Wet Felt – what’s that?

Most of the time I needle felt but last year in a moment of bravery I signed up for a City & Guilds in felting. The course is focused on techniques and predominately Wet Felting.

Last week during a regular work meeting the conversation drifted to what people did for a hobby. I mentioned that I liked to needle felt and also wet felt. A quizzical expression appeared on the others persons face and then asked ‘what’s wet felting’, to which I replied felting with water to shape and design a picture or object, the expression turned to one of ‘ I think I will leave this conversation now’.

I assumed it to be a perfectly adequate answer, when we have a hobby we expect other people to know the terminology or have difficulty in explaining how something is done and still hold their attention.

So the next time somebody asks you about your hobby take some time to give a full explanation and spread the word.

Endangered Crafts

Should we try something new?

The endangered crafts list has just been published for the 3rd year and there are new entries for 2019 of crafts that are in decline or very few people practising as a full time job. I would grab a coffee and find 10 minutes to read through the list of crafts that you never knew existed and dismay at the variety of skills and cultures are soon to lost if people do not take up the challenge to make something new .

There are a few on the list that caught my eye, Lacrosse Stick Making – I played this at school a long time ago and I am sure I still have some of the bruises.

A ‘Devon Maud’ not a lady from Devon but a basket, I had to look this on up on the interweb thing. This is a basket dating back to c1500 used in in markets for carrying produce.

Spinning Wheels

The top 2 crafts remain knitting and crocheting ( I cannot do either justice) and yet there is a decline of skilled craftspeople who can make a spinning wheel.

Spinning wheels first appeared in India as early as 500 AD but now it is down to a handful of people keeping the skill alive, I still have a vision of Rumpelstiltskin and the spinning wheel…

A New Skill

So if I was going to pick something from the list – not that I have any spare time to do so, then it would have to be……….Smocking!. The time consuming but relaxing embroidery that for those old enough to remember had on their best dress or top. This craft is no longer taught at the Royal School of Needlework and yet has a place in history and could be so versatile when incorporated with other crafts. What would you choose?

Mad Hatter

The Tale Of The Mad Hatter

So in my last post I mentioned that my husband had booked me onto a wet felted hat workshop. Last week we travelled up to Cheshire and I spent the day with Alison Rose from Rose Creations whilst my husband took my son to the Outlet Centre for a spot of retail therapy – think I got the better deal…

So thinking about the style of hat I wanted to create had me thinking about the ‘Mad Hatter’ from the Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” where the cheeky rabbit was famously featured.

However, contrary to believe the phrase “mad as a hatter,” used to describe someone who’s prone to unpredictable behaviour, didn’t originate with Carroll.  So where did it originate?.

The expression is actually linked to the hat-making industry and mercury poisoning. In the 18th & 19th centuries, a toxic substance, mercury nitrate, was used as part of the process of turning the fur of small animals, such as rabbits, into felt for hats. I can confirm that I only used soap and water in my workshop and no small animals where harmed in the process either….

Workplace safety back in the day were lax and exposure to mercury caused employees to develop a variety of physical and mental ailments, including tremors (dubbed “hatter’s shakes”), speech problems, emotional instability and hallucinations, not the best working environment and glad to report that the use of mercury in hat making was banned for use in the early 1940’s.

Fitted and Felted

We spent the first hour  measuring my head so we would get a good fit, preparing the template and choosing the wool which of course was my favourite colour – purple. Several hours later and after a lot of felting, fulling and shaping I had a hat to take home and dry.

Process and Practice

The process is long but enjoyable as you see the shape appearing. I shall make another hat in a different style as the more I practice the more I will learn about this great craft.

Hope you like it: