Monday, 29 October 2012

Felting: The Boot Camp of All Crafts

The clocks went back yesterday in the UK and I hope you all made the most of your extra hour.  I was awoken at the unseemly hour for a Sunday of 6:20 by bells. Louis was calling from Crete where he's on holiday with his dad and was keen to tell me that he'd met a nice cat!

So, home alone and wide awake I had a few hours of chilling in lieu of a lie in until I headed off to carry out today's planned activity.  For weeks now I've been looking forward to learning how to make felt at Seale Hayne with Rosy Tydeman.

Now before I met Rosy I thought that felt was used exclusively for making finger puppets and the like.  No, tell a lie, I've come across artisan made objects fabricated from the stuff but most seemed to come out of the realms of the socks and sandals brigade.  But Rosy's whimsical work with its vibrant colour palette opened my eyes to the potential for using this medium in highly imaginative ways. Like in the creation of this clock which depicts Rosy's husband who seems to have more than just a  hint of the Malcolm McClaren about him.

With the help of my friends Red Mel and Kanga, here's a guide to turning the fluffiest of unspun fleece into beautiful objects by the means of the wet felting technique.

Here's Kanga demonstrating layering tiny bits of teased out fluff into the desired shape, first horizontally and then vertically.The work is carried out on a bamboo mat covered with a sheet of bubble wrap.

Here's my own piece after I'd build up two layers.  Its so adorably fluffy that it seems a crying shame that its going to be squished.

Once a third layer has been added its time to start building a design.  Here's Red Mel's retro 60's statement piece......

.... the beginnings of Kanga's impressionist flower meadow....

.....and my funky fish.

Once the design is completed the work is sprayed with what seems like half a bath tub's worth of water and then pressed through yet another layer of bubble wrap.  Then the hard work begins. The piece of wannabe fabric is rubbed with circular motions for what seems like hours and hours until the fibres meld together.  They're then rolled in the bamboo mat like a bit bag sushi, rinsed in hot and cold water.  The result was....


....and these.  You see that extra object at the bottom.  Its all my own work.  Uncharacteristically I cracked on and made two things, the front of a fishy cushion and a little seamless pouch for my pens.  Not bad going for a girl who's crafting output has been rather woeful in 2012.

Red Mel used a different technique to make beads which she's going to turn into a bag charm after adding some sparkly gems.  Are you getting the idea now of how versatile this stuff is.

All that rubbing and rolling has left me feeling that I've had a super-duper workout.  It wasn't the relaxing craft that I was expecting.  Still all the exertion was worthwhile.  We're suckers for punishment and will be back for another of Rosy's boot camp sessions in the New Year.


  1. Lovely!

    I started playing with felt a few months ago but have decided that I'm not to make any more until I finish embellishing the ones I've done so far. Did your course cover that side of things - backing them and sewing onto them?

  2. Fantastic results. We have felting workshops here, but they cost a lot to attend :o(

  3. Hi Louisa

    Our course didn't cover that but it did show you how to make 3D seamless objects. My new pencil case is one of these. It was formed over a bit of stiff plastic. How cool is thatx
    Will be sewing my fishy piece on a cushion soon! x