Playing With a New Toy

IMG_5561Meet the embellisher.  It may look like a sewing machine, but instead of using thread, there are 5 needle punching needles instead.  I had been wanting one for ages when I bought a book about embellishing felt.  There are a few to choose from, but the reason I chose this one is because I can change the needles individually when they break.  I already broke two when making this project I am going to tell you about.  There is not much info about this type of machine on the internet or in books even though they have been around for quite some time.  Not only can you make felt with it, you can make paintings, embellish clothes, and use fabric in your work.

I made some prefelt with the machine the other day and I am going to use it in a project soon.  However, I had this dish sitting around that I wasn’t happy with.

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It is pretty hideous.  This was an experiment that went bad.  The dish is 100% Merino batt that is felted quite thickly with leaf skeletons.  Surprisingly, the leaf skeletons felted really well to the wool and I had a difficult time getting them off the top side of the plate.  I  covered up the leaves with leftover wool.  As with paint, I don’t throw anything out.  I had some wool leftover when I was felting soap as some of it didn’t felt well.  I used that to cover the bowl and leaves and embellished it with the machine.  The dish was quite thick and really well felted already, but the machine felted even more and thinned it out to a really firm piece.  Once the wool was nicely embellished onto the piece, I then added bits of wool and string.  String won’t felt in the wet felting process which is why you need thin strands of wool to hold it down, but the embellishing machine will punch it down into the wool.  The great thing about embellishing wool is that some of it will punch through to the other side which can give a nice effect.  Sometimes it is nicer than the right side of the piece as it is more subtle.  So this is what we have now.

Downloads2-001I cut into the wool on all 4 sides to bring them together to make a basket.  The cuts are overlapped.  They were too thick to use the embellishing machine.  I broke a needle trying!  So I used a needle punching tool I use for needle felting.  It also has 5 needles.  It helped to stabilise the sides before I embroidered with a blanket stitch to keep it all together.  To make the shape, I re-wet the piece in very warm water and shaped it over a plastic storage container.  It is quite sturdy now.  I would normally bling it up with some beads, but I’ve given it to the hubs to put his watch in on the bedside table. 🙂

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Wet Felted Fire Vessel

Downloads2-002Here is one of my latest vessels.  I call it the fire bowl.  I had the idea to make it when I made my Autumnal vessels.  I used a Corriedale batt and decorated it with Corriedale and Merino tops.  I worked from the bottom.  I think it is one of my favorites so far.  It has a little bit of Angelina fibers on top to give it a bit of sparkle, but it doesn’t really photograph.  I think it would be great with some battery operated fairy lights that flicker inside! 🙂

Wet Felted Nautical Vessel

Downloads2-001My camera on my phone doesn’t like certain colors.  This vessel is darker on the bottom and is more turquoise on the top.  I used some sari silk, tussah silk, string, ribbon, and some glittery stuff as decoration, and a bit of turquoise Merino wool to hold the inclusions down.  The fibers were so thin that I didn’t think it would work, but it did.  String and ribbon won’t felt, so you need wool to hold it down.  I even made portholes so you can see a bit of the inside color.  I deconstructed a bracelet made with mother of pearl and added them to the center of my portholes.  I also blanket stitched around each porthole.

The inside is a green wool blend batt and the outside is two different shades of Corriedale wool.  It sits approximately 6.5 inches high x 7 inches wide.  I made the opening a bit wider than I have been doing lately.  Although I use the same size resist for all of my larger vessels (9.6 inch circumference), each vessel turns out different.  It depends on how much wool and what type I guess.  I am not aiming for any particular type of vessel size, just the shape and making sure there are not that many wrinkles in them.  I know wrinkles are a thing, but they are not my thing and I like to make my vessels as smooth as possible.

Someone asked me on one of the FB felting groups what my vessels were for.  I am all for making things that have function and form.  They are useful to put stuff in, or to hide things in and they are also lovely to look at.  Think of it as a soft sculpture.  People buy decorative ceramic pieces just to look at, so why not felted vessels? 🙂