Hand-felted fashion accessories, principally scarves, wraps, wrist warmers, and hats and three dimensional decorator and art objects such as bowls, vases, and sculpture.
The process begins with unspun pure merino wool from a variety of sheep breeds as well as alpaca, goat, or angora. These fibres are sometimes their natural colour but may also be hand dyed by our suppliers or ourselves. When you look at a shaft of such fibres under a microscope you can see that the surface is made of overlapping scales. When we add hot water, a little soap and work the wool or agitate it these scales will eventually interlock forming a tight bond between the fibres. In our process, we build up layers of fibre in alternating layers of horizontally and vertically laid fibres. For larger scarves and wraps, the fibres are laid on an inner layer of pure silk chiffon which becomes integral to the structure. Silk fibres, threads and silk ‘paper’ are often introduced as surface embellishment. When the desired motif has been achieved, the piece is soaked with warm water and soap, sandwiched between layers of bubble wrap and rolled around a dense foam rod (such as a ‘pool noodle’). This bundle is rolled back and forth to provide the agitation necessary to fuse the fibres – a process which takes 20 – 40 minutes and builds up great arm strength for the artists! Following this process the piece is ‘fulled’ to add strength to the felt. This process can involve energetically dropping the felt several times onto a table and rubbing on a washboard or ribbed mat. The felted piece is rinsed and dried before fringing or accent beading are added.
The result of all of this abuse is a unique fabric that is versatile, soft, strong and beautiful.
Many pieces incorporate artist made ‘silk paper’. For this, two very fine layers, l, of unspun, natural or hand dyed, silk fibres are laid, one vertical and one horizontal, and then fused into a filmy fabric or paper with the use of starch or fabric medium and heat.