Friday, September 12, 2008

A FELTER I AM NOT

Posted by Peg in South Carolina

The online fiber guild that I belong to, The Online Guild of Weavers, Spinners, and Dyers,  has various fiber workshops during the year.  This month, the workshop is on felting.  Felting is something I have been curious about for a long time.  I have been especially curious about it since I wove and My first feltfulled a blanket several years ago.  What the fulling did to the blanket was quite extraordinary.  It produced a soft fabric with a bit of a halo.  There was no mohair in the fiber.  And the fulling totally obscured the seaming I had to do.

Fulling, of course, is not felting.  But it could be considered the early stages of felting.  So when this workshop was offered I jumped at it.  And I learned........

I learned that I am not a felter.

This learning did not occur because of the rather poor piece of felt I produced.  I did get it to felt satisfactorily.  But looking at the underside reveals the unevenness with which I applied the layers of tops. To get that right takes only practice.

But what I really didn't like was the top layer, which you see in the photo. Over the three white layers I decided to put on a bit of multi-colored blue fiber from another fine coated breed.  I laid this top layer on thinly because I though I would try for a transparent kind of effect.  Well, I don't like it at all.  There is just too much contrast between the white of the base layers and the blue of the final layer.  Also, that top layer, though it seems quite secure, still seems like a top layer because it didn't really fuse with the merino layers as I had hoped.  Perhaps I needed to work harder or longer.  But I was tired.

Anyway, it is not the result I got which discouraged me.  I just didn't particularly enjoy the process. 

I went to my favorite felting book to share it with you.  It is this book which really encouraged me to do the workshop. When I opened it, the pages fell open to the chapter on cobweb felt, and there it was.  There was the picture of what I had done!  I didn't care for it in that picture either..........

The book, by the way, is by Sheila Smith and is called Felt to Stitch: Creative Felting for Textile Artists. Go here to learn more about the book.  And if you have the book, the page number for the cobweb picture is page 113.

The workshop is not over;  it runs for the entire month of September.  I may try more.  I may try machine embroidering this piece.  I am glad I made this little piece of felt.  Sometimes a person has to try something new just to rev up the brain;  just to learn that the path he is temporarily leaving is merely a detour; just to learn to appreciate more fully the work of other fiber artists.

"A Felter I am Not" was written by Margaret Carpenter for Talking about Weaving and was originally posted on September 12, 2008. © 2008 Margaret Carpenter aka Peg in South Carolina

9 comments:

Dorothy said...

Hi Peg, interested to read how you feel about felting. I think I ought to take an interest in felt. But I'm not interested in it. I actually don't like the look and feel of felt. BUT I love the look of Helen Melvin's felt pictures which are on her website and blog. And, I think it's useful for weavers and knitters and spinners to understand felting.

humblebumble said...

hey peg

thanks for seeing my blog. i think it's worth persevering. felting is a very labour intensive process from what i'm told

my frien Liz (www.heartfeltbyliz.com) says she recently brought a machine to roll her felt for her, and i don't blame her. sitting rolling felt all day long would do my nut in

however, i would like to make a yurt. apparently when you lay down the unfelted fibre it's almost waist deep before it gets pressed down. it's a shame yurts are a bit impractical for my climate, cos they're lovely structures to live in

Dave Daniels said...

We share similar feelings about felting. For me, it's almost an inbred thing to NOT felt. My mom taught us kids at an early age how to avoid felting out sweaters and any other wool clothing. For sure, it's a psychological thing for me, but I CAN'T make wool felt, no matter how hard I try. (Yes, a call to a therapist might be in order.) There is a beauty to the singularity of the strands of wool, and to felt them is...(is it wrong to say?) a bastardization of the process? (And, my apologies if that is an offensive term.) Although I can appreciate some fulled and felted item, there is nothing more beautiful than a meticulously woven piece of fabric.
I look forward to more of your adventures in this process to see if my mind changes about this...(And I applaud your bravery for taking the class!)

Larry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Taueret said...

I didn't enjoy wet felting much either peg, but needle felting is way fun.

Susan said...

Because of my heritage, I think I am born to felt, over salt, and drink too much coffee But I understand you when you say you know felting isn't for you. A spinner I am not. I span once for a minute or two...

Peg in South Carolina said...

Dorothy, yes, I am glad I now understand (with my body!) a little bit about making felt. Humblebumble, yes yurts are popular in warm climates but I cannot imagine making one----even with a felting machine. Dave, yes, that is what my mother taught me as well. Taueret, the workshop is now starting some needlefelting, but it's about making creatures---not my cup of tea. Hi Susan, I understand!

Trapunto said...

Interesting perspective! From my own experiences I've come to think of of it as dry, defined crafts--maybe even "hard" crafts--as opposed wet, slooshy, "fluid crafts" where you work quickly and intuitively with malleable materials in 3 dimensions at once. The contrast isn't so much between end result as preferred process, since you can achieve very fluid results with the dry processes and vise versa.

Firmly on the dry end, I'm interested in trying blacksmithing and woodworking but not pottery so much. I was a disaster when I tried sculpting with clay, and painting/refinishing is my most hated chore!

I'm with humblebumble on yurts, but I would get someone else to make the cover.

Peg in South Carolina said...

Trapunto, yes, if you don't like the process you are not going to enjoy the making. The dry/fluid contrast is interesting. I did do some sculpting and enjoyed it but I am not a visual 3-D person. But I loved the fluidity of oil paints! Though not of water colors. And I have always wanted to learn woodworking. Took a class in high school and loved it. But wood is really just another fiber.....(grin!)