Yesterday I made a felt bowl. Though I liked the colours it wasn’t stunning. Also the opening was a little uneven. This was how I left it yesterday afternoon:
I thought that some beads and a little embroidery would brighten it up. My first thought was to stick with the sea theme. Then I had another thought; how about beading heavily around the opening, gradually decreasing the beads down the side, to make it appear as though the beads were spilling over the edge and running down the sides. I had lots of small packets of mixed beads (which included some sequins) that I’d bought from Images of Egypt (they usually have a stand at the quilt shows, and the bags of mixed beads are beautiful colours and a great bargain). I started stitching last night, went back to it for an hour bright and early this morning, then returned to it later in the afternoon. I used beads that were mainly green, blue and purple (like the felt), and I selected beads mainly similar to the colour I was stitching over. I also stitched some french knots, especially over the purple, as I didn’t have many purple beads. This is the finished bowl:
And a close up of the beading:
When I started beading I really thought it was going to take me weeks to finish. I think that because I was using mixes of beads and many are spaced out it was much easier and quicker than I thought it would be.
I’m feeling pretty pleased with this. It’s a unique hand felted bowl with magic spilling out. Who needs a magic wand!
After several days of no crafts I finally decided it was time to get my head back in gear and to get something done.
I have a box of merino wool tops. The box has been sitting under my desk for ages. Occasionally I visited it and thought about felting, but then I put it away again. Today the box came out and I started stash busting.
I’d bought a couple of bags of dyed wool tops from Texere Yarns last time I visited (this is not an affiliate link, it’s just to show what I used). I couldn’t resist the mixed bags of Deepsea and Moorland colours. I used the Deepsea and a few other colours (for some reason I had to throw in purple) to made a felt bowl using the resist method. If you haven’t made a felt bowl or pod using this method you should try it. It’s amazing how something flat becomes 3D. You need:
Silk tops (optional)
A thick plastic bag
A plate (to act as a template for cutting a circle)
Warm water with some Olive soap (or hand soap – just rub some into the water)
The method is simple to follow:
- Cut a circle from a thick plastic bag (it has to be thick enough to hold it’s shape). The circle should be larger in diameter than the intended bowl as the object will become 3D and felt shrinks. I drew round a dinner plate and cut out the circle as I wanted a good sized bowl.
- Place a large piece of bubble wrap (large enough to cover the back and the front of the circle when the bubble wrap is folded over) bubble side up (not smooth side) on the work surface. Place the circle on top and start to lay the felt tops over the plastic circle. Whatever you place next to the plastic circle will be seen on the inside of the bowl (though it can be pulled inside out later on if you prefer the inside to the outside). I wanted a fairly random colour pattern with lines travelling up the sides (please ignore the top right of the photo where I had more tops ready):
- Press down so that the tops hold together, turn the plastic and the tops over so that you have the plastic facing up with the tops behind it. Any tops sticking out of the edges fold over the front of the plastic and then add a layer of tops on this side of the plastic. Wet the wool tops just enough to dampen the top layer through (you don’t want water running all over). Press down gently with the bubble wrap. Gently turn the whole thing over and do the same on the other side.
- Make sure your hands are dry, if you dont the dry fibres will stick to your fingers. Now you add another layer of wool tops, but with the fibres running in a different direction so that the cross the ones on the previous layer. This will be the middle layer and most of it will be hidden. I used a darker blue, but just use a colour that fits in with your colour scheme. Press the fibres down and add a little water before turning over and doing the same on the other side (don’t forget to fold the edges over again).
- Add your finally layer of fibres on both sides (as you did for the first layer). This will become the outside of the bowl, so use colours and a pattern that you want visible. Add water and press down gently with the bubble wrap. Check that the fibres on the edges are folded over and that plastic is covered all over.
- Cover with bubble wrap (this should already be underneath and it will now cover the top as well) and start rubbing gently. What actually happens is that the fibres seem to stretch before they start to cling together. If you rub too hard early on you may find that you get large wrinkles and holes. Just take it steady, not too much pressure. Turn it over after a few minutes and continue rubbing.
- Check to see if the fibres are starting to hold together. Once they do you can start to rub harder. Try using a rolling pin over the bubble wrap. At this point you can use plenty of pressure. Keep going until the fibres have felted together (pinch them gently to see if they stay together or come apart).
- Once the fibres have felted together you can remove the plastic from the inside. You can either cut out a circle at the centre (only on one side) or you can just find the centre point and make small cuts from the centre outwards. Remove the plastic.
- Rinse with clean water and squeeze the water out. Remove the bubblewrap from your worktop. Make sure that there is no soapy water on the worktop. At this point you can turn it inside out to see which you want as the inside and the outside. Now for the therapy. Start throwing the felt bowl or pod at the work surface. Get tough, burn some calories. It’s quite therapeutic if you’re having a rough day. Keep going until the bowl or pod starts to harden up. It will go a little crinkly.
- All you need to do now is shape the bowl. I used a ladel and rubbed it around the inside until I had a bowl shape. Just keep pressing and turning and it will start to take shape.
- I left the cut points at the centre of the bowl because I thought it would appear more organinc. At this point I decided they were too straggly so I cut a circle (roughly) at the opening instead. It went from this to this:As you can see I stood the bowl on a cooling tray to dry outside in the lovely sunshine.
One mistake I made was to add some gold threads. They looked great but the felt didn’t hold them. I’m now picking them out before taking this any further.
This is not the end of the story. This felt bowl is still damp, but it’s already crying out for beads and french knots. More on this tomorrow.
After the busy day yesterday, my plan was to take it easy today. Things don’t always go to plan. After two loads of washing had been hung out to dry (it’s sunny in Yorkshire oh yes) I went walking with my friend Sandra and Bonny Boo Banana Dog! As we were walking I started to pick up pebbles. After meeting the bodgers yesterday I felt inspired to think about practical activities that could be used when the bodgers attend shows etc. Something to draw people in, entertain children etc. After an hour or so of wrapping wool around pebbles, wetting and covering with soap and curtain net, squeezing gently, then increasing pressure, this was what I had:
I’m thinking of adding some stitching and maybe some beads. That will have to wait though as I’m too busy yawning my head off!
This afternoon I also stitched a postcard for a facebook friend. She had posted a sketch of a place she visited in Tunisia. There were patterns on the sketch and I thought it needed to be stitched, so I offered to stitch and send a postcard. Here it is:
The papers were painted with Brusho (I am getting so predictable now) and I made a collage of the papers and stitched on top. The whole thing was then stitched onto a postcard. This little project took a lot longer than I thought it would, but I’m feeling pleased with the result.
Tomorrow I’m going to finish my last few pieces of work for the distance learning course, and I’m thinking of paying a visit to Colourcraft in Sheffield. I’m in need procion dyes and an excuse to oggle all the art and crafting goodies. Who knows what I’ll come home with!