Each unique piece is individually designed and hand wet felted applying traditional felting and contemporary nuno felting techniques. Both techniques yield similar results, though nuno felting bonds the loose fibers, such as wool, into sheer fabrics, like silk chiffon, to form durable, richly textured, visually fragile textiles. The techniques require lots of hot soapy water and hours of rubbing, pressure, and agitation on a flat surface to form a dense fabric of permanently interlocking fibers. Merino wool has a 30-50% shrinkage rate, so pre-planning and design are essential. The entire process can take from 2–20 or more hours depending on the type of wool used, size of the felt, and the nature of the design.
A range of materials is used in the felting process including fine Merino wool, Bluefaced Leicester and other courser types of wools, sheer silk fabrics, such as gauze and organza for the nuno felting, and linen fabric, yarns of various luster fibers, hemp and silk fibers, and angora goat locks for decorative elements.
The wet nuno felt process is as follows:
1. Design piece and resists (if being used), making all necessary measurements and calculations.
2. Select wool fiber(s), fabric(s), and any decorative elements to be used.
3. Lay out the layers of wool onto a sheer fabric used to hold the fibers and fabrics in place during the agitation/rubbing process.
4. Decorative elements and inlays are laid and covered with the sheer protective fabric.
5. Add hot soapy water and begin rubbing.
6. Flip, several times as needed for even felting, and continue agitation.
7. Hand work any intended holes, specially shaped areas, or 3D resist sides (i.e. seamless garments)
8. Once the pre-felt stage is complete, the protective fabric is removed.
9. The fulling stage begins by gently lifting the piece up and allowing it to fold onto itself from all directions, then gently tossing it onto a hard surface.
10. The hard felting stage involves vigorously tossing the piece onto a hard surface and rubbing it against a corrugated surface if necessary.
11. Rinse with water.
12. Towel dry.
13. Shape and allow to air dry.
Many of my felt pieces have frayed fabric edges, holes, and tied knots with sew threads left uncut to enhance the earthy organic nature of wool felt. The pieces have an intentionally refined “unfinished” look for intrigue. My current body of work encompasses garments and adornment for women, including dresses, skirts, handbags and neck, shoulder, and wrist wear.