Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Adventures in Wet Felting with a Orbital Sander

 Wet felting with a sander you say. Never heard of doing it this way. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to show you how I did.
I was given a Ryobi CORDLESS Orbital sander for Christmas. Why cordless, well you will be working with water and to suffice you don't want to end up in the ER  or worse. In all the tutorials I read they explained this in far too technical terms.... which is great information don't get me wrong; lets just say you use a cordless sander so you don't get electrocuted.

It was surprisingly easy to set everything up. I used a plastic art table, covered in a towel and old table cloth to soak up any spills and to help with noise reduction . Things you might want to have on hand , but may or may not use.
Heavy piece of plastic(I used an old super size Hefty Ziploc bag), bubble wrap, EAR PLUGS a must,  natural bar soap, scissors, a edged shoe mat(I found mine at JoAnns  Fabric for under $5 dollars) Hot soapy water in a bottle and of coarse any roving you are using.


First I laid out my  white core roving in one direction,
when done I laid it out in the opposite direction.
 You can see by the pin in each picture the direction I was going. The second layer was a little heavier then the first, some people will  do at least three  layers , I did only two and wish now I had done three.
I used a core fiber that the store I bought it from said it was good for wet felting, It was, but it makes more of a prefelt like you see in the sheets from 'Felt Works' . Heavy and not as thin as a good Merino roving would make. For this first project it worked fine.

I then laid out my flower design. I used Harrisville and Merino roving/fleeces for this. As we continue you will see this difference in how it compared to each other when being felted. I was also loose with my design as I plan to add embellishment and free motion stitching once dried.

You can see I layered my Harrisville and Merino. Next is was to add the warm soapy water, which I squirted over the entire piece and pushed down lightly with my hands, to slightly incorporate it into the design.

I paid close attention the the flower areas with the soapy water, making sure each piece was a little wetter tan the white background.Next, the bubble wrap was applied to the top.

It is ready now for using the sander.
One thing to note, don't move your sander around  at this stage, you will create holes , tears, or move your design.

As you begin "sanding" hold in one place for a few seconds, then lift and move to a new area, continue doing so until you have passed over the entire piece once or twice, At this point, turn off sander set aside and lift bubble wrap, check on roving to see how it is felting, or if you need more water/soap mixture add now.

My sander came with a foam polishing pad which I decided to use as my sander base. If you have enough layers of plastic I don't see why you would need to use a pad at all, except for the fact it creates a nice glide as you get deeper into the felting process.
To test your felt, lightly pinch surface to see if you still have wisps
Merino roving, felted great, no wisps.

Harrisville, did not felt down all the way, this is a side effect of using this fleece, which was okay,
as I planned to create 2 D effect after it dried.
of roving or if it has felted together and you are unable to pinch the surface and have the roving come off.

I continued to check as I felted, About three or four more times before I was satisfied with how it was coming out.

It took about an hour and half before I was ready to , rinse out in sink using HOT water to finish the felting process. I then wrung it out, reshaped, and dried it in the dryer.

The sander helps replace the act of having to roll it so many times, which can be a long process. I have found Merino is the best felting finer/roving to use . It felts flat, shrinkage is about 1-2 inches all around, and you are able to iron it to reshape it.

My wall hanging is thicker than  some I have seen, due to the core wool fiber I used.
The finished hanging came out great, pretty much how I envisioned it. I think the free motioned stitching added some depth, but not too much. My poppies are a little wind blown , especially the tall one, as it was a little looser in design the the other.

This one more open of a flower, I looked at many colors of these beauties on line and I like the different shades of blues represented here.
If you try  using a sander to wet felt, have fun with it.

I'll leave you with one more picture, this will be a small purse when done, wet felted  w/ sander over a cardboard base so it it made a opening. In a variegate Merino wool called Daylight. (Notice the difference in thicknesses of each project and how much the Merino actually shrunk up on drying. )