Tutorial with Chica Chimu
Firstly I’d like to say a great big thanks to Hobbycraft for inviting me to blog on ‘Lets Get Making’. In my opinion there’s nothing better than to be able to share my passion and knowledge with all you wonderful crafters. At the same time I’d like to introduce myself. For those of you who’ve been frequenting Hobbycraft Southampton, Swindon and Oxford, you’ve probably already seen the Chica Chimu stall, made my acquaintance and know a bit about what I do. For those of you who don’t? Well, I’m a textile designer and I’ve been shouting from the walls about wool, felt and needle felting. Since encountering wool I’ve never ‘felt’ more inspired (‘scuse the pun)! So… I’m here to share my passion with you and hopefully inspire you with projects and techniques that I’ve learnt along the way.
Live Needle Felting Demos at Hobbycraft
Last weekend was all about Valentines day and I was at the wonderful Oxford Hobbycraft with my Lampshapes and running demonstrations in making hand made pre-felt. I love making pre-felt, it’s so versatile. Once it’s been made I can either leave it as it is or go on to wet felt it. The possibilities are endless. (Current dates for Chica Chimu demos and workshops at various Hobbycrafts are listed at the end of this blog).
Flames and flowers… the perfect ambient lighting adornments for my hand made lampshades. Very romantic and very Valentines I think you’ll agree.
Painting with Wool
I’m naturally drawn to colour and form. I love the way the light glows through these little beauties, accentuating each and every felted fibre. The great thing about making your own pre-felt is that you’re in complete control of the whole process. You can be ever so painterly and really go to town with your creativity. With this in mind, I’d like to share with you here how to make your very own groovy Lampshape. We’re going to be using a number of different techniques including wet felting and needle felting, and it’s going to be easy-peasy.
A Quickie Introduction to Needle Felting
Needle felting is a dry felting technique that uses barbed needles rather than water. The needles are stabbed through the wool and the barbs catch and tangle the top layer of fibres with the inner layer of fibres, creating a felt that is strong. Needle felting can be used to create 2D textiles or 3D sculpture.
Valentines Needle Felted ‘Lampshape’
Difficulty level : Beginners
Time to complete: approximately one hour (excluding drying time)
You will need :
- Merino wool roving (I’ve used three colours; a very pale pink, a medium pink and a bright red)
- One Clover Needle Felting Tool (comes with three needles)
- One Chica Chimu Needle Felting Pad
- One pin
- Two long pipe cleaners
- A cheap bottle of spring water (avoids lime scale build up in your iron)
- One Marigold glove
- One tray
- An ironing board
- Washing up liquid
- Spray bottle
- Steam iron
- Kettle of hot water
How to Make Handmade Pre-felt
Pull tufts of wool from your roving. I lay them out into a rough heart shape with the paler pink on the outside and the medium pink on the inside. Don’t lay your first layer of wool too thickly as eventually we want to be able to see the light from our bulb glowing through. Make sure there are no gaps in the wool. Stab your wool all over with three needles. The more you stab your work the tighter and less fluffy it will become. Every now and then check the density by peeling it away from your pad, this will also prevent your shape from sticking to your pad. Once you are able to fully peel it off, flip it over and continue to stab the back. At this stage you can also gently pull and tease your work into a broader heart shape.
I’ve now stabbed my wool thoroughly and added one more layer of wool to the back, keeping to the principle of pale pink on the outside and medium pink on the inside.
To make the circular shapes of wool, pull off tiny tufts from your red wool roving and wrap them around two fingers.
Lay the circle onto your Pre-felt and with one needle only tack it into place. You’ll notice that as you work the circles they’ll start to contract. You can gently tease your fibres back into place with the end of your needle. Once you’ve tacked your circles you can be a bit more thorough with your stabbing – switch to using three needles again.
Now this is a little technique I’ve developed which means you can pretty much felt without the time laborious task involved in wet felting with bamboo mats.
You’re going to take your piece of pre-felt to your ironing board. Fill your steam iron up to the maximum level with spring water. Make sure your spray bottle is full of water and at hands reach. Set your iron to a high temperature and make sure it’s on the steam setting. Spray your shape till it’s saturated with water and iron it. The heat, water, weight and agitation of the iron will start to felt your work. Regularly spray your work with more water, turn your work 90 degrees and continue ironing. By the time the water level in your iron runs down, your shape should be pretty much felted. Leave it to dry in an airing cupboard or on top of a radiator.
Health and Safety tip : Your shape will be really hot so use a gloved hand to pick it up and turn it.
Making a Wet Felted Stem
Twist your two pipe cleaners together to make a strong stem.
Decide which colour you’d like your bendable stem to be and pull a tuft from your chosen wool roving. Starting at one end, wrap it around your pipe cleaner. Lay your pipe cleaner down onto your pad and using one needle stab up and down the length of your wrapped wool on both sides. You need to be a little bit careful as you don’t want to break your needle on the wire. Rotate your pipe cleaner and keep stabbing so it’s secured the whole way around. Take another piece of the same coloured wool and wrap again making sure that it overlaps the last piece slightly. Continue to wrap and stab till the whole length is covered…and don’t forget the ends.
You should now have a pipe cleaner entirely wrapped in wool.
Now for a bit of wet felting. Shouldn’t take more than five minutes max.
Pop your stem onto a tray and drizzle with a little washing-up liquid. Boil a kettle of water and let it cool a little. Pour a little cold water into your spray bottle and then add hot water (please be careful not to scold yourself…it hurts)!
Spray your stem till saturated. Pick it up and pinch it between your palms. We aren’t rubbing or rolling but instead pinching and ‘squidging’ the stem along it’s entire length. You’ll notice that the wool starts to contract around the pipe cleaner quite quickly. After a minute or two of pinching and ‘squidging’ we can start to roll it between our palms. Again make sure you roll the entire length. Spend three or four minutes doing this by which time, the stem should be fully felted. Rinse all the soap out with cold water and leave to dry in an airing cupboard or on top of a radiator.
Constructing your Lampshape
Drying time over, you should now have a felted heart shape and a felted stem.
Fold and pin the left hand side of your heart shape.
Roll your shape around your stem…
Until it looks like this :
Pull off some more of your wool roving…
And wrap it around the join. Stab it with one needle in a similar way to how you initially wrapped and stabbed your pipe cleaners. Stab until the wool is nice and tight and the heart is secure. Take the pin out, open it up and hey presto, your Valentines Lampshape is complete. All you need to do now is bend your stem into a spiral, clip it onto your lampshade and get romantic.
If you liked this tutorial you may want to visit my website www.chicachimu.co.uk for details of workshops and needle felting kits. Most importantly, keep visiting ‘Let’s Get Making’ as I’m going to be blogging more tutorials, news and experimental craftiness in the future.
Take care for now,
(Owner and designer of Chica Chimu).
Dates for your Diary
Come and join me at my Chica Chimu stall. I’ll be at various venues over the next couple of months so come and join me. I’ll be there to show you ‘how’ and answer your needle felting and wet felting questions. You might even want to sign up for one of my workshops!
- 05 and 06 April 2014, Hobbycraft Oxford, Needle Felting Demonstrations.
- 19 and 20 April 2014, Hobbycraft Oxford, DIY Brides.
- 26 and 27 April 2014, Hobbycraft Oxford, DIY Brides.
- 03 and 04 May 2014, Hobbycraft Oxford, DIY Brides.