Pat Spark © 1998
Wool fleece: Use your test sample to help you determine the amount of carded wool you will need for a larger piece. Or for a piece the thickness of approximately 1.25 cm. (1/2 inch), allow 60 grams (2 ounces) of fiber for every square foot of finished felt.
Small bubbled type bubble wrap (bubble plastic): The bubble wrap should be approximately 5 cm. (2 inches) bigger in width than the beginning felt and at least 20 cm. (8 inches) longer. Use the bubble wrap with bubble sides up.
Nylon mosquito netting: You will need a piece several inches (at least 12 cm.) bigger on all sides than your beginning felt size.
Rolling bar: 1 ½ inch (? cm size?) PVC pipe or wooden closet pole, about 10 cm. (4 inches) wider than your beginning felt size.
1. Measure out your fleece.
2. Work on a waterproof surface.
3. Put a thin layer of the carded fleece on the bubble wrap. Overlap the pieces of carded fleece slightly so that an even layer of wool will be created. Do not make the layer too thick. It is better to have many thin layers than to have a few thick ones. Lay down enough fleece to cover the area you have planned. Place the second layer on top of the first with the fibers lying crosswise to the first layer. Continue alternating the directions of the layers until all of the weighed fleece has been used.
NOTE: If you have a decoration, it is safer with this method of felting, to place the decoration down on the bubble wrap first, before the background layer is put down. Then when the water is put on to the wool pile, the design will be held in place by gravity.
4. Place a layer of nylon mosquito netting on top of the wool pile. Use a sponge to apply lukewarm, soapy water to the wool stack to wet it down. The fiber should all be moist and the pile flattened. There should be no air bubbles left in the pile. The fiber does not need to be sopping wet, just moist and flat.
5. Lift the net and fold your edges if you want precision. Check to see if there are any thin areas and apply another thin layer of fiber to help build it up. Reapply the net and wet down any new fiber.
6. Lay your rolling bar on one end of the bubble-wrap and roll up the wool
"sandwich". Leave the net on top of the fleece. Tie the roll in several places.
(A strip of stretchy, cotton/lycra cloth is good for making the ties.)
7. Using your forearms, rotate the roll back and forth, with light pressure, 50 times. Unroll. Lift up on the net to make sure that is hasn't attached itself to the wool. Smooth out any wrinkles. Roll the "sandwich" up from the opposite end. Rotate 50 times again and unroll.
8. If the piece is not too long for the width of the bubble wrap, turn the felt sideways and roll it 50 times in that direction. Repeat with 50 rolls from the opposite side so that all four directions have been rolled 50 times.
9. Carefully turn the piece over and adjust the design if needed. Roll up from the opposite end and rotate 100 times with more pressure added. Repeat from the other end and both sides.
10. The third (and usually the last) set of rolling from each end is 125 times from each direction.
TEST FOR END OF FELTING STAGE: The fibers shouldn't shift when pushed. Your should be able to pinch up the fiber and it won't pull off the surface. The cloth pinches up instead of individual fiber.
11. Pour or dip the felt into, hot soapy water.
12. Holding onto the two corners of one end, pick up the felt and gently drop it onto the table top. Repeat from other end. Keep repeating until the felt begins to firm up. (This dropping is a fast method of fulling, but it can cause uneven shrinkage.) OR continue to roll the felt in the bubble wrap until it is really holding together well. (This is a slower but more even method of causing shrinkage.)
13. Continue rolling the felt, but don't use a rolling bar and bubble wrap. Just roll the piece up tightly on itself and lightly rotate the roll back and forth. This helps to harden the skin of the felt and not cause too much shrinkage. If the center area of the felt is too soft, you can fold the felt in half and roll from this fold out to the edges. Then rotate the roll of this area back and forth a few times. Open up the roll and shift the fold to another spot in the center area of the felt, maybe an inch or so away from the first fold. Roll the felt again and rotate it a few times. This helps to harden the center area. By shifting the fold quite often, you are not "setting" the crease in to the felt which might happen if you roll too long with the fold in one place.
14. You can also rub the surface of the felt on a glass washboard to help strengthen the felt skin. As you're doing this, stretch the felt out slightly to the sides to help maintain an even width.
15. When the felt is the hardness you desired, rinse it in lukewarm water. Put it into a bucket of lukewarm water to which has been added ¼ cup vinegar. Let the felt soak in the vinegar solution for 10-15 minutes (or longer). Rinse out again and roll in a towel to remove the water. Use the hand rolling technique to help spot full any ripples or problem areas. When the felt is correct, lay it out on a flat surface to dry.
Pat Spark August 22, 2001