Monday, May 21, 2012

Making an Upcycled Nuno Felted Shawl

I feel like I'm helping to do my part for our planet when I can use recycled materials and take something old and repurpose it.  In the case of this nuno felted shawl, I started with a gauzy, oversized blouse that my girlfriend was throwing away.  Oh no you don't girl...that blouse has way too many possibilities!  And even though it had a few snags and small holes from being tenderly worn over the years, it's nothing that a little wool roving can't hide.  So I cut the blouse to form a large piece of fabric for the main portion of the shawl.  From my stash, I pulled out several types of white silk along with some old tee-shirts that I had received when signing up for the 5K races that Joe and I used to do.  My running days are over but the tee shirts abound.  Actually I was never much into running anyway and always preferred a clipped walk to a run.  I can walk for miles and miles but felt like I'd croak if I had to take one more stride after I crossed that finish line.  But I HERE to see how to cut the tee shrts into stretchy circular strips.  The wool roving I use is white superfine merino which felts like a dream.  

After I got all my materials together, that being the blouse, the various silks, the tee-shirts and the roving, I dyed them using acid dyes and although acid dyes are supposed to be used for dying protein fibers like wool and silk, I also used it to dye the cotton tee-shirts.  So even though the cotton didn't come out with the vibrancy of the silk and wool, I felt the muted colors would be a nice compliment to the other dyed fabrics.  Click HERE to see my dying instructions. 

I laid down towels and bubble wrap on my big table and spread out the blouse fabric as my base fabric.  I was ready to get started now that my roving and fabric had dried naturally for a day or two.  I create organically and add fabric and wool as the design dictates; I have a rough idea of what I want it to be but I literally let the piece take on a life of it's own. It's so exciting to see how it will evolve and what it wants me to add or not - color, texture, shape, size and negative space all play an importance in the design. Once the design is complete,  I go through the felting process to bind the wool to the fabric and finish it off by slamming it to shrink the wool (I love that part of the process!).  I am always surprised and mezmerized by the magic that happens when the wool and the silk marry and create their own beautiful texture.

And wearing these nuno felted garments is so fun.  Again their organic nature comes to life whether you wear it upside down, right side up, inside out, sideways, tied, untied - whatever suits you, your mood or the outfit you're enhancing.  The drape is unparalleled and the silk and wool is a great warm weather combo.  Plus what an inspiring statement you make when you wear art, i.e wearable art!

If you are interested in learning more about nuno felting or purchasing a shawl from me, click HERE.  If you're interested in taking a class from me in Los Angeles, click HERE.  Thanks for your interest and hope to see you.
Finished upcycled nuno felted shawl

My acid dyed fabrics and wool roving

Design layout in progress

During the felting process

Below are just some of the ways to wear the shawl.  Right side out (which ever side you consider the right side), inside out, closure in the front, closure on the side, upside get the picture!


  1. Amazing work Beth! Wow, what color and texture!

  2. Thanks Cathey for your compliments. Always appreciated.

  3. I recently discovered felting and can't believe I had overlooked it in years past. I haven't started yet but I LOVE your work!!!

    1. Sorry it has taken me so long to reply, I had such trouble with these Google comments but I think I finally figured them out! Thank you so much for your compliments, much appreciated.

  4. I found this site on Google. It was excellent and very informative. As a first time visitor to your blog I am very impressed. I found a lot of informative stuff in your article. Thanks for posting. silk base closures Custom made Silk Base Closures. We have a variety of lengths, textures & part locations (ex middle part, 2 -part, 3-part, freestyle (no part). Great prices.