Thursday, November 19, 2009

Weekly Textile Construction #29

During the past 9 months I have met a number of wonderful artists via this blog, facebook and twitter. One of those artists is Rebecca Howdeshell who I think I met first via twitter. Rebecca's work is elegant and rich and complex and spare all at the same time. One of the materials she utilizes is industrial felt which I had heard of but wasn't sure exactly how that might be different from 'regular' felt. I ask Rebecca if she would send me a little piece thinking she would send some little scrap but instead she sent me a nice piece that is roughly 8" square. Thank you Rebecca.

When I saw what she had sent, I pinned it up in my studio for a few weeks just to enjoy. The felt is a beautiful off white (more white than some of my pictures) and about 1/4" think. I knew immediately I might have a hard time experimenting with it as I would want "to make something" so I just let it hang on the wall.

This week I deteremined to take it down and see what I could do with as a material.

My first thought was to sew on it as I know Rebecca does. Despite the thickness of the material sewing on it is like sewing on butter. I used a very thin/strong off white polyester top thread and an off white Soft Touch in the bobbin. Using a couching foot, I inserted bits of black perle cotton to make a broken line drawing.

Couched Lines

Detail of couched lines which were zig zagged.

Back side of stitched felt.

Very pretty effect. The back was as nice as the front. The stitching lines sink in and create a beautiful texture. You can see on the back that I added an outline of stitches without inserting any of the back yarn. I did this to just emphasize the shape.

I was tempted to just keep drawing with the thread but I reminded myself that this was an experiment so using the same thread I changed the machine foot and did two rows of some sort of honeycomb stitch...don't know what it is intended for.

Honeycomb stitch upper right corner.

You can just make out the stitching so I thought I would apply some color using oil paint sticks.

Stitching is now on the right and the oil paint stick makes it show as dots.

The paint sticks attached itself to the wool easily but it just looks dirty. Later I ironed is with parchment paper so as not to get it on my iron. Heating the oil stick makes it permanent.

The pink is watercolor crayons which have been painted with water.

I knew I could dye this material but I did not have the correct type of dye so I decided to apply more color using watercolor crayons and then painting over this with water.

Other materials I tried were: black acrylic Ink....leaf shapes on left , clear school glue as a resist...can't see any effect, and Jacquard Dynaflo paints...the acid green. All of these materials adhered to the felt nicely but not deeply. The are all very much on the surface.

I am going to investigate what type of dye to use and I'm going to dye it and see what happens. I'm not finished with this little experiment as yet!


  1. that felt is lovely. It looks so nice and it all wool? Where does one obtain industrial felt? There seem to be many options online, but there are too many choices in thickness and density. About how thick is that piece?

  2. Thank you for the detailed pictures throughout your exploration of the felt. It's calling out to me and I want some. Please tell us where to purchase it.

  3. I love this! Thanks for leading us through it step by step. The felt looks like it would be great to work on. I've used regular felt, but this looks so much better.