Friday 27 December 2019

Nuno felting - a lighter touch

Nuno felting scarves...

Before Christmas I bought a lovely hand dyed length of chiffon scarf from Perran Yarns at a local Etsymakers Fair here in Cornwall. It’s in lovely shades of blue/grey and I thought it would be great to use in felting.  Perran Yarns also have the most beautiful hand dyed yarns - would love to try these in felting one day too.

Felting including fabrics is known as nuno felting. Nuno is the Japanese word for cloth, and for a fabric to be successful in felting it’s best to be loose weave or very fine so that you can feel your breath through this chiffon is perfect.

Having a rummage through my wool stash, I found some fibres in complimentary colours.

It had been a while since I'd done any felting, so it was good to lay out the fibres to just make a 'thing'.  My plan was to make a neck cowl - not too taxing, but careful felting required.

Getting the fibres to migrate through the chiffon, it's better to start with just cool/warm water and soap.  If the water is too hot, the fibres will just felt together without attaching to the fabric, so slow and steady wins the race!  Gently, gently with the rubbing until happy that the fibres have worked through the silk, and then you can up the pressure and get rolling.

I laid some lengths of tapestry wools on top of the fibres, and these felted in really well and gave a nice effect to the finished fabric.

I felted my scarf into a loop around a resist, and I love the end result. It was difficult to capture the colours on the camera...they are much more vibrant in real life.

I think the next one I make I won't make it quite so wide, so that the surface design is more visible when being worn.  This one can be worn in a number of different ways, and because it's seamless it can be reversed as well!

I love the way the colours of the chiffon scarf peek through the fibres and of course you get some lovely textures where the wool has shrunk around the silk making lots of scrummy puckers. This photo is a better representation of colour - although still not 100% accurate!  The inset photo of it being worn shows the more turquoise tones in it - I gave up trying to photograph it in the end!!

Keen to do another one, this time I used a piece of dyed cotton scrim/cheesecloth - this has an open weave which makes it perfect for felting with.

I then selected some merino/silk blend fibres and yarn which has ribbon included in it to use as a surface design.

Same felting procedure as before - a fine layer of wool on top of the cheesecloth, the yarn on top of that and then tepid soapy water and gentle rubbing until the fibres had migrated though the cloth before felting thoroughly.

The pictures below were taken whilst the piece was still wet and soapy, but you could already see the colours of the cotton scrim showing through the thin layer of wool fibres.

Once felted, rinsed and looked rather yummy!  You can see where the wool has shrunk and drawn the cloth in and created lovely puckering and surface texture - I love that effect.

Here are some more pictures of those lovely surface textures that I love so much...

Moving forward with nuno...

Practicing nuno felting by making scarves has been fun, but this is also a technique that I want to explore more in my felted pictures.  Whilst I already use fabrics in many of my landscapes and still life pieces, I tend to go a little thick with the wool layers.

I have made a New Year 'Intention' to really work on using the nuno technique in a much finer, lighter way in my 'paintings'.  I have an image in my head of how my work might look - and it looks great in my mind!!  The challenge will be trying to get my imagination in to some form of reality!

Imagine those fabulous textures achieved in the scarves I made being used within a landscape using layering and extra fine layers of wool...can’t wait to get stuck in!

I will need to be patient and accepting that not everything will turn out 'right', and not everything I make will become a finished piece - one of my biggest faults is that I can be too eager to get to an end result and then wish I'd done it slightly different!!

The piece below used fabrics and fibres in a lighter way, but I want to go finer and use the cloth to greater use in terms of colour and layering.

I already have quite a stash of silks and loose weave cotton, so I have plenty of materials to choose from!  I’d also like to try and incorporate more of my favourite mediums...perhaps including printing, but we’ll see how it goes with the experimenting.

I have one commission to do in the New Year and then I'm looking forward to starting the challenge.  I have written a few New Year 'Intentions' down - it's good to have a direction to head off in.  I may end up in a different destination than first imagined, but I will enjoy the journey along the way.

Have you made any New Year resolutions or ‘intentions’? 

I've had a lovely few days over Christmas spending time with loved ones, and with the New Year nearly upon us, it is perhaps a time for reflection as well as a time for hope for the future; to feel gratitude for the good in our lives and to be kind to ourselves and others...always.

Sending you warm wishes and look forward to sharing more work with you in 2020.

xx Tanya xx