Processes: Wet Felting Rope

Wet felting is a process that I enjoy doing. From the first time I was introduced to wet felting I was in love. Its super easy to pick up on and you can create numerous types of art from this fiber.  In my piece "Attired" I got the idea that I wanted to make a dress out of chain. Instead of using actual metal chain I wanted something softer and wearable. Naturally I choose to felt the chain. Here is the process I used to make the chain. 

First you will nee some wool. I order my wool roving from R.H. Linsey. They have great prices and the quality fantastic from what I have ordered.

Then you will need a course surface to roll your felt on. I chose this place mat from Walmart, a bamboo mat works great as well. The material should be flexible and able to fold over on itself (as you will see in the steps ahead). 

Next you will need to fill a bowl with lukewarm soapy water. I use Dawn because it makes your hand feel less dry after you are finished with you project. You will not need your water to be to soapy, just enough so when you rub your fingers together in the water you can feel the lubrication of the soap on your hands. 

Start by pulling off parts of your wool from the roving by placing your finger over the wool on a surface and pulling with the other hand. The wool should separate early. It is important that you pull the wool apart and not cut it. Cutting the wool will make it harder to felt the wool together evenly. Create layers with these pieces alternating one layer horizontal and the next layer vertical until you get the desired thickness you want. Since you will be rolling this up the layers maybe be smaller of larger than you think they are when laid flat on the table. It may take a couple tries to determine how many layers will get you the thickness you want. 

 

 

Once you have your pile of wool you need to start the wetting down process. Wool has a lot of air in it and that air is called loft. Sprinkle the soapy water over the wool and pat down the air with your hands. you can sprinkle the water with your hands or put the water in a spray bottle. Wet the wool from the center to close to the ends till all the air is pushed out and the wool is completely damp.I leave the ends dry because that then allows me to needle felt the ends together to make the circle chain. 

Once the wool has all the air pressed out of it take then end of the coarse mat you decide to use and roll the wool up and down the mat. This felts the wool together making a rope  or rod like structure. Keep doing this adding more pressure as the felt rope begins to harden.