A starting point in felt

Beginning anything can be a painful process. It’s taking that first step into who knows what. Actually committing yourself to doing something, anything can take more force than is absolutely necessary and even when no force is required as it’s just so darned simple I am more than capable of creating a few obstacles.

I have always had a passion for fabric and fibre. I used to watch my mum sewing clothes for us and loved the expression on her face as she fed the fabric through her beloved old Singer. The sound of her cutting-out shears against the wooden table top softens me as I remember it or listening to her talk through the pins held in her lips, never pausing the conversation when the last pin was removed. The smell of the old Victorian box radiator in the room where she sewed – dry and dusty tinged with wood and velvet.

I guess it was inevitable that one of us was going to get the textile bug – I rejoice that it was me. My sister got the horse bug, my brother the pottery and outdoor life one. I cannot describe the delight I have knowing that every day this month I can play with fibres – did I really need permission?

The 30 Day Challenge started on 1st April 2011. I started felting on 28th March such was my excitement! Having only done wet felting previously I decided to have a stab at dry felting (pun intended). Dry felting involves using a sharp pointed triangular-profile barbed stabber (called a felting needle). By stabbing it into layers of fleece the fibres get entangled and they become more and more dense as they mat together. My first attempt is a little embarrassing (you’ll have to ask nicely for me to put a picture up).

This is the second piece I made (called Neighbours Pot 1):

A form was created with tights and rice tied off to make a ball. Layers of white fleece were wrapped around it and then I sat (watching Neighbours!) while I stabbed the fleece merrily, taking great care to wear my “Health and Safety” hat – I have only stabbed myself once with that needle and I vowed never to do it again as there was blood and pain (I’m good at neither).

After releasing the rice back into its container I peeled the tights out from the inside of the pot vary carefully (I needed to check for any thin areas in the felt and pad up with extra fleece and more stabbing). Two bands of blue fleece were laid around the top edge and carefully felted in place. I wanted to keep it slightly organic and to see what the fibres wanted to do naturally – I’m not big on forcing things, there are plenty of other people to explore those boundaries. The picture here shows the pot in it’s “nearly complete” stage. It is now a better shape and neater around the top edge.

Where the tights had pulled the fibres loose on the inside it is very soft and fluffy. This is something to be explored in the next dry-felted piece.

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