I had one of those “brilliant ideas” just as I was falling asleep last night, so I rushed home after work this afternoon to try it out. It turned out not to be as brilliant as I’d thought, which is often the case! I’d been contemplating the possibility of felting loose wool fibres onto the pre-made felt hoods that I’ve been using to make the hats. I hadn’t seen that method of working in books or online anywhere, so I thought I’d give it a go.
I tried needle felting first, with a piece of leftover wool yarn. Coarse needles worked, with a little effort, but left unsightly holes in the front of the work. Fine needles resulted almost immediately in a break – the needle just wasn’t strong enough for the dense machine-made felt.
Next I gave wet felting a go. Admittedly I’ve used a very small amount of wool here, but again it just didn’t really work. The fibres are starting to felt to themselves, but they’re not even thinking about meshing in with the darker felt underneath. I guess it’s finished too smoothly for the top layer to grab on to.
The yarn and the merino fibres also started to hold on to one another very nicely, but you can see that they’re just not even slightly attached to the bottom layer.
It’s possible that with a lot more fibre and a lot more effort, this technique might work. But to be honest, if I’m going to have to go to a lot of effort, I’d much rather be making my own felt completely from scratch. That was always the plan anyway, I just wanted to see whether there was an interim method between machine-made hood and handmade felt. Apparently not!
This is how the experimental salt dough looks now that it’s dry. I haven’t baked it – I left it at work while I was off sick for three days, and it’s dried itself out nicely in the meantime! It’s lovely and white, but the salt does make it look a little grainy. The backs of the pieces are rather rough, and I’m not completely convinced it will survive being sanded. I also want to test a few pieces to see how brittle they are. There’s no point making a pendant or a pair of earrings that are going to snap the first time you bump them – or that might dissolve the minute they get damp! So I need to experiment with painting and sealing them too. Oh, and drilling holes in them. I should really have poked holes with a cocktail stick while the dough was still wet, but I’m hoping they won’t snap under the pressure of a hand drill. Another fun experiment to try!