Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Painting With Wool

Or in my case finger painting with wool!

I admit that I'm a novice when it comes to felting wool.  But the process fascinates me.  I haven't, so far, ventured into wet felting, although I'm seriously considering it.  No, what I do is needle felting.

Wet felting involves applying warm soapy water to layers of fibers that are laid at 90 degrees angles to one another.  Then, through repeated agitation and compression, the wool fibers "hook" together to form one cohesive piece of fabric. 

Wool felts because the fibers are covered with tiny scales, similar to those on a human hair.  When wet, these scales expand and the agitation allows them to hook onto each other, creating a felted piece of material.  Plant and synthetic fibers will not felt. 

Needle felting is much less involved.  Since wool naturally wants to stick to itself when agitated, the use of a felting needle facilitates the process. A felting needle has notches along the sides of the needle near the point that "grabs" the wool fiber and tangles it together, forming a unified piece of fabric.

I've made bottle cap pincushions using this method.  They are tiny little things measuring a few inches in height.  I cheated a bit.  Basically because I'm cheap,I used an old sweater that I had previously felted for the core, needle felting it into a sphere.  Then I used the more expensive roving to cover the ball.

Purple and White Bottle Cap Pincushion

Hand Embroidered Miniature Bottle Cap Pincushion

But my latest project is a leaf shaped Amulet Pouch


I started this project with a piece of off- white 100% wool felt.  

 The next step was to needle felt over this base with various colors of wool roving.  I chose greens, yellow, orange, and purple to give the finished leaf an Autumn look.

I have two different felting needles.  The one on the left is a single needle, while the one on the right has multiple needles in a finger saving case.  I'll warn you right now, that you DO NOT want to needle felt while watching television.  I have the scars to prove that it's not a good thing!

Using a block of foam, I spread the base with small hanks of the roving and started the needle felting process.  Yes, it's tedious but it did give me time to think about what I was going to make for supper.  Chicken stir fry, if you're interested!

Finished piece of needle felted fabric

Needle Felted Piece With My Leaf Patterns

I cut out two of each size.  I never did use the smaller on.  Oh well, maybe another project.

For the amulet bag, I needle felted brown wool yarn for the veins of the leaf.  Using a piece of orange and purple wool roving, I needle felted a  spiral on the front and back,  stitched the two larger leaves together on my sewing machine, then needle felted the orange and purple roving along the front and back edges.  I added one of my hand made owl beads to the front and a length of recycled sari silk for the necklace.  The two large variegated beads are also some of my hand made polymer clay beads.