Thursday, 23 October 2014

Fifth Felt-Making Class–Nuno Felt

The first of two posts today.

Last night we had the final class in our 5-week course, and we went out with a bang with Nuno felt. Nuno (a Japanese word meaning “cloth”) is a felting technique developed as recently as the 1990s and brings a whole new dimension to felt making. It involves taking a piece of sheer fabric and laying down wool fibres on top, and then wet-felting the piece so that the wool bonds to the fabric. The shrinkage of the wool fibres causes the backing fabric to pucker, and if you leave bare patches, you can get interesting seersucker-like effects. You can cut holes in it, and if you use a fabric with an unfinished edge, you can felt over this and it seals the edge of the fabric and prevents fraying.

Yesterday morning my hubby had a meeting to attend in Bovey Tracey, which is also the location of the headquarters and exhibition centre of the Devon Guild of Craftsmen. I always enjoy a visit, and it is a long time since I have been, so he dropped me off while he went to his meeting, and met me there later for lunch. The standard of work is, of course, extremely high, and there is a great variety of genres from ceramics to print making. I was particularly interested to seek out the work of any felt-makers and was not disappointed. This was my first encounter to my knowledge of nuno felt “in the flesh,” and some of the pieces were so fine, delicate and soft, that you could hardly feel them at all!

Asking to see the portfolio of one felt-maker, I was informed that she had taken it home, but was directed to a beautiful book on nuno felt that she had written, and my hubby has bought this for me for Christmas – I have a feeling he may let me have it early, and anyway he allowed me to take it to the class in the evening, and the teacher said that she owns many felt books, but would still like to buy this one!

Nuno Felting by Liz Clay

As soon as the class started, I was “in the zone” to such an extent that I forgot to take any photos at all, until the gathering to discuss the work at the end! Duh. Anyway, I will put some photos at the end of my piece and the yarn and fibres I used for the technique, once it is dried.

Here are the pictures of everyone else’s work, from which much of the technique will be revealed.

This first scarf was interesting because she had added some beautiful curled fleece to the ends. The body of the scarf was nuno-felted in white against a white background which puckered beautifully.

01 Curly Fleece Scarf

Here is the back.

02 Curly Fleece Scarf Back

03 Green Ends on Navy Scarf

04 Daisies Scarf

05 Daisies Scarf Back

06 Blue Scarf

07 Orange and Black Scarf

08 Pink Squares Scarf

09 Pastel Scarf

You can see that there was a great deal of variety.

Last time I went shopping and stormed the charity shops for goodies, I found a soft lavender-coloured synthetic chiffon scarf which I bought for literally pennies, with a view to this class. I laid it out on top of bubble wrap and then began adding pieces of wool roving to create the felt. I am intrigued by the technique of having pieces of felt extending beyond the edges of the scarf, and I created a bit of a fringe using the wool fibres, and also lengths cut from some yarn.

I formed circles with pieces of the yarn, and after making sure I was satisfied with the look, I began felting (using the same process as in Session 1 of the course). It was harder work than ordinary felt because the fibres had to be forced through the fabric, but eventually it felted, and beautifully! Once it was sufficiently felted, and had been rinsed and chucked down hard onto the table a few times, I was ready to cut out the circles. The piece has a rather organic feel to it.

Because of time constraints, and the rapid fatigability of my muscles, I decided to confine my efforts during the class to one end of the scarf. One lady felted the two ends and left the middle section unfelted. I shall finish the other end of mine, and maybe add a different design (same colours) in the middle section.

Photos taken today:

The cheap charity shop chiffon scarf, which I thought would be perfect for practising nuno felt. Eventually I shall prefer to work with silk as it gives a softer and more luxurious result.

10 Chiffon Scarf

Some time ago I bought these beautiful space-dyed pure wool yarns, and I keep them in a German wooden bucket on display in my ARTHaven where I can look at them and stroke them from time to time! I cut short lengths from each skein, choosing lengths coloured orange and purple. Above the skeins you can see the offcuts that weren’t the right colour for this project, which I shall save for something else.

11 Fancy Wool Yarns

Here is a photo of my finished piece of nuno felting. I shall try and make the other end the same, and do something different in the middle. From this picture, you can see how much the felting process has shrunk the piece, compared with the unfelted portion of scarf.

12 Nuno Felting

A detail of the felting, showing the fancy yarn felted in. To ensure that it bonded well with the fabric, I did as instructed by our teacher, and laid a small amount of Merino roving over the top of each one.

13 Detail Showing Yarn and Puckering

Another detail shot. From these photos you can see how the felting has puckered up the chiffon, making attractive wave-like patterns where the scarf is visible through a thinner layer of fibre.

14 Detail Showing Puckering

This is the last bit I felted – a few wisps, but you can see that even with this amount of wool, there is extensive shrinkage.

15 Detail of Final Portion of Felting

A detail showing the yarns, and more puckering.

16 Detail Showing Yarn and Puckering

A detail showing the holes I cut. I made loops with the yarn as I laid it down, and decided to cut out the circles they made. I probably need to trim off the frayed edges a bit more where they are visible.

17 Detail Showing Holes

The fringe, showing how the yarn has been incorporated in the felt. During the felting process, I pulled back the bubble wrap a couple of times to tidy up the fringe and twist the ends to give a good firm result.

18 Detail Showing Yarn in Fringe

Another detail of the fringe, showing how both the yarns and the rovings have been formed into the fringe. You can see how the edge of the chiffon scarf has been frilled by the shrinkage at this point. This is a lovely effect you can get with nuno felt, and which the lady who made the blue scarf in the class was able to achieve to great effect.

19 Detail Showing Yarn in Fringe

This is what the nuno felting looked like on the back. I love how the colour of the wool shows through with a beautiful ghosting effect.

20 Reverse Side

A detail of the back, showing the puckering.

21 Detail of Reverse Side

Having seen the exhibition earlier in the day, and examined some of the projects in the new book, I am keen to try a white-on-white piece, and also to experiment with adding more yarns and fibres.

At the end of the class, the teacher congratulated us all on the work we had produced that night, and throughout the course, and then she presented each of us with a certificate! I’ve got an ology!!

Before everyone left, I presented the teacher with the card I had made for us all to sign – for those who follow my WOYWW posts, this was the “sneak peek” you all saw on my desk yesterday. I couldn’t reveal it before, because the teacher has already been on my blog and she might have seen it.

I have done a separate post about the card – it is very long and picture rich, because there were so many techniques involved in it. The whole project took me three long sessions to complete, but it was worth it, because the lady is such a great teacher and we’ve all been inspired by her class, as well as learning new techniques, and unravelling the great mystery of felt until it became something that we could all aspire to do. I for one have loved every minute of it.

WOYWW readers, please scroll down for this week’s post.

1 comment:

  1. So glad you've been enjoying felting. Love your nuno! I've only done a little nuno, and when I tried it with charity shop scarves I found they shrunk too much in the length to be right afterwards, love the idea of doing just the ends.


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