Sunday, March 1, 2009
For several weeks now I've been coveting felt. Not the kind that you buy for $0.25 a piece at the big box craft store that is littering my studio... I'm talking about that thick, gorgeous, mottled, rich looking wool felt that is popping up everywhere lately. Here's the rub. I don't have a hundred bucks to throw into yet another craft obsession right now! What to do? Take the cheap stuff and make it LOOK like the fancy stuff!
Working off a hunch, I invested a whopping $3.99 plus tax for a package of two needles and a foam block the other night, came home and went to town on my cheap felt. It worked! I present you with Faux Fancy Felt (hencetoforthherewith known as "F3").
To make your own F3 , you will need a felting needle, a foam block, and some of that cheap felt from the "4 for $1" rack. Cut squares of the felt and stack them two or three deep. Put the felt on the foam block and punch the needle through the center of your stack several times to secure the pieces together. Continue needle punching in an up-and-down motion across the surface of your your stack from the center, working toward the outside edges. The closer your punches are to each other, the better.
Once you have needled the entire piece, carefully lift the piece from the foam block. The down side will look fuzzy. Turn that side up and put it back on the foam block. Needle punch the piece again, tamping down the fuzzies as you go. A few words of caution for those who have never tried needle felting before... be careful where you put your fingers in relation to the area you're needle punching!! Felting needles are (Duh, duh, DUHN!) sharp! You really don't want to miss the felt and find a finger. I promise. Also, be sure you work on a solid surface. I used an oversize book with a magazine on top to cushion any overly exuberant needle punches so I could work while lounging on the sofa and eating bon bons. Ok, fine. I was watching TV.
This was all about the journey, so I tried different things as I went along. Some pieces I cut into shape first and then felted; others I felted first and then cut. Some pieces I could see all of my needle pokes, so I would gently scrub the surface with the end of my foam block and gently pull the edges back and forth until they softened. Some stacks I worked were two layers, most were three, but one attempt found me using four. I took some wool yarn and felted that onto a rectangle of some F3 and hot glued a pin clasp to the back. Beautimous! I also experimented using two different colors of felt and LOVED that result! It really gives you that yummy, hand-made look. The secret, however, is to put the darkest piece on the bottom when you start. After you turn your work, and punch all of the fuzzies down, you will see what I mean. The lighter colored side just looks bizarre--kinda like a bad hair plug job. My next trial-and-error will be a lighter colored piece of felt between two pieces of the same darker colored felt. I think that will work well for something you want to be viewed from all sides.
I'm going to continue playing with this, and I'll report back with any jaw-dropping new discoveries. Until then, what's been your favorite adventurous discovery?