FeltWEST February 2019 meeting
Mini-workshop – Fibre Finesse for Felt
Today Sara Quail kindly demonstrated the use of plant fibres for embellishing felt to create texture, subtle bling, sheen and colour variation. Adding non-wool fibre also reduces pilling and increases the structural integrity, allowing for extremely thin layouts.
Silk waste, silk spaghetti, soy silk, mulberry silk, tussah silk, viscose and ramie are some examples. Viscose is much finer and ramie (made from plants of the nettle family) is coarse. Fibres that are coarser than your wool will sit on the surface, whereas fibres of the same or finer thickness will combine with the wool.
Today we concentrated on viscose as it is one of the cheaper fibres but the same process works with other plant fibres. To make fibre paper, lay out fibres in both directions over a piece of plastic. Place netting over the fibre, wet down and rub soap bar (don’t use liquid soap) all over to create a good amount of foam. Gently peel off the netting and put the fibre on the plastic in the sun to dry. You may need to use small weights to prevent it blowing around. Once dry, the fibre paper is rigid enough to cut into pieces for decoration or can be folded and shaped.
Colour variations can be achieved by chopping up the length of fibre into chunks and dropping onto the plastic. The fibre tops can also be pulled into fluffy clouds or different coloured fibres can be blended.
Fibre paper pieces or fibre (as lengths or clouds) can be placed onto laid out wool tops or wool prefelt and they will attach during the normal felting process. Fibre/wool prefelt can be cut into shapes and placed onto wool tops, Margilan silk or cotton gauze before continuing felting.
Another method is to lay out a tangle of wool pre-yarn, then place plant fibre on top, ensuring that all the plant fibre is in contact with wool. Pre-yarn can be added to the other side if desired. Very light, soft fabric with a cob-web effect can be achieved by laying out a very thin layer of wool, then covering with plant fibre.