There’s Big and Then There’s Felting Big!

In hand felting what constitutes ‘very large’ in rugs is a lot different than what you might think of as big when it comes to machine made carpets. But the very process of felting means when planning the final outcome you have to account for a whole lot of shrinkage. So a rug that needs to end up being about 3.5 x 5 feet has to start out much bigger than that.

It’s also going to require a whole lot of fiber. In the case of this piece it will require pounds of alpaca and sheep fiber. Not just ANY alpaca and sheep fiber either – but clean, prepped and custom batch dyed fiber that is then hand drum carded into specially composed art bats which will then form the layers of the finished work.

Phase 1

I have invited the clients to check in with me to see the progress of their commissioned rug as it becomes a reality. Our first photos then show the beginnings of a multi-stage process!

A whole bunch of alpaca fiber

Fiber is carefully gone over and any vegetive matter (hay, straw, grass, etc) is picked out. Then it’s washed and rinsed in hot water to get it ready to accept the dyes

The client’s photos are referenced and dyes are mixed

Two packets of soggy dyed fiber waiting to be steamed

Working with the colors….

The dyed fiber is then steamed to set them and air dried

Yellow for a Blue-ish Rug?

This last image shows fibers intended for part of the under-layers of the piece. In order to capture some of the esoterics of the colors of water using fiber my thought is by carefully building up layers of color and texture we should come close to accomplishing this goal.

About the Dyes

I only use eco-friendly acid dyes. The acid I use in vinegar. This eventually gets totally rinsed out of the fiber after it’s been steam set.┬áMy next task will be to drum card these semi-raw fibers into art bats to begin to create the base substance for the rug.

NEXT: dyeing the cotton backing, dyeing another batch of fiber (this piece will take many such batches) and drum carding the first dyed fibers!

The cotton backing is ready to be rinsed in hot water to get it ready for dyeing