Nuno felting is a great way to use wool. It makes beautiful accessories, clothing, and jewelry, and the use of silk as a backing material gives you a very lightweight felt. The process is very time consuming, but this makes it even more rewarding when you create an amazing piece of nuno felt. If you’ve ever wanted to try nuno felting, just follow the instructions below.
Nuno felting was first pioneered in 1992 by Polly Stirling, an Australian artist. The name comes from the Japanese word “nuno,” which means cloth. It uses lightweight and sheer fabric, such as silk, as the backing, which makes it perfect for clothing and accessories. Using silk stops the garment from stretching and losing shape during wear, but other open weave fabrics (such as muslin or nylon) can also be used.
How to do nuno felting
- Silk backing
- Wool roving or wool locks (depending on the desired texture of the finished felt)
- Any dyes or decorations you want to add
- Start by wetting your piece of silk. This will help it to lay flat, along with removing any dressing or chemicals that might be present.
- Lay your piece of fabric on a surface you can roll up (a wicker mat is great, or bubble wrap). Think of it like making a big sushi roll.
- Lay your wool on the fabric, making sure you place it in all different directions. If all the wool roving or yarn is facing the same direction the fabric will shrink unevenly.
- Once you’ve laid the fibers out, add any decorations you want. Colored silk works well, as does other fibers. Use the decorations to add texture and color, and don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Add cool soapy water along the length of the scarf and then cover with a large piece of plastic or netting. Plastic sheeting used by decorators is a great choice because it’s transparent and waterproof.
- Press the water into the wool, making sure it gets all the way through to the silk. Use a plastic bag or something to rub it in, making sure all the fibers lay flat.
- Take off the plastic and roll your fabric up in the mat/bubble wrap. Do you get the sushi reference now?
- Now for the long-winded part. Roll the fabric up 300 times, and then unroll and do the same from the opposite end. This is just a rough guide, as different materials will need different amounts of rolling.
- You’ll know it’s ready when the wool roving starts to show through the silk.
- Give the scarf a good rub; submerge in hot water and then throw it 12 times. Check it’s not felting into itself after each throw. You should expect a shrinkage rate of about 50%.
And that’s all there is to it! This is just a basic tutorial, so experiment with colors and textures to find the right felt for you.