Thursday, 2 October 2014

Second Felt Making Class

Last night was week 2 of the felt class, and this time we were taught how to make a picture in felt. I went with the idea of creating a mountain and lake scene with a sunset, but as it turned out (time mostly) I ended up just depicting a sunset over water. I had originally planned to frame it with trees either side, and my finished piece is wide enough to accommodate this if I choose to add some needle-felted trees later on. I asked whether it was possible to add more wet felting after the piece had dried, but our teacher told me it was not, because the new felt would shrink, and draw up the old felt which was already shrunk. Common sense really!

During the class, I did manage to take some photographs of the work in progress, but a couple of times I forgot (so caught up with what I was doing!) so there’s a bit of a gap in the photographic record. During the initial rubbing stage, when the wet material is between the pieces of bubble wrap (the most strenuous stage) my arms did give out a bit, and our lovely teacher, bless her, offered to rub my felt for me for a while so I could have a rest! If I was doing this at home, I would be able to go off and leave it for a while, but of course at the class, we have only two hours so we have to get on if we are going to complete the piece.

Before the class began, the teacher showed us the Youtube video I’d sent her the link for – I found this the other day and was highly amused and thought we’d really got off pretty lightly considering! After all, we weren’t expected to round up our sheep and shear them, and neither were we expected to bring a horse along to the class! Lol! Watch this and see!

She also warned us about buying wool rovings from dubious sources and said that she had had some recently that were full of moths! Not at all nice, and not at all what you want to bring into your house!

Anyway, to work… I was really hacked off with myself because my lovely parcel of dyed Merino rovings arrived in the post today, in time for the class, and I left them at home!! Duh… Anyway, I had enough to be going on with. (I decided to buy some ready-dyed stuff because it’s a lot of work to dye my own, and I was having problems with it felting in the dye bath.)

Here is my first layer of fibres being laid out on the bubble wrap. I decided to use undyed rovings for this, as last time I used up all the avocado-dyed stuff I’d done, just for the back of my piece!

01 The First Layer

You can see that, as instructed, I am laying the pieces down in a horizontal direction first, and overlapping them slightly.

Here is the second layer complete, this time laid in a vertical direction.

02 The Second Layer Complete

The third layer is the picture layer, with the pieces being laid predominantly in the horizontal direction again, but with the opportunity to lay small amounts in different directions to create the picture. Unfortunately I forgot to photograph this before I’d wet it, but here it is at the next stage, ready for felting.

03 Colours Added and Wetted

You can see that I have created a sky which is very dark blue at the edges, and gradually lightening into the centre where the sunset is. It was amazing, blending the colours, and being able to lay down very small amounts – it was almost like painting with the fibres. I continued the sun colours down into the water (which was also blue, but with the addition of a small amount of green), adding some vertical fibres to create the illusion of a reflection. Small amounts of white were added to emphasise the sun, the horizon, some whispy clouds, and a suggestion of ripples on the water.

The next picture shows the top layer of bubble wrap laid on top of the wet fibres. The underside of the bubble wrap was wet with the hot soapy water, and more of this was added to the top surface.

04 The Rubbing Stage

The rubbing has to be done very gently to start with, or the fibres will move about and spoil the picture. As the fibres begin to felt, one can get ever more vigorous with it, and it was at this stage that my poor arms started to suffer! It is probably easier if one can stand up and have more downward pressure, but it was very hard work from a seated position. Teacher to the rescue!

The felt after the rubbing state, and ready for rolling. You can see how it is all coming together.

05 Ready for Rolling

The piece was squeezed out to remove some of the water, and thrown down a few times onto the table to aid the shrinking process, and then the felt on the bubble wrap was put onto the towel, the top layer of bubble wrap replaced, and the whole thing was rolled up around  a rolling pin, and the forward and backward rock-and-roll movement began – 100 times in one direction, and then the felt turned through 90 degrees and then a further 100 times in the other direction. This was another stage I forgot to photograph!

Now for the photos of all our finished work, laid out on the table together. Our teacher is so encouraging, and said how thrilled she was with our work, and had not seen nicer pictures, even in a book! Although many people said they wanted to embellish their pieces further, she said that in many cases, they could stand as they were, and needed no further work.

06 Finished Work 1

Because we had a bit more time this evening, she asked each person to speak a bit about their work – what the inspiration was, how we felt about it, and what, if anything, we would have done differently or wanted to add later on. Some very interesting things came out.

The grey and brown one in the foreground was inspired by the design of the settee in a Gustav Klimt painting. The lady who made it said that she was disappointed how blue the grey wool turned out to be, but this was an illusion caused by the proximity of the brown – an interesting effect. We were all intrigued by the tassel-like pieces extending beyond the edge of the felt – she was worried about them not being sufficiently attached, but our teacher said they could be secured with some needle-felting.

The piece beyond was full of colour with the flowers beautifully depicted. She had added some brightly-coloured dyed wool nepps – little knobs of compacted fibre – to imitate small flowers, which was very effective.

07 Finished Work 2

The piece just above the Klimt one depicts the sea with a sea wall, and there are going to be some felted beach huts added, which will be a lovely pop of colour. I love how she’s depicted the waves.

09 Finished Work 4

The picture above shows a wonderfully vibrant piece – those gorgeous brightly coloured flowers are beautifully set off against the very dark background. She said it was inspired by the work of artist Yvonne Coomber, who now lives locally. I have seen some of her work in the past and the colours and shapes remind me of Kaffe Fassett’s designs.

Others had introduced some bling into their work, in the form of sequins etc. – easy to use if they are anchored down with a thin layer of wool fibre over the top. People also added texture in the form of nepps, and curly fleece – again, taking extra care so that they are anchored securely with a fine layer of fibre over the top.

Here is my finished piece after rinsing and drying. A Sunset Over Water.

10 My Finished Piece

Altogether a very interesting and productive evening. We are being well taught; there are group times and lots of individual attention. Having a relatively small number in the class really helps, but there are enough of us to provide plenty of interest as we share our different inspirations and expressions in our pieces.

WOYWW-ers – Please scroll down to see my WOYWW post.


  1. Beautiful work- bet you were aching after! I loved your piece last week too- very poppyish.
    I should really post more about my art exploits- the perfectionist in me doesn't like putting them out there as I don't feel talented! I would love to have a natural talent like you but I enjoy the process and find it relaxing.
    I really must get my cougar back up and running- keep thinking of stencils I want to cut for mixed media work. Maybe this weekend!

  2. Just wanted to quickly thank you for your beautiful and thoughtful comment. Just what I needed to hear. Bless you x

  3. Hi Shoshi, your felting is lovely, you must be so pleased. I used to do this with my pupils but not with bubble wrap, it works really well. I once received a fleece from an unknown source and it was full of Woolly Bear caterpillars (Anthrenus verbasci, carpet beetle) and I can tell you, no way do you want those in the house!
    Happy crafting, Angela x

  4. ThAnk you for taking me to your felting class. It's like I was there with you. Your felt piece turned out beautiful. Lovely colours. In fact all the piece were lovely. Soon it will be Monday again.......

  5. Beautiful piece of work. I have trouble too with any repetitive works that I do. I wonder if there is a tool that you could purchase to help with the rubbings? I look forward to seeing more! Vickie


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