Prior to the Michigan Fiber Festival, there was three weeks of "get ready"....and that meant more thinking than I am accustom to doing. This year, I was scheduled to teach three wonderful classes, multiple resist felt purse, needle to wet felt hat and fingerless gloves. Now, normally, I would share wonderful photos to with you, but since I left the camera at home...that is not the case!(...and shame on me.) The purses were wonderful, every single hat was great in quality and design and the fingerless gloves were so, so pretty. I hope that if any of the folks in the classes read this blog that they will send photos of their finished projects my way. I'd love to post them. (hint, hint.)
I love-love-love teaching. You get to meet the neatest folks, build friendships, laugh a lot, and watch together the wonder of felt happen. The joy of watching that for the first time with someone who has never done it before, is just a pure pleasure treasure for me. Do you remember the first time you made felt? Do you remember that lovely feeling, that smile?
Okay, now about the nuno dress...
It is a project that I've been working on for some time and there are other components that I hope to add to it as time allows, but for now, here is " the skinny" on how I created the fabric.
1) dye Habotai silk ...I used 5mm
2) cover tables with towels, then cover towels with 2mm plastic large enough to cover your project or table surface
3) lay out silk on the plastic and apply thin wisps of super fine merino wool
4) wet fibers and fabric with COLD SOAPY water
5) cover with another piece of plastic large enough to cover your project or table surface
6) massage with a large sponge the entire surface of the wool/silk for about 10 minutes...a wet sponge works best to rub over the plastic.
7) then roll everything up on a pool noodle, except the towels, firmly, but not tight.
8) after that, then roll your roll in the towel and begin rolling . ( I roll 1000 times in one direction, then un-roll and roll from the other end 1000 times...and yes I actually count them all.)
9) then flip and begin the rolling again.
10) if the wool has not migrated through to my satisfaction, I begin again, and usually do roll a piece about 8000 times. (long arm roll, not short little rolls)
11) then I rinse and toss into the dryer, wet but not soaking, on AIR ONLY to do the tossing for me. It produces incredible texture and saves my arms a bit. This process in the dyer must be closely monitored, say like every 5 minutes to make sure the fibers are not sticking to each other and that they continue to migrate through the silk. Allow to bang around in there until you get the texture that you want on your finished product. A couple of tennis balls help a bit too.
Nope, no bubble wrap...I want the warmth of my hands as close to the feltmaking and fibers process as possible. I also do not use a netting over the wool. I figure that with the nuno laid out between two pieces of plastic, the wool has no where to go except into the silk. Pulling the netting up has disturbed the fibers for me in the past, so I simply do not use it anymore.
This is how I make nuno, and there are many other ways that create wonderful results. Everyone does something different and each piece reflects the hand of the maker. Do you have some pointers to share? Would love to hear them! I hope this "how to" is helpful to you.
After the fabric was made, it went off to Emy Myner, a skilled and creative seamstress, who helped me with the design and details of the dress. I wanted a very simple dress because the fabric and color are so striking. I think we achieved our goal. I am hoping to have some professional photos taken of the dress very soon...but like I said, I am taking a breather...it's been a busy three weeks.
Photos by Jim Higgs and Beth Pulsipher.