We’ve taught a lot of people how to nuno felt. In our eleven years of business, we’ve introduced thousands (literally!) of students to the beautiful art of nuno felting. This means we’ve met a lot of incredible people, seen many draw-dropping felted items and also seen our fair share of mishaps. Today, we’ll be sharing Sharon’s favorite tips for solving the top 5 most common nuno felting problems we see.
We’ll be discussing the problems we see, specifically, in our nuno felted scarf class, but you can apply all these problems to any nuno felting project you’re working on.
1. Your felt is lumpy
Take the lumpy wool off and re-draft it thinner this time. Focus on consistent, even drafting. If your wool is drafted on too thickly or too thinly it won’t felt into the silk properly. Remember, the barbs on your fiber have to get all the way through the silk to the back in order to adhere properly. Sharon says, “Wool works better as a team”. If you don’t have enough wool, it doesn’t have the power to get through the silk. But, if you have too much wool, it just felts to itself and not the silk. Practice nice, even, drafting and this will prevent unwanted lumps and bumps.
2. Your embellishments are falling off
First of all, don’t panic! We see this felting problem all the time. Draft a super thin veil of wool over your embellishments. If you put too much wool as this veil, you won’t be able to see your embellishments, but a nice thin layer will envelop them and get them to stick and stay put. Coax the embellishments into your project by gently (GENTLY!) rolling them with this cobweb of wool overtop. Sharon’s advice? Think of wool as your felting ‘glue’. Wherever you need something to stick, add a thin veil of wool!
3. Your wool won’t felt into the silk
There’s a few possibilities for this situation. Firstly, you may have rolled your project too aggressively. When your project in your rolling kit, roll gently, gently, gently. Sharon always states the importance of “coaxing” your fibers through the silk. It’s a gentle process. Secondly, the silk you’re attempting to felt may be too thick. We suggest using 8 momme or less silk in order for the wool to be able to work through the weave. While it’s completely possible to felt through fabric considerably heavier than 8 momme, it takes a considerable amount of time and patience. Thirdly, you may not be using enough water. Don’t be afraid of water! It’s better to have too much water than not enough. If you’re not using enough water, your project won’t felt.
4. Your project is taking FOREVER to felt
You may not have enough soap. Soap opens the cuticle of the wool and allows it to felt faster. Soap also slightly alters the pH of the wool and makes it a little ‘sticky’. This little ‘stick’ speeds up the felting process. This being said, it is possible to have TOO much soap. You’ll know you have too much soap if suds are bubbling at the sides of your rolling kit when it is rolled up. If this is the case, you can easily solve it by unrolling your bundle, gently blot your project with a clean towel to soak up some of the soap and then sprinkling it with clean water. You may need to repeat if the suds keep coming.
5. You thought you were done….but now it doesn’t look finished
Keep felting! You can pick up where you left off. Even if you’ve let the scarf dry, you can continue to felt it. Here is Sharon’s go-to “Cigar Roll Method”. Get your piece wet and soapy again. Lay it out with the design up, then tightly roll the piece up on itself. Then wrap it up in a hand towel and roll it firmly on the table, back and forth, 25 times, applying pressure as you roll. Unroll it, then roll it up from the other end, re-wrap it in the towel and re-roll, applying pressure for 25 times. This process helps the scarf ‘full’ evenly across the entire piece. Don’t roll more than 25 times in a row, or you’ll risk felting your item into a permanent jelly roll! Sharon says this trick fixes all sorts of nuno felting problems!
Perhaps Sharon’s best piece of advice is this:
“In both teaching students, and my own work, I don’t like to use the word ‘mistake’. I think that when we’re learning a creative process, everything we do, whether it turns out how we wanted to or not, is a learning experience. There are no mistakes, there’s only different results.”
She continued to tell me a story about a student who tried her cigar-roll method at home, but rolled 50 continuous times (instead of 25) and ended up felting her piece into a permanent ‘jelly roll’. The student came in, in tears, to seek advice from Sharon. What did they do? They cut her piece into two inch sections and turned it into beautiful flowers instead of a scarf. “See”, says Sharon, “no such thing as mistakes”.
Liked this post about the 5 most common nuno felting problems? Want more great felting advice and inspiration? For a list of our favorite felting tools click here. See the amazing things out students have made here. Check out our full schedule of classes here and shop our wide variety of wool roving, fabrics, fibers and more for felting in our online store.