etsy mini

Thursday, 23 May 2013

felt paintings - 2

Yesterday we covered the first stage of creating a felt ' painting'. Today we will go through the wet felting stage for those of you who are not familiar with it.
The first thing you need to do is place your needle felted picture on to a bamboo blind. If you are working on a small scale a sushi mat will be fine. Next you need to take your courage in both hands and dribble warm, soapy water all over your needle felt. Don't worry. The fact that the barbed needle has been used is enough to secure your fibres and keep them where you want them to be as long as you only dribble or spray the water.
Next, cover the wet  needle felt with bubble wrap. Some people use netting at this stage but I find that the woollen fibres will often felt in to the net  causing distortions when you try to remove it. Now starting in the centre press hard on the bubble wrap and moving to the edges press out any air bubbles. This will ensure good contact between the woollen fibres and pre felt so they can bond together. When you are satisfied that there are no more pockets of air spray a little soapy water on top of the bubble wrap to make it slippery. With your hand pressed flat, rub in a circular motion. Start gently and gradually increase pressure. Check your felt from time to time by lifting a corner of the bubble wrap and gently pushing your design with your finger tip. If it moves around rub more. If it is stable you can go on to the next stage. The rubbing can take anything from 15 minutes to an hour or more depending on the size of your felt and how hard you are working.
Once your design is stable you can roll up your bamboo blind with the felt and bubble wrap inside it. Have an old towel to hand as this squeezes some of the water out and you could end up with wet feet! Now roll the package backwards and forwards on the table. Count as you roll and roll for about 20 times. Unroll the blind and check your felt. There may be wrinkles in it. If there are gently smooth them out. Now you need to turn the felt so that one side is towards you. Be very careful when you pick it up as it is still quite fragile and will easily stretch out of shape. Roll up and roll as before. Turn again so the felt is upside down and repeat the rolling. Do the same with the last side. You have now rolled in all four directions and your felt should begin to feel firmer. It is usually a good idea to give it another rub and repeat the rollings again. After that place a plastic bag on your hand, remove the bubble wrap and rub again. Now repeat the rolling without the bubble wrap. By now the felt should feel more compact and thicker it should have also shrunk a little.
If you have completed the previous stages correctly  the felt should be quite stable and there is no danger of it falling apart. Fill a bowl or sink with cold water and rinse the bubbles from it. You will probably need to change the water 2 or 3 times until the water runs clear.
Gently squeeze the excess water from the felt. The next stage surprises a lot of people but it hardens the felt and makes a really strong fabric. You need to scrunch the felt up and throw it repeatedly and quite forcefully on to the table. From time to time straighten the fabric out and fold it differently before throwing again. After a time the felt will develop little bumps all over it. When this happens your task is complete. It may have pulled out of shape but you can pull it back in to the correct shape by gently tugging on the appropriate edges.
Here is my felt after wet felting. If you compare it with the photograph  of the needle felted piece in yesterday's post you will see the difference between the two. 
Place your soggy felt somewhere warm to dry ( it can be put in a washing machine, on a spin cycle first). When dry it will be ready for stitching which I will cover tomorrow.


  1. This is great Sue, thanks for sharing

  2. Oh thank you Yvonne. Read tomorrows post and you will know how to create your own!

  3. This one is especially lovely, Sue!

  4. If you don't have a bamboo mat to use, could you roll in a towel around something (a rolling pin for example)? Thanks for the tutorial. The pictures are very helpful!

    1. Hi Sarah, glad you found the tutorial helpful. Don't try to put the felt on a towel because it will felt to the fabric. You can use bubble wrap instead of the bamboo mat but it is more difficult to roll. Sue X

    2. Thank you for your reply!