An Old Dog Learns New Tricks - Experiments in Wet Felting

At the last felting workshop I taught someone asked me about wet felting, and, as per usual, I kind of blew it off as just not being my thing.
Afterwards I thought about it and realized it had been a very long time since I'd even given wet felting any thought, and although I remember it as being exhausting, maybe now, with my current skill set, I'd find it to be a different experience.   
Recently I stumbled upon another wool artist thanks to Facebook, Jill Harrison, and I was in awe of what she was accomplishing with fiber. At first I thought her highly detailed pieces were needle felted, but after further study I realized that they weren't felted at all,they were made by layering fibres under glass.
Her process is very similar to how I needle felt, minus all of the extra physical activity. One upshot to her process is that by being under glass dust would no no longer be a worry... although I have heard wool will rot under glass, so the pieces life span may be limited.

Looking to experiment I took the glass out of one of our framed prints (I'll put it back later) and started a portrait. Usually that is my go to when trying something brand new... always a self portrait... which tend to end up looking nothing like me at all.

If I was going to spend more time doing something like this I would make sure to work at a high counter top as I really tweaked my back leaning over this piece. I found the process quite fast and liked the look of the fibres smooshed under the glass... but I wasn't sure it was something I'd stick with. 

I put the piece aside for a month or so and began thinking more about wet felting and I considered that maybe my piece under glass might be the perfect piece to experiment with. I went to the internet and watched a few quick videos and then headed to the dollar store for supplies. One bamboo mat, a rubber grip mat, and some plastic wrap later, I was ready to experiment.

Now wet felting was just as exhausting as I remember, and after spending nearly a decade needle felting and rug hooking my wrists are very tender. I found it difficult to roll the mat for longer that 2 or 3 minutes, so in the end my piece wasn't as felted as it could have been, but I was still impressed with the results.

That was until my wrist started throbbing a few hours later. The pain lasted a really long time. Too long. I was beginning to think that wet felting just wasn't going to be an option... then I remembers someone a long tine ago said they did it with their feet, rolling the mat on the floor. 

With that my inspiration came back and I started coming up with lots of ideas to combine needle felting and wet felting and started production on some roses and poppies that I've since turned into brooches and used to embellish pouches.

I let my wrists heal a few days before I was ready to give the wet method another go.... this time only rolling with my feet. This turned out to work really well as I found that I could multi task and work on some planning, writing notes in my journal while exercising my calves. Ten minutes passed by in no time!

I'm really thrilled with how my flowers turned out any my brooches serve as a lovely compliment to my recent botanical series of feltscapes.

So, needles to say, I think you may find wet felting creeping into my work more and more... and I couldn't be more excited with the possibilities!

My experiment under glass

Things got a little wonky in the wet felting process
Touching up the composition with needle felting

I decided to embellish the piece with roses
Flower production has begun!

New brooches and pouches that I'm taking to Halifax Crafters this weekend!

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