Want to add interest and dimension to a quilted piece in no time? Try felting.
Whether you felt by hand (with water or needles) or by machine, it's an easy, fun, and fast way to make a piece pop. Plus, felting is a great way to use up little bits of fluff, fibers, and sparkly things you have on hand.
I've seen two examples of how a felted element packed some punch into an art piece recently.
In the current issue of Quilting Arts, Rose Hughes shows how to make beaded wool gems from wool roving, batting, and beads.
Rose just cuts layers of batting to the desired size, wraps layers of wool roving around the batting, then puts the bundle of fiber inside a knee-high stocking and ties a knot.
She continues the process until she has as many bundles as she desires, and then washes the knotted stockings in hot water with high agitation.
Rose removes the now felted bundles from the stockings, lets them dry, and adds beads, stitching, and other embellishments. Then she attaches the gems to a quilt. I love the way they add a sparkly, seashell-like element to her "Ebbing Eveningtide" landscape.
Natalya Aikens also recently experimented with felting. After painting a journal page and scanning it when it was dry, she printed a copy of the page onto sheer ExtravOrganza.
Then she hand needle-felted a mix of fibers (thread, color catcher sheets, dryer lint from, fabrics, netting) onto the printed image.
"This was the most fun part of the entire project!" says Natalya. "I have never needle felted by hand before, even though I had the supplies for a while. I figured this was the perfect opportunity to try it."
The needle-felted fibers add an interesting texture to the design, literally bringing it up off the page.
Wet felting and hand needle felting don't require a lot of supplies or time-though you may find you quickly become addicted to the techniques. It's fun to felt a lot of small pieces in one session or a little at a time, and then keep the samples for future use in a quilt, wall-hanging, or mixed-media piece.
If you've never tried felting before, we have plenty of supplies and books on the subject in the Interweave Store, so be sure to check it out.