This project was a proof-of-concept for the idea of "laminating" or stacking thick felt slices to create a solid form. Refer to my instructable on how to Cut Industrial Felt With a Waterjet for directions on how to make a sliced form with 123D Make and how to use a waterjet machine to cut parts out of 1/2" thick wool felt.
This instructable is a combination of instructions based on the things that I did, and tips based on the following two things that I plan to do differently next time:
- Use 123D Make to create alignment guide holes in your parts
- Leave the masking paper or frisket on the parts after cutting
I was able to glue the piece together accurately without having done these two things, but they would have made the assembly process easier.
The final product is solid, soft and plush, satisfyingly dense and surprisingly weighty, and looks handsome with or without contents.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- Felt pieces (see Cut Industrial Felt with a Waterjet for instructions)
- White chalk
- Glue (I used carpenter's wood glue because it dries slowly enough to allow time for repositioning parts and adds strength to the final piece)
- Foam brushes and a rag or paper towels
- 2 pieces of scrap wood larger than the largest dimensions of your piece, for clamping
- A water glass or other cylindrical water-tight container (2 1/2" diameter by 4 3/8" tall)
Step 2: Align Your Parts
Gather your felt parts and other materials. With any luck, you have followed my advice from the introduction and the frisket is still covering the "up" side of your felt parts, so you can tell which side is which. Remove the frisket only when you're ready to assemble, and be sure to keep the "up" side up. You could use white chalk to write assembly order numbers on the "up" sides, just to be safe.
I had removed the frisket, so had to refer to a printed copy of the cut path sheet (shown above) to get my parts right-side up and in the correct order, and aligned everything by carefully eyeballing the stack from all angles. If you create alignment holes in your parts in 123D Make, you can use a pair of small dowels or metal rods to help you do this.
Step 3: Make Guide Marks on the Form With Chalk
Once you've got your form stacked up and it looks the way it should from all angles, use a piece of regular chalk to trace around the edges of the slices. At a few places on the form, draw some continuous lines across the cut edges. These will help you get everything completely aligned once the glue is on.
Step 4: Glue It Up
Take the top slice and run a nice thick bead of glue all the way around the "down" side of the piece, about a 1/4 of an inch from the edge. Use a foam brush to spread a thick, even layer of glue all over the surface of the piece, leaving a bit of room along the edge (see the third photo).
Grab the second slice in the stack and put it face up on your work surface. Referring to the chalk guides for proper positioning, stick the glue-covered side of the first slice to the "up" side of the second. Press it down firmly, then carefully flip the sandwich over to reveal the "down" side of slice number two. Apply glue to this face as before, press it down onto the "up" side of the third slice, and so on through the stack. Use a damp cloth or foam brush to wipe away any gobs of glue that end up in the wrong places.
If your form has a cavity inside, take a close look at the faces you are joining and adapt the outline of your glue layer to avoid any holes in the next piece. You can see what I mean in the second and third photos above.
I assembled the two halves of the vase separately as shown in the last photo, and then stuck them together at the end.
Now is your last chance to nudge things into alignment! Check your chalk guides and look at the profile of the object from all around to make sure it looks good. Inspect your piece inside and out, and wipe off any glue that has oozed out.
Step 5: Clamp It Down
Make a big sandwich out of the 2 pieces of scrap wood with your vase inside, and clamp it just firmly enough to keep the whole thing together. Don't squeeze it too tightly, or you may deform the assembled piece -- you just need a small amount of pressure. Check inside and out for oozing glue one last time, and use a damp cloth or foam brush to wipe it away.
Step 6: Remove Clamps, Add Contents, and Enjoy!
Let your piece dry overnight. Remove the clamps. Use a dry scrap piece of felt to scrub off the chalk guides. If the vase doesn't sit completely flat, you can cut a small shim or foot out of scrap felt and glue it to the bottom to level it out.
Place a water glass or other small container into the center hole, and your vase is ready for flowers! It's an interesting object on its own, and would also make a stately pencil cup, or a cozy home for a potted plant.