Thursday, February 15, 2018

Making Felted Woolen Purses on the Inside

Wet felted handmade felted purse with flower flap from Isinglass DesignWell, for the fiber fans in the crowd, I wanted to pop in and talk just a little bit about making felted fiber purses. A purse was among the first things I was inspired to make with felt. After a quick lesson in making batts, I came home and thought- well, that looks like it would make a nice purse~ so I did!

One part of the instructions I modified right away to make the whole thing around a resist and then cut the resist out. I made a resist only for the 'business half' of the purse and made the flap sticking up from that on its own.  Once it was pre-felted, the top of the front opening was folded under a little so that it would not stick to the back half of the purse. It is probably not quite as even as a cut would be, but I enjoy the organic look and find the felt edge can usually be pulled into shape while wet so it is fairly even.
Orange wet felted purse
After the purse was finished, I painstakingly lined it by hand as I have no sewing machine. That was WAY too much work, in my opinion. In the next phase, I simply felted things down a bit more and made sure the purses were sturdy enough not to need a lining at all. But then I thought wee fibers might get into things. I admit that I don't wear lipstick, but I imagine it is not where one would like their fiber to end up.

A couple of weeks ago, I had an inspiration - why not nuno the inside with some fabric I had lying about? Then there'd be a mostly fabric inside without all the trouble of hand lining it~ to my shock, this actually worked! At first, I made the fabric into nuno pre-felt, let it dry and cut it to shape, leaving some room along the seams so the fibers could felt together nice and strongly. After doing it this way a couple of times, I tried it without making the nuno pre-felt~ just adding a cut piece of fabric to the inside~ which also worked, but the fabric did want to slide around a bit.

To make the nuno prefelt, simply take a piece of loosely woven fabric, add a thin layer of fiber, get it a little wet and soapy and roll about 300 times, just until it's all stuck together and the fibers are poking through the fabric a little. Let it dry flat and cut it to the size and shape needed. The fabric part should go to the inside of the purse, with the fiber side up so that when new fibers are added they will all mesh together well.

That's it for now!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

How to Get Clean, Clear Holes in your Lampwork Beads

Isinglass Desgin handmade glass fish bead
Here it is, the post you've all been waiting for, where I reveal how to get really clean bead holes! Woohoo!

Once a lampwork bead is finished and taken off the steel mandrel, the sludge inside has to be removed. Folks use a reamer of some type to do this- sometimes by hand, sometimes with a dremel tool. But no matter how it's cleaned, the inside of the bead hole can look pretty gritty and almost chalky at the end of the process.
Fish hole before sanding
In a small holed bead with a solid core, this might not be a really big deal- who can see down in there anyway? But if your bead is clear or the hole is large enough that someone might be looking at it closely, it can be an issue.
Fish hole after sanding

So, what can you do about it??? One solution is to sand the inside of the beads. Here's how.

First ream the bead well and make sure all of the sludge is removed. This can be done by using diamond reamers by hand or with a dremel tool. Make sure the bead and tool are both wet when you do this.

Reamer with sandpaper
Take a tiny rectangular piece of 400 grit wet/dry sandpaper, place the long reamer (or mandrel) in the center lengthwise and fold tightly around it. Get the bead and sandpaper/reamer wet and rub back and forth lengthwise all around the hole for a minute or so. It could take a little longer if the bead is really messy inside. If that is the case, you may want to start with 220 grit wet/dry sandpaper.
Next do the same with a piece of 600 grit sandpaper. That should do it for the inside of the bead. If you would like it to be even smoother, go up to 1500 grit wet/dry sandpaper.

End reamers with sandpaper
If you want to sand the opening of the hole, take a small square of 400 grit sandpaper and place it at the tip of a small conical reamer. Rotate until smooth, then do the same with 600 grit.

At the end of this process, your bead will have a lovely smooth satin finish.

A couple of final tips ~
Use the smoothest sludge you can find to start with. For my money, that's KRAG Mudd. You will need to call them to order it. Yes, it is kind of pricey (mostly because of the shipping cost). But it will give you a decent inside surface to start with.
Air dry your sludge over night. This will also help the sludge stay strong while you work on the bead.
Black bead before sandpaper
Black bead after sandpaper
Clear bead before sandpaper
Clear bead after sandpaper