Sunday, April 18, 2010

Wet Felt, Hearts, & Baby-Friends...

Boy, this sure has been a busy week. We are all striving to return to our daily routines and habits after being away at the beach. It was good to return to the dye pots. Rainbows have been abundant, but I'll talk about that in another post. First, my daughter and I finished our rainbow felt pieces that we had started weeks ago. That's one of the things I like about wet felting--you can walk away from it, let it dry, fix trouble spots, and come back to it when you are ready. We had started with a BFL roving (blue faced leciester breed of sheep) base and had teased out plant dyed merino roving for the top layer. The BFL came from Gales Art on Etsy. Gale is a fellow Phatfiber buddy, and I was thrilled when I joined the Peachtree Handspinner's Guild and discovered she was already a long-standing member.

The plant dyed merino was stuff I had dyed here and there over the past few months. Some of it is South African merino and was a special gift from a Waldorf Mama/Etsy/Natural Dye friend. (We are in the Waldorf Mama group on Ravelry and the Natural Dyes group on Ravelry, too.) Some of it is from New Zealand and is from a special Etsy/Phatfiber friend--Maude and Me.

My daughter and I had worked on our felts the day we laid them out, but it just would have taken too long to finish them that day. So we dried them out on some towels and a few weeks later, we rewetted them. This is why I save all those old dish soap bottles. It takes almost two large bottles of hot, soapy water to rewet my felt. Thank you Vibeke Pedersen (hope I spelled that correctly), Master Handwork Teacher and Master Felter, for all you taught me about wet felting. It all just comes back so easily. Okay, maybe teaching wet felting to middle schoolers for 8 years had something to do with it too.

So there was more patting, and then eventually gentle, circular rubbing, and finally fulling. I am always amazed at the fulling process. You're so tired of patting and rubbing, and suddently you move on to fulling, and voila! You really have a sturdy piece of felt. My daughter didn't really need to full her felt. She did plenty of patting and rubbing as she saw fit. And of course, with that Sanguine-Serendipity-Do that children so often have about them, her lovely piece of felt turned out in the shape of a heart.
My daughter's felt, we are calling "an art." She does that. "Mama, is that an art on that wall?" "Yes, Peanut Butter. That's an art."

My felt, once rinsed and dried, had a different purpose. It was destined to become sweet little bunting dolls that I call Sleepy-Pie Baby-Friends. I first started making these dolls over 10 years ago from plant dyed felt. There are some of my older dolls in the pictures.

It's really a funny story--funny in a sweet, sentimental way, not necessarily a funny, ha-ha way. When my daughter was born, I was still working full-time as a Handwork teacher. I loved my job, but there wasn't really much extra time for making dolls or toys for my daughter. This made me really sad. Then my mom sent me a doll she had purchased at one of my craft shows over 10 years ago. She had kept it in a safe place all these years. Now she gave it to my daughter, so my daughter did end up getting a doll that I had made. A few months later, my Godmother sent me a package of some toys her grandaughters had outgrown--most of them made by me. In the package was another Sleepy-Pie Baby-Friend. Now we have two--one for my gal and one that is played with but also serves as a reference for mama when she wants to make more dolls--which I've done--well, only one so far.

But she sure it sweet! She's sitting in my shop now--an ideal first doll for a baby. I just love the soft wool and the plant dyed colors. When I look at the older bunting dolls that I had made years ago, I am rather pleased at how the colors have lasted. Ten to twelve years ago, I was still finding my footing with the plant dyes. My daughter still loves to cuddle these babies. And that's where I think I need to end for today. I'm hopin' to make some more--especially some with brown skin. It's so important for children to have dolls with a variety of skin tones and hair colors. The first doll should look like the child, but after that.... Off to make more baby-friends! Thanks for lettin' me share! Happy Handwork! Happy Spring!


  1. Hello Waldorf friend...I love your babies!
    Do you ever miss teaching handwork? I went to the conference at Sunbridge last was fabulous to connect with all those handwork teachers. Utopia, really.

  2. This is beautiful and inspring, thank you for sharing your work Jude