5 Tips for Nuno Felting, Alpacas and Belinda
July 6, 2012
This week’s guest blogger comes to us from Florida. Belinda and Rod Chapnick own and operate Southern Oaks Alpacas. Please take a moment and visit The links are: southernoaksalpacas.com southernoaksalpacas.com/brightfiber They just updated their site and it looks so amazing.. and the colors..and the nuno felting… oh, em, gee! So check them out and then you can read all about alpacas, where inspiration comes from and then lucky us, Belinda shared 5 tips with us for nuno felting! Enjoy my dears and please leave some love and comments… it’s awesome for the writer and I love love hearing what’s on your minds–or if you have a question, post it here too!
· It’s a natural, renewable, luxurious fiber. Considered a “gift from the Gods” and revered by the ancient Incas.
· No itch factor, contains no lanolin. 100% hypo-allergenic.
· Hollow core fiber creates lightweight yet warm thermal comfort.
· Stronger and lighter then wool; wicks away moisture.
· Equal in softness to Cashmere; comes in 28 natural colors and has a natural luster.
· Naturally flame retardant and water resistant.
· Alpaca fiber is processed without harsh chemicals.
· Naturally windproof, stain resistant and resists acquired odors(odors will dissipate overnight).
· Alpaca is hand washable.
· Most importantly our fiber comes from our animals born and bred in the USA!
Sitting here on the back porch of my studio, observing one of our female alpacas who I think will have her cria (baby) tomorrow, is an occasion that very few people get to enjoy. The alpacas are quite beautiful, funny, quiet and they lower my blood pressure. On top of that they give me their wonderful fiber to work with every year after shearing. I realize that most people don’t even know what an alpaca is and therefore know nothing about their luxurious fiber.
I’ve been a graphic artist for most of my life and have tried just about every craft and art medium out there. It wasn’t until we sold our graphic company and started Southern Oaks Alpacas, that I got hooked on fiber. I still do design work for companies and individuals, but my main focus is figuring out what to do with all the beautiful, soft alpaca fiber I get from our animals each year.
I wanted to do something more creative and different then the spinning and weaving that most people do. To my delight I found out about felting! Wet felting, Nuno felting and Needle felting Oh My!! Sometimes I can’t sleep at night because toooo many creative ideas are bouncing around in my brain.
I’m a color person so naturally I was drawn to Darn Good Yarn’s Recycled Silk Sari Ribbon as a compliment in the Nuno felted scarves I make. I’ve since used the ribbon in our hand crocheted alpaca hats and scarves as a decorative element and in wrist cuffs that I needle felt along with fiber art pieces.
If you have trouble choosing color combinations, go to your favorite clothing store, fabric store or yarn store and see what catches your eye and what color combos they use. Check out some fashion and home decorating magazines, or Darn Good Yarn’s web site. Step out of your comfort zone and dive into some color. Inspiration is everywhere.
My husband Rod and I set up a tent and do markets and art and craft shows from September thru April. My daughter Carrie & I also do art shows where I show case my Nuno felted scarves and she shows her needle felted art pieces. So it is a family affair and we enjoy talking to people and educating them about alpaca.
Over the past 2 years I’ve had so many requests for me to teach a Nuno felting class, that I decided to jump in with both feet and just do it. I spent all last month dyeing a variety of scrims and wool so there would be a good variety for the students to choose from. I rearranged the studio to accommodate the extra tables needed for the felting process. I then called a new customer who’d purchased two female alpacas from us and offered her and a friend a discount to be my first students. She said yes and added 2 more students. YEAH!!! I wasn’t nervous just anxious to have a successful class.
The day arrived and my husband served us all Mimosas and off we went to felt. I talked about color and then let them choose their scrim, wool and decorative yarns. They all surprised me by picking bold colors- no neutrals! I did some demos and we felted the day away and the gals all felted beautiful scarves. Everyone went home happy and with a scarf they made and could be proud of. It was a success and they have asked me to do more classes. I’ve never taught before or considered myself a teacher but I must say I really enjoyed sharing and look forward to my next class.
Five tips for Nuno Felting
1. You can use almost any open weave fabric to felt on. Experiment! Lace, cotton gauze, all sorts of silks – Try a small piece first and remember some will take a little longer to felt.
2. Use cool water not hot. You want the felting process to go slow so that the fiber will migrate thru your fabric. I use pure olive oil soap.
3. Take your time and layout your fiber as evenly as possible. Don’t forget the bits of goodies, Firestar for sparkle, novelty yarns and my favorite – Darn Good Yarn’s silk sari ribbon for a burst of color.
4. When applying your water to begin the felting process don’t dump it on your piece. I use a garden sprayer with a fine mist. Or you can gently ladle the water over your hand so it slowly wets your piece without disturbing your design.
5. Last and most importantly – PATIENCE – take your time, use a soft hand to begin the felting and enjoy the process.