Wednesday, May 11, 2016

FIBERSHED Classes May 2016


Dyeing your felting fabrics with plants and other easy-to-get natural materials is all the rage now, especially mushrooms.  You may even be able to find these kinds of workshops at your local community colleges and summer adult learning programs ---- I found 4 of them just in my own neighborhood.  If you sell your finished nuno felt, your customers will love that you added color to your fabrics yourself using natural plants.  There is more interest than ever before and always a good story to tell.  As we turn more towards plant based diets, it makes perfect sense to include natural colors to your natural nuno felting base fabrics. 



Mushroom Dyes with Alissa Allen
Two Days & Locations!
alissa allen collage
 
Explore new natural dye techniques with two opportunities to learn from Alissa Allen, an amateur mycologist who has over 12 years of experience presenting regional mushroom and lichen dye palettes to communities all over the country. Every region has its own palette of mushroom and lichen dyes. This class takes an in-depth look at using local, wild fungi as sustainable, safe dye sources. On Saturday, May 21st, Alissa Allen teaches at West County Fiber Arts in Sebastopol, and on Sunday at Hand Made Studio in Bodega:

Saturday, May 21st details & registration: click here
Sunday, May 22nd details & registration: click here

Natural Dyeing at Patagonia San Francisco

Patagonia Event 1
 
Natural dyes offer regenerative possibilities simply because they divest from the fossil-fuel based synthetic dyes commonly used in clothing. On Wednesday May 4th, Fibershed founder Rebecca Burgess led a natural dye demonstration and discussion at the Patagonia store in San Francisco, and we were thrilled to welcome a large turn out. Thank you to everyone who joined us, and thank you to Patagonia for hosting the event!

Deepen your understanding of the positive potential of clothing by learning about climate beneficial fiber over on Patagonia’s The Cleanest Line blog: click here to read

garden and kitchen dyeing at home

natural dye resources collage
 

Keeping clothes out of landfills is another crucial part of shifting to regenerative systems. Want to breath new life into your existing clothes or local fiber? Grow a dye garden with these five top dye plants suggested by Kristine Vejar, author of The Modern Natural Dyer and owner of A Verb for Keeping Warm. Or head to your kitchen and reuse your food scraps with in-depth tutorials from the Liz Spencer, the Dogwood Dyer, and tips for compost dyeing from the Textile Arts Center in NYC.

Textured Felt Vases - Dawn Edwards at Feltmakers North

Feltmakers North





Posted: 10 May 2016 07:20 AM PDT
Hello everyone! I am just wondering how I am going to condense all I want to say about this workshop, as there is so much to tell! Those of you who know Dawn will know what I am talking about, Dawn Edwards is a wonderful tutor and person. We had such fun learning from her, with such a lovely relaxed and calm atmosphere!
Before the workshop started I presented her with her prize for our photographic competition!
Of course it was a sheep!
After an informative demonstration, we were all dying to get started, so we selected our wool and prepared our resists!
 Laying out the fibres.
Dorothy was almost submerged under a pile of fibre at one point, but survived and produced a beautiful vessel!
Leah working hard!
As with every group, we have some colourful characters and this is reflected in their work! I wonder can our members work out who made this one??
Hard at work!
Of course a wee coffee break was important!
The completed pieces lined up!
Elaine Mc Combe made this fabulous swirl design on her vessel.

A very happy, creative and fun bunch of felt makers!
Happy Chairperson Ann McCullough at the end of an extremely successful workshop with Dawn Edwards.

Just a wee quick reminder about our AGM which is on Saturday 21st May, for all the members, we will get through the business asap then there will be a talk on Silk by Gail Cooke and Fiona Harvey. Lunch is included and we will also have our first bring and buy!! So you will be able to stock up on the must needs for felting !!



Look forward to seeing you all there!
Fiona Harvey

Friday, April 8, 2016

BOOKS - improve your nuno felting technique & lots of SHORTCUTS

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
or you can buy it from my online store at a discounted price

KINDLE
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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Getting the Best COLOR EFFECTS

There have been several posts here about how to vary how you match the colors of your fibers to fabric to get the biggest bang for your efforts as well as what you spend on your supplies.

The cost of fibers, both commercial and hand-painted and the cost of silk yardage has gone up quite a bit in the last 2 years; I estimate that several of my basics have increased in price as much as 40% during that period.

The hand-painted rovings are pricey and you want to get as much out of them as you can - and their versatility is key in using every strand to create beautiful color combinations - it's still worth the price to me and they always inspire me to try new color combinations; I never get tired of them.

I can usually get 4 scarves out of 4 ounces of fiber and more if I combine the hand-painted roving with solid, commercial merino which is not as expensive.

It's also a lot more fun because you can make the colors sing depending on what color(s) you pick for your base fabric.  Different base, totally different results.

The combinations are up to you and your imagination!
merino roving from woolgatherings
same roving, different color effects
The Loop on the left was created with Woolgatherings lovely hand-painted roving on 100% 4.5m silk gauze dyed Tangerine (Rit).

The Long Scarf on the right was created with 20% of these same hand-painted fibers with 70% solid green merino in 2 shades (moss and celery) mixed with 10% lime bamboo and natural bamboo yarn.  The base fabric is tinted with Dylon's Olive Green.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Inspiration from the very talented Vallorie Henderson, Kentucky

Feltmaking demonstration set at Kentucky Artisan Center

March 24th, 2016  (see photos of her work below)

BEREA – Not only can the natural fiber wool be spun and woven, but it can also be felted into a variety of fabrics and shapes. Vallorie Henderson, of Louisville, will be demonstrating both 2-D and 3-D feltmaking in her Nuno felt demonstration on April 2, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea.
“Wool is my chosen fiber,” Henderson said, “and I have worked with it in its many forms most of my life. Recent pieces have focused on three-dimensional forms that I create by coaxing my hand-dyed and handmade felt to stand and support itself.”
Henderson’s creative works show her love of exploring, a minimalist sensibility, and a sculptural approach. When felting, she uses merino wool and silk fibers together. At first glance, her forms may appear organic and relaxed, but they are actually the result of in-depth studies in basic engineering principles. Some pieces use traditional hat-making techniques of forming the wet felted wool over forms. Other more complex forms are created by manipulating and giving structure to her felted cloth through the use of gathers, darts and pleats.
“My work will always have its origins in nature, utilizing the inherent qualities of wool that allow it to be felted and by my preference for lines and forms found only in the natural world, “ she said. “Ultimately, the work emerges from my belief that no material is static and that there is beauty to be found in the changing surfaces of objects as they are worn and used.”
Henderson’s works are created using a Japanese felting technique called Nuno, the name which means “cloth” or “textile” in Japanese. It is a fiber technique that bonds loose fibers, usually wool, together with a sheer fabric such as silk gauze, creating a lightweight felt. Using soap, water and agitation, the wool fibers become completely joined with the background fabric.
What I like about Nuno felting is that you can achieve a very sheer gossamer fabric that drapes beautifully,” said Henderson, “or you can create a much heavier fabric from felting and layering more and more fibers together into a fabric that is more suitable for a winter coat.”
Henderson holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in art from Berea College in Berea, Kentucky, and a Master of Fine Art degree with a focus in fibers from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. Her work stems from a life-long love of making and a deep appreciation for the beauty of handmade objects. Currently employed by the Kentucky Small Business Development Center in Louisville, she focuses on assisting creative entrepreneurs like herself, in marketing their artwork on a national level.
Henderson’s wearables are regularly available at the Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea, located at 200 Artisan Way, just off Interstate 75 at Berea Exit 77. The center’s exhibits, shopping and travel and information areas are open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the cafe is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.
The Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea currently features works by more than 700 artisans from more than 100 counties across the Commonwealth. Special exhibits on display include “Great Impressions: Prints by Kentucky Artisans,” through Sept. 10; and in the lobby, “Kentucky Clay: A Continuing Tradition.”
For more information about events call 859-985-5448, go to the center’s website at www.kentuckyartisancenter.ky.gov or visit the center’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/kentucky.artisan.center.
Kentucky Artisan Center at Berea is an agency in the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet of the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
by Vallorie Henderson, Kentucky
by Vallorie Henderson, Kentucky
NOTE:  There are times that my mind wanders around to see what other gallery-level fiber artists and artisans are doing because, 10 times out of 10, theirs is the work that is most accomplished and most inspiring.
I need a lot of help when it comes to confidence making shapes and vessels because they really are hard work for me----they are not at all like making nuno felt which is never a creative challenge, never has been (although it can be physically daunting at times).  
Vallorie Henderson has such a talent for coaxing the best out of the fibers she has chosen; my inspiration for Spring.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Exotics from feltandfiberstudios blog

Yak, Mongolian, Churro and Zwartbles Fibers

Our Guest Artist/Author today is Zara Tuulikki Rooke sharing her experience with some exotic fiber samples.
The Felting and Fiber Studio Forum is an excellent place to exchange ideas and experiences with other felters and fiber enthusiasts around the world. In addition, I have also done a couple of fiber swaps with other members on the forum. I have sent wool from our Swedish sheep breeds and have, in return, received a wonderful variety of fabrics and different types of wool and other fibers that can be used for felting. Now I have tried felting some of the exotic wool that I have received from Nada, Zed and Marilyn.
Nada, who lives in Slovenia, very kindly sent me Yak wool, which she got directly from nomads from Tibet. Apparently, Yaks have three different types of fibers; long and thick hairs forming the outer coat (79-90 microns), an intermediate type (20-50 microns), and a very fine and dense wooly undercoat (16-20 microns). The softness/fineness of the yak undercoat is comparable to the better known cashmere wool (which is a fine undercoat of goats). This particular carded batt also included some coarser fibers, but most of it was very fine wool. I laid out two thin layers of wool, on a 20 cm x 20 cm ( 7.87 x 7.87") surface, put on a piece of cotton gauze, and attempted to felt it.
1 Yak
The Yak wool was surprisingly easy to felt. It quickly shrank down to a compact square of 10 cm x 10 cm (3.94 x 3.94"), and the fabric has felted in firmly. The coarser fibers give the felted piece a hairy appearance and reduce the softness, but I can imagine how luxurious pure, soft undercoat wool from Yak must be.
2 Yak
Zed, who lives in England, sent me some carded wool labeled "Mongolian." A search on the Internet showed that there are quite a few local breeds of sheep in Mongolia, and crosses with imported breeds with finer wool. I found an article titled Sheep breeds of Mongolia describing 15 of their indigenous breeds of fat-tailed carpet-wool sheep. Our Swedish native breeds belong to the group Northern short-tailed sheep, while the sheep in the group fat-tailed sheep are adapted to harsh environmental conditions and are common in Africa and Asia.
Sheep breeds of Mongolia link:  http://www.fao.org/docrep/U4900T/u4900T07.htm#TopOfPage
I didn't get any closer than that in the identification of the wool, but the carded wool feels like a mixture of coarse and slightly finer fibers, mostly black or dark brown (perhaps sun-bleached) with occasional white fibers. To be able to compare this to other wool, I chose the same method as I have used to make previous samples, i.e. 10 g of wool laid out in four thin layers to cover an area of 20 cm x 20 cm, and on top of it a piece of gauze. The wool was very easy to felt and full, and shrank to 12.5 cm x 12.5 cm (4.92 x 4.92"). Compared to Swedish wool, the felted piece feels similar to those I felted with wool from our landrace breeds Klövsjö and Åsen, although slightly rougher to the touch.
3 Mongolian
Marilyn, who lives in the US, sent me wool from the American breed Navajo-Churro. The breed has its origin in the Spanish breed Churra, which the Spaniards brought with them when they colonized, what is now, the southwest of USA. Navajo Indians got hold of the sheep and saw a value in the wool, from which they made carpets and other weaved textiles. The breed's origins, near disappearance and subsequent rescue, and its significance for Navajo culture and textile crafts, is a really interesting read. More on that can be found at The Navajo-Churro Sheep Association and The Navajo Sheep Project.
The Navajo-Churro Sheep Association link:  http://www.navajo-churrosheep.com/sheep-origin.html
The Navajo Sheep Project link:  http://navajosheepproject.com/churrohistory.html
The Navajo-Churro have a variety of colors, and three types of fibers. About 80% of the fleece consists of undercoat wool (10-35 microns), and the rest is coarser outer coat hairs (35+ microns) and less than 5% kemp (65+ microns). This wool was also easy to felt and full, although it didn't shrink quite as much as the above. The final size was 15 cm x 15 cm  (5.9 x 5.9"), and it has quite a hairy appearance. In the photos below you can see the pure white kemp fibers that do not felt. But I like the rustic look and the different tones in the brown wool.
4 Churro
Zed also sent me some wool from Zwartbles sheep, which is a breed from the Netherlands, primarily used as meat and dairy sheep. The wool is black to sun-bleached brown, and the sheep have a white blaze on the face (hence the name “black” + “blaze”) and white socks on 2-4 legs. Pictures and more information about the breed can, for example, be found on The Zwartbles Sheep Association link.

The wool is described as medium to fine (around 27 microns), thick and springy with a good crimp, and popular for spinning and felting. The latter surprised me, because to me this wool personifies all the descriptions I have read about wool from meat breeds, which are generally considered difficult to felt. It is really spongy and bulky, without any shine, and even makes a slightly crunchy sound when you handle it. I would describe this wool as something that should be excellent to use as pillow stuffing. But maybe it works well for needle-felting, and I actually found some examples on the internet where people vowed that it was good for wet-felting. So, I had to give it a try. It was not easy to press the wool down and start the felting process with soap and water, but after a while, the fibers began latching into each other. Then I tried fulling, with a little rougher handling, and then it started to disintegrate completely. The very loosely felted and spongy piece is the same size as it was from the beginning, and I am astonished that piece keeps together at all. Different types of wool definitely have their different uses, and this would not be my first choice for wet-felting.
5 ZwartblesZara, thank you for your insightful and detailed analysis of these fibers!
WHERE TO BUY (from Nunofeltdesigns):  You can find these fibers, often listed as "exotics" on Etsy, at Opulent Fibers (usually only available until they sell out) at WC Mercantile, on eBay and at Apple Rose Farm's online store.  I love Churro for vessels and shapes since it is a long and thick fiber that felts very fast --- but I am not a fan of Yak which is much more suitable for wearables because it is so soft and has a rich, felted texture.  My customers have an aversion to Yak and just don't want to wear it.....and it is quite expensive.  At such a high cost, I would rather use real cashmere fibers which, yes, are a lot harder to nuno felt, but the results always justify their cost.

Monday, March 21, 2016

How Humidity & Heat affect your nuno felting processes

It's that time of year again and it's even more relevant to me since I recently MOVED (oh yes, again) to a town that has high summer temps and very low humidity about 6 months of the year.

Many of us, especially in California, live in homes and apartments that don't have central heating and air conditioning so the condition of our environments can have a critical impact on our ability to do felting and nuno felting.

A few of the problems - your fibers dry out and pull away from the fabric throughout the process OR your fibers and fabrics give off so much static electricity that you can't get anything to stay in place!

I am generally referring to temps above 80 and humidity at 40% and below.  The dry heat in the air combined with extremely low humidity means that, if you make a few adjustments to how you work, you can get around these conditions.

For those of you who have been reading the blog for a long time and have both books, you know something about my nuno felting process.  I have made HUGE CHANGES based on my environment over the past year.  I continue to make adjustments as needed but the final result is that it now takes from 30-50% more time to complete any nuno felting project because I need to add many more steps to the process.

More details are coming but these are the major changes:
1.  use 30% more soapy water to wet down my project (using the essential weed sprayer)
2.  use the Palm Washboards (round and edger) on top of my window screen covered wet project before turning it over to lay fibers on the other side
3.  do the same with the Palm Washboards on the other side (screens still on top)
4.  spend 30-40% more time on the hands-rubbing process that always ends with using the Palm Washboards (this is on top of soapy wet plastic that encases the project)
5.  remove plastic, lay out my design on the solar pool cover and roll in all directions (100 times) to "fix" the fibers even more
6.  double the time and effort on sanding.

On top of these changes, please note that my projects are soaking wet - so wet that I often blot up the excess water that oozes out during each step.

I also SAND WITHOUT ANY TOWEL underneath the project and use the sander DIRECT ON THE SUPER-SOAKED project.  (Also requires blotting up the excess water.)

While that may sound like I've lost my mind, my sander acts just the same and it is as if the excess water is not there---------if you are nervous about trying this out, just have someone with you to make sure it all goes ok.  You will get used to it.

I also increase the number of THROWS depending on how things look when I get to that stage.

There are even more tricks in the bag working in these kinds of conditions ---- because my production has increased 50% and going up more each month with increasing store orders.  Frankly, I had to adapt to my environment or give up nuno felting.

MORE TO COME!

can't live without it!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Making a Triangle Shape for your nuno felted scarf

I love the extended one-end of this triangle pattern-----it makes a lot of sense when you see how lovely it drapes with those additional inches.


Trying this out today!

New post on feltingandfiberstudio



Triangle Nuno Scarf

I saw a Knit triangle Scarf that looked interesting and though I could do that with nuno felt.
pfeilraupe01_medium

If you would like to knit it her is the link. it is available in several languages. http://alpis-farbenrausch.blogspot.ca/p/strickanleitunen.html
I wasn't sure of the finished length but I was thinking about 6 feet.  I cut a piece of silk 4ft by 8 ft. and then cut that corner to corner to make 2 scarves.
I cut the slits first, inserting resists to make sure they holes stayed open.
triangle scarf 3
The first layer of wool was one of my own batts that I split in to thin layers.
triangle scarf 1
Then more colours, well shades of purple mostly
triangle scarf 4
then I address some silk top and throwster's waste. Mostly purples again and I used some turquoise for pop.
triangle scarf 5
6 feet seems to be the right length. I think you could do it a bit smaller if you wanted or if you are petite.
scarf 2scarf1
All in all I am very pleased with it. I may iron the folds in to it but I haven't decided yet. I will add a picture on the mannequin a little later. I don't want you all to be waiting for the post, thinking I have forgotten about you.

Friday, March 11, 2016

PALM WASHBOARD TOOLS how to use Part 1


THIS POST IS A REVIEW OF HOW BEST TO USE THESE TOOLS EVERY TIME YOU CREATE NUNO FELT.

THIS IS REVIEW PART 1 ABOUT THE BASICS.

PART 2 WILL REVIEW USING THE MICROFIBERS SHEETS (PROS AND CONS) .

PART 3 WILL REVIEW OTHER METHODS AND TECHNIQUES FOR ADAPTING THESE TOOLS TO FIX MANY OF THE COMMON NUNO FELTING PROBEMS LIKE STICKABILITY.

THE GREATEST ADVANTAGE OF THE PALM WASHBOARD TOOLS IS THAT THE MORE YOU USE THEM, THE MORE THEY CAN DO FOR YOU.

HeartFeltSilks, the creator and maker of these essential tools introduced several new shapes and sizes during 2015 and continue to innovate in 2016.  Please check out their webstore on Etsy to see what's new ------you can also get some great deals when you buy their sets.

While they may seem expensive when you first look through them, every single one will have you convinced that you can't felt or nuno felt without them.

REVIEW PART 1

To make nuno felt you need to go through several steps to get the fibers to migrate, stick, then shrink and felt so that you end up with a viable, durable felted fabric.

Most steps should be followed in a certain order but there is lots of flexibility in how you complete each step especially with the addition of "new" tools like a sander and Heartfeltsilk's invention - the Palm Washboard (and other Palm tools).

I follow a pattern of steps but vary what I do within each step based on what kind of fibers and fabrics I'm using based on years of experience.  For example, I know that using cotton, paj and habotai silk means I need to increase the amount of time and effort during the Rubbing Stage and often need to double the number of throws towards the end of the process.

Every couple of months I learn new tricks with these tools and will include lots of future posts to share those with you as they happen.

I use the PALM TOOL Regular Size and Palm Edge Tool for EVERY NUNO FELT PROJECT and simply cannot function without them.


Edge Tool

PREPARATION FOR USING THESE 2 TOOLS:
1.  Project fabric is laid on top of plastic sheet on top of bubble-side up solar pool cover.  Plastic is at least 4x wider than the project.
2.  Lay out fibers, cover with window screen, wet down with cold soapy water using a Weed Sprayer, remove screens, fold over plastic to completely cover the wet project, seal and press out all air bubbles.
3.  Spray soapy water on top of the plastic, start using my hands to rub on top of plastic for about 4-5 minutes; pull up plastic to check if the fibers are still sticking to the fabric and not the plastic.
4.  USE THE PALM WASHBOARD and Edge Tool ON TOP OF THE SOAPY WET PLASTIC.
(a) run the Edge Tool over all edges and ends 6-10 times (depends on the thickness of the fibers + fabric) in a linear fashion
b.  USE THE PALM WASHBOARD (always ROTATED in CIRCLES) from left to right along the entire project 6 - 10 times.
c.  switch to my hands and run them using a circular pattern 6-10 times along entire project

Place dry towels on top of the soapy wet plastic to dry the surface; open up the plastic, remove the project and place it on a dry towel on my worktable and begin the SANDING PROCESS.

COMING NEXT:
Yes, you can use the Palm Washboard Tools on top of the Microfiber Sheets that come with these tools (instead of using them on top of plastic) but that isn't always the best solution.

Can't live without my weedsprayer!


better weed aprayer
The Weed Sprayer is all the rage in felter's studios and workshops because you can water down ANY project in seconds.  Heck, you can even add your liquid soap and it never foams up.  (TIP:  you are using cold or room temp water when you wet down your project so it's just fine under pressure.  I would not use hot water in these things.)

Most of those available in the big box hardware stores and garden centers are for home use and they range from $9.99 to over $50.

I got el-cheapo used it for 2 months and just tossed it in the garbage.  It would not seal and leaked air and needed so much manual labor that my right arm almost fell off.

The new one cost $14.95 but has a "release valve" on the side to release the air pressure after using it --- you don't want to leave it pressurized overnight or around kids and animals.

Having that extra valve means I don't have to keep unscrewing the top and losing air.

The capacity is only 1.5 gal that's why I got it---the one for $19.99 was 2 gal and you have to remember you are placing it on the floor to pump in air, then LIFTING it up to your worktable ---- don't get something that is going to wreck your knees and back. 

When you fill it up:
add your cold water first
add your Dawn or other felting soap in the amount you usually use for most of your work - don't mix it in, just leave it alone
use a paper towel & completely dry the opening, the insert rod and everything around it ---- once you add liquid soap it can stop the seal from forming because it's just too slippery.
seal it up and start spraying - you will love how fast it is.

You can also omit the soap and add your soap once you've wet down your project.  Many felters rub an olive oil soap bar over their wet fibers.  (The fibers need to be tamped down with window screen so they don't shift while soaping.)

MAKE FELTING EASIER for yourself!!!!!  Once you use it you'll never be without it.