People often wonder how you can make seamless, hollow 3D forms in felt, such as bags and bowls, with no sewing or other trickery. This is primarily down to the amazing properties of wool fleece, which means that all fibres laid next to each other will bond together during felting. But in order to create a hollow rather than solid form you also need to use a resist. A resist, which you place in between layers of fibres to stop them felting together, can be made of anything non-feltable, commonly plastic or foam. I often use rubber balls as resists, as they can be reused, are hardwearing and can helpfully be deflated to get them out of what you’ve made without damaging either them or the felt! But the downside is their relatively small size (I’ve also got a space hopper I’ve been meaning to try, but I can’t find tights big enough in which to wrap it and the fleece during the process!) and the fact that the resulting shape is largely limited to being round. So, lately I’ve been experimenting with some other resists, using thick foam packaging. So I thought I’d share the results of my largest bag to date.
To make the resist I first drew a bag shape and sized up the dimensions by about 35% to account for shrinkage during the felting process, then cut out the resulting shape in foam. I had to join various pieces to create some 3D depth, so lots of tape later and here it is (yes it’s pretty big!).
The usual felting process of laying out, wetting and rubbing the wool fleece fibres around the resist, and then rolling and throwing the felt once it had started to hold together in order to further bond and shrink it, took about 2 days. Although it didn’t quite shrink as much as I was expecting, I was pleased with the result as it turned into a really good-sized carry-all bag. I haven’t quite summoned up the strength to make another one yet, and on that basis I really think the space hopper version might have to wait a bit longer! Anyway, if you’d like to see the bag in person, it’ll be appearing at the Vintage and Handmade event in Bideford on Sunday 24 September 2017 (www.devon-pop-ups.co.uk).