Friday, July 19, 2013

Wet felting small pieces

As I posted earlier, I am going to be working with some young children, teaching them wet felting.
To make life simple, we are going to do small pieces, they will end up about drink coaster size.
The theme of the art program is about how food is often depicted in art and so we are going to be working on a fruit theme.
Let me tell you, my samples are not great art!

I have tried various methods of getting the image onto the felt.  This is the one I think I will use with the children.  Most of it is from Feltmaking and Wool Magic, by Jorie Johnson.  Other books I used are Uniquely Felt, by Christine White and Felt Inlays, by Nancy Hoerner.

I have adapted the technique slightly to suit me and the supplies I will need for a full class.

At first, I thought the children could make the background and then lay out the fruit shape on top.  It worked ok, but if the image wasn't quite right, it was a little fiddly to pick up again.

But the technique in Feltmaking and Wool Magic has you drawing the image on a piece of paper, then laying out the wool, then putting on the background.  It seemed to work much better.  It does mean that the image will have to be worked in reverse but I am not envisaging any great detail in the work, so it shouldn't matter.

Here is what I hope will work:
Fold a piece of A4 paper to make a square, it will be approximately 21cm square.  Draw the image.

Put bubble wrap down, smooth side up.
Lay out the coloured wool over the drawing.

Lay the background over the fruit image.  Work carefully from one edge to the other of the paper, trying not to have too many wispy bits.
Turn the bubble wrap 90 degrees, lay out more wool.
Turn the bubble wrap 90 degrees and lay out wool again.

I made two samples, in one I laid out 4 layers for the background, it was very thick by the end. In the second sample, I only laid out 3 layers.
I think I will see how quickly the children can do the laying out before I tell them how many layers to do.  The 3 layered piece was fine.

Lay netting over it all and sprinkle warm soapy water over it all.  I used a small drink bottle which had holes in the lid and baby shampoo (I thought it would be less likely to damage skin).

Rub the netting to make sure all the water goes through the wool.  One of the books suggested using plastic bags to put your hands in, this worked quite well and might be good if any of the students have reactions to the soap.

When you have made sure it is all thoroughly wet, you can lift off the netting and make sure all the wispy ends are folded over.  Gently rub or tap them with your fingers so make them adhere.

Using a sturdy rod of some sort (I am going to get some dowelling cut), roll the bubble wrap around the rod, with the wool inside.  In this trying out period, I used a larger sized knitting needle.
Roll the wool back and forth, counting to 100.  Open it out, turn it 90 degrees and roll again for 100 times.  The work will shrink in the direction you are rolling, so you need to turn it regularly. It will need to be rolled at least 6 times.
Many of the books suggest putting elastic bands on the ends of the bubble wrap so that it stays tightly rolled. I didn't do that as I can't imagine trying to do that for all the children, especially as it will have to be turned so many times.

 As the work felts, the edges may become wrinkled. You can stretch them out into a relatively square shape while you are working and while it is still wet.
 Finally, you can throw the felt onto the table top, or the floor, to continue the felting process. I did this for a further 100 times.
As you can see, it shrinks quite a bit.
 The final step is to rinse out the soap with cold water, then immerse it in warm to hot water. This final  shock also helps the felting process.


parlance said...

Sounds doable. What's the age group?

Mary said...

I hope so Parlance, The children will be from 6 to 9 years old.