Friday, 27 February 2009

Merry Go Round

Jump on our merry go round and join a group of artists/crafts-women as they link hands around the world and tell you a little about their lives and art.

We are group of 7 women from all over the world
, we have got together in what would constitute an example of peaceful idea exchange and diplomacy, and agreed to come to our blogs once a month and share a bit more about ourselves.
We choose a question and all of us have to answer it in our blogs. It will be very interesting to read what each of us has to say, taking in account how much our lives and crafts differ.

This months question is:
"explain how you do your craft".

----My main craft these days is wet felting. I say "main" because I also draw, paint, weave, do ceramics and whatever else crosses my path :)

Felting is a millenary art, it is the oldest form of fabric making known to man. Remains of objects have been found in the permafrost in Siberia from 600AC. The problem with finding felt remains is that wool desintegrates with time. It is estimated that it was used waaaay before that (Turkey, 6500BC).
The art made with felt is typical of many nomad tribes from Central Asia: rugs, tents, clothing, household items. Kyrgystan exports the "felted" art.
In the last years it has resurged among artisans. Wool, it's main ingredient, is very versatile, soft and durable. And eco-friendly! There are many varieties of wool and the hair of camelides (camels, llama, guanaco, etc) can also be used for felting... any hair can be felted! I met a lady once who kept the hair falling from her dog and later on she made herself a hat with it! :) Tastes....

Anyway, there is a lot of info on handmade felt on the net if you really want to hear about it's history. I don't want to make this post tooooo long.

"How do I do my craft"? Well, for wet felting* you need wool roving (washed and combed wool but not yet spun into yarn), soap and warm water. A surface with some kind of texture like a bamboo mat or a bubble wrap or the lid of a plastic box... anything with a surface which can take water!
The process of felting itself happens when wool gets wet, it's microscopical scales open and by rubbing it with a bit of preassure, these fibers get interlocked. The soap acts as a lubricant so the rubbing and interlocking is easier. You know how you are not supposed to put a wool jumper/sweater/pullover in the washing machine? or else you end up with something half its original size? Well, that's because the wool has felted with the warm water, the soap and the movement and rubbing against other clothes inside the machine! By rule, when you felt something, you always have to take in account around 30% or shrinkage...

Anyway, I have made a small little piece of flat felt just to give you a better idea. I've tried to take some pictures to illustrate. Hope they explain this a bit better.

First you lay your textured surface, in my case bubble wrap. Get yourself some hot water. I turn the kettle off just before boiling. I like it really hot. The hotter the easier it felts, because the scales open up faster. Proof of the hot water is in my now roughed hands. Hot water and soap are not very good -daily and for a prolonged time- to your skin. However, each felter decides how warm the water should be. Whatever your hands can take would be the rule.

So, by holding the roving with one hand, pull very gently some small, thin puffs of wool with your other hand and place it on the bubblewrap:

You lay a couple of layers (one in vertical direction, the next in horizontal direction...and so on). How many layers and other details depend on what you will be making. But this is a rough idea.

Once you have done this, you will sprinkle well the wool with hot soapy water.( Don't pour water on it because the fibers will move all over the place and you will end up with a wooly mess! )
I then fold the bubblewrap over onto the wet wool and gently press down. Wool doesn't get wet very easily so one has to...insist! Another good thing about wool then, it's water proof! (to a certain extent obviously...).

Now you start rubbing without too much preassure. I first do it with the bubblewrap on top of the wool and a few minutes later y open up that bubblewrap-wool-bubblewrap sandwich and with wet soapy hands start working the surface. Again, you don't need strength, just patience! It takes a bit of time to do it and work it evenly.

There is a test (I forgot to take a pic, sorry!), call the "pinch-test" which tells you when the wool is felted (first stage) and you need to start fulling. The "pinch test" you do by grabbing the wool between your index and thumb, if it stays in place and doesn't come off, then it has passed the test and you can move on to the next stage. Otherwise, keep rubbing!

Stage 2: Fulling: fold the bubble wrap over and make that sandwich again. Then roll it up! And applying even pressure on the whole "package" you end up with, start rolling back and forth!

How many times you do it, depends on how big your piece is. 50rolls? open, check that everything is ok, roll back again and keep on going. There is a whole thing about trusting your touch more than your eyes with felting. You can tell better with your hands that something is well felted, than with your eyes...and also a bit of experience helps as well!

Some people also use a bamboo mat for rolling the piece and rubbing. It is quite effective but I find too that it can damage a bit the surface. Sometimes, I roll it in the bubblewrap and then the bamboo mat on top.

The more you roll and felt, the more it shrinks. And the more than happens the harder the fabric becomes. When you are done (this is more of a feel again, experience), you unroll and rinse with cold water.

Now, the following step is optional. Some people do the "vinegar bath". Chemistry here: wool likes a more acid emviorment and soap is a base (alcaline). So, by letting the felted item bath in a bowl with water and vinegar what you do is balancing the PH of the wool back to a middle - more neutral enviorment. This helps too to take the rests of soap out and hence getting brighter colors. Restoring the more balanced PH of the wool also ensures longer durability (soap eats up fiber slowly).

And now you let dry flat somewhere undisturbed.

There is of course the risk of water all over the place and making a mess in your house. Many people work on the kitchen counter. I have massive wood all over my house... so I have no scape than just be very careful and try not to spill too much water. Our oak dinning table has taken a beating with all the felting I've done on it..... sorry......

So, that's it. This was a very basic step by step just to give people a slight idea. It's not meant to be a super precise tutorial of anything like that. Experimenting is always how one learns, and later yarn, silks, bamboo, tencel different fibers much can be added, even fabrics for nuno-felt. But that is another post! :)

If anyone is interested in giving this a shot, these two lovely girls have great supplies at very cool prices:

Sara, from Sara's texture Crafts and Monika from Softfiber.

* there is also "needle felting, which is done by pocking the wool with especial, scaled sharp needles. This process does not require the use of water. Mainly used for wool sculptures and details on wet felting.

Do please check the rest of the girls from the Merry-go-round to learn about so many different techniques!

Wednesday, 25 February 2009


Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

Well, carnaval is over. We spent a few days watching parades and dressing up and...drinking way too much.
I think this doesn't open the 40 days of no meat eating* but the 40 days of recuperation from carnaval excess!
I kow it is wednesday and I should be posting what's on my desk. Unfortunately not much... I have lots of ideas and no time for them. We are off in a small little vacations today. We'll be back soon!

*what carnaval is for catholics and... do you want to know where the word comes from?? or is that too boring?

Thursday, 19 February 2009

The fourth of the fourth

A few days (week?) ago I was tagged by Monika from Red2White.
I'm supposed to show the fourth picture of my fourth folder in my Photos directory. I'm not known for being the neatest of people, but my pictures are in order! Only problem is that the fourth folder has nothing to do with crafts!
This is a picture from one of our trips back to my home country, Argentina, in 2006. It's sunset in the middle of nowhere basically! There was no adjustment of any kind, the sky was really like that.

clicky to have a larger view!

Im supposed to tag some people now. Whomever wants to do it... go ahead!
Oh my! It's snowing! not in the pic,! In the pic it was summer and about 36C! oh no... it's water already... so, it's just raining... bleeeeeh.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Felted Stones

Some weeks ago, fighting the lazyness one feels after dinner, I prepared myself, faced the cold and went to a little workshop in the local library. Kim, a fellow wetfelter, was giving a workshop on felting stones. I didn't really care about whether I needed to learn to felt stones or not. I mean, I had never done it but I thought, hey... I guess I could do it...I can make a bag I could felt a stone.
Either way, I wanted to go because after visiting Kim's shop, I knew she is an experienced, talented artist (...and I haven't been doing this for more than 1 yr) and also...I don't know that many felters around here! And i like meeting people with similar interests.
I was pleasently surprised. I had fun, learnt a trick or two and most importantly met a really warm, funny person with whom I've agreed to organize some kind of felting day just to work and get to know each other better. You never know what cool collaborations can come out of that.

Well, here are my felted stones. They were stopping a door in the living room until my kid picked them up and threw them accross the room. I envisioned a smashed tv or window so I put them out of reach. They are pretty heavy!

Thursday, 12 February 2009

yellow flower

yellow flower
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

Im glad some flowers are starting to bloom... some color is starting to appear here and there.
My husband and I are starting to plan our veggie patch for this year. We are extending it (it was 20m2 last year, 25m2 this year) and adding lots more stuff. We are looking around for seeds and reading a bit. Naturally, this is the easy fun part. Later, hopefully next month, we have to start digging and doing the -also fun- dirty work. But it doesn't matter! Because then, by summer, we will be harvesting some strawberries, and eating salads with lettuce and tomatoes from our own garden. Aaaah a feest!
Anyway, until then, we keep hoping for good weather...and more blooming!

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

On my desk Wednesday...

Before the day is over:

My first hand dyed wool and yarn (which is hiding there in the back). It had to be red, obviously. And such a deep red! I made all sorts of knots on it because I wanted different weĺl see what happens next!

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Rainbow and snow

It's snowing again. I don't think it will stay though. This storm has been annoounced early in the morning "it's coming from France at 140km/h" ...and everybody was getting ready. Unbelievable how trustworthy the weather forecast is lately!
Anyway, lots of colors just to cheer me up...and you :) A cosmetic bag..or whatever other bag you want to make it of.
Hand felted and lines with linen and a with a zipper.

In the shop now!

Will be back soon with more interesting stuff than just a hit and run! :)

Sunday, 8 February 2009

Hippie Butterfly

All I can think of lately are flowers and butterflies and all that colorful fun that happens when spring arrives. Yes, I've had it with winter. And I actually like it! but...enough. I want colour and warmth. SUN!
So here... in this timidly sunny sunday, color:

In the shop now!

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Orange Dahlia bag

I've been busy with guests these past few days. Had a lovely visit and we spent all of our short time catching up...talking talking...
I did manage to finish some things before and after... such as this bag (cosmetics bag?) which has a velcro closing and it is lined with orange linen fabric.
It is already listed in my shop where you can see more pictures too!

Have a nice weekend!

Monday, 2 February 2009

Glass pebbles and woolhandbag2

Glass pebbles and woolhandbag2
Originally uploaded by Marian Florcita

And this is what I came up with after experimenting with those pebbles and the orange wool. I handfelted a bag in dark grey and added some pebbles randomly. Some are felted in the bag, and others were later attached to it. That is why there is a difference in the depth of each pebble. They are all very firmly attached (as proven by my son when he started swirlingthe bag around in a moment of (my) distraction).
The pebbles are just transparent glass but the grey background plus the light shining on them, make them look a bit metallic.

It will be listed in my DaWanda shop later today (have to make the german translation for the listing first).