Felt is created from layers of wool fibers. I mainly use merino wool because it has a smooth surface when felted. Wool fibers have scales which open up with hot water and liquid soap helps lubricate the fibers and make them intertangle. Synthetic fiber doesn't have scales and won't felt. Silk, for example, won't felt and is tacked down with wool fibers.
The resist is placed over bubble wrap and a layer of wool is placed in an east/west direction on top and over the edge of the resist.
A second layer is then placed on top of this in a north/south direction. The edges of the resist will become the middle of the bowl after it is shaped and felted. This makes one layer.
Tulle netting is placed over the wool in the beginning to prevent the fibers from shifting. The wool is sprinkled with hot water, saturating it evenly, and liquid soap is squirted on top.
The felting process takes some time as the fibers entangle. I use a plastic produce bag between the surface and my fingers as it helps my fingers to glide smoothly over the wet wool. After a few minutes of felting is completed, the netting is removed and set aside. When one layer (north/south, east/west) is partially felted, a layer of bubble wrap is placed on top and the whole thing is flipped over. The wool on the edges from the other side are folded over and more layers of dry wool are placed on top of this side of the resist. This is repeated two more times; one layer, flipped over, another layer, flipped over, another layer, flipped over and a final layer. Two layers of wool on each side of the resist create the bowl.
I use a fondant roller to evenly compress and agitate the wool fibers, making them intertangle. Sometimes I use a felting stone. In the image below, there is one layer of bubble wrap on the tray, the wool covered resist on top of that and another layer of bubble wrap is added, like a sandwich.
Embellishment with different colored fibers and textures is done at this point. In this bowl, I left the middle plain.
Once one side is embellished, the whole thing is once again topped with bubble wrap, flipped over, the sides folded over and the other side is embellished. Below you can see the different textures of embellishment.
The felting is complete with a pinch test, which is when the fibers don't pull up when the surface is pinched with your fingers. This means it is permanently felted. A hole is cut in the center, the resist is pulled out and the cut edges are felted between my palms. The bowl is shaped by rubbing over the side edges to remove the crease in the middle. A balloon is blown up inside the bowl and then bowl is left to air dry.
copyright images of Carol Jensen 2014 -2018
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CARNIVAL BOWL II
This is a blue bowl that is bigger than the orange one and is embellished with different shades of green, purple, teal and jade.
Adding embellishment with silk and fiber adds depth and texture. The bowl layers underneath the embellishment consist of light and dark shades of blue.
The first layer in the process is embellished as well, a surprise to viewers when they rotate the bowl and see the inside.
Now that I have relocated to the Gulf Coast of Florida, I am beginning my search for a new co-op gallery to join and also creating more inventory. This is a bowl made from bright tangerine wool with many complementary colors of embellishment of wool and silk
Placing dark against light colors (and vice versa) makes them pop!
Some embellishment was made by rolling wool/silk around a
chopstick and then cutting them into slices.
I also discovered another way to felt by using a fondant roller. My rolling pin got lost in the move across country so when I was browsing for another one, I saw this in the cake decorating department.
It keeps from fatiguing my hands as usually I felt with my hands rubbing in circles. This makes it felt faster too!
Carol Jensen Felting Blog