December 2009 Archives

How to felt: 3-d felting

3-d felting is one of the more interesting and fun ways to felt.  As I showed you, my children and I recently created slippers using a 3-d method of felting called the resist method.  This method involves cutting out a piece of foam and laying the wool down around the resist.

First, one traces the shape of the foot on the piece of paper.  Then, one adds 3 inches to the entire slipper.  These three inches are so that the wool can shrink and end up fitting the person's foot.  Next, one traces this shape onto a piece of foam, and cuts out the slipper shape.

Once you have the slipper shape, you can begin to lay down the wool. I recommend 6 layers of wool in total. Then you wet it, flip it over, and carefully lay wool down on the other side.  Once both sides are laid out, you can roll the wool up and begin felting.

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After you've rolled the wool for at least 30 minutes, you can take the slipper out and, if it passes the pinch test, you should cut it open and remove the resist.  The slipper can then be hand felted by rubbing it against a rough surface such as bubble wrap or a washboard.

This is basically what I do when I create a pair of woolen slippers.  If you're interested in learning this, and you live in the Boston area, check out my upcoming classes at Boston Center for Adult Education.
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Making Slippers is Hard Work

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December 26 at B.Felt Studio was a slipper extravaganza. Ian, Emma, Oliver, Rory, Miranda, Lily and Sandra came to my studio at 12 noon filled with the enthusiasm of the unenlightened. They had no idea what they were in for. I had tried to warn them, but to no avail, they partied all night and thought they could cakewalk through the day. HAH. It was a lot of fun and hard work. The quote of the day, my daughter, Emma says " Mom, I can't believe you do this everyday !' "I'm exhausted". They finished their slippers by 8:30 that night, seven pairs of slippers successfully made and here is the video to prove it. It was the largest slipper class I have ever taught. 

 

Extreme Sheep: LED Art

This video has nothing to with felting. Never-the-less I had to post the video since I have become extremely fond of sheep as I have worked with their wool and understand the various breeds. I had everyone in my family rolling on the floor laughing at this one.


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Christmas with B. Felt

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I don't felt all the time and I really look forward to Christmas when all my babies come home, well my babies are 22 and 25. Besides felting I love to bake and cook. Now when the kids were little, I would cook dinner every night. I loved the nightly ritual of reviewing the day while enjoying a meal together.  Now that we are pratically empty nesters I have given the daily reigns of cooking over to my husband. I have to say he has turned into a really adequate cook, which means I take over for the big events. Cooking and  baking at my house starts about a week before Christmas. I make four different types of cookies(down from twelve).  I love baking and got the hips to prove it. My baking culminates in the creation of the Buche Noel, the Yule Log. The cake takes two days to prepare. One day to create the mushrooms, chocalate ganache, and pistachio marzipan for the ivy. The next day, I bake two flourless chocalate cakes and a quart of stabilized whipped cream. As soon as the first cake comes out of the oven and cools I spread the cream over the cake roll it up then cover it with the chocalate ganache. The second cake recieves the same treatment, however this cake will be used for the branches on the main log. The cake is finally decorated with the merangue mushrooms and ivy and dusted with cocoa powder to simulate the forest floor.
 
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With fifteen people for dinner there wasn't a bite left!

And, of course,there was some felt for the holidays! I gave all the favorite women in my life felted flowers and felted soaps. Here are some pictures of the felted brooches. 

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This is a fantasy sunflower brooch created using merino wool, and glass seed beads.

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On the left, my sister wears a fuchsia merino wool and silk brooch with glass beads and on the right, my close friend Randy wears a merino wool pansy fantasy. 
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Why Wool Felts

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I routinely say how felting seems to me to be magic. The idea of creating an unwoven fabric from puffs of wool is still beautiful to me. But it's being beautiful doesn't mean that we can't learn why wool felts and why certain wools are better than others.

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Wool felts because on each of the little strands there are tiny scales. These tiny scales are made by the skin retracting off the growing wool. The scales open when flooded with water and then once they are agitated begin to catch upon one another. Think of it like pieces of Velcro rubbing against each other.


I primarily use wool from Merino sheep, because merino wool has even scales and therefore felts better.

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Wool from Down Sheep has irregular scales and therefore are much more difficult to felt because the irregular scales do not mesh. You end up with a mass of spaghetti-like wool strands.

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I strongly suggest that if you are making any wet felting project that you use Merino wool. For needle felting, Merino's smoothness and regularity work against it. The best wool for needle felting is coarse wool, such as Corriedale. These wools have larger scales for the needle to grip.

 

I hope that you've learned something about wool, and have a happy and safe holidays.

Handmade Wool Felt Hats for Winter

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I have been making all kinds of wonderful handmade wool felt hats this winter so I wanted you to take a look at my new work. Each hat is handcrafted from wool felt I make in my studio so they are a one of a kind work of art for your head.

Here is a picture of Oliver Poole wearing a grey felt hat that is long enough to cover his ears and funky felt dreads on the top.
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This is a short slide show of some of my other hats, take a look and give me your feedback. (BTW, the black rims on the hats are part of the hat forms, it is not the hat)


Making nuno felt requires lots of agitation.  Agitation makes the wool fibers pass through the silk  to laminate the wool and the silk together.  Soap and water lubricate the wool so that it can pass through the silk weave.  To agitate the wool fibers, we wrap the wool in bubble wrap and roll it.  After rolling the wool we will peal off the netting that is holding the wool and the silk  together and roll the scarves again.


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Today I read an interesting post on a beautiful blog called Clasheen By Nicola Brown.  She writes about incorporating hand dyed silk velvet into her work.  I really like to add new materials into my wool felt pieces.  Nuno felting is process of laminating wool and another fabric, silk, cotton wool. One of the ways of determining if a fabric can be used to nuno, is if the fabric is transparent or you can blow through it. This opens up a big wide world of fabric types, such as chiffon, silk or synthetic, gauze like fabric. It is also fun to laminate two different fabrics together with the wool in between acting as the "glue". Velvet can also be used, I especially like using "burn out silk velvet". That is velvet where the space around the pattern is usually a sheer fabric. Collaging, is also possible, incorporating into the felting process, other bits of not wool materials, such as Isoy fiber, cellulose fibers and silk roving. Wonderful effects can be achieved, there are so many possibilities to be creative. 

Here is an picture of how I incorporated velvet into a pair of Pulse Warmers or fingerless gloves that I posted last night on the blog.

The "Pulse Warmer" on my left hand show the affect of combining cut silk velvet and merino wool. I have done a lot of experiments using wool and velvet. I find the best way to insure a true marriage of the two materials is to "frame" the edges of the velvet with the wool. In the gauntlets, below the back, or palm side is all merino wall, wrapping around to trap the edges on the front of the gloves. During the finishing process of the gloves it was necessary to trim the cuff ad where the fingers extend, this released the edges of the velvet so it was necessary to finish the gloves with velvet ribbon trim. 

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I am really having fun creating these fashionable, very feminine wool felt "Pluse Warmers".  I get cold in New England, so I need these fingerless gloves or gauntlets to keep me warm.  I prefer, of course, to call them "Pulse Warmers", and I make them from Merino Wool to be soft and warm and the length of your forearm.  Here is a little slide show of some of my favorite designs.  Tell me what you think! Would you wear them???


The other day Bead + Fiber ran out of Handmade Needle Felted Animals for the holidays. People really love these cute sheep! What's a Christmas Tree without a Sheep!  Here is a wonderful new needle felted sheep that I have created for this year holidays.  You can find them at Bead + Fiber or at my Etsy Store.

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Please give me feedback on this site

Hello everyone!

I need more of a conversation with you about the content on this site to know what kind of content you want me to create and publish.  I have attached a link to an online forum run by UserVoice so that you can give me your suggestions.

Do you like the slideshows that I have posted?  How about the latest "How to" videos that I have been blogging about?  What kind of content would really excite you about felting, felt making, and my work as a fiber artist?

What do you want to learn?  What kind of information do you need so that you can become a better felt maker?  Is there something that I am missing?


Luv!  barbara
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This is a short video that demonstrates how to roll wool felt.  Felt making requires lots of agitation to make the felting process work.  Rolling the wool is a critical part of the process since it forces the wet wool fibers to migrate and eventually interlock with with each other.  In this video, we are making a nuno felt shawl.  The agitation created by rolling the wool and silk allows the wool fibers to migrate through the silk. Later we will shock the wool fibers to make them interlock with each other by applying hot water and continuing to agitate the wool and the silk fabric.

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This is a short video on making the olive oil soap mixture that I use when I am creating nuno felt. I make an olive oil mixture out of water and chopped up soap to make a slimy paste that I then mix with water.  This soap mixture allows the merino wool to slide through the silk fabric allowing the wool and silk lamination process work.  Also, the olive oil soap mixture makes your hand feel great; it is like going to a spa!

 
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I am running a fabulous promotion during the remainder of December 2009, January and February 2010!  If you sign up for a class and let me know about your choice, via the attached form, you will be entered into a contest to win a Bubble Scarf Felting Kit from B. Felt.  This felting kit is a $60.00 value that includes the Merino Wool, marbles, felting directions, swimming pool bubble wrap, plastics, and netting; essentially everything required to make the felt wool scarf.  You can even select the Merino wool colors you want to use, from the color palette that I have available at the time.  Check out the felting class schedules on my class page and sign up for a class now!!!.  Win the fabulous Bubble Scarf Felting Kit!

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This is a great way to learn to make felt and to get all the felting materials required to make a new scarf. The felting instructions are tested and designed to make your experience fun and rewardomg.

Here is the contest form.  Fill out the form and it will be automatically sent to me, so I know who has entered the Felting Kit contest!

I look forward to seeing you at a class!



There are special techniques for laying down wool on silk to ensure that the wool fibers work themselves through the woven silk, that I demonstrate in this short video from one of my Nuno Felting classes.  We are making shawls and in this video I am showing how to make the border around the perimeter of the shawl using a technique called "shingling". It is called shingling because every thin layer of wool overlaps the previous layer of wool slightly. Shingling is required throughout the process of laying down wool, but here I am only showing it on the border of the shawl.  This video was taken by Ania Gilmore who took the class.  Thanks Ania!


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Laurie Safar-Bean was kind enough to take photos of a felting workshop that I did at the Boston Center for Adult Education in November. Learning to make nuno felt is really fun. Everyone made wonderful Nuno Felt Shawls.  The photographs shows the designs as they evolve.  Working with wool and silk is a very rewarding process especially when you see the results at the end of the class.


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Here is a slide show of my fall line of Felt Fashion Accessories from B. Felt.  Rachel Worrall does a wonderful job modeling the pieces. The one-of-a-kind handmade creations are for sale at Bead + Fiber in Boston's South End.  Naphtali Visser is the photographer who did the fashion shoot.  I really appreciate their help!

 

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