Forest Floor – WIP

Still working on exercises from the book I told you about.  The trouble with some of the exercises is that the photo of the end result is not very clear and is only a partial view of the thing that was made.  Therefore it can be frustrating to work out what to do even though there are instructions.  I was working on ferns.  You needed to make pre-felt from 3 colors of green.  Here is my wool all laid out and ready to be turned into prefelt.  I made a massive square.


This is two layers of merino wool with viscose and sari silk fibers on top.  I may need to make my pre-felt just a little bit thicker I think.  I have learned how to layout wool so thinly now that the pre-felt was just a bit too thin. Especially where I had to cut.  While the pre-felt was drying, I laid out some more wool to make another pre-felt.  As I had a limited pallet of green, I mixed some green with chocolate brown merino.  I decided that I would use this exercise to make a scarf.


The base was 8 inches wide as I didn’t want a wide scarf.  It actually looks good here.  It took ages to cut out the shapes.  I used a resist between areas to give a more 3D effect and for a fringe look on the ends.  I was feeling really hopeful.  But then I wet it out and tried to seal the edges.


Here it is after wetting and sanding and some rolling.  It was felting in nicely to the bottom layer, but the edges and ends were not too good.  I had to be gentle with it as it was quite delicate.


Here is a closeup.  The applique that was not on the wool was getting distorted and started to look like seaweed instead of a fern and was not felting properly.  So I left it.  I let it dry and decided to cut the whole thing up and make a painting from it instead.  In the fulling process, the scarf started to feel too thick and I knew it would harden if I kept trying to full the edges.


I cut a piece of commercially prepared pre-felt from Wingham Wool Works in natural merino.  The pre-felt from Wingham is a bit softer than the natural white I have from World of Wool and is more of a beige color.  As the material was thicker after fulling, I didn’t want a sturdy pre-felt underneath as I was going to embellish my pieces with my embellishing machine on top of that and I didn’t want to risk breaking needles (though I did break a few but not because the wool was too thick).  I laid out the pieces in a way I thought would look good and took a photo (above) for reference.  I then laid out some more wool in the back ground color and a dark green to make more pre-felt as I didn’t have enough to cover the whole square which was 16.5 inches square.

Now at this point I was thinking that this is really a round about way to make a painting.  However, bearing in mind that I wasn’t planning a painting in the first place, this was going to be as good as it gets.  I embellished most of the pieces onto the pre-felt.  Here is my embellisher.  It doesn’t get much use at the moment, but I am hoping to use it more.  It has five needles that you can change individually so if one breaks you don’t have to replace the whole unit.


I neglected to take a process photo of the embellished applique.  Sorry.  Here is what I have so far.


It’s a little bit different from my initial layout.  I realised that I needed a darker green in the mix. The piece didn’t really shrink much, but that wasn’t really a goal.  I just wanted the fibers to knit together to look like one cohesive piece and that is what I got.

This is after embellishing all of the pieces to the white pre-felt.  I then wet felted the whole thing with resists in certain areas.  I wont do that again.  It is probably best to felt the base shapes on the pre-felt and then just embellish the 3D pieces on top of that.  I embellished some threads and other fibers and needle felted the locks in.  I think it needs a bit more detail work around some of the ferns, but I will hand stitch those as my sewing machine is not great with that free motion stitching and is one reason why I don’t really make paintings.  I really like that quiet space of brown at the top.  I’m thinking of turning it into a wall hanging now.  It reminds me of walking in the woods with the dogs.  There are a lot of ferns out now with aconites and even some bluebells.  One day I may make a painting like, that but with intention. 🙂


One thought on “Forest Floor – WIP

  1. Wow – lot of work and learning went on here! Difficult to tell from the photos, but it does look as if some of the prefelt for your fern motifs was a bit thin, which may be why it distorted when you tried to felt it. If you’re going to cut shapes from prefelt, it also needs to get beyond the stage where it’s only just holding together, especially if only part of it is going to be attached to the base.

    My experience of doing applique projects like this is that trying to use bits of resist where you don’t want the felt to attach can be frustrating, as they tend to slip out of position. Instead, it’s better to cover the whole piece with resist and then cut holes where you want things to attach. The holes need to be reasonably large, and if the prefelt is holding together well you can try brushing it gently with a wire brush to raise the fibres where you want it to attach. There’s also no shame (IMHO) in basting the prefelt through the hole to keep it in position. The stitching often disappears into the felt so you can’t see it anyway – if it doesn’t you can cut it out later.


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