Rug Felting by a Large Group
Keep the Floors or Beds Warm
With the Help of Kid Power
Children have energy in abundance. Here is a way to have some fun and create a wonderful carpet or blanket for use as either an area rug or heavy blanket.
Felting is the power behind the operation. Felting uses animal fibers, usually sheep's wool and agitation. All that it needed for this operation is a few simple tools, prepared wool, a large flat work space, and children (adults will work if children are unavailable).
**7 to 10 pounds of wool or other animal fiber which has been washed and carded into large batts. For best results, the batts should be twice as large as the desired finished rug. All types of wool will work, but some will work more effectively than others. Karakul and other wools with similar felting tendencies work very well. Karakul is the type which was traditionally used for making felt rugs in the Middle East.
**Large sheets, blankets or old pieces of cloth big enough to wrap the top and the bottom of the wool batts. These wraps should not be of something like corduroy which has a very textured surface.
**2 ten foot 2"X4" boards to wrap the project around. Any long pole with a 4" diameter and 10 foot length will work
**traps or ropes for binding.
**about 2 gallons of water.
**Find a large flat place to work, either indoors or outside where a small amount of water will not harm the surface and there is not a lot of blowing. The space needed for this project is based on the size of rug desired. A beginning batt ten foot square will create a finished rug of about 6 foot square. The space needs to account for the starting size, room for supplies and maneuvering space. More helpers require larger spaces.
**Lay down one layer of whatever cloth or material has been found for the outside covering of the project.
**Now begins the actual placing of the fiber batts. These go down in layers. The first batt laid out is the first layer and it defines the size of the rug. Remember, the felt rug will be about half the size of the beginning batt. Decide the size accordingly. When looking at a carded batt, it can seen that all the fibers line up in one direction. This determines the "grain" of the batt. Determine the grain of the first layer.
**Lay the second layer of batting out on top of the first layer, making sure to cross the "grain" of the beginning layer. This means that if the first layer's grain is going from top to bottom, the second layer's grain must going from side to side.
**Lay out as many additional layers as desired for the thickness of rug or blanket desired, always crossing the grain of the previous layer. Three layers will make a good heavy blanket. Five to seven layers should be used to get a durable rug.
**After the desired number of layers have been placed in position, the surface of the rug can have designs or color added. Freeform, random patterning can be used or a predetermined outline can be followed when placing the pattern. The design is added with colored fibers. These fibers can be locks straight from the animal, carded, spun or even lightly felted or woven fibers. There is no limit to what can be added to the surface of the rug for designs. Metallic threads and plant fibers can also be used on the surface. The only thing to remember when placing the design on the surface is to lay the design in very thin layers otherwise it may have trouble adhering to the surface.
**With all the fibers now in place, cover the entire project with a second layer of cloth. Make sure all the edges are encased between the two layers of cloth. This will help keep the design from shifting.
**With some old squeeze bottles or small containers, sprinkle the surface of the "rug sandwich" with water. One to two gallons of water in more than enough for a 10' X 10' sandwich. Using warm water will help the felting go a little quicker but it is not necessary.
**After the water has been added, carefully walk over the entire surface of the project. This will help reduce the air caught in the batting and make the next step easier.
**The next step is to carefully roll the "rug sandwich" around the 10 foot long, 4 inch diameter pole. It should be wrapped as tightly as possible around the pole or boards.
**With the pole completely wrapped, place the straps around the bundle to keep everything from shifting. The straps should be placed at least every 8 inches, closer is better.
**Now get those feet a-stomping. Big feet, little feet , flat feet and round feet. Young feet and old feet will all work for this stage of the project. The more feet available to assist in the stomping, the quicker and better the felt rug will shape up. This step needs to be continued until the rug is to at least the soft felt stage. This means, the fibers in the felt are holding on to one another more than they are holding onto anything else. It also means the surface design has become an integral part of the rug's structure.
The timing of this step is effected by a large number of environmental factors. A humid day will cause the felt to "happen" faster. The weight and activity level of the feet will effect felting speed. The type of wool and how clean and grease free the wool is will also speed up or slow down the process. If there are only a small number of feet available to make the rug, just leave the bound rug lying around in an "in the way" location which gets a fair amount of traffic for as much as a week. The length of time the rug is left under wraps will not hurt the final outcome. The author has made many in this fashion to date and the time varied from four hours to two weeks.
**When the rug has reached the soft felt stage and is firmly holding together, there are two alternate routes which can be taken to complete the rug.
Route 1: Unwrap the rug from the pole and then rewrap the rug around the pole, starting from a different edge of the rug than was used the first time. Replace the straps and continue to stomp the rug until it has reduced in size enough to be a very strong felt. The unwrapping and rewrapping should be done periodically throughout this process.
Route 2: Unwrap the rug and display it for all the participants in the rug stomping project until the end of the day. Then take the rug down and go to a local Laundromat that has a 30 pound or larger blanket or rug front loading washing machine Place the rug into the machine and watch the washer complete the fulling process on the rug. A very small amount of detergent can be added to the washer to help with the felting and also get the rug clean. A very large rug may take two or three cycle in the washer to complete the fulling process. The rug does not have to be covered or bound for the washing process if the felt is holding together well from the rug stomping but putting inside something like a cloth twin mattress bed cover can not hurt and could protect machine and the felt from surface fiber loss.
**After completely either Route 1 or Route 2, hang the rug on a good sturdy line and let it dry thoroughly.
**The edges of the rug can now have any uneven spots clipped off and if desired, a binding can be stitched around the edge. Some of this unevenness can be corrected by blocking the rug. Blocking is done by having at least two people pull the rug from opposite directions around the rug until the desired shape is created.
The last step is always the best. If its a rug, place it on the floor and enjoy a warm feeling as you walk across your very own felt creation. If its a blanket you have made, take it to the nearest bed, spread it out and either crawl under it or wrap up in it and enjoy warmth as only felt can give
This rug stomping technique is very similar to the techniques used by nomadic tribes in the middle east throughout the ages. So become a part of history and make a rug.
For more information or supplies for creating your rug project contact email@example.com