CNCHnet . . . The Textile Arts Webzine of the Conference of Northern California Handweavers

Felted Fiber Fantasies

Imagine! Piles of fiber, fabric snips, yarn and ribbon waiting to metamorph into something useful, beautiful and unique. That is what I walked into when I visited my friend Georg Palmer at her Alamo home. She and a friend from Michigan, Judy Petrovich, were spending two weeks in a creative orgy as they dyed, combined fibers and fabrics, and thought up practical and impractical ways to utilize their FeltLOOM.

A FeltLOOM does, basically, needle felting. Instead of having one or a few needles that you use when needle felting by hand or the 7 to 9 needles that are on an embellishing machine, this unit has 400 needles and is 48” wide–big enough to make felt yardage.

Making your own felt yardage could be all you would want to do on this machine. It certainly sounds better to me than the wetting, kneading, rubbing and repeating the same to do wet felting or the tedious punching of hand needle felting. But–wait–think of what else you could use this piece of equipment for!

You can combine colored and natural fibers in ordered or spontaneous patterns. You can add layer upon layer of fibers together and make the material thick enough for a rug. You can felt the fiber to material- heavy duty for rug backing or fine silk for gossamer scarves. The material can be covered completely or allowed to peek through.  The choice is up to the designer!  The choices and the results are unique and seemingly endless!

I was invited to play! Just pile up various colors. When it is big enough we’ll run it through. And that it what I did.

Make a pile

Make a pile

and even more

add even more

after passing through the needle bed

after passing through the needle bed

It is like painting with fibers!

adding new elements

adding new elements

 

end Product

End Product

Coming through the needle bed

Coming through the needle bed

 

Georg and Judy both said they have done many samples using various types of fiber and adding other elements- yarn, ribbon and cloth swatches- to learn how the machine works, how the colors and materials blend and to judge what to expect.   Their finished products are much more sophisticated than what I did and there is certainly more to the finished item than what comes from the machine.  The material needs to be fulled so that it doesn’t pill and that means  fulling using water either by hand, in the washing machine or in the dryer.  However, the FeltLOOM can  produce a fabric with an even thickness and a drapeability that would be hard to match with other processes.  These are some of the items they are making.

semi felted shapes placed on silk and run through the felt loom[/caption]

Wool fiber covering  fine silk on both sides. slits were added in the finishing stage

Wool fiber covering fine silk on both sides. Slits were added in the finishing stage

The same technique with different colors of fiber on each side

The same technique with different colors of fiber on each side

Man's vest

Man’s vest

Tote

Tote

Western coat

Western coat

Judy Petrovich is  seamstress and fiber artist, born and raised in Michigan.  Her passion for sewing and a desire to blend art into fashionable garments took on a life of it’s own when she became enamored with the luxurious feel of alpaca and began raising them for their fiber.  
 Blending their fleece with a spectrum of silks, wools, cotton and bamboo, and using her FeltLOOM, she creates a wide range of custom non-woven fabrics that are consistent in weight and of unlimited designs.  

The resulting fabric, cuddly soft and amazingly warm, is sewn into wonderful wearables.   Garments can be made to order or tailored to fit.  Her goal is to create truly wearable art, unique and elegant, but also flattering because it fits. Her website is fabfibers.com

Georg Palmer sells her creations at juried art fairs throughout California.  Meet her and see her work at the Saratoga Rotary Art Show- May 2 &3- in Saratoga, The PENWAG Fashion Show  May 31- June 1st in Palo Alto,  The KPFA at Show June 20-21 in Richmond and King’s Mountain Art Show September 5,6 and 7.

The Felt LOOM is manufactured in Kentucky.  Google them for more information.

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