Sunday, August 29, 2010

Felt Footstool -- Finally Complete!!

A while back, my friend Ben showed me some giant felt rocks that he saw on the internet. Immediately, I said to myself, "I want to make something enormous out of felt". And finally, I have. Back in February, I started needle felting a ball -- just sort of casually while watching the Winter Olympics. A few months later, it had become a rather large ball. That little nob sticking out of the ball in the picture below is the handle of my 10 needle felting tool -- very handy when felting something this large.

My intent from the beginning was to create a footstool out of solid felt. After getting the ball to the rough size that I wanted, I started to shape it into a cube. At this point, I had run out of undyed raw fiber, so I switched to some brown that I had around:

Next, I carded some various blues together that I had hand dyed, and started covering the surface. I wanted a mottled, watery effect:

Next, I needed to decide what sort of surface decoration I wanted to do. I was pretty set on an aquatic theme, and started out with some wavy green lines based on a sketch I had made previously:

The little pink thing sticking out of the stool is a finer needle felting tool that I like to use for detail work. Needle felting is a very slow process -- you literally interlock the scales on the fiber together by pushing a small barbed needle into the fiber. The more times you insert the needle, the firmer the felt becomes. In the photo above, you can see where I have been felting in the center of the stool, but the fiber is still puffy towards the outside where I haven't worked as much.

I really liked the green wavy lines by themselves, but decided to add some fish for more visual interest. At first I wanted to choose a "real fish" - that is, mimic the body shape and color pattern of an actual fish, preferably one native to Vermont. But I really wanted the fish to be bright and simple, so against my scientific judgement, opted for minnow shaped orange and yellow fish. I didn't want the stool to have only one correct orientation, as I imagined in practical use the stool might get tumbled around the living room floor, so opted to lay out the fish in circular patterns around two of the corners of the stool. This way, in any given orientation, some fish are right side up and some fish are upside down.

Some more close-ups of detail:
Here's a shot with Willie in the background for size reference (keep in mind Willie is large 80+ lb dog). The total weight of the stool is 11.5 pounds of solid felt. This is more than 2 sheeps worth of fiber!
Couldn't resist including some shots of the Calendula growing in my veggie garden -- just begging to be photographed in the morning sun and dew. These may become muses for a future fiber project.