rinse your picture, first in water as hot as you can stand (cooler for little children), then in very cold water.
Press dry with a towel, then pull into shape and leave to dry.
I’ve put together some lovely colour combinations to inspire you to design your own scarf or neck warmer. Each pack comes with one of my hand made ceramic sheep stamps.
Some of you have already made scarves or neck warmers in my felting workshops and I know how much you love the softness and hues of the merino silk mixes.
In these difficult days of social distancing and isolation, crafting of all kinds is a beneficial and therapeutic hobby. Wet felting doesn’t require much equipment – soap, hot water, plastic water bottle, bubble wrap, netting and work space. Working with colours and textures to create something to wear, for yourself, or, as a gift is a surprisingly mindful activity.
I’d be delighted to post a bag of lovely wools and silks to felters with some previous experience. You can select the colours or send me some examples of your chosen colours for me to match.
Just a thought … if you have a plethora of scarves already, the wools and silks could be transformed into a Wallhanging or abstract design, perhaps?
I’m really into Fibonacci colour sequences at the moment and have tried matching stripes of colours to find a harmony.
Online Tutorial Instructions
I’ll post a step by step photographic tutorial for you to follow, if this is your first time at wet felting.
Some choices of kits …
Kit 1. A simple Wet Felt Scarf kit in Merino Wools.
Kit 2. Wet felt wools onto and around a length of chiffon silk to make it softer against the neck and more light weight for spring or around the house.
Kit 3. A Nuno Felt Kit & Kaboodle with a bag of merino silk wools, length of chiffon silk and a pack of silk fibres, silk mawatas, silk slivers and Teesdale or Wensleydale locks.
I can also send you 2 pre-cut lengths of bubble wrap to use as a template as well as for friction.
In addition to my online photographic instructions, I’ll include lots of links to recommended YouTube sites to fire your imagination.
Approximate prices, depending on quantity of wool, for each kit:-
Kit 1 £20
Kit 2 £25
Kit 3 £32
Some silky fibres…
Check back to this blog post as I’ll add to it daily with more suggestions and ideas.
Let me know what you would like and I will tailor my offerings to suit you – whether it’s just the instructions, the packs of wool or general chat and inspiration.
Let’s hope we all get through this sadness and fear.
Visit my blog page above for updated version of this Rainbow Tutorial.
The Wet Felting a Rainbow kit for Kids comes with a selection of 7 vivid colours of Merino wool all cut to size and some white wispy wool for clouds or a dove.
A piece of white pre-felt on which to arrange your rainbow. It’s like a woolly piece of white paper, really.
2 sheets of bubble wrap cut to size.
Piece of netting to hold your design in place before wetting.
A photocopiable rainbow template showing the order of colours. Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet. (Acronym is ROY G BIV).
Illustrated step by step instructions to make the rainbow project. (This activity is suitable for age 3+ but does definitely requires some adult supervision and help.) Older children can add more details like a blue sky with clouds and bird, and flowers and grass.
All the vivid multicoloured wools are such fun to work with!
Before you start you need to prepare the area by placing an old towel down on the table, as the activity will get wet later (that’s why it’s called Wet felting!)
You also need to lay out the template and place the bubble wrap on top of that. You can then get started with the picture.
Start by laying the green grass for the bottom of our rainbow scene. You need to pull some of the fibres from the green wool in your kit, rather than just placing the whole thing down at once. Imagine you are painting the grass with a brush as you carefully lay down some wisps of green wool.
Work through the rest of the rainbow colours in turn, using the template as a reference. It gives you a great chance to talk about the colours of the rainbow and remember which colours come next in the sequence.
You can sing the song ” I can Sing a Rainbow” to help you lay the colours down in a beautiful arc shape.
When placing the colours down onto the picture, you must let them overlap a little, and make sure the strips for the rainbow are not too thick. For ours, I think perhaps we should have overlapped the colours a little more but being our first time with wet felting, there was an element of trial and error.
The curly wool is used to add details like clouds in the sky. The example image had shown these also used to make flowers in the meadow at the bottom of the scene. You can try making a football to add at the bottom of the scene, using some of the left over coloured wool or you can add some flowers.
Once all your wool is laid out to make the picture and you are happy with it, then you wet it all with some warm soapy water, and cover over the top with the rest of the bubble wrap and pat it all down so that the water soaks into all of the wool.
This should be done quite gently at first. Then you need to roll the whole picture up in the towel in a sausage shape and squeeze the rest of the water out of the picture which could take about 10 minutes.
Once that is done, you rinse it cold water and then hot water. Then leave it to dry again. As you can see with ours below, it would have been better to overlap the colours more especially at the edges as some gaps have come about and are emphasised more after all the rolling and squeezing we have done.
Once the picture is dry, it should be robust enough to embellish with threads, beads, buttons or any extras you would like to add. You can see how it looks in a frame. I tried it in one of the Ribba frames from Ikea which have more depth than the average frame so can be used for putting crafts, kids artwork or any pictures with a 3d element.
Follow up activities
Teach them about colors. Learn the fun mnemonic device: Roy G Biv. This character’s name is actually an acronym for all the colors of the rainbow in order.
The Rainbow is a symbol of hope and the Earth’s renewal in religious traditions. Here’s a link to simple cartoon story of Noah’s Ark.
With older children, you can go one step further and teach them why we see color the way we do and what causes a rainbow to appear.
If you like my blog and want me to post more free felting tutorials, please follow my blog or send me your email. I will never make it public.
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Felted soap is simply soap wrapped in wool that has been matted together. It’s a gentle exfoliator, yet as soft as a flannel. The wool has antimicrobial properties and every member of the family can keep to their own design, so it’s hygienic by encouraging individual only use. It’s a great project for children, too, with the added benefit of involving hot soapy water!
Updates and useful external links will be added. Send me pictures of your soaps, too.
How to make felted soaps at home
Felting soap is a simple project that uses up scraps of merino wool and soap. Cut the soap into shapes. Add essential oils for fragrance. Place the scented felt soaps in your wardrobes and clothes drawers. They make a great gift.
I’m going to show you a very basic wet method. Remember, not all bars will be perfect.
You will need: Bar of hand soap (I prefer to slice up a big bar).
Wool roving (alpaca or merino work best, but any will do).
I can supply packs of wool. £10 for 10 colours (including postage) ample to felt and decorate 10 bars of soap. Choose your colours from pictures below.
Separate your roving wool into strips of your chosen colours.
Some netting (I use onion netting) or a pop sock or cut up tights.
Large bowl of hot water.
Drop of washing up liquid.
Essential oils like lavender, bergamot rose, geranium, mint to add to your wet felted soaps.
Towels to put under the bowl
What to do
First, tightly wrap some wool around your bar of soap. Be careful to evenly cover all around the soap, and keep it tight as you wrap. The entire bar needs to be covered with at least 2-3 layers. Wrap it tightly. Wrap first in a horizontal direction and then in a vertical direction. Your third layer is where you can decorate and embellish by adding stripes and spots of coloured wool. Have fun and be creative! You can also needle felt some designs into the wool afterwards.
Snip off the foot end of the nylon and put the soap inside the nylon and tie the end you cut off.
Once your soap is covered in the wool and netting, gently place the bar of soap in the hot water so it’s thoroughly wetted.
Massage the nylon covered, felt covered soap with warm water for 10-15 minutes until the felt has shrunk around the soap. Basically, you are going to wash your hands with the nylon felt soap for probably 10 minutes.
Make sure you massage the corners and sides of the soap. The water should be as warm as you can take it without it being too hot to keep your hands under it. I like the felted soap, but it’s not worth scalded skin, so not too hot.
After about 10-15 minutes of rubbing and dipping you will notice that the wool is tight and able to stick to the soap on its own. At this point, take the soap to the sink, and run it under cold water.
Remove the soap from the netting and check to make sure the wool is sticking. You can do this by rubbing your finger across any extra pieces. If they are stuck together, forming one piece, you are finished. If you are able to tear any pieces off, you need to keep felting. Either way, dip your soap back into the hot water and rub for a few more minutes.
Squeeze the soap to make sure the wool is very tight around the soap. You can go back and forth from a cold water rinse to the hot water with agitation (keep the netting on unless you are checking to see if it’s finished).
Remove the felted soap from the nylon and blot off any excess suds.
Then, rinse the felted soap with cold water before placing on a towel to dry. It might take a few days to dry. Putting the soap in direct sunlight will speed up this process.
I left mine on an old towel over night to let it dry out completely.
Add decorations and designs
To use your felted soap: Just use it as you would any soap-filled face cloth. Soak the felted soap with water and rub the wool directly on your skin. This is a great way for children to bathe themselves! Place the soap in a soap saver dish to dry between uses.
Notes: Just like any other soap, you need to keep your felted soap as dry as possible between uses. This will make it last longer. The felted wool will shrink as your bar shrinks. When the soap is gone you can cut a slit in the wool and add a new bar of soap, or just use the felted wool as a washcloth. Be very gentle with your bar at the beginning of the felting. You want it all to shrink at the same time so that you don’t get lumps If you do get lumps, it’s ok. 🙂 The less wool you use on your bar of soap, the more it will lather in the bath or shower. The more wool you use on your bar of soap, the longer your soap will last.
Choose your wools for £10
Select a bag of 10 different colours of merino rovings for £10, including postage.
Enough wool to felt about 10 soaps.
Blues, reds, pinks, greens, purples and yellow merino rovings.
Text: 07837 436395
Thanks for reading.
Check my blog for regular updates on how to do fun felting projects while you’re stuck at home.