Sunday, November 30, 2008

And In The Beginning There Was Wool...

Today is going to be a felting day for me. I have a piece in progress that I absolutely must finish because I need my work surface to do the many more projects I have in mind. Also, regarding this piece in progress... I want to wear it to the SGB Norcal holiday party next Saturday! It is a nuno felted scarf that's been on my table way too long now, whispering out to me to coax it into "done-ness". Coax is the word - for nuno felting, the process is slow and gentle, unlike the process for felting a rug. However, I think there might be some wonderful aspects to felting a rug. For one, I could probably get rid of my elliptical machine - the actual felting process would be a great form of exercise! And for another, I might be able to use it as an excuse to buy a hand-held torch to add to my inventory of "cool tools". Well, not actually cool - it'd be mighty hot!

By now you're probably wondering what I'm talking about regarding the elliptical machine and the torch. I'm going to point you to a film that'll explain it all. It's a 15-minute video - if you turn up your sound, you'll have an "almost like being there" cultural experience along with the visual information.

Felt Maker In Iran - a Dying Breed

Perhaps the "little man" who comes in late in the film will continue the tradition. It's a shame to see these old world arts die out. It's also wonderful to know that folks like the Raissnias are trying to revitalize felt making in Iran.

Here's my work in progress - it needs to shrink down about 20% before it's wearable. With nuno felting, the process has to be slow and gentle because you felt the wool into a silk chiffon base. If you felt it too quickly, the wool will felt to itself before it has a chance to come through the silk. This is the second scarf I've made, or I should say "will have made" - I'm not there yet. I was really pleased with my first one and decided to continue with this very time-consuming process. For this peacock-colored scarf here it took me many hours over 3 days just to dye the silk chiffon and then lay out the fibers. It was like painting a picture with fine tufts of wool and silk. I already have my next scarf planned in my head and I've made some wool "components" for it.

Felting is such a nice change from bead making - I can actually touch it while I'm creating it! Touch a glass bead while you're creating it in the torch and it will be an experience you'll never forget. Trust me, I know...

So now I'm off to fill my bucket with warm soapy water and begin the rolling process. Hopefully I'll still have enough arm muscle left to make beads tomorrow - I have a few orders to fill before Christmas, as well as make something to put into our annual SGB Norcal holiday party silent auction. All proceeds from this auction go to the Beads of Courage program.

And in case you're wondering, SGB Norcal is the Society of Glass Beadmakers of Northern California. We have around 100 members and meet once a month for chit chat, watching and giving demos, sharing food, and general camaraderie. If you are interested in glass bead making and would like to join our group, just give me a holler - I happen to be in charge of membership.

Now to go play with wool... Have a wonderful rest-of-the-weekend!


Pam @ The Blue Between said...

Wow Shirley, that is GORGEOUS!!!

Shirley Cook - Jumping Jack Glass said...

Thanks, Pam! My head is full of ideas for more of them, but my calendar is full of other things. Where's my clone? :-)

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