Sunday, January 18, 2009

Hairy Alpaca

My friend Barbara came by today for a fibre afternoon.  She has a small flock of alpacas that she has just recently acquired. Barbara is already an accomplished basket weaver and copper artist.  Since she has the animals she’s adding felting to her repertoire.  She’s already made some bags. They are really lovely but they just didn’t seem fulled to me. The fabric of the bag was sturdy enough but at the cut edge at the bag top you could see unfelted fibres.  She had reinforced the top edge with machine sewing to compensate. 

Since she is so new to felting she came over to learn some tips and tricks.  She wanted to know when done was done.  And she wanted to know more about making 3d items using a resist rather making yardage to cut and sew.

We laid out a flat sample which we measured.  She rolled that in bubble wrap for approx 1000 rolls with several breaks to reroll.  The piece hardly shrunk at all.  In fact for a while it got bigger! She then threw it --- a lot.  It never got the pebbled surface I associate with a well fulled piece and it remained stubbornly hairy.

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While she was doing the flat piece I made two bags using a resist explaining my technique as I went.  I often make bags two at a time like I do with slippers.  After quite a bit of hand work the seams were sturdy enough but the centre barely seemed to be pre-felt.  So I rolled the piece without removing the resist.  A lot.  Finally I lost patience and cut the two bags apart.

When I worked the cut edge made it almost look like fringe.  Again that’s never happened to me before.  And if you click on the photo to enlarge it you’ll see that my fingers are very hairy just from working with it.

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This piece too remained amazingly hairy.

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All the pieces are quite firm.  We tried pushing a pen through the fabric to see if it was strong enough to be a bag.  We had to use quite a bit of force to push the pen through but it did go through in the end.

So we’ve sent a query out to the North American Felters list and to the Felting Forum.  Leave a comment here or send us an email if you have any thoughts or suggestions.

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