Felting with paper and synthetics

Almost exactly two years ago I attended a short course at Morley College on bonding paper and fabric. I found the technique really interesting but wasn’t really sure where to take it next – the tutor had turned most of her examples into hangings.

Then over on the Felting and Fiber Studio site I read a post by Ruth Lane about the very same technique, in which she wondered about using the results in nuno felting. D’oh! As soon as I read it, it seemed obvious.

Although the fabric is polyester organza (silk is a bit delicate for this technique), it’s very open weave, so there’s no reason why it shouldn’t felt. I haven’t really done much experimenting with nuno felt, so this seemed like a great opportunity. Plus it would give me a break from the scarf production line.

I dug out a small sample I made using Chinese joss paper.

laminate before felting

It was great to be felting again – I didn’t realise how much I’ve missed it. The result was very interesting.

laminate after felting

As you can see, the polyester felted beautifully, contrasting with the area of laminated paper, which prevented the wool from penetrating the fabric. It’s similar to how I made my manly scarves using plastic oval resists – except I don’t need to remove the resists.

It could be interesting to add extra texture to the laminated area using stitch, and also to experiment with designs that include smaller areas of laminated paper. Thanks Ruth for the inspiration! 🙂

More on pleats

There’a a whole new world out there. When I went online to get other ideas for possible pleat moulds, I came across some very advanced origami tessellation techniques. And I realised that some of the techniques used by artists I’ve previously written about, like Polly Verity, could be adapted to make pleat  moulds.

However, their folding skills are far more advanced than mine – I got very confused in discussions about iso, 64-pleat grids and 12.12.3 tessellations!

Then I came across this piece about the Miura Ori map, a type of origami pleating that minimises the stress on paper where folds intersect and is also easier to fold and unfold (anyone who has ever tried to refold a map in a confined space like a car will know what I mean!).

So in class this week I made my own Miura Ori mould from cartridge paper, plus a longer parallel pleat mould, and used them with synthetic fabrics and the heat press.

First, I steamed some sheer polyester organza in the Miura Ori mould and then put it in the heat press, still folded with some disperse dye paper on either side. As you can see, the dye did not penetrate very far through the fabric folds:


I also repeated this with the diamond pleat mould:


Then I dyed the fabric in the heat press before steaming it in the mould:


Similarly, I dyed a piece of shiny polyester in the heat press and steamed it in the longer parallel pleat mould. Unfortunately, I clamped the fabric and moulds between two plastic rulers to keep it straight before putting it in the steamer – mistake!


Finally, I steamed a couple of pieces of cotton muslin coated in PVA in moulds, before clamping them and putting them in the indigo vat. Obviously, dunking the fabric in more liquid means the pleats are lost, leaving just the dye pattern where the indigo penetrated: