Saturday, May 15, 2004

honeybuns anyone?

I thought I would show some felting process pictures since I tend to not do that so often. This is a circular bag I'm going to call "honeybuns." What you're seeing is the making of the main part of the bag. First I layout all the wool. This first layer is about 2 ounces of Norwegian wool with mixed wools as decoration. Underneath the layer is a resist of calico cloth. The resist will keep the sides from sticking together when I add the other side. The layout here is about 16 or 18 inches across.

Now I'm adding hot water and soap and pressing all the air out of the first layer (a second layer waits off to the side for joining in a minute). In order to keep the wool from sticking to my hands, I use a slick material over the wool. It's important to not move the wool around at this point or your layout will be destroyed.

I've added the second layer, carefully overlapped the edges all around (the resist is now completely enclosed inside) and I've pressed all the air out of the wool again after adding more hot soapy water. This image below shows the piece after about 20 minutes of gently pressing everything together and very gently rubbing with the protective material as a buffer. The felt is just now holding together here and I can carefully flop it from one side to another without it falling apart.

Now comes about two or three hours of manual labor, rolling the felt in a bamboo sheet, spot felting the edges and joins on a glass washboard (that's what you see below), throwing on the table, rubbing, screaming and sweating. As soon as I feel the felt getting "tough," I cut away the opening of the bag and hold my breath while removing the calico. Getting smooth, even joins or seams is probably the most difficult part of this type of 3-D felting--also called Scandinavian felting.

You can see the resist (I used calico/tight weave cotton, but you can use other things) has kept the layers from felting together and has given me a completely seamless pouch!

The basic felting process is now done and I have the base pouch to play with. Lots of details are left, but the seamless pouch is finished except for a vinegar dip (one cup to a gallon of water) to neutralize the soap's alkaline residue. I also "shaved" this bag so the design would show up better. It was a bit hairy. The finished bag is about two-thirds the original size!

Secret Agent Eyebooger observes from the spelsau batt and is not amused.


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