Saturday, September 19, 2009

Student Felting

I teach art at a homeschool co-op and this year there was enough interest to offer a fiber art class. One of the first processes we're doing is felting. The students hand-felted a small sample piece in class first. Now we're doing a group felting effort on two large pieces that will be cut apart to make slippers or bags.

I laid out the wool at home on bamboo blinds (hardware removed), put a support cloth on either side of the wool to keep it stable, and then rolled it all up to take to class.

Usually 3 layers of wool roving is laid out, alternating the direction of the fibers. This roving seemed extra fluffy and thick, and I have a track record of making felt too thick, so I only did two layers.

At class, we went outside to the parking lot, unrolled the dry bundles and sprinkled hot, soapy water evenly over the wool. The bundles were then rolled back up tightly and secured with twine. Here are the girls taking turns felting with their feet.

The basic idea is that you step on the roll up and down one side, then turn it a quarter turn and step some more. Keep turning and stepping and about every 10 minutes unroll it and flip the felt before rolling it back up, to give even pressure. You can also sprinkle on more hot water to help the shrinking process. When it's good and felted, take it off of the cloth and dunk it in hot water, scrub it and mash it around to give it a final sturdy finish.

Things I learned from teaching this:
  • teenagers get bored of manual labor quickly
  • talking is distracting from learning good felting techniques
  • an hour is not enough time to felt a large piece

I took the rolls home and finished the felting myself, which didn't take too long, maybe 3 hours. The felt actually came out quite nicely, except for a few thin spots.


Ragnhild said...

Another interesting technique =) Never thought it could be done this way. I hope you'll write more posts like this!

Grace =) said...

sounds fun! I was homeschooled K-12 (until I was 16) and then I started college. I miss being homeschooled and all the opportunities it offered. A lot of people believe it's like keeping your kids in a box, but I felt like it was a great way to learn in a safe, stress-free environment and my parents supported me in learning more about things that interested be whether it was related to my studies or extracurricular.
I hope you're having fun working with the kids! I can't wait to see what you guys do with the felt. :)