Wet-Felting a Play Mat: Creating a Play Mat - Part 3

I am in my happy place at last! In my art studio.  I had a good work week but I was dreaming about finishing this play mat and have been looking forward to getting back to it.

I have to apologize on the outset for less than stellar pictures of the process I use to wet-felt my play mats. My kitchen causes shadows and it's hard to get great lighting, there was only me and selfies are not my strong suit!

I hope you can follow along though, and we will get right into this next stage of the tutorial.  I am assuming that you are happy with the layout of your raw wool and committing to the design so far.  

Layout your plastic and place your project onto it.  You will want to get some very hot water ready. I usually boil the kettle and mix it with hot water from the tap so that it's hot but not too hot to handle.  

This is the soap I am going to be using and I cut off a piece to put into my watering can and also a piece for me to use for rubbing.

Sprinkle your play mat liberally with the hot water, keeping in mind that wool naturally resists water.  It does take some experience to know how much water to use to thoroughly wet your project.  I usually know that when it is pooling on the plastic around the edges that I have too much and I just drain that off.  So the idea is enough water, but not too much.  It's a tricky part but comes more clear with practice.  Really there is no harm done with too much water but what can happen is the fibers can't join together as they are floating apart so you may notice that your mat is not felting.  The reason I use a watering can is for the sprinkle feature.  It distributes the water nicely.

Once the wool is wet cover the whole piece with your plastic and gently, but not tightly, tuck in the edges to help contain your water.

Make a puddle of water for yourself on top of the plastic, soap up your hands and press firmly onto the wool.  I like to press down to release air and to help move the water around to make sure the whole project is wet.

Using both hands begin rubbing.  I like using circular, inward motions so that I'm not stretching the wool away from itself. Apply as much pressure as you can as the friction is necessary.  Some people use a rolling pin and others use bubble wrap all things that cause friction and help the process of felting along. You will find what works for you.

 I will usually rub until the water is cool. You don't want to be lifting the plastic at this point as it can disturb the fibers that are just beginning to felt together.  When your water is cool or after about half an hour of rubbing you can roll up your mat including the plastic and drain off the cold water.  Make sure you just squeeze the water out and don't twist or wring the wool.

Maybe you can see in the next picture that my wool mat is starting to felt and looks fuzzy.  It's all good!  Add some more hot water and repeat with more soap and rubbing.  I suggest it's good to think happy thoughts, listen to music or a podcast at this point as you have to put the time in for wool to transform to felt.

It's coming along nicely I think.  Less fuzzy now and starting to ripple.  Some people do not love the feeling of rubbing directly onto the wool. You can felt the entire project with the plastic covering.  I like to eventually remove the plastic and work right on the wool itself.  It helps me see the areas that need a bit more work.  You can also turn your piece over and felt on the backside which helps that felting process also.

I changed the water several times and probably worked on it for an hour to an hour and a half.  When you think it is done,  you can rinse it in the sink running it under hot water, then cold water, then hot water again.  You can knead it as you rinse it as that helps to continue the felting process.

This was the final result after laying it flat to dry overnight.

 The next stage of this project is to embellish my play mat and add details using my needle.  

Stay tuned!

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