I've been laying out thin individual layers of roving in my wet felting process, but as I look to begin making thicker and thicker pieces this process has begun to appear tedious. For more background, I want to start making rugs with a thickness of around 3/4".
I've experimented with using a hairbrush to pull apart roving into messy, airy chunks and have had success making a tightly felted piece just by grouping those pulled apart chunks. The problem is that it still feels really slow- not much faster than laying out layers- and that making a large rug would take too long.
Does anyone have any processes or tools to suggest? I enjoy the meditative nature of felting but time is limited in my studio!
Drum carder to make batts. I’ve tried brushes but don’t skill or patience. :-). Purchasing batts can become expensive. They are nice for a quick layout, but sometimes colors and wool types are limited.
Excellent read, thank you Lyn! And thanks everyone for your thoughts.
I have thought of using batts in the past but haven't considered it recently. The Textile Center here in Minneapolis/St. Paul has drum carders available for use though I haven't given it a try. Maybe that should be my next step!
Definitely try out the drum carder. I use batts quite a lot and it is definitely a faster layout. But you still have to make sure that your layers are even and you may need to add wool in places.
The drum carder is definitely faster than carding by hand but still takes a lot of time. I usually do my carding when I am watching TV to make that time feel more useful. Not sure there is a real shortcut for felting though, it's more of a "slow" craft/art.
I have never timed myself but a pound of roving is quite a lot. It usually takes me at least 30 minutes or so for one batt which is nowhere near a pound. But I'm usually blending a variety of colors and other embellishing fiber. So maybe I am slow.
Batts are the fastest for large and thick items. World of wool has them. I would check with mills for larger bats then you will make by hand or you need to find a bigger eclectic carder. They are hard to find. Really for home use you are looking for a used Pat Green triple card or Elsa card. I don't think anyone else made the medium sized equipment. If you use basic colours for most of the layout and only do the top layer or layers in dyed fibers you will save some money.
I was thinking of mills too, like Ann. It would take longer to drum card a pound of roving than it would to lay it out. And like Lyn said, it wouldn't be a 'batt' if you start with roving, the fibres would be more aligned.
My sister gave me a fleece and I had it washed at the Mill since I can’t do the lifting. For an extra $12 i could have had it made into roving. It only cost me $25 to have it washed. It would pay to check out local mills.