Introduction: Painting With Wool; an Introduction
Hello, and welcome to my workshops on Painting with Wool!
For this project, if you have not bought one of my kits, you will need:
- a plastic sheet for the table or worktop
- a large, old towel for working on, and another for drying the work
- a sushi mat, or large sheet of bubble wrap
- gauze or an old net curtain, cut to size
- a water spray bottle, or to recycle, use a plastic milk bottle and pierce the lid with holes (please make sure an adult makes the holes)
- soap flakes (olive oil soap is best as it is hypoallergenic, but grating any soap will work just as well)
- bar of soap - olive oil if possible - using the one you have just grated some flakes from
- your chosen wool tops or roving for your painting
- if you want to, an apron to keep your clothes dry!
You can buy kits from me by emailing email@example.com, or go to my website and click the 'gifts & kits' button, which takes you straight to my Etsy shop, where all my kits are for sale... www.ffolkyffelt.com
Step 1: Step 1: Select the Colours That You Wish to Work With
For wet felting, you can use softer wool, such as Merino, or Blue-faced Leicester, which works well with needle felting too.
I supply all the colours you need in my kits, but you can buy from local suppliers or craft shops too.
Step 2: Step 2: Gently Tease the Roving Wool Into Tufts, Around 3/4 Inches Long
It is important to separate the wool roving or wool tops into tufts; as it breaks apart, the staples (tiny fibres invisible to the naked eye) stand on end, waiting to be reformed. This helps to bond the fibres together when friction is applied.
Step 3: Step 3: Adding Soapy Water
Using your sprinkler, whether this is a spray bottle, or a plastic milk bottle with holes punched into the lid, begin to wet through the fibres
This process will help the next layer fuse more quickly.
Make sure that you really soak all the wool, including the edges!
Step 4: Step 4: Next Layer of Tufts
Now we will place these tufts in the opposite direction to the bottom layer - so, if your first layer was laying horizontally, this layer will now be placed vertically. make sure there are no gaps showing.
Once this layer covers the bottom layer, you will then soak, using your sprinkler again.
Step 5: Step 5: Adding the Sky
Making sure that the colours overlap, so that they fuse together, now begin the two layer process using your sky colours... don't forget to wet each layer thoroughly.
if you wish to add some white for clouds, or sunset colours for example, add these once your background colours are in place.
Step 6: Step 6 : Adding Foreground
In this stage, you will be adding extra colours for texture and detail. Make sure each layer of wool lies in opposite direction to the one below, and is nice and soggy!
Step 7: Step 7: Using Your Netting/gauze
Now it is time to lay your gauze or netting over your wool, making sure your 'painting' is completely covered. Next, sprinkle some more soapy water over the top, covering all areas.
Step 8: Step 8: Using the Soap Bar
Now that your wool and net are nice and soggy, hold down one side of your painting with one hand, and gently rub the soap OUTWARDS from the middle, until one side becomes nice and frothy.
It is important to not drag the soap back and forth over the surface, otherwise your painting will bunch up in the middle and possibly break.
Once one side is frothy, swap sides; hold down the soapy half, and repeat the process, so all your work is frothy!
Step 9: Step 9: Checking Your Work; Is It Ready to Roll?
Using bubble wrap bunched up in your hand, now push the soapy water right through the netting and wool by pushing out from the middle to the edges, just as you did with the soap. This is helping to fuse the fibres together; the friction from the rubbing helps the woolly fibres bond.
Gently peel back the netting (you can hold onto the wool with one hand), and you will see how much your hard work has paid off!
The next stage is to roll it up tightly within your sushi mat, or your bubble wrap. You can secure it either end with elastic bands.
Now roll it back and forth nice and quickly, for a few minutes. Then, unwrap, turn the picture 90 degrees, and repeat.
*WHY do we do this?* Because the direction that you roll the picture in, it shrinks in that direction too, so although we want to fuse the fibres tightly and firm up the structure of your painting, we do not want it rolled in one way only, otherwise you will have one very thin, long picture...
Step 10: Step 10: Drying Your Work, and Using Your Felting Pad
So, you have rubbed, rolled and now unrolled your work.
You will now need to place your work, away from the wet area, onto a nice dry old towel. Fold the towel over the work and very gently pat it, then unwrap it and leave it in the airing cupboard/on a sunny windowsill/by the fire, until it dries out. I usually leave mine until the next day, but if it is dry enough, you can continue later the same day.
Make sure you also dry off your bubble wrap, netting. sushi mat etc, otherwise they can stay damp and attract mould.
Step 11: Step 11: Using the Felting Needle for Detail
This is the 'dry' part of felt-making, so you will not need any water or soap or towels etc.
Place your painting onto your pad. Have some coloured wool to hand to use for your extra detail.
The Felting Needle: these are long, thin, sharp needles with little barbs or 'teeth' running down the side.
These barbs are going to cause friction, just as you caused friction with your rubbing and rolling of the wet wool.
It is very important that you use the needles correctly and carefully, so that you do not break too many, or stab your finger!
Keep the needle nice and straight, and only ever use it in a stabbing motion up and down out of the wool, never drag it sideways or bend it, otherwise it snaps and you will go through many needles before you complete your painting. This seems easy to remember, but it is very common to forget as you work away, absorbed in your task ;-)
The next steps show examples of how you can use needle felting to add detail to your chosen painting...
Step 12: Step 12: Adding Finishing Details to Your Painting
As you can see from these examples of work created by my students, your painting can be dramatic, subtle or colourful.
Before you commit to the placement of the tree, flowers, sheep etc, you can lay little strips of wool over the top and move them into a position you are happy with.
To add the extra details, take a very small tuft of wool - it is easier to add more if needed, but not easy to remove wool once felted - and begin to poke it into the picture using a steady, vertical stabbing motion with your needle. You will hear the 'crunch' of the barbs into the wool and the pad - but you don't want to hear it hitting the table beneath!
Add a little at a time, and occasionally walk away from the painting and view it from across the room, so that you can keep an eye on position and perspective
Once you are happy with your painting, you can mount it in a box frame, or suspend it from some driftwood, and display it proudly in your home, or gift it to a friend.
Congratulations on your new piece of art! I am always happy to see the finished pieces, so if you would like to email me with a photograph, you can contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org
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