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?

new organza laminates

I was mooching aimlessly in Ebay after my win on the blue chiffon (always a dangerous and expensive thing to do) and came across some interesting looking organzas.

It’s not easy to see in these photos but the piece on the left has a shimmery green lustre to it and the piece on the right is a very shiny metallic silver.

I made a couple of samples to see how well they would felt. While they both felted successfully I think the silver one resulted in the prettiest finish, it has the most potential as a laminate for a small clutch bag or as nuno accents in a larger piece.

Since I was felting small samples I included the piece of blue chiffon that I painted with discharge paste last week, as expected, this felted very easily. I’m still feeling good about that purchase 🙂

I am itching to turn it into a dozen different bags and maybe a tunic top but there are sooo many other things I must finish first, including a piece I want to submit to the Guild of Weavers Spinners and Dyers national exhibition, the deadline in only 4 weeks away and I have barely started on it…. I can’t really say too much about that yet but here is another textured piece I have just started assembling….

Numpty

I am kicking myself, I’m afraid I made a boob with the acrylic paint tests; after patiently waiting for them both to dry I completely forgot to iron them before I started felting. I am such a numpty :o(

The experiment was going well and I did discover that painting on wetted prefelt results in the paint wicking (bleeding) away from where you put it. And I confirmed that if you don’t iron the paint before washing, it WILL wash out.

This is the paint while it is still drying:

Once dry and before I messed up, you can clearly see how the red paint has “bled” in the lower sample:

After felting, the bars on the left of each piece are acrylic paint mixed with textile medium and it does appear to have protected them from my stupidity to some extent:

Back to the drawing (painting) board….

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