Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Felt and Gourd combined

I had a brainstorm last week, just as I was crawling into bed at about 2 in the morning. Isn't that the way it always works? I got so excited, that I wanted to crawl right back out from under the covers and get started right away. But I had to get up in the morning, and with one thing and another the experiment had to wait.

The thought that struck me was, would it be possible to wet felt around a gourd bowl? It would be structurally sound, and still have the organic swirls of the felt. Oooh...and then you could cut away some of the felt, revealing the layer of gourd underneath! And...and...

So, I gave it a shot. I carved open a gourd, and cleaned out the insides. Then I sprayed the outside of the gourd with several layers of clear finish. Felting came next. I put on 3 layers of a base camel brown color, then added wisps of whatever other colors came to hand. I covered the gourd with pantyhose to keep everything in place during the initial felting.

It worked...with a discovery. When gourds get absolutely soaking wet, they are very fragile. The gourd cracked part way through the felting process. I thought a bit, and figured I could save it. So I cut an opening in the felt, and cut out a smaller opening in the gourd itself to control the crack. While I was at it, I also cut slits in the felt. I finished the felting process very gently. The slits I cut in the felt pulled gradually open as the fibers shrank down.

Then I set the gourd aside to dry completely, for several days. Dry, the gourd was strong again. I sanded the opening I made, and stitched the felt securely down around the rim. To add structural strength in the opening, and to give a bit of sparkle, I added copper wire bars. The finishing touch was a disk and leaf pendant added to the copper wire.

I'm really pleased with this experiment, and will try combining felt and gourds again. Next time, I'll try spraying the inside of the gourd as well as the outside, to try to seal out the water in the felting process. Lets see if that makes things easier.

(Listed on Etsy at http://www.etsy.com/listing/55148622/gourd-with-wet-felted-coat-and-copper )


  1. oh cool! i love it! very unusual, and i love the colors you've used, they really suit it :D

  2. WOW I am in love, that is just beautiful!!!!!!! Super Job!!

  3. How clever....and beautiful too! I'm a night owl and no matter how late it is when I go to bed, that seems to be when new ideas hit me!!

  4. You are the most talent and creative women I share blogging with!!!! I love how you create something out of your many ideas. This gourd is beautiful!!

  5. bspinner, you just made my day. If I knew where the heck you were, I'd hug you. :)

  6. This is a really fun piece! I love the way you combine your talents with different media into one. The slits are really a nice touch and what a clever way to handle a crack! ~Annie

  7. Thanks, Annie! The slits were fun to do. I was going to make cut outs...but then I realized that all I had to do was to cut a slit. As the wool shrunk and felted, those openings pulled themselves open.

    I may still make cut outs on another gourd. I wonder what shapes I could come up with, without losing the structural integrity. Hmmm.......