Felting with Landscape Dyes & wool batting

It’s that time of the year when we always say “so much to do, so little time to do it in”.  For the first time in many years I am actually almost ready for the Christmas season, only a few last minute presents to wrap, and pick lots of raspberries for Saturday’s lunch.  It’s a lovely feeling that I won’t be panicking on Friday night.

Today was the longest day of the year, so I guess last night might possibly have been the shortest night, and so it was fortuitous that I looked out the window just on dusk to see the full moon rising, and just had to get out the camera again.

Full moon 21 Dec 2010

Saving it in my file of moon pictures I found this one, very much a winter moon and quite eerie …..

Full moon 17 Aug 2008

Markets are finished for 2010, there is a nice three week gap until they start up again on 9 January. 

FELTING WOOL BATTING  WITH LANDSCAPE DYES

After my painting session last week, I had a day in the studio on Saturday making and dyeing felt for more diary covers – the felted ones are very popular.  I have written this in more detail to help any readers who want to try this technique. 

The wool I use is the off-cut from wool/poly quilt batting.  I find for this job, the scrim acts as a stabiliser and it keeps its shape.

First I soak the batting in warm to hot water for several minutes until it is completely wet.

The very wet fabric is folded/scrunched casually on the base of a microwave proof plastic container ready to have the dye added.  It must be a good brand of container, not ice cream or take-away food containers, as the heat generated distorts the plastic and gives off nasty fumes. 

For this process I use Landscape Dyes, which are good for protein fibres – wool and silk.  I mixed up a small bottle of selected colours which I wanted to use on this occasion.

Landscape dyes

and poured two colours over the waiting fabric.

Colour 1 - Heath

 

Colour 2 - Dusk

I have used Heath (pink) and Dusk (light purple) here.  After pouring over the second colour, the fabric is squashed and squished until the colour has gone right into the layers.  Then covered with a cup of water, and a lid sitting loosely on top of the container, it is microwaved for about 6 minutes on high.  Be careful taking it from the over, there is a lot of hot steam. 

After first cooking

Using tongs, carefully turn it over.  The liquid in the container may still have some colour in it, that does not matter at this stage. 

If the dye hasn’t penetrated right through leaving some white spaces, pour a little dye solution over white parts.  Then add a spoon of vinegar to a cup of water, pour over the fabric and microwave again for about 6 minutes. 

After second cooking

This time, any liquid should be clear, all the dye has been taken up by the fabric in the cooking.

Now put the container aside to cool before handling – DON’T take the fabric out while it is still hot – the colour is not stable until cold. 

Squeeze out the water, which should be clear, and hang to dry. 

hanging to dry

A thorough pressing with a hot iron will finish off the new piece of felted wool. 

The scrim on the back of the wool batting acts as a stabiliser for using in textile art.

The photos for this bit wouldn’t upload properly, so look for Part 2 of Felting with Landscape Dyes and Wool Batting next week – From Felt to Art …

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2 responses to “Felting with Landscape Dyes & wool batting

  1. Would this felting technique work for a blanket I wonder? looks fabulous!

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    • It should work on a blanket, depends on how big the blanket is. I have used pieces of batting up to 1m square, much bigger than that it is too bulky and would take quite a long time for both the soaking of the dye and the cooking. You could try dropping the dry blanket into a large pot of fast boiling water and poking and prodding it a lot for a half hour or so. Heat and agitation are the things that cause the wool to felt. If the blanket is very old, it may not felt as easily, but it will dye very well. Good luck with it.

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