Next on my list of fun projects is a simple felted vessel; you can create a bowl, vase, hat or slipper with this method.
1. Start with four layers of roving, laid out so the fibers within each layer lie perpendicular to each other, in the basic shape of your ultimate creation; this is called a batt. Create a second batt of the same size and set it aside. To get a sturdy vessel, use more layers of felt and choose a roving with long, thick fibers.
2. To create a hollow object, you need a resist, either a piece of cotton fabric or plastic cut a little smaller than your batt. Lay the batt over your resist and then wet it gently with hot, soapy water.
3. Flip the batt over so the resist is face up.
4. Fold the edges of the batt over the resist.
5. Layer your second batt over the resist.
6. Wet it again and then flip the whole affair over.
7. Fold the edges once again so you have a smooth blob which is still very loosely put together.
8. At this point, it is helpful to put some sort of screen over your piece so you can agitate it gently without moving the fibers. I use a long piece of webbed non-skid carpet underlay, the sort you use to keep an area rug from sliding around on your hardwood floor. You can also use a bamboo blind, a sushi mat, or any type of cloth netting. Roll your bundle in the screen, pour a little liquid soap over it and then roll it back and forth for five minutes.
Unroll it periodically to check on the progress; if the fibers seem to be holding together you are ready to move on to the next stage. Ultimately, the longer you work the package while rolled in the netting, the stronger the finished product will be.
9. Cut one end of your package and remove the resist. Now you are ready to work the vessel from the inside and the outside at the same time.
Felt will shrink in the direction you are rubbing, so this is where you can adjust the height or width of your product. In this illustration, the piece will shrink in length. If I want it to shrink in width to create a skinnier piece, rotate it 90 degrees.
You can embellish your piece with wispy bits of roving, or cut-outs of pre-felt, but getting them to adhere can be a bit tricky depending on how sturdy your piece is. You can also layer a few bits of colored roving in the original batt, which will create a mottled look.
*Edit: Rinse your piece when it has achieved the firmness you desire. A final rinse in a vinegar bath will restore the pH of your felt and harden the final piece, making it less likely to pill or shed fibers.
In the end, I needle-felted accents after the vase was dry, which allowed me more control over the swirling design.