Thursday, December 11, 2014

BOOKS on Faster Nuno Felting - by Nunofeltdesigns


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




Wednesday, November 19, 2014

More from Fiona Duthie - learn how to make those "puffy silk circles" in your own designs

If you love the look of those deliberate "puffy silk holes" that give your nuno felted surfaces more dimension and textural interest you can figure out just how to do it in this wonderful post from Fiona Duthie.  See how she makes a prefelt and cuts out the holes before placing it on top of the silk?

UPDATE:  Posts and new stuff will have to wait until after the holiday season since I SOLD OUT at my weekend show in Sonoma and have nothing in stock to prepare for 3 more big shows coming up in the next 14 days.  In addition to moving 3 times in the last 8 months, I just can't keep up.  Will post items of interest here when I can, but the blog will not be super-active again until late December.

Fiona Duthie: fiber, color, texture



Posted: 17 Nov 2014 07:21 PM PST


  I have been working in one version of my most perfect place... there are several variations on this... but this is definitely a good one. The Okanagan is beautiful. And home to Canada's best wines, including some amazing reds. I'm staying on the Naramata bench, right on the KVR walking trail, in a vineyard... overlooking the lake.... with fine sunrises and sunsets. It is heavenly...and that is just my mornings and evenings.

  All day I spend at the Shatford Centre, home of the Okanagan School of the Arts. Some days I am teaching... and then others I am there as Artist in Residence. I'm using this time to tidy up some old work, refine my plans and goals for 2015/2016 and then start to enter into the mindspace for my upcoming exhibition in February. It is a wonderful world! Even with a separate studio space at home, and older children now, who are pretty self-sufficient, it is still a unique experience to go to a different space and focus. I think that is the key....to have clear goals to work towards in this special time set aside....with some breathing spaces allowed for...of course...and a fine glass of local red wine.

  This weekend was a three day session on Joomchi Feltmaking. We had a small class, due to a few cancellations, so I had the opportunity to make my own piece as a demonstration. With experienced feltmakers in the class, we delved deeper into perfect fit in garment construction and with a focus on lots of surfaces and composition techniques. 

All of the pieces were beautiful and perfect for their individual wearer and creator...
 


  And my own, red study....working with a single colour to really highlight the textures in the piece.


   This is first class I have taught in years that was not full. It was a tiny ego hit...being honest with you... but not for long...this smaller class size opened up opportunity to go much farther with my students and create something alongside them. We had more time for discussion and even a short "felt clinic" looking at past projects and tips for improving each work. It was a great gift of space and time.... These were three calm, creative, wonderful days, in an incredible setting and facility. It was pure pleasure.

And there are still 4 more days to go....

Warm wishes, 
Fiona

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fiona Duthie on Layouts using Batts - great tutorial!

Fiona Duthie: fiber, color, texture



Posted: 27 Oct 2014 02:26 PM PDT

  Wool fibres can be used like paints, laid out to create surface colour changes, but also combined in layers to build new colors through shadowing. We can also use this simple technique to create a shift or transition in colour progression.  It can be easier to imagine how to blend the layers when using wool roving than when using wool batting.  This is a method I use to create a more subtle shift in colour when laying out using wool batting.

This technique is illustrated using C1/Pelsull and C1 wool batting from New England Felting Supply.

 For many projects, we only need half the total thickness of the batt.
Unroll the batting so you have it at its full thickness. Then open up the layers into two- divide the sheet into two thicknesses. The wool batting divides easily this way…like sheets of phyllo dough….one half will usually be a little heavier than the other. For this layout, I am using the slightly more thick layer. Remember to do this for all your wool colours.

 On the area where you want to continue your layout and start the colour transition, divide this wool layer into two, and pull the top layer up about 2 inches (5cm). This amount will depend on the size of your overall project and composition.Pulling up a larger amount like 4 inches (10cm) will give you a large transition area with more opportunity for gradation.

 Using one hand as a clamp, pull off this part of the top layer.

 Repeat this process on your next colour. In this case I'm using two complementary colours.

 Lay the thin section of the new colour, over the thin section of the previous colour. Because these are both half thicknesses, the transition area now will be the same density as the full colour layer.


  Repeat this same process for all of your layout and colour transitions.

  Wet out and compress as usual.

 You may want to add this the very lightest, finest wisps, not adding weight, but another layer to deepen the gradation through the transition.


 Felt using your usual methods.

 
 In your transition areas, the two colours overlapping migrate through one another, creating colour shadowing. This migration is what will create the seamless colour transitioning. Tossing your felt really helps to get those fibres integrated and achieve good migration. It is very important to full your felt completely. If you are not seeing any colour shadowing, you probably have more felting to do!

 The transition areas show clear colour blending. A definite purple between the analogous blue and fuchsia, and a brown/orange tone coming from the lime green and fuchsia. This transition could be even more graduated by making a more deep overlap, and lightly adding wisps to the edges of the transition area in the closest colour. The colour transitioning is more subtle between analogous colours than complementary colours. This would also be true when using natural wool colours.


 This is a beautiful and simple technique for adding more depth to your felt composition, with just a simple variation in wool layout.



  A question about laying out using batting in this way was asked by a student in one of my online classes. I started writing out a text description of how to achieve the gradated result, and realized pictures just would tell it so much better! It was a fun exercise for me....a nice distraction from larger projects I have on the go, which I so need from time to time....and also a great opportunity to write a post here!

Warm wishes, 

Fiona

Friday, October 17, 2014

NEW ANSWERS TO BLOG READER QUESTION - SANDERS

This is just an update with NEW INFO on sander safety.

As you can imagine I am right in the middle of getting ready for tomorrow's Workshop while moving to a new apartment all at the same time.  We are primo multitaskers!

SANDERS, safety, AND DUST COLLECTOR ATTACHMENTS
This is a great question because when I had to find a new sander the only ones available are those with a "pipe at the back" right underneath the handle where you attach a "bag to collect the dust from sanding."

It seems that in 2014 most tool makers have stopped making 1/3rd sheet sanders (the perfect size for us) and are only making ones with this pesky attachment.

No fear  --- you CAN USE THESE kind of SANDERS without a problem, just NEVER ATTACH a bag to them.  NEVER.

The "vacuum suction" through the holes in the plate of the sander WILL NOT WORK or suck in any water if you DO NOT ATTACH a bag.  The suction only works if you attach a bag.

The only problem you will have with this kind of sander is when you press it on your wet nuno felted fibers.  It will leave a "impression of a hole" sometimes but that has no impact whatsoever on what a SANDER CAN DO FOR YOU.

********************************

COVER THE HOLES IN THE SANDER PLATE?  No, you don't need to.  Don't attach any collection bag and there is NO SUCTION.  

10 years ago when felters discovered that sanders were sent from heaven most sanders had metal plates.  NEW SANDERS HAVE DENSE PLASTIC PLATES.  (It used to be that we were told to glue a thick smooth plastic cut to size for old-metal-plate sanders but I would NEVER EVER USE A SANDER WITH A METAL PLATE.)

Don't listen to those guys in the hardware and big box stores because they are NOT FELTERS and they have no idea what you're talking about. ***

*** True Story:  I just visited 2 mom and pop hardware stores and the big box local contractor/hardware store in Petaluma to find COMPLETELY CLEAR 1 MIL PLASTIC DROP CLOTH which I use to encase all my wet projects to start the Rubbing Stage.

All guys, all told me various stories about how 1 mil is good for nothin' and that their NEW OPAQUE WHITE (that I can't see through) would work just as well.  When I explained that I have to SEE WHAT I AM DOING to the fibers on fabric they all looked at me like I was NUTS.

When you go to buy a NEW SANDER don't listen to anything they say.  Us "nice little ladies" will do just fine without all the ridiculous "advice" that is not advice at all.


Friday, September 19, 2014

Using Silk Fibers - Blog Reader Question

In a recent re-post of the newest "felt-in" at Feltmakers North in Ireland I highlighted a merino/silk nuno felt scarf and got a great question about using silk fibers.

I am not a fan of silk fibers for a couple of reasons (that are about to fly out the window) because when they are nuno felted they often have such a high gloss that they are notoriously hard to photograph for my online stores.  

I also don't think they add any "textural interest" in the way that bamboo fibers placed in and near the surface of about 90% of my designs.  My customers online and in person love that I add bamboo and when I point it out to those interested in buying one of my scarves, they love the look and texture.  Adding bamboo also "lightens" the weight of the wool nuno felted on fabric.  It creates more ethereal designs and the more bamboo I add, the more interesting it is.

However, silk adds one important element that cuts down on the problem many have (including myself) wearing 100% wool.  I used to be able to wear it all the time when I lived on the East Coast and had quite a collection of wonderful all-merino wool sweaters.  As I got older and my skin more finicky, I can wear cashmere but not 100% wool unless it is very high quality merino.  ADDING SILK fibers can eliminate the "scratchy" problem that many of us have with 100% wool (of any quality).  It can make "felted wool" a lot more wearable.

The more silk you add to nuno felt, the softer and more-supple it is.  So I am convinced! that working with more silk in my custom-mixes is the right way to go and plan to make designs with a very high content of silk fibers this season.

Please remember that you have to have 100% wool to make a successful piece of nuno felt ---- but you can add other non-wool fibers up to 50% to change the weight, texture, look and feel.  For those of you who are willing to do the extra labor, you can add up to 70-80% non-wool fibers but they will always take 3x to 4x longer to nuno felt.  

BEST MIXES:  If you buy machine carded custom mixes of up to 50/50 silk/merino you are much more likely to have success.  If you have your own carding machine you can make your own.  If you use wood hand-carders like I do, you do need to card the mixes at least 6 times to make it work ---- and have more of a chance for success.

If you have never worked with silk before, you may want to try a machine-carded mix.  

SURFACE DESIGN using silk fibers:  Always add a layer of wool fibers ON TOP OF your silk fiber if you place it on top of your layout.  Add a layer of wool fibers if you lay out a carded mix and see that some silk fibers are "all by themselves" on top of your fabric --- they need the wool to felt.  Even it is it a gossamer thin layer of wool that no one but you can see, you still need to "anchor" your non wool fibers with wool.  Any stray silk fibers will just fall off once you finish if you don't spend the extra time to make sure they adhere.

Nuno felting has so many possibilities that even if you add 10% non-wool fibers to your projects you will be enchanted by what it adds to the color, weight, texture and total effect of your work.  There are so many wonderful options for adding all kinds of fibers that you can experiment until the sheep come home......



Sunday, September 14, 2014

SANDERS for Nuno Felting - what I'm using now

Those of you who were hooked on the B&D 1/3rd Sheet Finishing Sander which is no longer made have been sending great notes to me with suggestions for substitutes/


I just got back from our local big box hardware store empty-handed because they only carry 1/4 sheet and orbital finishing sanders --- NO 1/3rd sheet at all.  Guess they have "gone out of favor" with contractors who obviously prefer the smaller units.  I imagine they are much more adaptable for custom work but that doesn't help felters at all!!!!!!


Did they count us out?


1/3rd sheets have the biggest plate so you can get more done more quickly.  Period.  You can use the 1/4 sheet but it will just take you twice as long***


My last (boohoo) B&D just bit the dust so I am using my new BUFFALO TOOLS 1/3rd sheet from Sears:



It's OK but it is much lighter than the B&D and the ON switch really needs to be secured with your finger ---- both of these problems make it harder to use.  I have to physically PRESS down harder and my fingers hurt after using it for 10-15 minutes, my usual routine duration.


One great blog reader told me to look into the MIATA 1/3rd sheet sander so I ordered it and will let you know ----------- costly but if it works and last longer than 6 months it might end up being worth it.


Who wants to spend hours and hours looking for a replacement for that wonderful B&D?????


If you have any suggestions, please let me know and I'll post if for all of you to read.


***Palm Finishing Sanders are just what they say --- you hold it with the palm of your hand.  If you have any arthritis or problems gripping a "knob" for several minutes at a time, this might be way too uncomfortable for you to use.  Some of the smaller finishing sanders have the same-sized plate so get one that you can grip comfortably.    The more sanding you do, the more you will pay attention to your comfort ---- if you can "try out" various sanders in a store, do that.  It's worth the extra effort.


Friday, September 12, 2014

Yarn Fringe Part 2

Adding fringe with yarn sounds easier than it looks. 

I've added lots of yarn to my nuno felt scarves but found that it was so time consuming that I wouldn't attempt it again - until now when fringe seems to be making a comeback (let's hope it's a brief one).

Felted fringe takes even more work and since I'm not a "natural" at it, the most I can do is sigh and oooh and aaah at FeltedPleasure's talent for making the most gorgeous felted fringe (most of which end in a leaf shape) I have ever seen.  No one I know can match it. 

YARN FRINGE
I found an incredible handpainted, handspun merino yarn in all the right Fall colors at Dharma Trading's store in San Rafael a couple of months ago.  Expensive but I just had to have it.  My plan was to add it underneath the fibers to add substance and body to my designs and knew it would work for fringe.  It was really the yarn that made me do it!

If you add yarn and want to minimize the amount of extra work, use 100% wool; it will felt better, stick better and end in better fringe. 

You are always going to have these problems with wool yarn:
1.  it will shift and move around when you wet down
2.  it often does not stay in a straight line - see below

USE THE TWO LAYER METHOD:
Lay out your fabric and lay out a very thin "underlayer" of your fibers in the spots you are going to lay down your wool yarn (here it's along the entire length) and place the wool yarn ON TOP of this underlayer.

Cover with screen, wet down, press, remove excess water (with an old towel) and remove screens.

LOOK AT YOUR ROWS OF YARN TO SEE IF THEY ARE STRAIGHT - they will not be perfect -- use your fingers to coax wonky areas back into line.

DO NOT PULL the yarn to straighten it --------- because if you do, it will shrink at a different rate than your fibers and PULL AWAY FROM your fabric while you complete the finishing steps.  See more about this below.

Just try your best to straighten it out without pulling.

PLACE THE REST of your fibers on top of the yarn and repeat screens on, wet down.  Cover with plastic, move on to the Rubbing Stage.

RUBBING WITH YARN IN YOUR DESIGN
Don't use a Palm Washboard since it will DISLODGE your rows of yarn.  This is a Rubbing Stage that has to be done by hand.  Use a very light touch for the first 5-8 minutes to make sure you have firmly pressed the fibers into and around your rows of yarn ---- they should then stay in place for the rest of the Rubbing Stage process.

FRINGE ENDS - pay special attention
The wool fringe/yarn will start to felt along with your project but you can help the felting process by using a sander on them when and if you do sanding.  (make sure the fringe is soapy wet)

Carefully check the fibers at the end of your fabric where the fringe "grows" and make sure they are securely nuno felted to the fabric (so your yarn stays straight).  If you need to do extra work to seal that area, use a sander or your hands.   It's important to make sure that the fringe does not pull the fibers away from the fabric--------be extra sure that everything is sealed.

FINISHING WITH YARN FRINGE - BE CAREFUL 
Throw and agitate your finished project BUT NEVER STRETCH AND PULL IT to improve the final "drape" ---- if you pull it the yarn WILL COME OFF THE FABRIC and ruin it.  (I've made this mistake more than once.)

DRY FRINGE:
Once completely dry, check the fringe and snip off any scraggly threads at the tips.  You can tie knots into the ends, the tops (near the fabric) or add beads.  You need to see the final fringe before you can make a decision if it needs any further embellishment.  For example, if your fringe looks too "light" next to its nuno felted fabric, add beads or multiple knots so that it looks "balanced" --- you want to make it look like the fringe belongs.

SECRET:  The fringed scarf pictured here is nothing like it is in person -- this merino yarn is so exquisite that it "makes" the scarf into something enchanting that has a lovely soft and fascinating texture.   After using it, I would never settle for an inferior yarn.  (I keep a sample of this yarn in my purse so when I need to compare it for my next purchase, it will be my reference point.)



Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fringe - adding fringe to your nuno felt designs

Fringe in accessories and garments are the big deal this Fall Season and you can add this to your nuno felt projects - it does take extra work.  You also need, to make it look great at the end, to pay attention to it all through the process.
no thanks!
Fringe can look great or it can be a fiasco.  And it's an add-on that some women just don't like to wear. 

I like it in very limited situations --- but it is THE LOOK in scarves for 2014.  And not just fringe; scarves are now as big as shawls and are wrapped backwards using the middle at the front of the neck with the 2 ends looped over the shoulder to the front.  That takes a lot of scarf and a lot of fabric.

ADDING YARN FRINGE

wool yarn fringe
PLEASE SEE THE NEXT POST UP!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Blog Reader Question - What Weight Silk Fabric for Nuno Felting?

silk Chiffon
There's a list of suitable silks you can use in the Tips & Tricks Book but what counts most is what you want your project to be ---- a scarf?  Garment?  Bag?  Pillow cover?

Weight and drape are most important for wearables including scarves and garments.  For thin, delicate nuno felt you'll be happiest with SILK GAUZE which is available in mummy weights from 3.5 to 5.  3.5 is very hard to work with and may not be durable enough for an item that is worn often, like a scarf.

I love to use 4.5 and 5 mummy SILK GAUZE and in my experience it is the most flexible.

For heavier weight wearables and for items like jackets and coats (bags too) you'll be better off using a SILK CHIFFON which comes in weights (usually) from 8 to 16 mummy.  The heavier the fabric the longer it takes to nuno felt!

OTHER SILKS including HABOTAI are available in 3/5 to 8 and sometimes you can find it in 10-12m.  It has a very shiny surface and is always harder to nuno felt because of this treatment.

Other silks and silk blends are ok to use but I strongly recommend you make a 12"x12" test piece before you attempt a larger project. 

For example, I have had great success using 100% SILK TAFFETA but, as you probably know, the surface of taffeta varies so widely (it can be very nubby to very sheer to very stiff) so do a test piece first.  A full-bodied silk like this will often crimp and pucker into an un-wearable --- scratchy and stiff which is a final texture that you won't want to wear next to your skin.

SILK ORGANIZA is best for making bags and items like table runners and pillow covers.  High quality Organza is always stiff and will get a whole lot more stiff once it's nuno felted, believe me.

IF YOU ARE JUST STARTING OUT, see if you can get a couple of yards of 4.5-5m SILK GAUZE and a lowest-weight SILK CHIFFON (8m).  Once you work with each one you'll discover that you probably prefer one over the other or one for a certain mix of fibers/embellishments than another.

For WINTER WEIGHT wearables I recommend an 8m SILK CHIFFON which is wonderful to work with.  It has plenty of body and structure but drapes wonderfully once it's nuno felted with as little and one thin layer of fibers.   Makes wonderful shawls and wraps as well. 

SILK CHIFFON ALSO ACTS BETTER if you're adding felt or yarn fringe; FRINGE is the big deal in scarves and garments this season.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

SAVING YOUR PROJECT for the next day....yes you can!

As I said in 100 degree temps I just had to stop in the middle of the Rubbing Stage of a very large nuno felt shawl and wrap it all up in the plastic (it was still wetted down) around a Pool Noodle and save it to finish the next morning. 

It worked but I did have to back up and repeat a few steps.

Thank goodness I still had my Pool Noodles!  Those of you who have been reading this blog and the books know that I really don't Roll my designs manually using the Solar Pool Cover around a Noodle - I go from the Rubbing Stage shortened using the Palm Washboard to Sanding.

This is what I did:
1.  The project was still wrapped inside the 1m clear plastic and still wet-through with cold, soapy water;
2.  I tightly rolled the project INSIDE the plastic around a Pool Noodle;
3.  Secured both ends with strips of muslin ties (use anything but don't use rubber bands - they might leave impressions in your fabric);
4.  Left in a cool place NOT in any sunlight;
5.  Next morning at 8 AM (roughly 16 hours later) I unrolled the design still in plastic:
6.  Opened one side of the plastic and covered the whole designs with my window screen;
7.  Used my Weed Sprinkler to soak the project again, pressed and then used dry towels to soak up any excess soapy water.

Remove screens, fold over plastic to encase the project, complete Rubbing AND use the old fashioned Rolling Method, yes, I did roll it around a pool noodle 350 times (in all four directions) to make sure the fibers migrated through the silk shawl base.

Open plastic, remove shawl, place fiber side down on clean towel, complete SANDING.

Throw, agitate and stretch.
2 day project!

WHY DID I USE THE OLD METHOD?
I used the old 350x Rolling Method after Rubbing because I needed to do a LOT more work based on my fiber combination.  I used 50% handpainted tencel with 50% handpainted merino.  This particular tencel was quite dry and required 30-40% more work.  Not all tencel is this dry but the person who handpainted it overprocessed it.

Had it been 100% merino I might have been able to eliminate the Rolling but probably not.

WHY?  This project was sitting wet for 16 hours and that in itself caused some FELTING TO OCCUR without any agitation; wrapped wet inside plastic meant that some reaction occurred just because of the room temps went from a high of 100 to a morning low of 56.  I am sure the fibers were affected by that huge swing. 

WOULD I DO IT AGAIN?
Yes, because it worked.  However, I would never do this with a dry or overprocessed fiber ---- because, all in all, it took me 4 times the effort to complete this project.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Mistakes......can't get away from them!

MISTAKES!

Yes, I do make them and have been having such a hard time lately that it's just added to the stress that I'm being forced to move again after 2 forced moves this year, a complete nightmare.

Although there are no hard and fast facts the weather (temp) and humidity DO have an impact on felting.  I have learned that it's best to wait until the temp is around 75 or lower and humidity 50% or lower to do so much back-breaking work. 

Excessive heat also makes me lose patience and I fizzle out about half-way through each step so that I have to do 3x the work to finish.......not worth it.

What I've learned:

1.  TOWELS DO WEAR OUT.  One big bath sheet has been my "cushion" for sanding and it finally bit the dust.  Everything was sticking to it and at first I thought it was the horribly-too-soft water here in Petaluma or my soap, or the very hot weather, or anything but the whole damn thing just started to grab onto everything for dear life and now it looks like a furry piece of junk!

2.  PAJ SILK does not like anything but merino and the finer the fiber the better (do you know that most outsideUS nuno felters regularly use 14-15 micron merino?).  I tried using a combo of merino and handpainted BFL (each applied in layers) and the PAJ rejected the BFL.................

3.  When I hand-carded 50% merino with my handpainted BFL it worked and I was able to push through the fibers on PAJ but I won't use anything but merino (and cashmere) from now on because, even though the scarf is gorgeous, in the end I don't like the final look of BFL on this fabric.  The very fine and tight weave of PAJ demands a very fine and soft fiber.

4.  SOFT WATER creates so many problems that I have to constantly adjust my water temp, amount of soap and everything else.  It even affects my dyes.  I hate it.

5.  YES you can roll up and seal your project for up to 15 hours and pick it up to work on later....................there will be a SEPARATE POST on how to do this.

If you are constantly interrupted while nuno felting or have an emergency and can't complete your project you can SAVE it for later.  Polly Stirling said in a workshop that this was possible but you shouldn't leave it for more than a day................never had to use this tip but I was felting at 3PM while the temp outside went to 100 and that was it, I could not continue without passing out.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Jelly Roll Batt heaven from DecadentFibers.com

My wonderful Jelly Roll Batt arrived from Decadent Fibers a couple of days ago and I've made my first design using it............lots more to come. 
the Roll
I asked for purple with gold and a few other accent colors.  Pat and Christine dyed it to order and it is so richly colored that some of it bled into a deep black.  I love that because it's a staple in my holiday designs and everyone loves black felted with lots of accent colors. 


The Jelly Roll Batt is a great option for those of you who are flexible about colors since you will always get some "unexpected" ones.............but once you start working with it, they melt together in spectacular ways and give you a lot of  color-picking freedom.  (If you like to work with much more specific colors and mix them yourself you should order batts by color, not a mélange like this.)


IF YOU ARE COMING TO THE OCTOBER 18 WORKSHOP I will be using these fibers to lay out a scarf in about 10 minutes so you can see how using batts is another way to NUNO FELT FASTER and we ALL want to nuno felt faster...........
purple heaven

Friday, August 29, 2014

Working with Paj Silk - Blog Reader Question

A GREAT READER was intrigued by my photos of scarves nuno felted on PAJ SILK. 


PAJ SILK is a favorite of European felters and the very best nuno felters like Felted Pleasure use it exclusively (and she often dyes all her Paj the same color!).
Paj Silk
Until recently it just hasn't been available to buy in the US because, I guess, there hasn't been enough demand.  It turns out that many doll-clothes makers prefer it to other silks because of it's lustre and drape which works perfectly for miniature clothing.


PAJ SILK is a cross between Habotai and Crepe; it has a tight weave (tighter than silk gauze) and shine on both sides of the fabric but it is completely different from Habotai which tends to be very shiny on one side and moderately shiny on the (wrong) side. 


I think it looks like frosted glass.  Much more subtle and once felted it takes on a completely different "hand" - it turns into a soft, supple and very luxurious super-silk, no other way to describe it.


It's lustre also makes it behave differently (a lot like Habotai) because it crimps, puckers, and bunches up at a much higher rate than the non-glossy silks. 


If you use it for nuno felting you will see this extreme puckering start the minute you start sanding -- it's that fast.


PAJ SILK is available if you qualify for a wholesale account at Exotic Silks in CA; all purchases are $100 minimums.  It's 5.5m weight


This site sells it by the yard (undyed) in a 5m weight:
 http://www.achildsdream.com/sheer-silk-paj-yard-5mm-weight/
You can buy 2-3 yards to try it out for yourself without spending a fortune (but $7.50 a yard if you use a lot like I do is pretty expensive.)


PAJ SILK is sometimes called PONGEE SILK but most PONGEE available to buy is 100% polyester, not suitable for nuno felting.   If you have access to a fashion fabric store or a designer wholesale fabric outlet check to see if they carry PAJ (or call it Pongee) but make sure it is 100% silk.


WORKING WITH PAJ:  Like Habotai, Paj takes longer to nuno felt primarily during the Rubbing Stage.  You have to work 20-30% harder and longer to make sure your fibers migrate through the "frosted" surface.


I love it, in fact prefer it to Silk Gauze and Silk Chiffon because it adds another wonderful texture to the other textures of nuno felted fibers and embellishments.  Plus it is so luxurious and fabulous to wear --- like cashmere pajamas.


I am not a fan of Habotai for 3 big reasons; it takes much longer to nuno felt, it can have such a slippery surface that fibers shift a LOT once wetted down and that SHINE can really dominate the final look................to me it just "gets in the way" of appreciating the final nuno felted surface.



Sunday, August 10, 2014

Blog Reader Question: ADDING to "done" nuno felt

Such a great question from a blog reader:
Hi Nancy, Can I ask your advise?
I recently made a nuno felt scarf with hand painted merino and silk.
I only put the wool on one side and I was wondering if I could now also add wool to the other side or will this over-felt the wool I have already fulled?


The answer is yes, you will overfelt the completed side of the fabric if you now add fibers to the other side and take it through all the steps.

Even if you take great care not to touch the first side, it will be affected by agitation and throwing.  If you use hot water at the end (not the All Cold Water Method) it could make the first side hard and scratchy.

My advice is to make a small sample of a two-sided design - if you like how it looks (2 sided designs take about 20% longer to make) you can go ahead with a larger project.  This is of course if you have enough fibers left!

To rescue the first design, since you can't add fibers to it, you could add stitching or embroidery.  Or add beading or hot-fix gems/studs.  If you've done some fabric painting you can paint the non-fiber side but be sure to use fabric paints, they are much softer when dry. 

(You can always cut it up and use it for other projects.)



Friday, July 18, 2014

More Working with Cotton TIPS & TRICKS - it has qualities silk does not

Cotton fabric is a great option for nuno felting year-round but especially when the weather gets warmer; it provides a durable canvas for everything from nuno felted shapes to garments and accessories such as purses and bags. (Cotton really isn't just for the warm months and warmer climates - it's such a wonderful fabric to use and wear.)

For most projects the lighter-weight the 100% cotton fabric the better it works. I've used Cotton Voile, Scrim, Hospital Gauze and Dharma Trading's Harem Cloth.



I dye all of these cotton fabrics myself even though many 100% lightweight cottons are available in commercially dyed colors and prints. It's harder to dye cotton whatever method you use so it's usually best to over-dye to compensate for the inevitable color-loss during the nuno felting process.

Dharma's Cotton Harem Cloth is my new favorite (even better than voile) because it can be over-dyed and has so much more body & crispness to it --- I love the way it holds up to the tough nuno felting process. (You need to cut it with scissors, not rip it.)

Cotton has characteristics that make it very different from working with silk - the 2 main considerations are WEIGHT and TEXTURE.




WEIGHT
All the cottons including voile are heavier than most lightweight silks (3mm to 5mm) so the weight of the cotton needs to be factored in to your end product. If you are making wearables the weight affects the final drape. If you are making bags, hats and other accessories, cotton may be the better base fabric because of it's weight and durability.

TEXTURE
Texture is a dominant feature when you use cotton as your base fabric because it does completely different things when it shrinks during felting and can be so dramatic that it's actually as much of a design-decision as it is a fabric-decision.

Cotton (whatever type or weight) wrinkles and puckers, folds and pleats and you can pump it up or tone it down depending on how much and where you place your fibers in your design layout.

For example if you spread out your fibers similar to the prep for Cobweb Felt you'll end up with tons of small puckers between the fibers - a fascinating and wonderful effect.

If you vary the direction of your fibers in the initial layout you'll get puckering in both directions and you can really play up this textural-effect trick with the heavier weights.

COVERING EDGES AND ENDS
All the cottons fray like crazy so it helps to think ahead about how to deal with it during layout. I like to use the Wrapped Edge Technique because it looks more professional (and hides all those ugly edges and ends). You can also serge the edges, use a Rolled Edge foot on your sewing machine or buy cotton scarf blanks with finished edges.

TIP: COTTONS THAT WORK FOR NUNO FELTING
voile
scrim
gauze (from tight to loose weave often labeled "hospital gauze")
Dharma Trading's Cotton Harem Cloth - see my post
lightweight cotton blends with at least 80% cotton content


Thursday, July 10, 2014

Cotton Harem Cloth - a great cotton base for nuno felting

on Cotton Harem Cloth
There have been lots of enquiries on the blog about what fabrics to use for nuno felting including Cotton Harem Cloth.  It's available by the yard from dharmatrading.com.

If you aren't a fan of cotton voile which is another great cotton base fabric or need something that has more body and weight, Cotton Harem Cloth might be the solution.

If you have experimented with Scrim or open-weave gauze (aka Hospital Gauze) in all weights and been unhappy with the results (I am not a fan of this class of natural cottons) try Harem Cloth.

It is much heavier and crisper than voile and you must cut it to size with scissors -- it will not rip without a lot of damage to the edges.

It also frays once cut so my best advice is to use the Wrapped Edge Technique to hide your edges and ends.  (It will also be kind to your finished project and be more durable over the life of your design, esp. if it is a wearable.)

I've dyed Cotton Harem Cloth successful with RIT, Dylon and Dharma's Fiber Reactive Dyes but, being cotton, it will lose some color during the arduous nuno felting process.  Always OVERDYE it and go for a shade that is at least 1x to 2x darker than what you expect at the end (which means you should go slightly lighter with your fiber colors if you want a match).

Sunday, July 6, 2014

"No Roll" Nuno Felting Methods - Dryers Included

TreeTops Colour Harmonies in Australia has one of the best set of instructions for nuno felting using the "no roll" method in your dryer.
http://www.treetopscolours.com.au/more-felting-info-and-supplies/wool-felting-how-to/no-roll-felt-scarf.html

It's certainly worth a try but if you are new to nuno felting it will probably be a lot better to go through the "traditional" steps......because today, with the sander and Palm Washboard, you can eliminate most of the Rolling stage which is the most time consuming and physically challenging part of the whole process.

No Roll or dryer nuno felting has one major drawback - you can't control what happens to your fiber layout which may change and shift during tumbling.  You may be disappointed with your results and decide nuno felting is not for you.

Most accomplished nuno felters use the longer number of steps and some do not use any tools to speed up the process.  They have learned that mastering the layout and adding layers of embellishments and interest to their fibers and fabrics takes a number of steps that need special time and attention.

If you are aiming for a "background fabric" or for an item that you plan to use for a home decor (pillow cover) the No Roll method might be best.  But I do think this shortcut it limited and certainly does not expose you to all the wonderful possibilities of how to create your own very distinctive and beautiful nuno felt designs.

The physical nuno felting process is only one part of a much larger creative process.
 
image from their site

 
 


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Mixed Fibers - Lots of Options

Take a look at the offerings on FiberArtemis.etsy.com for a great overview of the kinds of custom fiber mixes you can get --- wonderful options and wonderful colors.
20/80 bamboo merino
Fiber Artemis combines silk, bamboo, polwarth and other fibers with merino and even though the shipping fees are a bit higher (ships from New Zealand) this is the one shop that (1) still uses bamboo in mixed rovings and (2) lets you see what the rovings looks like depending on what's included.  For example, silk mixed with merino gives an overall gloss  - and it that's the final felted surface effect that you want, go with a silk/merino mix.

Prices for handpainted rovings have gone up 10-20% this year but that's after 3 years without any real changes in prices --- so it was in the pipeline.  Once you know what the cost-per-ounce standard prices are for 2014 you'll need to factor in the shipping fees to make your decision to buy.    Of course quality counts but I've had to stop ordering from shops that pushed their prices over my own spending limit.  Since I sell almost all of what I create, cost is a much more important factor.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Watering Part 2

from PINTEREST not me!
This photo from a great Pinterest Board shows the weed sprayer in action.  Talk about a match made in heaven.....

I got the cheap-o $10 one and after wishing only the worst for the idiot who wrote the directions about how to fit all the parts together, I finally looked at the pix on the front of the box and voila, done in 5 minutes.  Or ask your hardware store to put it together after you pay for one.  They sell hundreds of these things.

The pressure for spraying is created with a hand-pump designed into the handle (she is holding that handle) and YES you can add your soap be it Dawn or olive oil soap - I thought the pumping action might create bubbles, but it does not. 

This works perfect for my All Cold Water Method.  (All sprayers are for cold or room-temp water, NO hot.)

Works like a felter's dream of going to nuno felting heaven and everything is easier and faster!

PERFECT for watering down batts which, as you know by my posts about using the fab batts from Decadent Fibers, are so hard to saturate since batt fibers are full of air pockets.

NEW:  FABULOUS for wetting down felt bracelets and necklaces too....makes it so much easier when all the fibers are saturated in a consistent manner ---- this sprayer has cut my process for making these 2 items in half!

I was singing while spraying!

Incredibly helpful for felters who are starting to have a lot of discomfort using a spritzer or other watering methods that require repetitive hand-movements.  With me it's the increasing arthritis in my thumbs....so this was like I sent my hands on vacation.

OMG.

Those ball watering thingies cost $25-$35 which I think is nuts.  A really basic weed sprayer (nightmare directions thrown in for free) runs you $10.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

For Better Drape Results Stretch and Shape Your Nuno Felt

Finishing up your nuno felting projects to make them the best they can be takes a few minutes using tips & tricks from several sources. If you don't have access to workshops, check out the felting supply sites that have how-to sections because they often have information to help you improve your techniques & skills.
One of my latest sources for great finishing techniques is Treetops Colors Harmonies (Australia)(http://treetopscolors.com.au) and their Felting Tips section including this gem:
STRETCH AND SHAPE YOUR NUNO FELTED FABRIC
"Always stretch your work in the fulling stage. Inbetween tossing pull the piece in all directions trying to stretch it back to size. This will give the felt better drape and encourages the fulling process."
I probably learned how to do this a long time ago and not only forgot about it, I never really knew how important and significant stretching is!

If you're making a wearable like a scarf, wrap or garment the final "drape" of the nuno felted fabric is important because it looks better, wears better and shows off the special and unique qualities of this fascinating fiber art.

HOW AND WHEN TO STRETCH
All of this is done after you throw your nuno felted fabric:
1. Throw your fabric at least 25 times on a textured surface on one side, open it up, fold it up again with the other side exposed, throw another 25 times
2. Straighten out and flatten your fabric and pull out all the edges and ends
3. Dunk in soapy water so it's completely soaked through
(a) use cold water if you are using the All Cold Water Method***
(b) use warm to very hot water if you are using the heat-it-up method (which I rarely use anymore)
4. Toss your very wet fabric back on the textured surface, press down and rub it in all 4 directions (top, bottom, left, right) - this is known as Agitation
5. Pick up the fabric and pull it gently in one direction all along the length, then gently pull all along the width (this is STRETCHING)
It makes a huge difference! It even makes your ruffles "more ruffle-y."

There are times when you don't want to stretch your fabric and I learned the hard way that if you add embellishments under and/or over your fibers when you create your designs, you might "dislodge" these elements if you stretch it during the final stages.

For example, if you have added commercial or handmade yarn under or over your dry fiber layout that yarn is never as flexible as your loose fibers ----- if you stretch it, you may pull the yarn right off the fibers and fabric you worked so hard to felt into your fabric base. (I've made this mistake a lot more than once, yikes!)

Another way to think about it - if your embellishment(s) doesn't have a lot of textural "give" and flexibility it's not going to be flexible during stretching.

***Throwing, Agitation and the All Cold Water Method are covered in detail in Nuno Felting Tips & Tricks - Second Edition. These are all basic techniques you can adapt to fit your own skill level; you may not use them for every project but the more you nuno felt, the better you learn what works best for your creative process.