Me and Kitty Feltmaking in my Studio

Kitty laying out the roving (from my sheep). This is the first step in feltmaking.

Maybe you remember Kitty Farnham from last year’s  Open House.  She made those lovely  small drawings, which all but sold out.  Well today she came to my studio so we could learn feltmaking together.

It worked out really well, because, without our planning it, she brought everything we needed that I didn’t have.  She even watched the instructive video on felt making that I posted on my blog a while ago and took notes.

It’s a gorgeous spring day, so I tied my door open and moved my work table into the middle of the floor.   We gathered our materials and I queued up the felt making video on my computer.

Neither of us really knew what we were doing, but it seemed simple enough from the video.  So we began…

We layered the roving five or six layers deep, each layer going in the opposite direction from the last.  Then placed a porous, synthetic piece of fabric over the roving, squirted it with liquid soap and cold water then rubbed a plastic bag, rolled into a ball, over the fabric in circular motions.

I used way too much soap and it bubbled up through the fabric.  But it didn’t seem to harm anything, it just took me longer towards the end to rinse out the soap bubbles.

Next we used rolling pins to further agitate the roving.  We had to do this on the floor because the legs on my work table are wobbly and we couldn’t use as much pressure as we needed to without the whole table rocking back and forth, threatening to collapse under us.

Back at the table, we rolled the felted piece (it was thinner by this time and a solid piece of fabric) in a ball in our hands, working it and squeezing out the excess soap.  (You can see my ball of felt on the table, leaking soap bubbles.)

Kitty with her felted piece

And then it was done.  Now the felted pieces only need to dry.

This is the piece I made

It took us almost three hours, including eating cookies and talking and shooing Fate away.   I put some small pieces of silk in my mine and we were both impressed with how well we did  for two people who didn’t really know what we were doing.

I decided to try felting because I had a bunch of roving that didn’t sell from my sheep.  My first idea was to use it to make potholders, but it’s too labor intensive for potholders.  I’m still now sure how I’ll use the felting.  I’ll want to experiment more with it.

After Kitty left I made another piece, partly because I didn’t want to forget how to do it, but also because I wanted to see what else I could do.

So I laid out more roving and silk, this time placing a thin layer of roving over some of the silk pieces.

This time it only took me about 45 minutes to create the piece.  Once again I used too much soap (maybe I’ll learn to use less next time) so it probably took longer for me to finish the piece than it should have.

I gave Kitty what was left of the two bumps of roving so she could keep at it.  I think it will be a natural medium for her because she already is a papermaker and collage artist.

It will be interesting to see what each of us do with the felting.

By Kitty Farnham

This is one of Kitty’s latest drawings.  It’s a print of an original, that she gave me and is a combination of her drawing and collage. I thought it a very original idea, combining the two art forms.  They juxtapose each other so well, the hard lines of her drawings and the soft organic feel of her collage.

You can see the feltmaking video that we used (which was really easy to follow) here. 

3 thoughts on “Me and Kitty Feltmaking in my Studio

    1. Hmm, hot pads, I’d have to make them thicker for them to actually work as a hot pad, but that might be a good idea Kate. Thanks….

  1. It looks like the two of you had so much fun! Pretty impressive result, too. I like that colorful silk “woven” in. Thanks for the detailed explanation, Maria, and the photos. Annie

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