Shibori Experiments

Following some very helpful suggestions from the ladies at the Felting and Fibre Studio Forum I have felted the original piece of shibori dyed silk and created a couple more samples, trying out alternative methods in an effort to maintain the beautiful folds of the bound fabric.

Felting the original shibori piece
I laid a very fine layer of merino all over the silk and lightly sprayed it with soapy water. Then folded the fabric concertina style from one end, trapping the wool between the layers of fabric.

 Once folded up, it was secured with elastic bands every 4 or 5 cm and felted with warm soapy water.

This was the result once the bands had been removed and the piece stretched at little. It is a similar width to the original silk but the length is much shorter, it was 50 cm long and is now just 8 cm. I think it will make a nice cuff / bracelet with some beads nestling in the folds.

Creating a laminate for shibori

For this sample I felted a piece of silk to 2 fine layers of merino and fulled to achieve rippling of the silk. Then it was stitched and the threads pulled ready for shibori dyeing.

It was dyed with Procion MX midnight blue – as you can see the silk has accepted the dye much better than the wool.

It was allowed to dry before removing the stitches and stretching out. It has a springy nature; it can be pulled almost flat but always springs back to this position.

Adding wool fibre while drawing the threads tight
On a third sample, I stitched the silk as normal but while I was drawing the threads tight I poked wisps of merino into the folds and felted the piece before dyeing with the piece above. This is what it looked like after it had dried and the stitches were removed. It looks remarkably similar to the first piece with very sharp folds in the silk.

Shibori Conundrum

Last weekend I dyed a piece of stitched shibori silk from my craft group, to be honest I am more enamoured with the texture of the silk than the dye effect. I would really like to felt this piece so I can use it as a book cover but I am sure the texture will disappear as soon as I wet it out.

Do any of you clever people have any ideas how I might laminate this fabric without losing the texture?

I am also open to other uses for this piece of silk, it doesn’t have to be book cover….?

Linked to nina-marie

Fiber Etch in felt work

Fiber Etch has been around for at least 15 years but I only discovered it a few weeks ago when I came across a second hand copy of this book:

The book was published in 2000 but a lot of the garments look like they were made in the 80’s, big square jackets and more geometric shapes thank I could shake a stick at. It was quite entertaining just to look at the photos but I found the book quite predictable in the ideas it presented. Almost none of it could easily be translated to felt or nuno/laminates which is where I thought I would try to use it. The most useful part of this book is a table listing which threads would or would not dissolve when Fiber Etch is applied. Almost everything else you could find in the instructions that come with the Fiber Etch product.

Anyway, enough with the book bashing….

For those not familiar with this product the principle of Fibre Etch is that it is a gel that will degrade any plant based fabrics (i.e. cottons, rayon, linens etc.) but will not etch animal based fabrics such as wool and silk. I had ideas of using this with cotton muslin / scrim – felt laminates; using the Fiber Etch to erode areas of the cotton to reveal the differently coloured wool beneath.

My initial attempt was on some pieces that had already been laminated, this is what they looked like before applying the fibre etch, the top one is muslin, the bottom one scrim:

And after the fibre etch had been washed out, it’s not easy to see where it was applied!

Here is a close up of the scrim:

It’s a little easier to see the etched areas on the muslin:

And some more close-ups, you can see how the edges of the cotton are fraying but I expect they will not fray much further as the wools is gripping it well. I think the frayed edges are attractive in a rustic sort of way but I’m not sure what buyers would make of garments that looked like this?

These aren’t exactly the mind-blowing, artistic revelation I had envisioned but it did what it said it would and removed (most of) the cotton where I had applied it:

Next I tried using the Fiber Etch before laying out the wool, once the eroded areas has been washed away the fabric was tricky to handle, this is what it looked like after applying the Fiber Etch and ironing. It is peculiar stuff as the fabric becomes brittle bits start breaking off before you can get to the sink…

And after rinsing under running water:

After felting:

Although the edges of the cotton were starting to fray after the Fiber Etch had been washed out, they became neatly buried in the wool during felting.

I used cotton muslin for this and found it difficult to handle when wet and full of holes, I expect cotton scrim would be even harder to handle.

I think applying the Fibre Etch to the laminated fabrics was the most practical and would allow for shapes entire shapes such as squares and circles to be drawn with out the centre falling out.

Have you used Fiber Etch with feling? I would love to hear about what you did and how you used it.

Using acrylic paint on prefelt – the results

As I mentioned in an earlier post I have been experimenting with acrylic paint on prefelt. These are the results of my experiments….

This is what the paints looked like on the prefelt after ironing but before felting:

The effect of wetting out the prefelt before painting
Painting on damp felt saw the paint soak through the felt so that more of it ended up on the newspaper behind than on the felt itself. As it dried it also wicked across the felt. This might be useful for blending colours for a background but would be too unpredictable for most forms of painting. The wicking was most obvious with the red paint:

Thick vs thin paint
During felting more fibre migrated through the thin paint than the thick, producing a slightly paler colour in the thinner paints.

This is the sample after wet felting:

The thickest paint is uppermost in each block of 3 stripes, the thinnest paint is the bottom stripe of each block of 3.

Iridescent medium added to the paint
These are the top 3 bars in each column. This worked remarkably well and the sparkly flecks are particularly effective in the thicker blue paint

Addition of textile medium
These are the blue and red bars on the left, it has clearly made a big difference, especially the paint without the iridescent medium added (lower 3 bars in each column). The thinner paints have largely washed away during felting. It looks as though the iridescent medium has a similar protective quality to the textile medium.

Commercial fabric paints
All the commercial fabric paints have rippled during felting, however, the Deka permanent black and Silkcraft metallic silver have a flatter, more flexible finish than the Pebeo commercial paints.

Forgetting to iron fix before felting
As I mentioned in an earlier post, it appears that iron fixing is essential if the piece will get wet, without it the paint washed out during felting (or washing), even when textile medium was added. This was the result of felting without ironing first, the top sample was dry when painted, the bottom sample was damp:

Final thought
Having looked at how the fibres have migrated through the paint during felting I think this technique is best reserved for use after fulling / milling, although the rippling in the commercial fabric paints is rather appealing.

Have you used acrylic paint on felt or fabrics? Please feel free to post a link to your work in the comments section.

One Month Into 2104

Today is the 1st of February 2014 and this seems like a good point to take stock of the goals I set at the beginning of the year. As a reminder, here they are:

  1. dedicate more time to creative activities (I have already “bought” some extra annual leave at work that should allow me to spend 1 day every 2 weeks dedicated to felt making and other creative interests)
  2. create at least 50 good quality pieces for sale
  3. find alternative sources for selling my works, including at least 2 craft fairs and improve marketing of my work
  4. complete my City and Guilds felt making course before August
  5. post at least once per week


This is where I am today:

  1. I took 2 days leave during January and did manage to dedicate both days to being creative, my biggest worry was that I would just end up doing chores, but I was good and managed to have 2 very productive days, mostly working on my City and Guilds work.
  2. I was hoping to average at least 1 good, commercially viable piece per week, this isn’t quite going to plan but I do have 4 pieces that are very nearly finished and hope to share more on those either tomorrow or Monday (I have another day off to be creative on Monday).
  3. I have been really rubbish at this one, I haven’t even posted anything new on Etsy in January. In my defence I have identified a couple of local craft fairs that I plan to visit before deciding if they are worth booking a table at but I really do need to get my act together with Etsy.
  4. This is back on track, I was about a month behind after spending all of December in Hong Kong and New Zealand but having spent every spare moment in January on my course-work I am back on schedule. If I keep this up I might even finish early!
  5. I managed to post 11 times in Jan so I think I can give myself a big tick for that one 🙂

How are you getting on with your New Year’s goals / resolutions?

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