What do you do with fleece that isn’t good for anything? Post a challenge, of course. Six Loose Ladies did just that with three partial fleeces that were matted, brittle and just generally nasty. For the bargain sum of $5, we could take a grocery bag full of this “wonderful” stuff and be creative with it. The colors range from “white” to black with brown locks. After washing, they smelled better but were still less than lovely. So now, what to make?
I was particularly drawn to the gray fleece with lovely tan locks. It was by far the dirtiest and it was the one I had the least of, but it looked like bark to me, so it got me thinking of trees. I have limited felting experience, can’t spin, don’t weave, not enough to knit with… So I picked the brains of a few trusted friends and a few books to figure out how to engineer a felted tree sculpture with a wire armature.
I started with the white, extremely matted glob. I separated it into several pieces as best I could and then wrestled it into a trunk and several branches which I wrapped rather tightly with some wool yarn. I tried wet felting it into a more dense structure with only limited success. I had better results with some fibers that I was able to tease out and wet felt like you’re supposed to to make an additional branch. That offered just enough encouragement to keep going. (I forgot to photograph this “rag mop” stage. One really had to use imagination to see a tree here.)
Next step was to figure out the wire armature. I used some 4 strand stuff from my husband’s “used wire” box. The idea was to add vertical structure to the trunk, roots to make the tree free-standing, and to separate the wire strands and twist them with roving so that I could felt into it later. This time the matted nature of the white fleece came in handy. By twisting the roving ends into the strands of wire I was able to attach it to the trunk without having to use any other substance.
Next I made some pre-felt out of the dark fleece. I teased out small clumps and wet felted them until they were thin sheets or strips. I wrapped these around the trunk and branches and needle felted them to the surface. With lots of effort I was able to shape the trunk, branches, and roots into a respectable looking tree shape.
The next step was to apply the grey fleece to look like bark. I separated it carefully to preserve the curly tan locks, using them as additional branches and trunk texture. They were needle felted in small pieces, covering all the dark fleece. And voila, I’m done.
Judges have been selected and judging will be on March 16th at Six Loose Ladies shop. Stay tuned…