"The son" & DIL gifted me some felting supplies for Christmas. I've been wanting to try my hand at making felted slippers for a long time. It WAS supposed to only take about 2-3 hours.....NOT, def. NOT!I started with a kit from Living Felt, thinking it'd be wise to have some specific instructions as a first time slipper felter! The instructions were excellent, but if you already have felting supplies, it's unnecessarily expensive.
The first step was to trace one's bare feet and then expand that outline by 1"-2". After tracing the 1" margin I decided to go back and do the full 2".....outlined now in red.
The shape was transferred to a flexible plastic resist.Cut out and placed on my work surface from bottom up: towel, bubble wrap, netting.
I also splurged on olive oil soap which is shredded and dissolved in hot water. I've always just used bar soap from the huge stash I have via hotel stays. I have to say, I'm not sure whether this soap helps the wool to felt better, but my hands appreciated it.
The instructions recommended using hot water.....as hot as hands can stand. Which meant zapping water in a ceramic bowl in the kitchen and carrying it up to my studio where it was added to a larger plastic container with the soap.
Two layers of Living Felt's wool batting where placed over each template, altering the direction of the wool fibers. Then it was 'wetted out' using the hot soapy water and a sponge.
Next the wool is patted smoothly, removing any air bubbles. Excess wool is wrapped to the opposite side....smoothly evenly. These steps are repeated two more times on each side of the template.
Now the real work begins......between a layer of netting....each slipper is rolled up with bubble wrap....rolling, repositioning, rolling, rolling, adding more hot soapy water. You can see I transferred my 'package' to a shallow tin tray to help control the water.
After the wool begins to hold together.....it's moved to a bamboo mat and gets the same treatment....lots of rolling, repositioning, adding hot soapy water. Finally.....after way too much physical work (grinning), they are ready for the next step.
A slit is cut in the center of the top layer of each one, shaping the opening, and removing the resist. The final 'fulling' (which means felting the pieces till the shrink and are VERY firm), takes additional time. As I do at this stage when felting bowls, the item is pretty aggressively thrown onto a hard flat surface, between 100 - 200 times. That action really helps to bond the fibers together, shrinking the wool even further.
I followed the suggestion to put the wet slimy slippers on to form them to ones' foot.
Finally they are rinsed and the final shaping is complete. It will take several days for them to dry.
Frankly, they are kinda a mess.....some of the felt layers really never meshed, even though it certainly felted sufficiently, shrinking by about 2" in every direction. You can see a separation on the right slipper's opening. The edges of the openings are very thick, and unattractive because the colors of the uneven various layers are visible. Clearly, additional practice is needed.
Lessons learned: If I make any more, I'll stick to one color, except for the final top layer where I could add some roving to create an interesting pattern. Also, I'm not a fan of what Living Felt calls 'wool batts'. Even when making bowls I don't feel I have the control of thickness when using this product. It's supposed to be faster because it shortens the time of laying out layers and layers of wool roving. However, given my (still fairly limited) experience, I'll use roving instead.
The untidy edges are driving me nuts, so I'm considering doing a blanket stitch with wool embroidery thread around the openings. OR perhaps wrapping a narrow strip of Ultra-suede, and securing by machine if possible, otherwise by hand.
Why not pop over to see what other artists have been up to this week: Nina-Marie's Off The Wall Friday, Sarah's Whoop, Whoop Friday, and Crazy Mom Sews.