Thursday, 13 June 2013

Experimenting with 3D felting and dying.

As you all know I make quite a bit of felt but I tend to only make flat pieces of felt and then cut them up and stitch them into the shapes I want, in essence you could say I make felted wool fabric. Recently a lovely friend of mine had a go at felting a bowl. She was a little disappointed as the technique she was using wasn't quite giving her the result she craved. After a bit of discussion and sharing of thoughts I decided the best thing to do was have a little experiment myself as I've only tried 3D felting twice before and both times the results were...shall we say...disappointing. So here are the results of my little play time. 
 This was my first attempt, a little pod. I made it around a flat plastic resist and although I found the process rather tedious, the results are actually very good. The pod is quite sturdy and the felt is very firm, in all it holds its shape perfectly. Bish-bosh-done! I'd completed the task, solved the problems, all done as far as I was concerned. I could report back to my friend with my findings and I didn't need to make another bowl again. But then...
 I had an email request from one of my regular customers asking if I made spectacle cases. I replied saying sorry no I didn't, but then the old cogs started to clunk into gear. If I could make a pod why couldn't I make a specs case. Well as you can see above I managed to make a little case with an opening so that the end would flip closed keeping the contents safe inside. Only...
The felt shrunk a little more than I had anticipated! But as you can see it fitted my phone perfectly, lol.
So I altered my template and tried again. The results were much better this time, as you can see
the specs fit inside perfectly and the end of the case will close over them. Yay! 
I must say, 3D felting hasn't grabbed me as yet, I probably will have another go at some time but it's really not doing it for me at the moment.
Something else I've been experimenting with is dyeing wool. This also is not really through choice but necessity. I use small amounts of dyed needle felt in my work but buying space-dyed (randomly coloured) felt is almost impossible and when I have found some it's has to be purchased in a pack containing colours that I don't want. So I've finally given in and decided to go down the dying it myself route. The piece above was dyed using food dye and came out pretty well I thought. But I wasn't sure whether the food colouring would stand up to all the hot soapy water I use during the felting process and I didn't want to ruin a large piece of work.
 So I took the plunge and purchased a small kit containing 6 bottles of dye powder a pair of latex gloves and some instructions. Look out kitchen here I come!
It looks a little complicated here but really it was quite straight forward if a little time consuming. The dye powders had to be mixed with water (always wear a dust mask at this point) while the wool was soaking in a vinegar solution. Then I laid the wool in a dish, sploshed some dye on, covered the dish with clingfilm and nuked it in the microwave for 5 minutes. You then leave the wool to cool slowly (time consuming part) then once cold, rinse and hang out to dry!
Ta-daa!
 I also dyed some wool nepps (bobbles). I had to find a way of putting them outside to dry without them blowing away...so out came the netty bags that you used to get with your laundry tablets years ago! I knew they'd come in handy for something one day, teehee!
 Next I dyed some Mulberry silk, only I managed to burn it a little in a couple of places as the fibres weren't wet enough in the microwave.
 So as you can see the wool nepps and the dyed needle felt have turned out okay. It just means my work load has increased a little bit, how can that be? Aren't things supposed to get easier the more experienced you become! 

I'll show you what I made with my felt next time.
till then
love Fi x


13 comments:

Pearly Queen said...

Wow Fi!

You go from strength to strength! Now you know how to do it, things will be much quicker the next time round!

I must admit I like wet felting but never seem to find the time for it. As for doing it in 3D that doesn't grab me at all.

Twiglet said...

I know it takes time but I bet its a lot of fun waiting to see what lovely colours you have made and you know that nobody else will be able to make an identical piece! x Jo

susie said...

What a work you've done Fiona !
And as a result : beautiful work !!!
I'm curious what you gonna make with your felt :)

Till next time ..
(I hope you can read my poor English)

grace said...

Looks lovely, I really like the idea of turning felt into 3d.......resisting the urge to google and buy some so I can do it too....must finish projects already on the go!

Annie said...

Wow what brilliant results Fi....well worth all the time and effort I'd say.
Hugs,
A x

Wendy said...

that pod is amazing! I love your piece at the bottom too

The Weaver of Grass said...

Fiona this is brilliant. I must say that you really should be teaching this subject - your ingenuity is fantastic and your inventive mind is just what is needed. I have been to a few craft work classes and have never been fully satisfied with the standard of teaching. Why don't you try setting up a class in your town for the Autumn term - surely there is a suitable building - do they have such classes in the museum?
Dp investigate it - you should pass your skills on - you are so good.

Susan Smith said...

You are so clever Fi. The little bowl looks a giant gumnut, because of the shape and quite stunning. The cases are just perfect for glasses and as for the dyeing, I hope it was fun, more than a chore. I think the slow part is more impatience, waiting to see the finished product. It's all just lovely and like another comment, you should hold workshops.
Well done.

... Bimbi said...

Have you tried Procion (not quite sure on spelling) dyes? They are cold dyes, no nuking required. Just mix and go. Instant result and fast colours! I've used them for batik.

Bimbi x

Anonymous said...

Hello Fiona
What a skill you have with colour and wool!
I've just found your blog and will be reading back through the archives so that I can take in all the lovely pictures of Yorkshire. My husband and I are visiting Harrogate/York/Rippon/the Dales in September this year. We are so looking forward to our visit but not the journey - we live in Cornwall and it'll take us quite some time to travel up!
Kay

Senhora Baruch said...

Oi!
São belos e muito bem feitos os teus trabalhos, me encanta!!! Abraços

Sara said...

All your feltwork is really gorgeous. I like the little bowl you made; it reminds me of an inside out apple because of the colors. If it were mine, I think I'd add a couple of pretty green felted leaves somewhere and maybe even a quirky little worm. Your bowl has sparked my imagination.

Virginia said...

G'morning Fee. I am a novice when it comes to dyeing wool, although I've done lots of Procion dyeing of cotton and the like. I bought "Earth Palette" dyes for wool, which were fantastically convenient (once you make them up you store them in water bottles forever, and they last years) but I'm "underwhelmed" by the results. They're just not vibrant enough. Would you share how you get such lovely colours in your dyeing. Thanks,