As a life-long knitter, you know that any craft that uses wool is right up my alley. In the past I’ve made a few knitted bags that I’ve felted, but other than that I really hadn’t ventured into all of the great things that you can make with wool. That is, things that didn’t require the use of a knitting needle or crochet hook.
Not long ago I wrote about the different felting techniques in my article Needle Felting Ideas and Techniques. In that article I focused on the technique of using a pointed needle to sculpt figures and I shared some of my favorite ideas. But I wanted to chat a little bit about the other ways of felting wool.
How to Felt Wool
Keeping things simple, felting wool can be achieved through 2 processes, either wet felting or dry felting (aka needle felting). Wet felting allows you to mix fibers, blend colors and come up with a textile that can be made into jewelry, clothes, bags or artwork. Needle felting allows you to mix and shape wool to make ornaments, decorations and artwork.
A few months ago I had an opportunity to attend a Fiber Arts Festival and I took two workshops while I was there. The first was in making landscapes and the second was in making felted jewelry. These classes were the perfect introduction to the two camps of felters. The landscape that I made was achieved through needle felting. It is essentially painting with wool. You lay your wool on top of a piece of wool felt to create a picture or abstract, then use a needle to blend the colors together. The needle breaks down the fibers and allows them to intertwine with each other to create a new textile. I really loved making wool felted landscapes. It’s a very forgiving process, so if you don’t like the way something looks, just remove some wool or add some more. I found it to be a very relaxing process and couldn’t believe how quickly the class flew by.
The first photo is one that I took of the completed landscape and was the model I used as a guide during the class. I think it gives you a good idea of the type of landscapes, pictures and designs you can create. A great way to take one of your favorite pictures and recreate it with wool.
This next picture is one that I took of a 3D felted picture. This was created by the instructor, Kristen Walsh, who used several layers to create depth and intricacy to the painting. I love this piece because it shows that you aren’t limited to landscapes and nature when you create felted artwork. Create any abstract design or picture you want. Like all things crafty, there are no limitations. Let your imagination take you where you need to go.
While I’m partial to needle felted landscapes, you can create felted artwork using the wet felting process. You would start off in a similar fashion as above where you lay-out your wool to create a drawing, but rather than “glue” the fibers together using a needle, instead you would use water, soap and agitation to bind the wool fibers together.
If you want some tips and inspiration for painting with wool, then this is hands-down my favorite book for this. This book is one of the most beautiful craft books I’ve ever seen and when I first bought it I couldn’t put it down. In addition to stunning photos of the artwork created by the author, the book is loaded with amazing instructions and details for how to create your own paintings using wool, fiber and stitches.