My first major project of 2016 is to produce a pillow for an upcoming exhibition (more details on this in a later post).
After all the ecoprinting I did before Christmas I was looking forward to getting back to felting. I decided that my pillowcase would take the form of a snail, based on some experiments I did last year making felt shells. This led to three major challenges.
First up was shrinkage. The maximum size of the pillow had to be 60cm across. So I did what I very rarely do and made a sample piece to test shrinkage. :-) I wanted to use batts of Finnish wool, which is fairly hard wearing, so I laid out two layers of white and two layers of grey in a 32cm square. On top of the grey I added some strands of bamboo fibre in different colours.
After felting, the piece measured 24cm square, so the shrinkage rate was 25% (which is less than the 30% I normally get with merino). I also decided that I preferred the white side with the grey migrating through, so when I laid out the pillow case the grey would be on the inside rather than the outside.
The next challenge was to scale up the resist to allow for shrinkage of the final pillow. I won’t bore you with all the mathematics, but I calculated that the length of the resist needed to be 1.2 metres. Here’s a picture showing the relative sizes of the resists.
And here’s the work in progress – the largest piece I’ve wet felted in a while!
The final challenge was working out how to stuff the pillow. I wanted to leave the hole at the end of the spiral, so the stuffing needed to be contained or it would just fall out.
In the end I cut two circles of cotton and tacked them together to form a case, leaving a slit for the stuffing. I turned it inside out, pushed it inside the felt, and stuffed it with wadding. It took a bit of trial and error to get the right size of the inner case – I had to remove the wadding and pull out the cotton case to restitch it twice before it fitted OK. Then I stitched up the gap through the hole in the felt, and moved the pillow round so the stitching didn’t show.
Here’s the finished pillow next to some of the maquettes I made, so you can see the relative sizes.
Because the pillow is for an exhibition, I asked a photographer friend, Owen Llewellyn of Cygnus Imaging, to take some decent shots for the catalogue (much better than my point-and-shoot efforts). In return I will be building him a website!
I’m off now for a few weeks, visiting Vietnam and spending Chinese New Year with my family in Malaysia. So wishing you all an early gong xi fa cai! :-)