I am sure everyone already knows that I love wet felting!
There is just something that I enjoy about the whole process of starting with a handful of merino wool and then creating something useful and beautiful with it. One of the things and areas that I get asked about often is the fulling or shrinking stage. So I thought I would try to explain a few things to you.
Fulling you wet felt
The fulling stage is where most people seem to have the most trouble and I regularly see felt which has not been fulled or shrunk enough. My general rule of thumb when asked, is to let people know what to look for when they see felting. Look for the leathery feel and the slight dimples on the surface of the bag or hat or whatever the items is. Ask to pick the item up and feel it, does it feel strong or sort of springy and floppy? Well made felt will feel strong in the hand but have a beautiful touch and drape to it.
Poorly Fulled Felt
This is a good example of felt which has Not been fulled any where near enough, or, not rolled enough. Most likely a bit of both.
This image clearly show the the teal fibres 'felted' onto the top have not felted into the surface of the wool correctly. These fibres are just sitting on top and will easily rub off the surface with even a slight amount of use. A lot of people also don't realise that the silk fibres we use on the surface for decorations don't felt themselves! They need the wool fibres to migrate up through the silk and lock them down during the rolling and fulling stages.
Most people would pick this felt up and say to me "oooh! its so soft and beautiful!" But what they don't realise is that it will not last and will fall apart with only a small amount of use. The fibres have not locked together yet and will simply work their way out of the item and it will get shabby and old looking very quickly.
Correctly fulled felt
This pretty little coin purse I made recently shows the 'leathery' look and surface of the felt. It also show how the silk fibres felted into the front are strongly embedded into the wool. When I make these little purses I will always full or shrink them to at least 50% shrinkage. It is amazing how they transform from a soft piece of felt into a strong durable use-able piece which you can actually feel happening if you are fulling and working the wool enough.
Now that you know what to look for in good quality well made wool felt you can pull out some of those pieces you have already made and run a critical eye over them again. Hope this helps :)