Thursday, August 28, 2014

Felt Like a Craft Day

Discovering a little breathing space on the calendar, I decided to give myself a craft day, and it's been tons of fun. First up was doing some felting with a kit I'd bought. It's the sort of thing you need several uninterrupted hours to complete without assistance from kids or dogs or "breaks" for work or chores.

The kit was from Artfelt, and I'm not going to tell you all about it, because the product's eventual destiny is a gift for someone who is a possible reader of this blog. Uh oh. Now I've set up non-recipients for disappointment. Never mind. This was so cool I'll probably be doing it again.

So here's what I started with:
Pencil roving, wide roving, a couple of felting needles, a foam board, instructions, and a special piece of paper (inside the instruction folder above). The paper is what's unique about this whole thing, and what makes the whole business so easy to do.

Before starting, I highly recommend, no, I insist that you watch the Artfelt videos online. The printed instructions are good, but you really can't properly "get it" without seeing it done and taking in all the little details. Start with the overview playlist, and then watch the video for your particular project. I did, and it made for a very smooth ride.

So I laid out my paper and covered it with a layer of spread-out wide roving. It doesn't really matter what color the base layer is--it will be all covered up in the end. I started tacking in the main figure of my design, a big flower with a long stem:

Every bit of the paper needs to be covered with at least 2 layers of roving, so I did some space-filling before I added petals to the flower:
Kind of looks like decorative icing, doesn't it, if you could use barbed needles to stick corners of your icing down as you apply it (could revolutionize cake decorating, in my opinion).

Somewhat later, as the whole dealio is really taking shape:

And here it is, all stuck and done, with kit leftovers.
 Here's what it looks like on the back side--paper with fibers poked through it:
Fond hope that it's been needled thoroughly and evenly enough so everything stays put and forms a good fabric. Now comes the magic part. The assemblage gets thoroughly wetted in a large pan:
Didn't all fit in a once, but that doesn't matter. Then a sheet of plastic wrap is laid on top of the design and whole thing is rolled up around a rolled-up washcloth. A wooly, plasticy, papery jelly roll:
Then the woolyroll is put in a short nylon sock thusly:
Overhand knot at the top for ease of undoing. Now the clootie dumpling  (That's a Scottish dessert. Look it up.) goes in the dryer for 15 minutes with no heat. I emphasize the lack of heat because usually when you're felting wool, hot water is required. Not Artfelt. Just the dumpling and a couple of towels for only 15 minutes on "air fluff".  At the beginning I added a couple of the dog's tennis balls, but my DH went crazy with the noise after 3 minutes, so only quiet towels after that. And at the end of the dryer interval, hey presto, we're ready to get rid of the paper. Now, it may be hard to believe that after all this moisture business, the paper is still hanging in there, but it is. See? The wool shrank as it felted and the back now looks rumpled like it's supposed to:

And more magic happens. The craziest and coolest (hottest?) part of all. You boil a kettle of water and pour it over your piece paper-side-up. And the paper dissolves! That's right. Goes completely away! Quickly! I could hardly believe how quickly it worked. And what have we got? A beautiful piece of brightly colored felt!
Now...what will I make with this????