Wet Felt a Wall-hanging Kit

This kit contains the wools, carded batts, silks and yarns in a wide range of vibrant colours and textures.

Kit also includes …

Artfelt Paper The design can be pre-drawn onto the pre-cut Water Soluble Artfelt paper as a useful guide to laying down your colours. The paper dissolves once you add the warm water to start the felting process.

Cotton Scrim I use this as backing material to add a soft strength and structure to your wallhanging. The wool fibres penetrate through the open weave easily thereby aiding felting. Also, this additional first layer allows you to obtain a good finish with only two layers of wool fibres instead of three. So, it’s less bulky and easier to felt. Secondly, because I cut a larger piece of scrim than the project, it enable you to create a top or bottom hem or border which is useful when you hang your picture from a pole, dowel or branch later.

Corner turned to reveal the cotton scrim backing. This could be removed if your final felted piece is perfectly finished.

Tulle Netting. I include 3 pre-cut lengths of tulle netting which you use to carefully place over your design when you have finished laying it out. The netting traps the fibres in place and so protects your design. In this large project, you can cover each section with tulle as you go, allowing you to overreach it safely. When the design layout is finished, ensure every section is covered. Take care when lift ing the netting as fibres will stick to it! Once this is done, the project can be wetted down or dampened down so you can press gently downwards for 5-10 minutes without rubbing, or massaging your work. Introduce it to the warmish water gradually. Don’t drown it or drench it!

You’ll only need

Work surface, waterproof covering, old towel, 2 sheets of bubble wrap, foam roller or pool noodle, plastic bottle with water and soap.

First, clear the deck and prepare work surface by-

1. Laying out a towel on table. 2. Placing first sheet of bubble wrap on top of towel – bubble side up. 3. Laying out the cotton scrim on top of bubble wrap. 4. Lay out the water soluble paper (with pre-drawn design) on top of the scrim.

Next, Design Layout. First stage is lay down the base layer using mainly the carded batts of wool, looking like cotton wool. You will lay out 2 layers of wool. First the foundation or base layer using the batts. These can be torn or cut to a rough shape, or, you can shingle them in smaller pieces.

The second layer (shown here on Green) is the Design Layer, where you build up details by gradually adding small embellishments of contrasting or complementary coloured fibres. See above. In this example, I’m building up both layers of one colour at a time. You may prefer to lay out your base layer first, in all the colours of green, red, blue, yellow, purple, pink etc… It’s your choice.πŸ˜€

Having made a start with the green, follow your template guidelines and gradually add in other colours, remembering to lay down base layer first before adding the details and embellishments. In the above picture, you can see how I’ve moved on to add the reddish carded batts. I will keep returning to the initial colours to add details if I want.

The above picture and the following 3 photographs show in greater detail how I start to add detail and interest to the second red layer by using twirls and swirls of different shades of Merino wool tops. I’ve introduced pinks, Scarlets and wisp of violet. I use very thin wispy pieces and try out various positions until one clicks!

Notice that, as the colours come up against each other, I make sure the fibres not only touch but definitely overlap each other. The fibres need to lock on to each other in order to fully felt later on. More on this later!

Next, I added in the first layer of light blue batts. Notice how the reds, blues and greens overlap in the section on the right in the above photo. *Close up in photo below. If the fibres don’t fully touch each other, there will be a hole or a thin, weak spot here later on. It’s important to think about the structure of the wallhanging, as well as its design. The finished piece will be quite large and heavy, so it pays to keep checking for weak fault lines.

Next, I add the second layer of embellishments to the blue section. I’ve used dark and royal blues to contrast with the pale blue base. Later on, I’ll pop in some turquoise streaks to make it more vibrant.

Yellow is the final base colour to be added. Because the yellow areas are quite thin, I’m not using a carded batt for the base layer. Instead I’m first shingling 2 or 3 light layers of buttercup yellow merino wool tops to create a base before I add oranges, pinks etc in the second design layer. It’s starting to take shape at last! Keep checking and tweaking and rearranging the components of your design. Gently press down with palms of your hands to slightly compress the fibres so they get to settle into each other. This will aid the felting process later on. You can move things around. Nothing is fixed or unalterable at this stage. Enjoy it. Walk away from it. Look at it upside down.

Above, I’ve added contrasting colours of shocking pink and orange to the base yellow layer to make it ‘pop’. Notice how extra colours have also been sprinkled on to other sections, as well.

As the design lay out nears completion, I can add the final touches. Blue and orange curly locks on the central panel. Pink and turquoise Angelina fibres are sprinkled around, making sure that some strands of wool fibre trap them on to the design. With so much going on, it’s a good idea to re-shape or redefine the key shapes of your design. Using the pencil yarns to outline shapes or to create overarching swirls is a useful tool. Adding pencil yarns restores some cohesion and unity to the picture.

Finally, add the tulle netting carefully when you are satisfied with your lay out. The netting helps to protect and preserve your design as you move forward into the next stage of the process.

Wetting Down. Use all 3 pieces of netting to completely cover your design so that you can sprinkle warm water all over your project. Don’t drown or drench it. Gradually, add the water like it’s a gentle shower of rain, making sure it is equally and consistently damp all over. Press down gently onto the piece with the palms of your hand in order to disperse the water without disturbing the fibres. No need to add soap at this point. Water should be tepid or cool. This process should take 5 to 10 minutes at least. It’s a gentle pressing down action only. No massaging!

Next, the Felting Stage begins! A few notes to begin with… Take the second piece of bubble wrap and place it bubble side down on to project. (You can keep the netting on for another 5-10 minutes before carefully removing it.) The felting process needs warmer water, soap and friction to work successfully. It is a slow process. It can get quite physical when the rolling starts later. Take it in easy stages. If you get tired, you can leave it, and return to it the next day. When this happens, I gently sponge off the cold and stale water first, and then add a refreshing warm to hot spray of water to revive it before continuing to felt again.

From this stage on, follow the usual wet felting routine of gently massaging the fibres and increasing the vigour with circular and firmer movements for 15-20 minutes.

Make a sandwich of all the layers and introduce a rolling pin or foam roller. Roll up the project tightly around the roller and secure with elastic band or pop sock to keep it secure during rolling.

Roll a towel up around the sausage to add to the friction.

Here’s a link to Basic Wet Felting technique on my blog. Basic Wet Felting technique

Get ready to start the hard work of rolling out the picture 200 times in one direction and 200 times the other way! Keep unrolling and rotating and rolling by 90 degrees. It’s not easy or quick, but the more you do this, the smoother the final felt.

By the way, I did not actually wet this project at all as it was to demonstrate the lay out. See above. I have sent you the completed ‘jigsaw’ ready for wetting and rubbing and rolling. However, if you want, just have a look at how I built up the design and then …take it all apart and start again with your own design!

I have include an extra bag full of wools and a bag of silks, sari silk slivers and Angelina fibres in a smaller bag so you can add lots of extra details!

Published by Felting in Devon

Felt artist, Fibre artist, Wet Felter, Nuno Felter, Felting in Devon workshops,

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