Thursday, April 17, 2014

Feltmakersnorth.com - SPRINGTIME INSPIRATION SQUARED!

from Feltmakersnorth blog - this is inspiration................

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Felting Fever!

April is always a busy month for Feltmakers North, and this year was no exception, as we had our usual felt in and then we have a stand at The Creative Stitch Show, and we also had the brilliant Jeanette Sendler for two one day workshops!
Jeanette brought a great selection of inspirational samples with her, and her lovely gentle teacher manner, made the first day a tremendous success! We were to make a small jacket/waistcoat for a child. The pattern for this could then be enlarged for an adult!
Some of Jeanette's amazing samples!

Jeanette demonstrating the process for making our small jacket.
Tina having fun!

Sarah adding her pattern of flowers!
Dorothy also making a blue jacket but with a more marine theme!
Dympha's is all ready for her little grand daughter!

Workshop Two Tartan Felt, continued in the relaxed manner of the day before, under Jeanette's calm instruction.
Another great range of samples to inspire us, which it did!
The weaving was no problem for Barbara!
The weaving has started!
Weaving with a more contemporary look!
Barbara's very neat weaving starting to take shape!
I think everyone who was present at our April workshops will agree they were a great success, as we all learnt a lot and now we all have a small supply of prefelt so we can continue to learn at home!!
The AGM is 17th May and for members only, who will be getting an email with full details, but please remember to wear something in felt that you have made while being a member of Feltmakers North!! There will be lots of interesting news at the AGM about our programme and plans for the direction of FN in the future, so we hope to see lots of you there!
Fiona Harvey

Monday, April 14, 2014

BOOKS by Nunofeltdesigns Kindle & Print: Nuno Felt Faster & Better + techniques you will love

Nuno Felting: NEW TOOLS, TIPS & SPECIAL TECHNIQUES
Create better, more intricate nuno felt faster!


Print COVER
TOPICS include:
Part 1: How to use the new tools including the Palm Washboard, Edge Tool, Felting Stone & Felting Mat
Part 2: Tumbler Dryer Method & Shelf Liner Shortcuts, Rolling Machines - what they do, where to buy
Part 3: Importance of Color in Nuno Felting including How to Work with White, Using Non-Wool Fibers, Using Cotton Base Fabrics, Prefelts & Batts, & What went wrong - my fibers fell off?!
Part 4: How to make an Infinity Loop, add Ruffles to your designs on the edges and inside, make Felt Lace, the Two Layer Technique, Mosaic Nuno Felt, add how to quickly make and add Prefelt Swirls as a design element
Part 5: List of sources for supplies including fibers, tools and fabric

KINDLE EDITION

Kindle COVER
Kindle Digital Edition*:

PRINT Edition on Amazon.com***:
*NOTE: The Kindle digital edition is readable on all Apple and Android devices including tablets and smartphones using free Kindle Reader software.
__________________________________________________


NUNO FELTING TIPS & TRICKS - Second Edition

NFT&T has hundreds of secrets and tips for how to nuno felt better and faster using the newest and latest techniques and tools. It's so popular that it's now available in several bookstores and public libraries in the US and UK. Available in print and digital editions.

TOPICS:
Best Silks for nuno felting with a list of types and weights
Cottons for nuno felting
How to dye your own fabrics with RIT and DYLON powdered dyes
Non-wool fibers and nuno felting
Using a microwave
Using a portable electric sander; detailed directions
How to "water" your nuno felt
Soaps for nuno felting
HOW AND WHEN TO MAKE HOLES & cut-outs
Learn how to make great EDGES and ENDS
Make "ROVING YARN" to create outlines & designs
What to look for when buying custom-dyed/mixed fibers online
Best throwing technique
Using the "ALL COLD WATER" method
TWO LAYER TECHNIQUE
Fix a "mistake" with needle felting
How to make NUNO FELTED CORDS & BEADS
plus many, many more!
PRINT EDITION on Amazon
http://tiny.cc/ro5jnw
or you can buy it from my online store at a discounted price
http://eneefabricdesign.etsy.com

KINDLE
http://tiny.cc/n3r4ew






Sunday, April 13, 2014

TIPS on using non-wool fibers to add interest to your nuno felt - so wonderful to work with!

This is the perfect time of year to try out non-wool fibers which I use for more than 50% of my designs.

If you are trying to create nuno felt for the first time by incorporating non-wool fibers I recommend using prepared, machine carded (and often handpainted) rovings which you can find at varying prices on Etsy.*

greenwoodfiberworks.etsy.com
Machine carded fibers are usually well-mixed so the non-wool fibers are interlaced evenly with the wool fibers and which is very important...when using non-wools you want to make sure that MOSTLY WOOL fibers surround the non-wool and are the primary fiber in direct contact with your base fabric for nuno felting.

The wool will felt over, under and around your non-wools. The non-wool will never felt; it only felts with the wool that surrounds it.

You may now wonder why the heck use non-wools? Try one like bamboo or tencel and you'll see a whole new world of texture and color possibilities for your nuno felt projects.

Each one adds its own unique characteristics including crimp, gloss, loft, transparency and reflects light in completely different ways than 100% wool.

It also produces nuno felt that is better suited to more purposes and more seasons/climates for garments, scarves, home accents and dozens more.

Because non-wools do not felt on their own you need to spend more time at the start of your project and here are some general rules:
1. Check your fiber layout before you do the first wet-down - make sure you do not have areas where the non-wool fibers are the only ones in contact with your fabric. Add wisps of wool or even a very very thin layer of wool around and/or over those areas.
2. Spend 10-15 minutes more on the Rubbing Stage because you have to work harder and longer to get the non-wool fibers to migrate with the wool through the fabric to stick.**
3. When you inspect your fabric before sanding or rolling if any non-wool fibers pull or fall off you may need to add wisps of wool and return to Rubbing for another 10-15 minutes.

The more you work with non-wools the more you can adapt to what you need to do to integrate them into your projects and designs. Everything is slightly different when using non-wools including the fact that you'll get LESS OVERALL SHRINKAGE. The more non-wool you add percentage-wise the less shrinking.......because non-wool never felts on its own....it only felts when it is surrounded by wool fibers.

You may want to start off with 10% non-wool and gradually move up the percentage. I've pushed it as far as 75/25 bamboo/merino but it took 10 times the effort to get it to work!

*Etsy is a good source for mixed rovings and the big-selling shops have their own independent websites where you'll find many more options. You do need to be careful when you buy mixed/handpainted fibers online --- a lot of them are "overcooked" and completely useless for nuno felting. See NFT&T Second Ed. for How To Buy Your Fibers Online.

**Use all the tools you have during & after the Rubbing Stage including a Felting Stone, Palm Washboard and Edge Tool.

TIP/SECRET: Machine-carded mixed and handpainted rovings that you buy usually have 3 colors. You can hand-card more 100% wool in one or any of those colors before you lay out your project and enhance the "stickability" of your mixed fiber design. This not only triples your design options, it allows you to use the mixed roving in dozens of creative ways to get color and textural effects that just aren't possible when you use 100% wool.

Tips - Changing Your Water Temps While Nuno Felting

If you are trying out nuno felting for the first time or are making another attempt it helps to know how important it is to use the right water temps for every step of the process.



I use the All Cold Water Method from start to finish and only use hot water for the Agitation and Stretching last-stages for very select fiber combos or when working with predominantly white fibers.

Cold water has, for me, been a lot less damaging to my nuno felted fabrics, but it also leaves me with just enough room to make minor adjustments if any of the steps need to be re-done.

Be extra careful when you change your water temps:

If you use hot water at any time during nuno felting it's even more important to take extra care with water temps. Changing your water temps abruptly at any stage may create too much of a "shock" to the fibers and fabric and alter your results.

Any nuno felted fabric that's been immersed in hot water should be left to cool to room temp before you use cold water.

For example, if you use hot water for the Agitation and Stretching stages, let your nuno felted fabric sit for a bit to return to room temp before you rinse it in cool to cold water.

If you use warm water to rinse your project, make sure you don't suddenly switch to very hot or ice cold water - gradually increase or decrease the water temp instead.

You'll be much happier with the results.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Glue.....what would we do without it?

If you've been reading the blog for the last year you already know I am a big fan of Elmer's Glue (even if it has doubled in price) as a great, cheap option as a stiffening agent for felted shapes including vessels, bowls, vases and things like felt bangle bracelets and felt jewelry.




I was also a big user of Golden's Medium GAC400 (acrylic medium) which I often paint on the inside of felted shapes --- but it has its limitations.

Now that GAC400 has gone way up in price, I'm trying to adapt Elmer's Glue to all my needs by watering it down anywhere from 20% to 50% to see what works best. 




Elmer's Glue is certainly the less toxic alternative, but drying times are a pain in the neck - up to 2 days.  If you need to apply more than one layer, you could spend a week waiting to see what happens.

I am determined to make it work.

On top of Elmer's Glue, and I go through it like dish detergent, I go my order of the new FELT GLUE in my Joann delivery and so far I love it.


It's expensive - about $6 for a 4 ounce bottle - but it does what it claims to do.  Dries completely clear and does not alter the touch and feel of the felt.  It does what it says so I have no problem with the price ------- but I certainly would not use it as a stiffener watered down like Elmer's Glue ---- it's just too expensive to use that way and would end up costing as much as GAC400 - or about $1 per item to paint it on in 2 layers.

I used it to stick on several different kinds of beads to a piece of handmade felt and nuno felt.

It took an hour to dry and there is no sign or "feel" of any glue and the beads are stuck forever.

FELT GLUE is very thick and tacky.  You'll want to use any pointed tool that lets you apply it and smoosh it around --- you can't really squeeze it out of the bottle without blowing a gasket......way too much work.  (Many fabric glues have the same thick, tacky consistency.) 

I'm sure you know lots of ways to apply glue to for your specific projects.  I have tried all the fabric glues on felt and not one of them has worked, so I'm glad there's this new option.



Choice of Soaps - Olive Oil or Dawn Liquid?

What soap to use for nuno felting is already covered in the NFT&T Tips & Tricks Book, but it's taken on a new significance for me since my hands turned to sandpaper this winter.

Part of the problem was the constant immersion in soapy water for several hours a day, but the other tolls were the cold weather and my move to a new place ------- all the packing and cleaning on top of a crazed felting schedule turned my hands into liabilities. It even became impossible to complete a fiber layout without half the fibers sticking to my hands.....

Oh, and there's that pesky problem of the older you get, the more your skin dries out...

Using all kinds of hand lotions and special balms helps but the best thing to do if you are using one kind of soap for felting is to switch to Olive Oil Soap.

Most US felters use Dawn dishwashing liquid because it has few additives and leaves little to no soap residue. It's my favorite.

Dawn produces soap bubbles so it's easy to judge if I made a mistake and added too much to my wetting-down water. If you add too much soap it inhibits the first stages of the nuno felting process because your fibers actually get too slippery to migrate through your fabric base.

Olive Oil Soap does not foam or bubble at all so it takes a bit to get used to using it once you make the switch. Most European felters swear by this soap and never use anything else.

It truly is not only kind to your hands but will restore moisture to your hands and the more you use it, the less work you have to do looking for other remedies.

SOAP TIPS:
1. Fill your wetting-down container with water first
2. Add your soap and swish it into the water with your hand or a spoon - if using Dawn, try not to produce soap bubbles --- it makes it harder to see what you're doing through all that mess
3. How much soap you use - both Dawn and/or Olive Oil Soap - depends on your water temp, your fibers and fabric, and what kind of water you have - hard or soft.

Adjust the amount of soap you use as needed ---- I have extremely hard water and need to use just a scant teaspoon of Dawn for 2 gallons cold water.

With Olive Oil Soap I have to add 1/2 cup to the same amount of water.

You can buy Olive Oil Soap in liquid form at 3x the price of the soap in blocks.

I use a cheese slicer to flake off the soap and dilute it in hot water in a jar with a lid, shake and use once it's completely dissolved. Just reshake every time you use it.

Smells wonderful and it is so much kinder to your hands - even if you just switch to it temporarily until you return to your favorite "other" soap.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

3D Felting by Jenny Hill

This popped up in my Google+ feed (which I never use because it keeps telling me what to do without any regard for my preferences or privacy) and Jenny does such a great job that you'll love watching it. 

A third of the total length is Jenny laying out fibers off camera, but it does show that more complicated nuno felt designs often end up taking as much time to lay out as they do to felt.

Note her mention of OpulentFibers, her ingenious use of a WEED KILLER SPRAYER - see?  it does not dislodge all those layers of dry fibers, wow! --- and her use of the Palm Washboard from the start.  (With the microfiber net that comes with all the washboard tools from Heartfeltsilks.com)

Jenny also uses about 10x the amount of soap that I do, but it just proves that each nuno felter has their own methods for achieving great results.  It works for her.

I do know from years of experience that throughout the last 10 minutes of the video it's clear that Jenny knows by touch and feel just what stage she's reached in the process --- she handles with full knowledge of what needs to be done to complete it. 

That knowledge and "close communication with your felting fibers" comes with a lot of practice, lots of mistakes and taking the leap to adapting the technique to FIT YOU and your style for working.  Make nuno felting work for you, not the other way around!

Wonderful!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=V2nCds9hsoo


Monday, April 7, 2014

Paj Silk - how it nuno felts.....a new adventure

My post a couple of weeks ago announced that I had finally found a US source for Paj Silk (4.5m) which is the preferred silk fabric used by many of the most talented nuno felters abroad. 
using Paj Silk for the first time

Paj Silk is a lot like Habotai Silk - it's glossy but the gloss is more muted -  like frosted glass.

I am not a fan of Habotai for a couple of important reasons:  (1) it's a lot harder to nuno felt because of the glossy surface and (2) it's almost impossible to photograph because of it's high shine. 

Habotia always drove me completely out of my mind --- so much extra work and I often found the gloss took away from the final look of the felted fibers.......it just didn't sit well with me.

However, that gloss has a purpose -- it adds body and a bit of stiffness to the silk fabric which translates to a LOT MORE TEXTURE when it puckers, pleats, and gathers around felted fibers as they shrink. 

Paj Silk does the same thing but without that "high gloss" that tends to dominate the final effect. 

I love it.


lots of pleating and puckering

It does take longer to nuno felt - about 30% more time and physical effort during the Rubbing Stage, extra passes with a Palm Washboard and twice the sanding.

Why?  The wet fibers tend to slide around on top of the gloss so it takes a lot more work to get them to start migrating through the holes in the silk and start to interlock and stick to the back. 

Now that I know what needs adjusting, it's a matter of felting with it enough times with a great variety of fibers and other embellishments and I am certain it will become my preferred silk fabric.

The loop scarf you see in the photos here is a very simple sample with an extremely thin layer of fibers placed sparingly on both sides.    I left a lot of fabric uncovered just to see what it would do.

See the texture of the Paj once it's nuno felted?   Very interesting.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Play With Fibers - Try the Non-Wools to add interest to your nuno felt!

Those of you who read this blog regularly know I am a big fan of incorporating non-wool fibers into nuno felt projects........I have a particular affinity for bamboo. 

There are so many options now for non-wool fibers including new options from Opulentfibers.com.  Unspun fibers like hemp and linen  were, until recently, only available in natural colors.  Now you can find them in colors from several sources.

The one rule to remember when working with non-wools for nuno felt is that you need to mix or layer them with wool fibers ---- non-wools will not felt by themselves.  Generally, you need at least 50% wool but you can experiment with whatever ratio you desire, it just requires some tweaking with your technique. 

My goal this year is to learn to work with hemp, cotton and nylon fibers and include more yarn in my designs.  It makes a lot of sense to combine non-wools as the weather (as unpredictable as it is) enters the warmer months. 

Felting and nuno felting today is not about wool at all, it's about what you can create using a mixture of wonderful fibers, textures, and new elements that lead to fascinating and joyful results. 

This is from Opulentfibers.com latest email newsletter:

Have some fun and

Play with Fiber

This is nothing more than a friendly service announcement to encourage you to step out of your regular fiber work and try some new fibers and textures.

Last night I felted up a favorite treasure of yarn into a centerpiece for the coffee table. The yarn was made by a friend and I had been waiting for just the right project to incorporate it. You can imagine my surprise when the fibers matted and revealed a blue balloon! Can you see it?

Enjoy your play time!
-Kristy (owner, Opulentfibers.com)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Patterns for Nuno Felted Garments - Suzanne Morgan UK

Many of you have sent me notes over the last few weeks asking about making nuno felted garments.  You'll love Suzanne Morgan's blog and do read on because she is a wonderful and very talented artisan. 

From her blog:  Things I've learned lately........

Nuno Felting Patterns are Coming Soon!
I am developing a line of patterns for making nuno garments. My first pattern will be done soon, I am working on the instructions. Exciting! Here is a link to my pinterest page where you can find examples of the pieces that have been made with the pattern so far http://pinterest.com/suzannemorgan1/nuno-felted-garments-made-from-my-pattern/

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Boundless Creativity - more on Sheila Smith's book

If you get a chance to read Sheila Smith's new book I am sure you'll have the same reaction I did ---- her talent and creativity leads to new discoveries which is what I find most fascinating about textile artists who share their skills and knowledge by teaching and writing books on their medium.

There's always something new to discover and try right around the corner.
Sheila Smith
I love her chapter on how to use and re-use old wool as a felting embellishment because it describes a neat solution for a recurring problem - where to find 100% wool sweaters or garments to repurpose? 

Unless you live in a cold climate in 2014 with access to thifts stores and charity shops where you can spend hours combing through tons of used stuff, most 100% wool has long gone "easy care" and has been converted to "washable wool" = completely un-feltable!

(The natural scales on the wool fibers have been chemically treated and removed.)

Smith has such a clever and innovative solution that it changed my whole perspective on her latest book.

There is always more to learn.  Textile art and craft is a journey of constant discovery to find a solution and one solution leads to another and then another and the results lead to intriguing and often better results.

I also think her "solution" could be applied to solving other problems in felting that have a much wider application.  It's got me thinking and thinking.........

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Is it called Nuno Felt or Laminate Felt?

To tell the truth, I never got the whole laminate thing because nuno felt to me is felting on fabric so the 2 elements become one.  The term "laminate" failed to penetrate my head. 

That's until I found a great new 2013 book at the Petaluma Public Library on felting that I'd missed completely, and that in itself was the delightful find when I signed up for my official library card last week.

The book by Sheila Smith (Batsford books in the UK) is titled
felt fabric designs
a recipe book for textile artists
and explains for the very first time the difference between nuno felt and laminate felt. 

Sheila Smith published the very popular Felt To Stitch in 2007 and is very well known for her years of experience and expertise that includes teaching in the UK and around the world.  I appreciate the way she presents her material and love her distinct design style.

Smith classifies "laminate" as needle felted sheets felted to a fabric base to make clothing - the fibers completely cover the fabric.  She identifies nuno felt as fibers felted on only a portion of the fabric base. 

It certainly makes a lot more sense to me than calling all nuno felt "laminate" or vice versa.  They are related but not the same thing. 

The book focuses mainly on the use of prefelted (needle felted) sheets that are much more widely available than they were just a couple of years ago.  Great tips on the whys and hows of stretching prefelts before felting. 

I am still going through the book for the 5th time and will post more about it over the weekend. 

The section on different kinds of edging is particularly helpful ------ more on that later.

The book is not for beginners nor is it a basic how to.  It's aimed at felters and nuno felters with a lot of experience.  Techniques are described with a list of supplies and directions but it is not an illustrated step by step.  You have to know what's going on in order to understand her fabulous techniques and learn to apply them to your own design style.

What I value most about this book is that it answers a lot of questions I've had about certain techniques that I haven't had a chance to learn in a workshop or have been wondering about how to do.....and as you all know, I usually take the long road around solving a design problem.....and always find that the solution was a lot easier than I ever thought!

You'll appreciate her chapter on how to create different kind of surface textures in felt when she makes several "sample cards" ----- it's the first time I've seen the use of WOOL NEPPS described in a way that finally makes sense!