Sunday, 31 July 2016

Summer Activity Day 2: Wet Felted Bowls

As I mentioned in my last post I ran 2 days of workshops for children at my school. Its an end of your activity and we had loads of fun. On the first day we did tie dye and I included a tutorial about how to do the tie dye.

On day two we used wet felting to create pod shaped vessels. It's rather involved to explain here.  There are many workshops and courses where you can learn how to do this. I learnt in a workshop with Wendy Stanger at the end of last year and thought it might be something the kids at school would enjoy. They did.

Felt making does require a degree of patience and some of the children were in a hurry to complete their work and the felt could have done with being 'fulled' for a little longer to make sturdier vessels. but they all created at least one strong bowl and the designs were great.

Most of the equipment needed is simple to find and if you can find a good supplier of wool tops they it can be inexpensive. Yorkshire Trading sell packs of felting wool for about £6. I ordered mine from George Weil. Excellent service and they arrived the next day.

Felting happens when woll fibres are placed at right angles to one another in thin even layers and water, soap, heat and friction are applied. the process is simple, but it does require practise to create sturdy pieces.

I first made felt in my art college days when I hand dyed raw fleece. I had to clean it, card it, dye it and felt it. I lost patience and ended up felting my work in the washing machine - which gave some interesting textures. The process used for this work was much easier.

Layers of fibre are placed around a template, wetted with hot water and soaped then turned over to create a design. I used about 4 layers of fibres. Net keeps the fibres in place as you create the design.

Then more soap, hot water and bubble wrap are used to felt the layers together.

The felt is then rolled in a bamboo mat and bubble wrap to "full" the fabric. Hot water aids this and as it felts together the fibres shrink around the template. A hole is cut and then bubble wrap is used to shape and felt the bowl until it's the desired shape.

Basic equipment required:
Hot soapy water in a spray bottle
Bubble Wrap
Neoprene for templates
Dress net
Bamboo mat (a large sushi mat is ideal)


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