Unique, one-of-a-kind art that you can wear. What’s not to like?
I’ve begun making nuno-felt scarves, more silk than wool, light and airy, perfect to wrap around your neck for a color accent and a bit of warmth. And I’ve been making slightly heavier nuno-felt shawl-capelets, ideal to drape over your shoulders and fasten in front on a cool day. I’ve also made vests and bags, and I am exploring the more challenging task of making dresses.
Making nuno-felt scarves is an adventure—you can plan your design, but the result is serendipitous. Here is an oversimplified description of the process. I lightly cover a length of silk gauze with wisps of wool, silk, yarn, silk or Tencel fibers, threads, etc. Then I carefully work the wool and added fibers into the silk gauze, using soapy water and hand pressure. Then I roll it all up around a pool noodle and roll it for five minutes, and then unroll it and then roll it up from the opposite direction, and then roll it again for five minutes. I do this a number of times, until the tiny wool fibers have penetrated through the silk gauze.
When everything is well felted together, I begin the fulling process, during which the material shrinks and tightens up, creating interesting bubbly texture. I use hot water and “shock” the fibers by dropping the scarf onto a hard, textured surface. The result is an ethereal nuno-felt scarf with bits of wool (and additions) on one side, silk on the other, and intriguing puckering where the wool has drawn the silk together.
The shawl-capelets are mosaic nuno-felt, created using a similar process but with enough wool laid down on one side to make a continuous wool surface. This makes the nuno-felt a bit more substantial and heavier. I also add pieces of different-weight and color silk (hence the “mosaic” pattern) and other fibers on top of the wool, creating an interesting texture.
I have much to learn about making felt garments. Since nuno-felted garments (and scarves) shrink approximately 35-50%, creating them takes a large workspace. The silk gauze for one of the capelets was 110” (280 cm) long and 30” (75 cm) wide when I began; the capelet ended up 55” (140 cm) long and 16” (40 cm) wide.