One of the first times I saw felt, I was at a craft fair in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Emily Archer was selling hats, scarves, sweater soaps and wall hangings. I was particularly intrigued by her scarves, which I discovered later were created using a technique called Nuno Felting, coined by Polly Stirling. Pat Sparks calls this technique Laminated Felt; she gives a great description and instructions on her general Feltmakers’ List. Since only animal fibers felt, you must push the fibers through the weave of your base fabric.
Determined to try this technique, which yields a supple fabric unlike most felt, I bought one and a half yards of silk. In hindsight, I should have hemmed it before starting the process, but as always, I was too anxious to go through the steps one at a time.
I lay pieces of turquoise roving lengthwise along the silk, sandwiching it between two long pieces of bubblewrap. After sprinkling hot, soapy water on the fabric, I rolled it up and massaged the bubble wrap package for a short while. Eager to see what was happening, if anything, I unwrapped it to discover some wet wool. Since more is usually better, I flipped the silk over and laid bits of a slightly different shade of turquoise roving on the other side, then rolled it up again. After several minutes of agitation, the fibers didn’t seem to be poking through as I was expecting, so I decided to do the log roll.
Perhaps I rolled it a little too long, because this is what I discovered when I unrolled the towel bundle: a shrunken, wrinkled little thing with weird chunks hanging off either end.
The wool achieved a nice firm felt, and the silk matted together creating a crinkly texture. What you can’t see very well in this photo are the wool fibers poking through the silk, which is what we are trying to achieve with nuno felting, but without crushing the silk. I’m halfway there.
You can see the alternating colors of wool layered on the front and back of the silk.
Determined to wear my new creation out to an event that night, I struggled to find an elegant way to wrap this thing around me that was really too small. The green and yellow felt pin was thrown together at the last minute as our babysitter was arriving. Lance smirked as he saw me furiously needle felting the petals to each other; the last time we went to a school function, I threw this lariat together at the last minute. Perhaps I don’t get out enough, perhaps my fellow parents just inspire my creativity, perhaps it is a simple coincidence that the night before going out, I have a few hours to myself for creating.
I tried to wear it one more time, but I just couldn’t carry it off without feeling a little dramatic. So, I cut it in two right down the middle and needle felted the dreadlock ends to each other, creating a middle section with a little open lattice work. Ahhh. Much better.