Sunday, January 26, 2014

Wet Felted Geodes

Today we had my youngest daughter's ninth birthday party at Annmarie Garden. It was a great time, complete with fairy and gnome house making (and a dragon's lair), sandwiches and banana splits, and an extra bonus few art sessions! Annmarie is doing something called "Artists in Action: Artists in Their Natural Habitat" where several artists set up display space in the lobby of the main exhibit hall, sell their work, and demonstrate their techniques. Lots of the children, including Becca, stayed after the party was done and got to try sumi-e, watercolor painting, and wet felting.

My hands-down favorite was Sharron Parker, an absolutely incredible fiber artist from Wake Forest, NC. Her speciality is handmade felt. She has developed a technique for making wet felted geodes, which I will share with you here!

Her materials immediately drew us in...

The person before us made one, and then we got to try!

Sharron told Becca that felt requires moisture, heat, and pressure, which was interesting because I always thought that you needed friction (rubbing). But she said that pressure is enough and the technique that she used was very effective. Here's Becca's finished geode:

You will need:

  • hot water (she used an instant tea kettle)
  • wool roving or batting in eight colors
  • soap (she used a refill sized bottle of white CVS hand soap)
  • a work surface which can get wet
  • an old sock
  • a sink
  • a towel
  • a pair of scissors

Choose your outer color and set it aside. Choose seven small pieces to comprise the inner colors. Lay them in a stack, alternating the directions of the fiber (one color with fibers going horizontally, the next with fibers going vertically). Either roll the stack into a tube and then crumple it to make a ball, or bring each of the four corners of your stack into the center and then crumble to make a ball. This is what gives you the swirls and designs in the finished geode.

Wrap your outer color completely around the inner swirled ball. Lightly needle felt it in place if desired. Place in an old sock and dip in a bowl full of hot water. Squeeze firmly for several minutes or until the ball begins to felt. Remove from the sock. Squirt with liquid soap (she placed the soap in a diner-style ketchup bottle) and keep squeezing firmly. The total time is 10-15 minutes.

Rinse all the soap bubbles out under cool running running and squeeze as much water out of the ball as you can with a towel. Decide where to cut it (this is the fun part because the inside will be a surprise) and cut it in half. Lay the two halves out to dry.

Sharron had some beautiful artwork made of pieces of geode-style felting laid onto wool batting and felted further to create tapestries. She also had some cylinders of wet felting that she was using as pincushions, which I thought was a great gift idea! She had some wedges of the geode work that were meant to be hung as Christmas tree ornaments, as well as some geode slices that were embellished with sewn glass beads.

Her work was absolutely lovely!

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