Continuing my introduction to felting, I went to another class with Christie Minchew, this time to do a little wet felting. Again, the goal is to bond layers of wool fibers together, but instead of using a needle as in the needle felt class, we use water and manual agitation to do the bonding. In this class we made felted balls, coils, geodes and a rectangular piece that incorporated the geodes. [Felted geodes are named for their geological cousins: pieces of unassuming-looking rock that reveal beautiful layers of minerals and crystals inside].
We began by laying out different colored tufts of wool roving and loosely hand-rolling them into the desired shape. This action starts the fibers bonding. Then things get more serious - the fiber 'package' is submerged in hot, soapy water and rolled, kneaded and squeezed. You can feel the package getting more and more dense as the fibers bond.
After felting, that fluffy mass of fibers is reduced to almost half its size by the bonding of the fibers, and can now be cut or sliced.
Slicing up the geode was most exciting... each slice is completely different from front to back and from every other slice! Don't they look yummily edible?
Making coils and balls was similar process, we just started out with smaller amounts of fibers.
The next project was to prepare a flat base of roving, on to which we would felt our geode slices and any other fibers we wanted to include. I forgot to photograph mine, but here are the others'.
Now for a fabulous upper body workout! Just like with the geodes and coils, we saturated our layers of fluff with hot, soapy water. This time we used bubble wrap for extra friction and got to work using as much force as we could to rub, knead and pound... anything necessary to mash those fibers into submission! You don't realize how physical this stuff is till you do it! I didn't time it, but this went on for quite a while and we had all built up quite a sweat by the time we were done.
The difference between the raw materials and finished product is pretty amazing. The pieces are now very dense and the designs more muted as fibers have blended together. Christie and I threw ours ito the washing machine for 5 minutes to see what would happen... major shrinkage! She's holding both of ours in the photo below... you can see how much they have shrunk compared to Beth and Melanie's pieces.
I had used several layers of blue and teal roving as a base. On top I placed 3 geode slices plus some strands of roving and mohair yarn in a haphazard design. It's about 60% of its original size and I couldn't pull all this apart now if I tried! The geodes give some nice extra dimension and I love the crinkly pattern formed by the yarn. While still wet, I pulled and pushed the the edges to make an irregular shape. I haven't decided what i'm going to do with this... maybe add some stitched or needle felted embellishments?
I really enjoyed this journey into the mysteries of felting... and it helped to have a great teacher! Check out Christie's work and her other classes on her website.