As many of you know and I am discovering, felting as a medium encompasses a variety of techniques that enable you make your project as unique as you are. Nuno felting is one such technique, and our nuno workshops always yield pretty fabulous results. So what is nuno, and how does it work?
The word “nuno” is Japanese and means cloth. Nuno felting is a technique in which you lay out wool on a piece of open weave fabric and allow the fibers to migrate through and lock down. The resulting fabric is puckered and can incorporate many embellishments, including tencel roving, angelina, neps, luxury or plant fibers. Nuno felting workshops at NEFS are some of our most popular, because the technique lends itself well to sophisticated wearables and textured landscapes.
Here are some tips to consider when making your own nuno pieces!
* Nuno felting is easiest when using natural fabrics such as cotton or silk. It is trickier to work with synthetic fibers, because fibers tend to slip out of the weave. However, if you forgo synthetic fabric entirely, you lose the opportunity to make some funky house decor.
* Fabrics with more open weaves (such as silk chiffon or gauze or cotton cheesecloth) felt quickest. Denser fabrics like 8 mm habotai will let fewer fibers through and will likely result in more “bubbles” in the texture.
* Rinse out your fabric with warm water before you begin felting so that you rinse away any sizing that was added during the manufacturing process. These chemicals can impact the felting process in negative and unexpected ways.
* Bubble wrap or solar pool covering are much preferable to the bamboo mats used for sturdier felts.
* Unlike other forms of felting, you can randomize the fiber direction for the best effect. Use wisps of wool instead of clumps; clumps tend to felt to themselves instead of the fabric. Christine White, our founder and owner, believes that beginners should learn to nuno by completely covering the fabric with a thin layer of wool. That way you get used to the nuno process.
* Finer wools such as merino combed top or a merino/tencel blend work best as opposed to coarser fibers.
* A more “bubbled” final texture results from using less wool. More wool creates a sturdier felt.
* Nuno felters can use a sheer polyester curtain or 1 mil or 2 mil working plastic for a covering, and some prefer to use their hands directly on the wool.
* Hot water is not needed during the nuno process, because you want the wool to have time to migrate through the fabric before it felts. The warmth of your hands on the wool should be enough to keep it warm. Once the wool has completely migrated, however, hot water will help finish the project quickly. Use a ball brause to lightly wet your wool and not disturb your layout.
* Once done nuno felting, iron the wrong side with a cool, dry iron for a professional finish.
* For nuno felt that won’t pill, consider double faced nuno. In this process, wool is placed between two layers of fabric that lock together when the fibers migrate through. If doing double faced nuno, you should cover the fabric relatively evenly so that the fabric doesn’t bubble. If you have large areas without wool, you could use thin prefelt to fill in the space.