Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Checking Out that Wet Felting Thing

     Yesterday was one of those wet dreary days that I really didn't feel like doing mundane housework or anything remotely related to domestic work. I thought it was time to learn something new. Between the three loads of laundry, I managed to absorb quite a few YouTube videos on wet felting and decided to start with the little blue bracelet shown here. Using a piece of hemp tied to the correct size to fit over my hand, I carefully wrapped layers of wool around it and proceeded to wet felt. The bracelet didn't turn out half bad. Yes, there was a large fold on the inside ... so large in fact,that it looks like I used two cords and fused them together. I used too much wool in the whole piece and I carved some away to show the inside purple color, carving too deep so that my sliced area kind of caved in. Acceptable though and once the beads are added, it will be a truly unique piece. It's a bit chunky but like I said, too much material. 

    Then I moved on to the rope. This turned out really well and was much easier than needle felting them so I'm fairly pleased. I could have continued felting this for a much thinner and stiffer rope, but at this point I wasn't sure what to use it for, so stopped at a point where it was flexible, strong but still soft. I think should I need a stiffer rope, I could just repeat the process on the same piece. I really like the rope. 

    By this time I was rather pleased with myself and thought I'd move on to something harder, like a beret. This requires a resist and I had everything set up and ready to roll in no time, with my corrugated cardboard resist, netting, bubble wrap, hot soapy water, etc. Things started to go wrong ... the soap bottle slipped from my hand and broke open on my ceramic kitchen floor, creating a treacherous terrain that had to be cleaned up right away lest I slip and break my neck in the mess. I worked at this piece a long, long time ... and I was really tired when I deemed it completed. However, I could see it was  still too big. Why wouldn't the darn thing shrink? I worked at it some more. Until it came time to cut the hole for my head, I still hadn't really decided which side was up but stuck to my plan anyway.   Once I cut the hole, I had to work on the edges a lot to keep them from coming apart ... and consequently the bottom of the work got a lot more fulling on it than the top, which was thin. It' could have used more wool to begin with. There were a couple of holes in it!!! I managed to push them together but it is way too thin on the top and seems just right on the bottom. Where I'd folded the overhang wool over to the bottom made all the difference. The thing is way too big ... the hole is the correct size but the beret looks like an extra large pizza on my head so it's now a nice piece of wool for  cutting up to become part of another project. I really messed it up but enjoyed the learning experience of it all. I think I can mostly see where and what I did wrong ... but it would have been nice to have an instructor to yell at me at the time I was doing it so the mistakes could have been corrected then. The top of the beret is a lovely weight for a laminated scarf though ... so maybe sometime soon, I'll attempt one of those. Even though it's too thin, I'm surprised by it's strength.

     Did I mention I feel like I've been hit by a truck? Wet felting is a great upper body workout and I likely should have paced myself a little better and not tried to do all three projects in one day. I can barely move my arms this morning. I'm disappointed in the beret and it did use quite a bit of wool. I'm rather intrigued by the whole experience and it's neat to watch the fibers do what they do when hot water and soap is added. It's not likely we're ever going to have an artist of the caliber of Andrea Graham here to hold a workshop in this neck of the woods, so I'll have to rely on instructional videos. I want to try making a bag with a resist. I've been checking out some of the ones Andrea Graham teaches and I just love the look of them. I'm a bit scared now that I've mucked up the beret project, but I have learned a lot about the wool, and it seems to me that the only way I can get this skill is by practice, so I'm going to work on some kind of design for a bag very soon. All in all, the learning experience was very well worth the effort, sore muscles and I did get a neat bracelet and rope out of it. 

     Here I am again .. a couple hours later. I've had another brainstorm and I think it will either work, or be a total disaster with no grey area in between. I'm cutting another resist, just a bit smaller and turning the hat inside out. I'll add more wool and work on that side a lot more and try to ease the material toward the center. I'll have to work on the other side as well, so nothing gets out of center, but not quite so much. Besides, there's only one way to fix sore muscles and that's to work them out. Wish me luck. I haven't given up yet!  I need to learn to see with my fingers (which feel like I haven't any fingerprints left) by touch and I will not let a bunch of wool defeat me! 

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