Introduction: Part 3 Felting Techniques - Nuno Felting a Shawl
I’m having lots of fun with these Felting Tutorials. Have you tried any of them?
Part 1 showed you How to Wet Felt a Piece of Fabric from Roving.
Part 2 was all about Cobweb Felting and this week you will learn the art of Nuno Felting.
What is Nuno Felting? It’s a fabric felting technique developed by fiber artist Polly Stirling where wool or fiber is felted through an open weave type of fabric such as silk chiffon. Almost any open weave fabric will work for nuno felting but obviously, the heavier the fabric, the heavier your final felted piece will be. I usually use silk gauze or chiffon which yields a drapey, lightweight fabric.
Step 1: Supplies Needed:
Wool or Alpaca Roving – How much depends on how large and elaborate your piece will be. I used about 2 ouncesSilk Gauze/Chiffon or other open weave fabric (mine is appr. 8′ x 28″)Silk Sliver or Roving – optionalMatchstick blind or Bubble wrapWaterDish Detergent (not generic)Plastic bottlePlastic sheetSince this is a large project, I will use the bamboo blind for rolling. If you don’t have one, no worries, bubble wrap works just fine. If you decide to buy a blind, make sure it is natural, non-stained! (Mine was stained which bleeds a bit but so far it hasn’t stuck to the fiber)
Step 2: Drafting Your Fiber
Cover your table with plastic and lay down the blind or bubble wrap. This has to be larger than your fabric. Place your gauze or other fabric on top. Now you need to decide on a design. If the edges of your fabric are raw and not hemmed, you may want to cover them with fiber on both sides. This is not necessary for raveling, but it looks more polished. Other than that, the rest is up to you! You can do swirls, straight lines, whatever you want! Begin by drafting or thinning out your roving. I’m using merino wool which comes in a pretty thick roving so it needs to be drafted. You don’t want a glob of thick fiber as that will felt to itself rather than felt through the silk gauze. Take a piece of roving and firmly hold it with one hand. With your other hand, take a hold of the roving about 12″ away and gently pull to thin it out. This takes a bit of practice to get it even. If it breaks, no biggie, you can use small pieces, too. Lay the thinned out roving on your fabric in whatever design you want. I prefer curves to straight lines so I made swirls.
Step 3: Add the Silk
Once you have finished laying down your roving, do the same thing with the silk sliver, if using. This is completely optional but silk gives a nice sheen and luster to the finished piece. Keep in mind though, that silk sliver will not felt by itself so you must lay it on top of the wool.
Step 4: Wet the Roving
Fill your bottle with hot water and add a few squirts of soap. Partially cover the bottle opening with your thumb and generously sprinkle the entire piece. (You can also poke holes in the bottle cap). Place a piece of bubble wrap or plastic on top of the roving and with the flats of your hands, begin working the water into the fiber. Add more water as needed. You want the fiber to be completely saturated with water. Dry fiber won’t felt!
Step 5: Rolling
Again with the rolling!! Yes, again If you’re using a blind, place a plastic sheet on top of your piece and beginning at one end, tightly roll up your shawl. If you’re using bubble wrap, place a second layer on top of your shawl and roll it up from one end. Tie in 2 or 3 places with scrap yarn or nylon hose. Place your hands on the blind (bubble wrap) and begin rolling back and forth, all the way from your fingertips to your elbows, gradually increasing pressure. This takes a little longer than the Cobweb Scarf we did last week so you’ll need to roll for a good 15 minutes or so. Look at it this way, no need to do an upper body workout today!
Step 6: Pinch Test
Unroll the package and check the felting progress by doing a pinch test. (I forgot to take a pic of the pinch test so here’s an old one. Oh look, nail polish!) With your thumb and forefinger, pinch a bit of fiber and gently pull up. Is it holding together? If yes, move on to the next step. If no, continue rolling.
Step 7: Throwing
You know what’s next…..throwing! This will full your fiber, meaning it will shrink and complete the felting process. Don’t start throwing until your piece has passed the pinch test! Make sure all of the fiber is holding on to the fabric. Pick up your shawl GENTLY, wad it up and let it fall on the table. No force here, just gently let it drop. Pick it up and drop it again. Do this about 50 to 100 times. After a while, you’ll notice the fibers firming up so you can increase pressure. Now, carefully lay it out and pull apart any areas that are not supposed to be sticking together. You’ll know it when you see it. Continue throwing your scarf until it’s starting to crinkle and pucker. At this point, your shawl is finished. You continue throwing it to add more crinkles, if you wish.
Step 8: Finishing
Rinse out all of the soap and hang your new shawl up to dry! If any of these steps are unclear, please let me know. And if you try this tutorial, please send me a photo of your creation! Have you tried wet felting??
I have lots of different tutorials at Fiberartsy so pop on by and have a look.