Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Felting with Sharon Costello

My preconference workshop class was Cottage Garden Vest with Sharon Costello. We were told to bring pictures, Impressionistic work well, for inspiration. Also we were to bring a simple vest pattern. As it turned out she had a sample vest with the pattern she used. It was much easier for me to use that since the 20% enlargement (to account for shrinkage in the felting and fulling process) was already done. I took several but went with this Cezanne.

The first thing we did was cut our patterns and make a sketch. Then we did an 8x10 sample. I quickly realized that I was using too small sections of color. When it was felted the colors blended too much and looked muddy. That took up most of our first 3 hour session.

Thursday we were scheduled for two three hour sessions. We cut our patterns from a very thin needlefelted batting. Then we began painting with the wool. We used a batts and roving from Harrisville. The fiber was very short with little flecks of other colors blended in. There must have been 30 different shades and then we could finger-blend into an infinite number of variations. In this picture you see one of the students working on her design. We used single needles to tack the wool down. Once we had an area done we went back with a three needle tool and did more needle felting. The cool thing is that if you decide later you don't like the colors in that bush - pull it right up! After we finished the back we needle felted one of the sides and continued the design around to the front, repeating for the other side. We worked on our designs all day, tacking the vests up on foam board and standing back 10 or 12 feet to see the whole thing. This was held in a biology lab at Bucknell so the tables were a good height. Sharon said she would keep the classroom open as long as we needed it. Most of us came back that night during the open classroom tours to work.

By Friday morning most of us were finishing up the needle felting. We only had a three hour session and were racing to the end. The next step was wet felting.

The photo on the left shows Connie squirting hot water, with a little dish detergent, over her vest, which is on the smooth side of a piece of solar covering (used for swimming pools). It was temporarily covered with an old nylon sheer curtain, which keeps the wool from sticking to your hands while you pat in the hot water. After removing the curtain we rolled up the vest using one of the noodles (also used for swimming). Next came rolling it back and forth, unrolling and turning the vest to keep felting uniform, then rolling it back up and working it some more. You can see Anita in the photo on the right wet felting. At a minimum you roll for 5 minutes, 5 times.

Once it has been felted, the vest is folded until it is about 16"x8" and then fulled. This also is repeated many times, unfolding and refolding so no creases are made and the fulling is uniform in all directions.


The photos above show Juday fulling her vest. During this process you squeeze as much water out as possible and try on the vest. If there is only one area that needs shrinking you can spot full. The shoulders were purposely not joined to allow one last fitting after all the shrinking is done.

Here is my vest. I wasn't able to full it, as time ran out and I had an afternoon class. I rolled it up in a towel and took it back to the motel. I draped it over the shower rod until it dried and then I put in a bag (without sealing it) Sharon said that all I need to do is wet it with warm water and continue on with the fulling process.

For more samples, see the slideshow.

1 comment:

  1. Suzanne7:43 AM

    I love your vest. The colors look great. Can't wait to see it all fulled and finished. Sounds like a very interesting class.