It’s a snow day here at Marsh Farm and I had some quality time in the studio. I thought that made this a good week to share some thoughts and the process from my felting studio. I admit, Dear Readers, that I change the name of my studio on a weekly basis. Sometimes it’s the studio, sometimes it’s my workshop, and sometimes it’s the workery. Which one do you like best?
I thought I would share my process for making one of my favorite types of table toppers. The circle table toppers or rugs is the first thing I started making with “Fanny”, my felting machine by Simplicity. This machine looks like a small sewing machine, but instead of one needle and thread it has 12 barbed needles. I run the two materials through the machine in whatever pattern I fancy that day and they are bound together. Voila!
So here’s the process.
The first thing I do is cut circles out of the base felt which is recycled acrylic felt. Back in the day I had to cut all of my circles by hand, but then “Sydney” the Sissix die cutter came into my life. I can now be more efficient by cutting a bunch of circles at one time. I still cut any shapes that are not circles or squares by hand.
Next comes marking the middle of the circle and then I begin the felting. I start the yarn in the middle and then use the machine to tack it down. Then I continue spiraling the yarn and using the machine to felt it down. The spiraling is a lovely combination of meditation and alertness. After doing this for 9 years I usually have a sense of how yarns will felt, but it is one of my favorite parts of the process. Sometimes yarns will surprise you for the good or the bad.
Out comes the iron. Pieces usually have some puckering after the machine, so to give them the finished look and to make sure the yarn holds tight, I iron the heck out of them. A hot iron and steam really changes things and I love that moment.
Once I have all the circles I think I need, I start to piece them together. I feel like each yarn has a story to tell and my job is to look at the felted pieces and figure out how to best tell that story. There are always a ton of different ways I can put things together, and I just go with my gut or ask for some advice from Susan to steer me in direction when I’m having a block.
To the sewing machine! I sew just a couple a pieces at a time to make sure things are staying in line. Sewing is not my strong point, so I definitely have to concentrate. I’m grateful to have a machine with speed control so I can make lines I am proud of.
Once it is all sewn we are getting so close to the finish. It is time to add the backing. I use an iron-on cotton backing. Over the years I have developed a process, and I no longer get the backing stuck to things. First I do a light ironing to tack it down. Then a quick cut and more ironing. Finally a more detailed trimming and we have a finished product.
So that’s it, that’s my circle process. One of the things I love about thinking about this process is thinking about how I’ve come to it. I think back to all my trials and errors and I’m proud to have gotten to this point. I also love the process because I tend to use the time it takes, to think about other design ideas and that gets me so excited.
If you have one of these pieces or are thinking about one I hope you know how much love, thought, and a piece of me goes into each of them. If you just enjoy circles, spirals or creative processes I hope you enjoy following along.