slippers!

This is something I have been wanting to make for months and I finally took the plunge and ordered some gotland wool a few weeks ago. Gotland is one of the courser wools and is reputed to be hard-wearing, hence very good for making shoes and bags. I was planning to use a simple heart-shaped template for my slippers but then I saw this post by Nada on Felting and Fiber Studio and knew I had to try her template instead!

Sorry, I forgot to take pictures while laying out the wool and felting but I used 2 layers of deep purple merino on the inside and 2 layers of grey gotland on the outside, rolled 200 times before cutting the resist out.

I rubbed with warm soapy water, inside and out for a few more minutes before inserting shoe lasts* and popping them in the washing machine.

Here are the slippers after fulling:

I was glad I opted to put the decoration on after fulling, as with the yellow pod, the gotland completely overwhelmed the purple merino.

And after adding some needle felted decoration (I used some spaced dyed prefelt for this):

They are very comfy but could do with some non-slip treatment on the soles, while it is fun “skating” round the house on our wooden floors I know it is only a matter of time before I hurt myself….

*My shoe lasts were made using the cheap and cheerful method from Ruth Lanes’ book– this is a fantastic reference guide for all things felt and it will save you the cost of buying shoe lasts so is a bargain! If you are new to felting and short of money, this is the ONE book I recommend you buy.

Felt Pods

After reading Lyn’s post I felt inspired to make some pods of my own, this one was my first foray into using Gotland wool. The pod was made from a piece of hand-dyed muslin (just visible in the lower half of the first photo), 2 layers of yellow merino and 2 layers of Gotland. I was surprised by how much the Gotland invaded the merino, the only places where you can still see the yellow merino is where the resists prevented migration of the Gotland.

The second pod was a more conventional blend of blue merino on the inside and red merino on the outside with a flash of orange merino around the largest opening for some colour contrast and “zing”.

I love how the blue and red have mingled to create a purple-red colour on the lower half of the vessel.

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.

Fabric Painting

I have had a brilliant couple of days creating batik style fabrics based on my cloud drawings for my City and Guilds course. I could do these all week :o)

This one is pongee silk using silk paints and gutta:

Same silk and paints but this time using the liquid wax, I think you can see the resist lines are thicker. They turned yellow when ironing the silk to fix the paint, I hope they will return to white when washed.

Liquid wax and procion dyes on silk and silk chiffon. The dyes on silk are much more pastel in colour than the same dyes on cotton.

Liquid wax on cotton muslin with procion dyes, these are my favourites, the colours are just so vibrant and juicy!

Never one to be content with just following the brief I conducted some experiments of my own too. Using the monoprinted fabric I was least enamoured with I gave it the “painting with dye” treatment and once that had dryed played with some other “toys” in my play box of fabric paints too; some 3D paint in shimmery white and bronze and some blue glitter paint for fabric. I’m still waiting for these to dry before I can “puff up” the 3D paint and wash it.

This is what it looked like before I started playing:

And after:

This is a close up showing the glitter paint near the bottom of the frame.

I think this piece is much improved from the addition of a bit (ok, a lot) of colour, only time will tell if the 3D and glitter paints will tolerate felting….

monoprinting

Following on from the cloud sketches we were asked to use them as inspiration for monoprinting, these are my efforts using acrylic paint on various papers. We were limited to using just black, white and brown paint but I think I may have cheated by using coloured papers for some of them.

The first one was produced by just squeezing paint from the tube onto the acetate so perhaps not too surprising that it is mostly “blobby” where the thickly applied paint has spread.

All the others were made with a paint brush, with a few blobs where I was a bit heavy-handed with the paint.
The next 2 are my favourites out of the initial set on copy paper, the first one has a lot of energy and movement about it that I find exciting, the second reminds me of Japanese characters and the repetition of the shapes is quite calming.

This one reminds me of looking at reflections in water ripples…

Using my 2 favourite monoprints above I explored the effects of different papers, this one is textured pastel paper and stamped over the top with a shape I cut from a cleaning sponge.
Blue card
Some handmade paper with rose petals, I love the mottled effect of this one. I think it is my favourite.

Some marbled paper, the paper looked like clouds on a blue sky so seemed rather appropriate
Textured red card
Then I took the same designs onto fabric.

Having liked the monoprints on mottled / coloured papers so much I rummaged through my stash to find some rainbow dyed cottons. I really like how these turned out, much more exciting than the white background.

Once fixed, I plan to felt these fabrics.

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