Monday, 28 November 2011

Felted Flowers

One piece of advice that my Grandad gave to me when I was about 14 and he didn't talk very much so it has stayed etched in my mind is 'don't volunteer to do anything'.  At the time I thought it was a little bit of an unkind thing to say but I can't tell you how many times it has come back to haunt me over the years.

I volunteered to make some felted flowers for a wedding, I'd seen something that I'd like to do at Woolfest last year, felted lilies and so I was inspired to have a go - FOR A WEDDING!  Not for fun.

So I got in touch with Liz Brown from Heartfelt by Liz and she sent me some information.  I have to say that I'd already starting experimenting and so didn't go down the road Liz took for her flowers (she uses silk hankies which from experience spend most of the time sticking to anywhere other than where they should be.  So, I decided to go it alone, but I'd definitely recommend Liz's felted flower pack if you want to have a go.

The difficulty with petals is that you can't lay the fibres in adjacent layers, because if you use merino as I do, the staple (length) of the fibre is too long so you are unable to get a thin petal, like you would need in a lily. You therefore have to make sure you have enough layers to make sure that your petal is thick enough.  This is why, I'm sure, the hankies are used in a nuno felt style.

I laid the fibres out in a petal style, I used white for the base layers, at least four of them and then over that laid some blue wispy layers. I covered the petals with net and bubble wrap and then squirted hot soapy water over. I then rolled it gently with a rolling pin.  This gives an even pressure and stops your design from moving too much - sometimes even gentle pressure with the hands can be too much.  After a couple of rolls, I lifted the net and placed on a line of dark fibre down the centre of the petal.

 These darker accent fibres could be rolled in your fingers first so that they stay in the line you want rather than being wispy like the lighter blue.

Then you're off with the rolling, opening, turning, rolling, opening, turning of feltmaking until our fibres have felted together and started to shrink.

I wanted the centre to be very firm and so I rolled it for a while in the bamboo mat like this

Be careful at this point that your fibres don't become felted to each other!  I also moulded the middle on the end of the niddy noddy, or you could use the rolling pin from earlier if you don't have a niddy noddy.  Why would you not have a niddy noddy?

Anyway, keep working it, your felt will become firm, but if you need any extra stiffener, you can use fabric stiffener, I have some that I bought from Art Van Go.  Some places will recommend that watered down PVA is good to stiffen fabric but I wouldn't use it, it has the tendency to discolour (and can be a little bit smelly)

Here's our finished flowers (on my kitchen table).  I have to thank my friend Linda for all her help and stickability.  I was losing the will to live at about a quarter of the way through!

I hope this has made some kind of sense.  If you have a go, let me see your finished articles.  We can swap notes!

Next time

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