Monday, May 23, 2011

Felted flowers

Felted flowers are popular in our gallery. Several of our member artists make these, each in their own style. Most often these are created as pins, but the flowers sometimes are on a necklace

or even used to create an elegant hat.

There are many ways to get different effects in making flowers, and each of the gallery's feltmakers uses more than one layout method, but they all involve warm soapy water to wet the wool and encourage the felting process after layout, and, of course, agitation.

"Felting" actually involves two processes: felting is when the wool holds together and fulling is when it hardens and can be shaped. Paige Garber, one of our feltmakers, says that "most of us don't push the fulling too much as we want the flowers to be soft and somewhat translucent, though that is not a hard and fast rule."

Here are photos of some of the steps Roz Houseknecht went through to make this ruffle flower:

Roz begins by creating the leaves from loose wool fibers (usually merino) that have been hand-dyed. Each layer is wet with a soap solution and then covered with plastic that has a hole cut out of the center. Because there is a hole in the plastic all layers will attach in the center. There are 3 layers of petals, some covered with silk fibers. The top layer has a stamen attached. The entire package is rolled in bubble wrap, rotating every 100 rolls. The final step is to check all the felting and continue to full each layer individually by hand. At the end, the flower is rinsed in clear water, shaped, and allowed to dry.

Here's a leaf, the first step in Roz's flower:

Roz has added the bottom layer of flower petals in the photo below:

In the next photo, she has added the stamen:

This is what the bundle of fibers looks like when the wet fibers are being rolled in bubble wrap to felt them:
Here's the flower after several layers of petals have been added:

And this is how it looks after more petals have been felted:

Here are two more flowers by Roz in our current show at the gallery:

Paige Garber, another of our gallery's feltmakers, generally likes to put flower beads in the middle of her flowers. Most also have silk roving inlay to provide some sheen. Here are two of Paige's flowers:

Grace Mahanes often uses seed beads in her flowers:

Paige says that "the beauty of flowers is that they take so many colors and forms, it is hard to get bored with designing them." It's also always fascinating to see what our artists have come up with. Our display of flowers changes with every show. Please drop by the gallery to see our current garden of felted flowers.

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