3D multicoloured ribs

I noticed in my recent AFOT EUWA piece that the structure and texture of the “ribs” was more prominent when the piece was curled or bent, rather than lying flat. And with felt I have a natural preference for working on more sculptural pieces than 2D anyway. So the next step was to see how to incorporate the technique into a 3D piece.

This is the structure before cutting into it. Although it looks like a vessel, it has no bottom – I felted it round a resist left open at both ends.

rainbow ribs2

And here it is after cutting through to the coloured layers beneath. I experimented with cutting to different depths – the deeper cuts resulted in a wider opening with more of the “ribs” exposed than the shallower cuts.

rainbow ribs4

rainbow ribs9rainbow ribs5rainbow ribs7

There were several challenges with this piece.

  • Overlapping resists: Each of the colours was felted around a separate resist, which had to overlap with the adjoining resists. I normally use plastic floor underlay for my resists, which works fine in a single layer but becomes quite bulky when there are several layers, making the final piece tricky to roll and felt. I need to use a thinner resist.
  • Felting through several layers: I felted the colours lightly around the individual resists, but when I wrapped the dark blue wool around them all and felted them all together, some of the colours did not felt together as much as I would have liked.
  • Removing the resists: I removed most of the resists when I made the first cut, but this made it tricky not to cut too deep on subsequent cuts. In future it’s probably best to remove resists one section at a time.

Next challenge: to make a proper vessel!

Felt bottle

Long day, short post.

Just a few pics to show the evolution of a larger felt vessel starting with a flat resist and then shaped and fulled around a balloon. The neck makes it trickier to insert the balloon and definitely harder to knot it, especially with soapy fingers!

You can see from the photos that I used a yellow balloon first but only managed to half-tie a knot, and it started deflating, so I had to burst it and insert another (pink) balloon to finish fulling.

Felting with velvet

I had a couple of comments earlier this year about felting with velvet. Lord knows I’m hardly an expert – my only previous experience of felting with velvet was a dismal failure: I ended up using machine embroidery to attach the velvet to my nuno scarf!

Looking back, I concluded that the failure was probably due to two factors:

  • there wasn’t enough wool underneath the velvet to help it stick
  • it was probably synthetic velvet rather than silk (I just dug it out of the Morley scraps box, so didn’t know what it was made from).

However, after seeing Lisa Hawthorne‘s work at the Chelsea College MA Textiles Show, which included some lovely velvet felting, I decided to have another go. So I bought some silk velvet. As felting pots inside out seemed to help the wool slubs felt in more effectively, I thought it might work for velvet as well. And this was not nuno,  so there would be more wool that would also encourage felting.

Just to be sure, I checked in Lizzie Houghton’s Creative Felting, which suggested laying “a few wisps” of wool over the top of the velvet to help anchor the velvet. Of course, as I was felting inside out, this meant laying the woolly wisps underneath the velvet, which I laid out face down.

Unfortunately, in my excitement that it might actually work this time, I forgot about the wisps when I laid out the wool on the top half of the resist! What this means is that I ended up with a controlled test pot, the top half of which had no wool on top of the velvet, while the bottom half did.

The results, however, are inconclusive. Most of the velvet did felt successfully, whether anchored by wool on top or not. But the three places where it didn’t felt were on the top half or middle of the pot. So it seems that adding a few strands of wool on top of the velvet is useful but not always necessary for successful felting.

These “anchor” strands may also be useful to prevent the velvet from moving around – as you can see from the photos, the strips of velvet on the top half of the pot moved quite a lot from their initial positions (which I couldn’t see because they were on the inside layer).

However, I do find them a bit intrusive – they tend to obscure the lovely crinkled effect of the velvet that I’m aiming for.

Verdict: Better than my first attempt, but not there yet!

Edited to add that Nicola Brown of Clasheen has also been experimenting with felting velvet – rather more successfully!

Felt vessel with flat resist

I’ve tried making 3D felt vessels before using 3D resists, like a rolled-up piece of bubble wrap and a balloon. Neither method was hugely successful – it was quite difficult to get the wool to hold together firmly enough around the resist while felting.

I realise that I’m beginning to sound a bit like a Nicola Brown groupie, but her book From Felt to Friendship really is a great source of inspiration. And it includes a technique for making a round felt pot using a flat circular resist. It worked beautifully – much easier and quicker than trying to felt around a 3D object.

The other useful technique was felting inside out. As you can see from the photo, I incorporated some wool slubs on the outside. Previously I’ve had problems getting these to felt in successfully, but by laying out the felt from the outside in, they were no trouble at all!

So I started by laying out the slubs on one half of the resist and covering them with dark blue merino. I turned the resist over and covered it with brown Icelandic wool. The middle layer on both sides was a dark wine-coloured merino, and the final layer (which would eventually be the inside of the pot) was white Icelandic wool. I rubbed and rolled, cut a small hole to remove the resist, turned it inside out and blew up a balloon inside the pot to keep it nice and round. The slubs had felted in beautifully, so I firmed up the outside by rubbing against a washboard until it was all even and smooth.

The disadvantage is that you can’t see the pattern on the inside layer while you’re working, so you need to remember which is the top and which is the bottom to avoid cutting the hole at the wrong end! I did this by adding a small tuft of blue wool to the top layer to indicate the bottom side.

3D felt vessel

Having managed to make a fan case using a plastic resist, I thought I’d go a step further and try making a 3D felt vessel.

I followed the instructions in this excellent Flickr tutorial, rolling up an old pieces of bubble wrap with tape to use as a resist. But I didn’t use a pair of tights – I just rubbed it in bubble wrap. I used four layers of wool altogether – two peacock blue and two white. The soapy water does tend to go everywhere as it runs off the different layers, so I understand why the tutorial appeared to take place in a child’s swimming pool!

3D felt vessel

I think it turned out quite well for a first attempt. Unlike the fan case, which used a flat resist, there was no risk of ridges here, but I still laid the last layer of wool horizontally rather than vertically.

I would have liked to have added some scraps of silk or novelty yarn for texture on the outside, but I was a bit worried about getting them to felt in. However, Zedster01 successfully managed it, so perhaps I’ll have a go next time. I’ll probably embellish it with embroidery.