Last week I chatted with a few of my fellow artists at Etsy to see what they had to say about felting with Soy Silk and Bamboo. Not all of them thought exactly the same way, but that is what makes a conversation interesting. Perhaps at the cornerstone of these differences is how felting is defined. Does it have to be the expanding and contracting like you experience with wool or can it mean any way in which fibers are made to cling together to create a solid piece?
So in case Esty looks like a foreign word, it's a website where artists sell their handmade creations. If their names seem a little unusual, it's because I'm referring to these artists by their Etsy usernames. I encourage you to take an extra minute to click on them and check out their stores. You'll be amazed at the talent you'll find!
So back to our topic, Soy Silk and Bamboo.
HeartOfWool shared, "Felting happens when an animal's fiber shaft is expanded (usually through heat and water) and rubbed together (friction). The tiny barbs along the shaft of the fiber lock together to create the new fabric.
Needle felting works by using the bars of the needle to push the fibers down and creating a tangle." She added, "Also, some breeds of sheep are harder to get to felt because of their relative smoothness."
FeltedFinery joined the discussion with, "I have some bamboo roving and it is a dream... so soft and silky and needle felts beautifully."
eneefabricdesign offered, "Nothing wet felts without wool fibers in the mix. How low you can go depends on what your end product is. For needle felting, rough fibers work best, and you can needle felt without lots of wool and higher mixes of all other fibers, but wool is what makes it felt. I have made nuno felted designs with as little as 30% wool and 70% other fibers, mostly bamboo and silk, but it took 5 years of work to get to that stage. It is basically 3 to 5 times harder to do any felting technique when you reduce the overall wool content. I will try anything, and any fiber, as long as it is natural and can be added to all the other fibers I use. For nuno felting, I almost can't do it at all without adding bamboo, because bamboo adds such an incredible texture and curly felted look that I love it even more than merino wool!"
HeartOfWool re-entered the conversation with, "Hmmm windrose (windrose is my username) . . . I think they may be able to needle felt with it a little. It may not be considered true felting, but because the needle has the barbs on it, it's acting like the fiber shaft would naturally. Does that make sense? Hmmm. . . kinda like I can't dread my hair, but I can sure cause a lot of tangles!! LOL!"
Purplemoonfibers jumped in, "Needle felting is considered felting, you are working with unspun fibers. One of the things about needle felting is that you can work with fibers that do not traditionally wet felt such as silk, soy and bamboo. I would watch out for how the finished product comes out with needle felting. It may be like with merino top, you will show all the tiny pokes with the felting needle. A blend sounds like your best bet for working with non wool fibers."
I want to thank these four artists for sharing their expert opinions. If you are visiting my blog for the first time, you may want to check my post entitled "Can you felt With Bamboo and Soy Silk? - The results are in!"