I mentioned back in July that I was trying to learn how to make felt. Now it’s September, and I finally have one pair of moccasins that I actually like. (Next week I’ll start working on those hats again…)
If I can manage to make a few more slippers and hats that I like, I might even start a new blog – since this, of course, is supposed to be a blog about paper mache.Â By the way – I want to thank all the guest authors who’ve been sharing their wonderful creations with us lately while I struggled to learn my new craft. We’ve had some fabulous guest posts lately, don’t you think?
There are a lot of reasons why it’s taking me so long to get the hang of this felting business. This process is a lot harder than it looks, especially when you’re learning from books. The biggest reason, though, is that I can’t seem to stick to the instructions – I always figure there’s an easier way to do just about anything, so I meander off, experimenting with this and that. Of course, most of my experiments don’t work, but that doesn’t seem to stop me.
I was trying to find a method that takes less physical labor (not that I’m lazy, or anything…), by letting me use the washing machine for fulling. That’s the wet part of wet felting, and when I do it by hand I end up with water all over the floor and my arms get tired. I also tend to get bored with the process long before the felt is really done. So I experimented, trying to find something that works as well but is easier for me. I think I have at least part of the process figured out (and I have a big pile of rejects, from all the experiments that didn’t work). Of course, any true felter would probably be appalled by my method, but that doesn’t worry me too much.
For these slippers, I started out with a traditional center seam moccasin pattern. The wool is needle-felted on both sides of cotton muslin, with white wool on one side and the other side is a mixture of naturally dark wool (thanks, Becky!) and alpaca (thanks, Mary!). Then I dyed the pieces, added the spots and blue trim, sewed them together, and fulled. The blue trim is yarn made from silk sari material. I love the colors, but the yarn breaks easily, so I wrapped it in blue wool and hand-rolled it to felt the wool, trapping the pieces of silk inside. There’s a fairly stiff core inside the silk yarn, and I like the way it helps to hold the upper part of the slippers at a jaunty angle – these moccasins are intended for an adventurous 4 year old boy.
I have several more pairs already dyed and ready for me to finish – and then I start on hats, again. Wish me luck!