Thursday, August 19, 2010

Misadventures in wet felting.

Yesterday was the Elf's birthday. Things were very busy - hence the lack of posting. However, as promised, I am here to share my wretched failures in wet felting. And my last not-so-wretched not-quite-failure end result.

To start with, I didn't have any bubble wrap, bamboo place mats, etc. So I used a large trash bag. It worked pretty well, all things considered. For my first attempt I thought I would be clever and use undyed wool for the core. So I felted a mass of wool and attempted to add color to the top. No, this does not work. Some of it stuck a little. But for the most part... no. So I stuck it in the washer in hopes that it would help. Ha. Ha. Ha. No. It did not. Rather, it fell apart. The white core didn't shrink, though. Weird.

My solution? Needle felt the colored bits back on. Only, the colored bits were much smaller now. Oops. I eventually gave up. However, since showing it to the Elf yesterday, he has asked that I finish it anyway and let him play with it. Was all my extra work a waste? Who knows. Sometimes the kid is easier to please than my perfectionist side.

My second attempt, I did not use the white core. I dyed up a bunch of green and made a roughly 12x24 inch mat. Doubled sided, too! I was thrilled. It looked great. My not-so-brilliant mind decided that rolling it up in a pillowcase and washing it could only improve the awesomeness of the mat.

Well, the mat fell out. And it shrunk. A lot. It now measures something like 6x10 inches.

On to my third attempt! Here I thought I was super clever. Make the mat huge (roughly 2.5x3 feet)! That way, when it shrinks in the washer, it'll be the perfect size! This time I had bubble wrap. I bought a roll of it and taped it together to be roughly twice the size of our table. I laid everything out (mostly forgoing the double-sided idea) and lo! I really didn't have enough green wool for this. So it was *really* thin. "No problem," thought I, "it'll shrink and thicken in the washer!"

So I put the gorgeous (but freakishly thin) mat on a sheet, wrapped it up, pinned it shut, and hoped for the best.

It definitely shrunk. And it did thicken up a bit. It was still too thin, though. And now we had the added bonus of being completely misshapen! Whee! But it was extremely late and the night before his birthday. What's a crazy mama to do? Shrug and move on, that's what.

I spent the rest of the night sanding a stacker from Clickity Clack and finished it with my homemade beeswax goop. I wrapped everything in tissue paper and went to bed.

Wouldn't you know it? It was all accepted with love. Though he did seem more enamoured with the plastic junk from other people - of course. He has played with it several times, though - even incorporating his new legos into the mix.

Despite my massive failures, I plan to try this again - with thick enough layers and no more washing machines!


  1. well, if it counts for anything, i love the last one. ;) who's ever seen a perfectly square anything in nature? not i.

    i am so sorry that you have had so many struggles here, gal. what a blessed little elf to have such a dedicated mommy! dying the wool even! glad he loves them. ;)

  2. You did very well, A child loves all the things his mummy makes, because they are imbued with your love. cheers Marie

  3. waitaminuteohmygod. Are you felting Carcassone tiles?

  4. Rae: The dyeing part is easy. I used food coloring for most of what you see in those (except for the brown and a few pieces of green I'd gotten elsewhere). In fact, I'm out of food coloring now. I've also used powdered drink mixes and tie-dye stuff. It's super easy - give it a try! (:

    Sonya: Ha! It does sort of look that way, doesn't it? He asked me to finish the other ones and make more so that he can put them all together. I'll have to show him that game. He and his father would love it, I'm sure. (:

  5. good for you for sticking it out. look forward to more tries.