+ agitation + wool = felt.

There are many ways now to felt wool. Techniques include hand rolling, using your feet to roll, using a felting machine, using a horse to drag the felt bundle, using an electric sander or using a dryer. My philosophy is to get through this stage with as little pain and physical exertion as possible. I don’t have access to a horse, but I have experienced dryer felting during a workshop so I know it works on multi-layered pieces.  I’ll use a combination of hand felting and dryer felting.

Bubble wrap ranks up there with duct tape in my pantheon of tools.

Bubble wrap ranks up there with duct tape in my pantheon of tools.

I have to take into account there are elements on these panels that felt at different speeds. To ensure the best possible outcome I first felt the elements by hand. That piece of bubble wrap comes in handy as I use it to gently agitate the wool and other fibers. I get the panel to a stage known as prefelt which means the wool scales are enmeshing with the other fibers. Yes it is confusing, as my backing material is also called prefelt.

I'm not sure why I don't have biceps of steel after this process.

I'm not sure why I don't have biceps of steel after this process.

 

 

I wrap the plastic-wrapped panel onto a pool noodle. Then I roll. I open the piece up and wrap the panel onto the pool noodle in another direction. I have to check the piece after each roll to make sure everything is staying in place, and I don’t want to roll a permanent crease into the felt. I roll the panel in every direction until the pieces start meshing. This part of the process takes a while.

 

Ready for the dryer using recycled 1/2 Price Book bags and garden hook-and-loop.

Ready for the dryer using recycled 1/2 Price Book bags and garden hook-and-loop.

 

 

 

 

I use the dryer on no heat strictly for agitation. I roll the prefelted fabric in plastic then bundle it into a damp towel and a plastic bag. Into the dryer it goes for ten minutes at a time. In between dryer cycles I open the bundle and roll the felt in another direction. Wouldn’t want the felt to be lopsided.

 

Look at how much the panel has shrunk. Not quite 40% but I am not done yet.

Look at how much the panel has shrunk. Not quite 40% but I am not done yet.

 

This takes some time but is less strenuous than rolling by hand and it’s much easier than cleaning up after a horse.