>embossing felt

I’ve moved the contents of my studio space at college to my home studio. I know it will all have to go back again but for a while I’ll need to work at home and the end of term seemed as good a time as any to shift it all.

Last week I did some experiments with a devore process into my thick felt. The usual devore technique uses an alkaline paste that eats into cellulose fibres, cutting them away. This wouldn’t work on wool and the equivalent process that does work on wool uses an acid paste to do the same job. The technician said no one had ever done this before at college. He didn’t say I couldn’t though… I later found out that it hasn’t been allowed before due to health and safety reasons! The process uses caustic soda, which is pretty nasty stuff. Needless to say I was very careful. And it worked, really well in fact.

The trouble is though, it doesn’t sit very well with the sustainability issues that I’m exploring in this project. I don’t feel at all comfortable with it as a process. I won’t be taking it any further.

So, now to find a way of creating that embossed effect in my thick felt that doesn’t involve harmful chemicals… I tried burning into the felt with a soldering iron. It worked but not brilliantly. I tried using a drill to ‘draw’ into the felt. This didn’t really work at all: the drill got all caught up in the fibres. Then I tried threading wire through holes drilled into a piece of wood and clamping this onto the felt before steaming.

This is still drying off after steaming, as are the next few samples which were wrapped round thick cardboard tubes and steamed or dyed with onion skins. I’ll leave them all for a few days before undoing the various bundles to see how they worked.

This last one looked like a roast joint cooking away!

Current listening: PJ Harvey, Let England Shake

One thought on “>embossing felt

  1. >Hi Alice,
    this is a fascinating technique… I do understand your concerns… what a shame as I like the results in the second and third photo.

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