Making felt is hard work! At a class this week I was creating rainbow felt from merino wool tops. I chose a blue purple for my background layer and then laid wisps of colour on top. Then the fibres were meshed and matted together by wetting, soaping and working them with pressure, rolling, rolling and more rolling. Then hitting and bashing and generally knocking them about. It seems an unsophisticated and almost violent way to create fabric, but it can produce beautiful results.
In legend St Christopher, patron saint of travellers, was fleeing persecution and wrapped sheep fleece caught on wayside bushes around his feet. At the end of the journey the sweat and repeated pounding of his feet had turned the fleece to felt. Another Persian story describes a shepherd’s son who, attempting to make fabric from fleece without a loom, ends up stamping the wool and crying tears of frustration, but then finds he has created felt. http://feltmakers.com/history-and-ethnography. The history of felt is much older than these stories, but the process of the work, the sweat and the tears remains the same to this day.
There were no tears at the felting class, but plenty of exertion and we worked up a sweat. After the hard work I unrolled my fibres to see the results. The rainbow was certainly bright and I was pleased with the mossy effect of my second piece.
An enjoyable day and another illustration of how in life we sometimes have to trust the process, including the hard work and unpleasant bashing, before the beauty of the finished product can be revealed.