Now, where did I leave that?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nuno Felting...With Bling!

It's here...NYS Sheep & Wool Festival! I'm psyched. The very same day the classes were posted back in May, I registered for the Nuno Felted Scarf with Swarovski Embellishment workshop, taught by Pat Riesenburger, whose felt work is just exquisite, fun, and imaginative. I'm not a blingy kind of person, but I really wanted to learn nuno felting, so decided this would be a good start. Today was the day! I drove down in a downpour whose heavy curtain couldn't obscure the foliage at the peak of perfection. I was tickled pink that, like last year, the first class registrants received free tote bags, and since I registered the very first day, I was lucky enough to receive this:

Rather vibrant, but very roomy, and I can always use more project bags! Thank you, Festival sponsors!

I made my way to the tent our class was in. They do a great job preparing the workshop tents; we had heaters, lights, tables & chairs, and a full fifteen students plus the instructor & her assistant fit reasonably well. After a brief introduction, we were invited to choose our wool for the scarf; It's Fall and I have a specific friend in mind for this scarf, so I went with the soft grays, golds and oranges that were all around us:

Nuno felting is relatively new (20 or so years), and essentially is using wool and fabric to create an entirely new fabric. So my background for this creation was a dark brown gauzy silk.

We began by applying the wool roving to the fabric. Some folks put their wool down the center, others (like me) used the most wool for the edging of the scarf. The amount of wool vs. silk affects the drape and airiness. After our main layer of wool was down, there was silk top, dyed locks, metallic yarns, etc. to use for creating our own pattern.

I wanted to keep it fairly simple; in retrospect, I wish I'd used a little more roving and more tactile embellishment so will needle felt more dyed locks onto it tomorrow and see how that works.

Once one is satisfied with the pattern, tulle gets laid over the whole thing, and we roll it up in bubble wrap (or in this case, solar spa cover) around a pool noodle:

There ensues a whole lotta rolling back & forth, massaging, whacking it, etc., to get the wool to fully infiltrate the silk. When the wool is felted and now part of the silk, part one is done:

Since today's workshop was all about incorporating Swarovski crystals, we were led to a virtual treasure trove of crystal beads in all sizes and colors and styles. Now here's the thing....I don't sew. I can attach a button in a pinch, and have even done the occasional pants' hem (badly), but was a little leery of beading with needle and thread in a group situation. Imagine my delight in Swarovski's Hot Fix beads, which we attached using a hot iron! I chose crystal beads in gold, amber and red, laid them out, and got busy.

The end result is organic-looking, with just enough shine to catch the eye. I wouldn't wear it, but it's a great accessory scarf for its intended recipient. I was blown away by the works of art some of the other students created, and that nasty little voice in my head wanted to engage in some disparaging comparisons. But I told it to shut up, and am taking pleasure in capturing this glorious Fall in a wearable scarf.

  The instructor and her assistant were great--humorous, encouraging, generous, laid back & helpful. I came away feeling like I could do this again on my own, which I think is the sign of a great instructor. Today's class also brought something fully home for me. While I might not use this particular felting technique often, it was pretty damn cool combining wool roving and a plain piece of brown silk gauze and creating this piece. I realized that, while I really enjoy my still-not-very-good attempts at spinning and knitting and find each of them soothing and pleasing in their own way (when I'm not caught up in my total ineptitude), it's felting that has stolen my heart. It began a year ago, but now I've named it. Whether using needles or water, there's a magic to creating felted objects that inspires me, makes me dream and imagine. Although it's an inaccurate description by literal definition, the word alchemy keeps coming to me. I truly feel like I'm creating. Is there anything more sacred than that?



Nancy J said...

Ashling, I had to look up Alchemy as I always thought it related to chemistry.But a new meaning, perfect for you and your felting.. any magical power or process of transmuting a common substance, usually of little value, into something with great value. I am so sure this scarf will be treasured and valued so much, and more so as it was made specially, with love and care. Your choice of shades is lovely. Cheers from Jean

Jen said...

Oh it's beautiful! And what a wonderful process. Thank you for sharing--very inspiring.

the wild magnolia said...

This is a totally new process for me. Interesting. You do find awesome projects.

Dawn Z said...

I LOVE the bling! Going to the S&W today! Squeee!

Ashling said...

Dawn...have fun! We're waiting till tomorrow to do the actual festival (too much to do today).

Brian Kelly said...

Great pictures!

Pat Riesenburger said...

What a treat to have you in the class yesterday! Your scarf was lovely and I was tickled to see you go for the bling! The red stones really popped against the soft browns of your fibers...

P.S. I agree with you---"Alchemy" is the perfect way to define the creative experience. After all, what is felting other than taking the common and turning it into the sublime? I so enjoyed meeting you and hope that our paths cross again.

AkasaWolfSong said...

Having a hard time wrapping my head around the felting process, but my curiosity is piqued enough that I will study it?

I love your choice of color and bling!


Ashling said...

@Akasa...there are several kinds of felting; nuno is a little different than the others I've done. PS--I know it was a typo, but on a day I'm mourning the end of vacation, 'blissings' gave me a good smile! Blissings are every bit as good as blessings!