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FELTED DELFT TEAPOT


 

 

Felted Delft Teapot, a fiber art work

 

  • This work is an all-fiber teapot. It is made with a new technique called felting. Felting is not to be confused with felt or the felt-like material called Foss Shape . Both felting and Foss Shape are used in this piece. Felting is a process I taught myself that involves interlocking wool fibers by repeatedly stabbing them with a barbed needle; the barbs catch and entangle the scales of fiber to bind them together. There are two types of felting, wet and dry, both of which are used in this teapot's construction. The Foss Shape forms the armature that acts as a canvas for the felting process, particularly in facilitating decorative aspects.
  • Thus far in my exploration of the Internet, I have not encountered any other artist who has used both together in the same work. The combination is discussed, but there are no published examples of any art works that have actually been successfully made in this way.
  • Several important discoveries are relevant to my construction using felting and Foss Shape. For example, a hand-held steamer is supposed to be able to stiffen the felt-like material, Foss Shape, to provide structural integrity for three-dimensional fiber art work. The hand-held steamer I purchased was disappointing because it failed to harden the felt sufficiently for my purposes. I attempted to improve on this method by using an oven to achieve the hardness I desired. It worked, but exposed delicate and flammable material to irreparable damage if allowed to heat up too much or too long. Accordingly, after much thought, I borrowed an industrial fabric steamer and determined that this approach, although much more expensive to purchase, greatly improved the stiffness of the fabric.
  • It should be emphasized that, by virtue of its felt composition, the teapot is porous and, therefore, nonfunctional.
  • Construction and decoration of this teapot involves several techniques, such as silkscreening, sewing, and the aforementioned felting and Foss Shape.
    • Foss Shape is used to form the teapot's skeleton by cutting pieces into predetermined patterns. These are silkscreened with royal blue patterns by means of an ink of fabric paint. Felting unites the various pieces to construct the teapot. Light steaming of the surfaces makes the unit semi-hard; this is a requisite step for the felting to be done. Stuffing of 100% polyester is packed into the chamber of the teapot to ensure it will hold its shape until more intensive steaming can be done later to yield the degree of firmness necessary to maintain structural integrity. The stuffing material will be removed after all construction is done and the work is hardened maximally.
    • The spout is constructed by sewing its component parts together. Felting is done and the spout is sewn in place.
    • A  small amount of fuchsia fabric paint is airbrushed onto the corners of the teapot.
    • Balls of royal blue wool are made for the feet, lid and corners by the wet felting method. They are attached where needed by a special fabric glue called Sobo, which substitutes for sewing wherever the material is too dense for sewing, as is the case for the thick dense balls of wool.
    • All the blue patterning is felted, an essential process that is tedious and takes many hours to accomplish. It provides a lovely soft textured quality to the surfaces.
    • The assembled teapot is oven heated to 235° F for 30 minutes to permanently harden the piece to optimal stiffness.
    • Small lines of gold leaf are applied to the edges of the corded areas and sides of the teapot's handle.
    • The internal chamber's stuffing is removed, leaving the teapot's shape intact as intended.
    • The lid is glued in place and a white feather added to the lid as a decorative touch. The lid is not removable.
    • The work is signed on the bottom when the work is completed.
  • Displayed at Teapots! Ninth Invitational Juried Show, Morgan Contemporary Glass Gallery, Pittsburgh, PA, 2017.
  • Date: 2017.
  • Size: 13.0" x 10.0" x 7.5".
  • Available for purchase. Price: $1200.

ENLARGED VIEWS

 

 

Enlarged view

 

Enlarged view

 

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CREATIVE PROCESS

 

Early stage of construction of Felted Delft Teabag, showing teapot form in felt with temporary snout template in place.

 

  • Composite of several process images illustrate an early state of construction and embellishment of this work.
  • Foss Shape is cut to predesigned shapes and silkscreened with a light blue fabric paint design.
  • The piece is lightly steamed to provide a semi-hard structure.
  • The interior chamber of the teapot is then stuffed with polyester to support the work during the remaining construction and embellishment.
  • The decorated pieces are joined to form the teapot shape and felted for permanence.
  • The tagboard template shown here is a temporary addition applied to assess where the teapot's fiber spout will be best located.

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A more advanced state of construction and embellishment.

 

  • A   more advanced stage of construction and embellishment is shown in this composite image.
  • The sewn and felted spout is created and substituted for the temporary tagboard spout by sewing it in place.
  • The work is only semi-hardened at this point because proper felting cannot be achieved if the Foss Shape is too stiff. Later, after the felting is done and the shaping is completed, the Foss Shape will be fully hardened by more intense steaming to ensure its structural integrity. Then the stuffing will be removed.
  • Fuchsia-colored fabric paint is airbrushed onto the corners of the teapot.
  • Felted balls of royal blue wool are made by the wet felting method. The balls are attached to the corners of the teapot and glued in place (using Sobo, a fabric glue) as the teapot's feet and lid decoration.

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Finished work is displayed.

 

  • The corded area and the edges of the handle are lined with gold leaf arranged in a thin line.
  • The work is oven-hardened at 235° for 30 minutes to enhance the stiffness of the felt.
  • The previously felted lid is glued in place and decorated with a white feather.
  • The internal stuffing is removed.
  • The teapot is signed at the bottom to complete the art work.

 


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