Last night we made flowers in the felt-making class. I had had a pretty stressful day (OK, not that stressful by normal standards, but with my M.E. I don’t cope too well with things going wrong) and I seemed to spend the whole day wading through treacle, with everything going just a bit wrong, and feeling very frustrated that all my energy seems to be used for boring things that have to be done, and then there’s none left for Art. The final straw was Tesco phoning to say they would be late with my grocery delivery and they arrived five minutes after we should have left for the class, and I had to make everything kitty-proof in the kitchen, and ram all the chilled stuff willy-nilly into the fridge till I got back and could sort it all out…
As a result of all this, I wasn’t on top of things in the foggy brain dept. and completely forgot to take any photos of the process of felt-making until it was all done! So the pictures that follow are all of the finished pieces at the end of the class, and then my pieces at home. I am sorry that the following description of what we did will therefore not be illustrated.
Our teacher began the class by displaying a collection of her own pieces – various different flowers, and a little bag with a flower embellishment. She explained the principle, and then gave us a demonstration, and then we all went off to make our own.
She started us off with a two-layer flower but some people were more ambitious and went to three layers. In order to prevent the layers from felting together, you have to put some bubble wrap in between. The sandwich we built up (for a two-layer flower) were therefore: a piece of bubble wrap with bubbles facing up, laid on a towel to prevent too much movement, then the wool fibres for the first layer. On top of this was a piece of bubble wrap with a hole cut in the centre, with bubbles facing down, then the wool fibres for the second layer. The sandwich was topped off with a piece of bubble wrap, bubbles facing down, with no hole cut.
For the first layer, we first laid down some green fibres to form several leaves, in a basic star-shaped formation, being careful not to make it too thick in the middle. Over this was laid a circle of the chosen colour for our flower, again, making sure it wasn’t too thick in the middle. The fibres were laid down in opposite directions as we had been taught in previous classes, and also in a circular formation. I chose orange for my poppy, with a final layer of some streaks of red radiating outwards to form some shading.
Each layer of bubble wrap was sprinkled with hot soapy water to aid the felting process, as was each layer of wool fibre.
The bubble wrap with the hole was laid on top of this first layer, and then the second layer of fibre was laid down, repeating the process for the first layer, and this time making the circle slightly smaller, so that on the finished piece, the bottom layer would extend slightly beyond the top layer.
The final touch was to pull out a small length of wool roving so that it was long and thin, and twist it between our fingers and form it into a circle, which was laid into the centre of the flower – our teacher had done this with green, but I did mine in black as this seemed more realistic for a poppy. Again, one had to be careful not to make this too thick. (I had also laid down a few fine strands of black radiating outwards from the centre.)
If one wanted to make a three (or more) layered flower, another piece of bubble wrap with a hole cut in the centre would be added after layer two, and always a solid piece to go on the top.
The idea of the separating layers of bubble wrap was to act as a resist, preventing the fibres from felting together between the layers. Where the hole was cut, the fibres would felt, thus joining the layers in the centre and leaving the outer part free.
The whole thing was likely to move around quite a bit, so we had to start off very gently, working mostly on the centre to start with, to anchor everything. After our previous classes, this was a pretty gentle felting exercise altogether, with only the rubbing stage, and no “rocking and rolling.” After a while, we started to rub the outer part, and when it was starting to felt, the whole thing was flipped over and the back was rubbed.
When it was partially felted, we lifted up the bubble wrap and cut slits with scissors to create the divisions between the petals. I made sure that the slits in the bottom layer did not line up with those in the top layer. The felting process was then continued, and every now and then, the slits checked, to make sure they had not felted together. I found when it was partially felted that the layers had shifted somewhat, but at that stage I was able to manipulate it a bit, and pull the centre back into the middle.
Eventually, sufficient felting took place to enable us to pull away the bubble wrap with the hole, and the piece was then rinsed, and screwed up and rolled around between our hands to finalise the felting process.
The whole process took only about 20 minutes, so we were able to make a second flower – one or two people even made three! I decided to make another one the same, but slightly smaller, and when I came to the rinsing and rubbing between my hands stage, I got a bit over-zealous and it felted a bit more than I’d hoped, but I pulled it back into shape and it was fine, albeit a bit thick.
When I’d finished my second flower, there was still time to spare, but not quite enough for another flower, so I decided to make a leaf, using the paler green for the basic shape, pulling it out to create indentations, and then I added some fine pieces of darker green to form the veins. Everybody loved it!
Now for some pictures of the completed work of the class. In the first one, the teacher is going through them one by one and talking about them with the person who made them. Mine are at the bottom of the picture.
Here are all the pieces, arranged in a beautiful garland!
Taken from a lower angle, showing the multiple layers. The one on the far right was tied up so that the petals would dry in a more upright position. My little selection is at bottom left.
As usual, we were instructed to rinse the pieces out when we got home, with some vinegar in the water, to neutralise the alkali of the soap and to prevent rotting.
Here are my pieces drying. I have folded the leaf in half and secured it with a plastic clip in the hope that it will dry with a bit of dimension to it.
The pieces are almost dry now. Here is the leaf:
The large poppy:
The small poppy:
This is a little bit mis-shapen on one side, but this doesn’t matter because they will eventually be sewn together as a group.
The next picture shows the backs of the pieces. You can see the leaf shapes which are felted to the backs of the bottom layer. In future, I think I may separate these leaves from the base of the flower with another piece of bubble wrap, but as they will be mounted on something and it won’t show, it doesn’t really matter.
The final photo shows the possible arrangement of the pieces for the finished group. I think I may attach this to a wire hair-band or hair clip – I have a collection of blanks for embellishment in my stash.
We were talking at the class about what we might do with them, and people were suggesting embellishing bags, making brooches, etc. I could make wheelchair ornaments from them!! They could be used to embellish cards or mixed media pieces. So many possibilities!
I am very pleased with my efforts from this class. Making flowers is a lot less strenuous than other types of felt, and they can be made up surprisingly quickly. They would make lovely gifts, and being lightweight and non-breakable, would be easy to post, too.
The observant ones among those of you who follow my blog, will notice that the background I have used to photograph my pieces is my unfinished green masterboard. It looks so pretty that I may leave it as it is!
After all my busy-ness of yesterday, today I am suffering from classic M.E. post-exertional malaise, and I have felt like nothing on earth. I was very sluggish this morning and found it hard to get out of bed, and have spent the day on the recliner, sleeping for most of the afternoon, and blog hopping in between!
News about Beatrice
Our older cat Beatrice (now 14) has had a lot of trouble with urinary tract infections recently, and after the latest course of antibiotics failed to deal with the problem, today she spent the day at the vet’s. She had a general anaesthetic so they could do a scan of her bladder, and they passed a catheter to get a decent urine sample. After each course of antibiotics we have to get a sample from her which is not very easy! The vets have devised a clever way to get samples from cats. You put down a litter tray containing non-absorbent plastic granules, and they are supposed to pee in this. You can then easily draw up some urine with a pipette and put it in the sample bottle. However… Beatrice has never been one to oblige and do the right thing, and holds out for hours and hours and flatly refuses to pee in the tray! We have to shut her in the bathroom to keep her separate from Phoebe (we don’t want her pee getting analysed by mistake!) and once, my hubby put a bed in there for her, but she peed on that. On another occasion she peed on the bathmat. Following this, she has been shut in with absolutely no home comforts at all, apart from her food, and she spends the time sitting on the edge of the bath! We can peep through the engraved glass door and see what she’s up to. Eventually she will pee, usually in the corner of the room. My poor hubby scoops up a miserable little sample, and this time, the vet said it was so contaminated with dust and grit and such, that he couldn’t really examine it under the microscope! This last time, she was in there for two whole days without going, which was freaking my hubby out until I looked it up on the Internet and found that cats can easily go 48-hrs plus without going! It seems to be a battle of wills with Beatrice…
Anyway, everything went OK today and she has no stones or crystals, and no growths in her bladder, and so far her kidneys seem to be OK (kidney problems are very common in older cats). Her sample has been sent off for analysis, and they will know after this what sort of antibiotics she should be on. When my hubby phoned this p.m. for a progress report, he was told that she was OK, but still asleep, wrapped in a blanket with a hot water bottle to keep her warm! He picked her up at about tea time and she seems fine. The vet told my hubby that Beatrice is their favourite cat! (I said that I wondered if he said that to everyone lol!) She is such a good girl at the vet’s, and doesn’t bite or scratch, and she’s such a little character that everyone loves her.
Remember this photo, taken after she had the lump removed from her neck?
Such a little dink in her premature baby-grow, the only thing small enough, which she had to wear to stop her scratching herself!