Tips 'N Tricks

(an ever-evolving collection of techniques that didn't make it into the books)

Passive Felting
Doll Wigs
Darn Those Socks
Chat Box
Wool Dyeing with Kool-Aid

Ayala Talpai, book, workshops, folk artist, feltingFiber Fanatics, Diligence, Ayala Talpai

Ayala Felting Rugs
in the Oregon Winter Rain.

Why am I never inspired to do this
in the dead heat of summer???

Contents of the rug roll:




Passive Felting

Many people complain of joint problems from the heavy work of completing the felt process on large pieces like rugs, tapestries and the like. {Some think that felting needles are a harmless alternative-- little do they know I got a "tennis elbow" once from the intensity of needlefelting against a deadline... }.

So! This breakthrough is called
and here's how you (don't) do it:

Felt up your work to the point where you can safely carry it to the bathtub (or washing machine). Rinse (don't agitate) and spin. Or press out extra moisture.

Flop item over a chairback, or fashion a giant towelbar by resting a 2x4 across adjacent bookshelves, or however-- and let piece dry.

When dry, bundle it up and head for the bedroom.

Peel back the bedding, including your fitted bottom sheet.

Lay out semi-felted piece on the mattress cover. Tuck fitted sheet back over it and remake the bed. Good night, sleep tight!

Every morning, peel back the bedsheets and rotate your work 90 degrees. If the design has been dislodged, whip out that felting needle and restore it. The mattress is your workbench.

After 3 or 4 days, with the kind of fleece I select, I can trust a rug to finish felting from foot traffic.

This Passive Felting Method works because, like a washing machine, a bed is one of the other places on the planet where heat, moisture and friction cohabitate. Need I point out that those are the 3 main ingredients in traditional feltmaking? That's all there is to it. Whatcha think?

As for Fine Tuning:
Any piece of work carries the vibrational markers of the artist who created it.

There may be items that you do not wish to bear your personal vibrations out into the world.

There may be ways to remove your personal imprint from an item.

Just thought I'd mention these considerations. Maybe you'd let me know where they lead.

Wishing you all good things.

Ayala Talpai, book, workshops, folk artist, feltingFiber Fanatics, Diligence, Ayala Talpai

Doll Wigs

As the felting needle book was going to print, I packed up the paraphernalia and headed for our first doll show.

Some dollmakers have already discovered how useful a felting needle can be to their activities. Of course you can easily implant the hair on a soft doll's scalp with a felting needle, but what about dolls with hard heads-- composition, porcelain, Cernit, etc.?

This Daughter of an Engineer has come up with a solution!

Dig through your drawers for an unmatched sock. Cut off the toe. This will be a scalp. Try it on your bald dolly and trim to size.

Find (or purchase) a scrap of foam rubber, or a big sponge. With your scissors, snip out a "darning egg" about the size of your doll's head. Leave a handle on it and stuff the handle into a coffee cup so the darning egg will stand freely.

Fit the socktoe scalp on top of the darning egg.

Now you can use your felting needle to easily anchor locks of wool or strips of combed wool!

A word about technique: vigorous needling may anchor the wool to the foam instead of just to the toescalp. After a bit, try peeling the wig off the darning egg to gauge the appropriateness of the depth of your jabs.

A little wool should be hanging through to the underside for security's sake.

The wig when finished is glued to the head.

Trusting you find this an enjoyable method for creating dolly hair-do's.

About the wool locks: everyone develops their own preferences... Icelandic sheep grow long luxurious shaded locks. See if Susan Mongold at Tongue River Ranch in Montana will send you an assortment. (Her Icelandic Sheep web address is on the Links page.) And another highly desirable fleece with teeny tiny curly ringlets is Blue-Faced Leicester, and Wensleydale. These are rare breeds and hard to find, but totally delicious and well worth the search. If you find some who care to be advertised, let me know, okay?

My book has illustrations for separating out locks and implanting them.

Ayala Talpai, book, workshops, folk artist, feltingFiber Fanatics, Diligence, Ayala Talpai


Darn Those Socks!

I am writing this sitting here in a pair of socks whose heels are freshly patched YES! with the help of a FELTING NEEDLE. And a darning egg snipped out of a foam scrap...

A while back, some bright-eyed workshop participant came up with this scheme (who ARE you, dear?? Please contact. Your name should be blazoned in the Halls of the Heelless)...

Find some wool fleece you'd like to see on the sock.

Position the foam darning egg (a wooden one may snap the needle) appropriately inside the sock, hole well centered.

Tease the wool fleece.

Needle the teased wool over the hole (gently! don't plant it in the foam!) and out onto the sock, maybe 1/2" all around for security.

Peel sock off egg. Put it on. Put on your shoe. The felting process (heat, moisture, friction) is invoked as you walk around.

I mean, could this onerous job be more fun, more simple, more easy??? I did my backlog of 6 perforated socks in ten minutes!! Blessings upon the bright brains of my currently anonymous participant.

Ayala Talpai, book, workshops, folk artist, feltingFiber Fanatics, Diligence, Ayala Talpai

CHAT BOX - Fall 2001

I've discovered that when somebody becomes the least bit notorious, like by writing a book even of limited circulation, people want to know where you are so they can maybe intersect with you. Take heed in case you find yourself in this position!

Following my own advice, I'm confessing after the fact to having been in Norway this summer, not to visit my little Norwegian grandsons but to MAKE FELT! A business trip! This was as part of a project called Felting in Nature, all women from all over, a dozen of us, on an islet 'way out in the North Atlantic. We were perched on a rocky mountainside, on a roadbed that had been blasted in there a decade before. The place was covered with miniscule trees, lichens and wildflowers, enthusiastically taking over from the devastation. We worked and worked and worked overtime with beautiful donated batts of wool from the mill in Bergen, and had a wonderful ceremonial Grand Gallery Opening with the local folks and dignitaries.

The works have been left there. Neighborhood children have become the overseers. We shall see what the winter weather has to say about this project! Many parts of my installation were given as gifts to various contributors... I felt this was quite an honor, but there is only one photograph extant of the fleeting moment when the installation was intact... Sometime soon I'll get a copy of that and post it for curiosity's sake. The rest of the venture is well documented on Birgitte Krag Hansen's website,

Perhaps you can sense the presence created by all these women working together, language barriers irrelevant, and the support of the village and the swarms of children hovering about. I hold this warmth in my heart.

Ayala Talpai, book, workshops, folk artist, felting Fiber Fanatics, Diligence, Ayala Talpai

From the never to be published
Madd Maggs' Real Wild Recipes & Remedies

Wool Dyeing with Kool-Aid

(sun tea method)

3/4 to 1 oz clean wool (large handful)

2 pks unsweetened drink mix (mix flavors for different colors)

1 Tblsp distilled (white) vinegar

2 cups hot tap water

1 wide-mouth quart jar

either use freshly washed wool or soak clean wool overnight in tepid tap water

the next day:

put drink mix packages and vinegar in quart jar

add hot tap water and stir well to dissolve--or not so well for streaked wool

add wet wool and place jar in sunny window, greenhouse or solar oven

leave for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until dye is absorbed and water is clear (blues and reds take the longest to absorb); I frequently set jars in the morning and ignore until late afternoon/early evening/next morning when I have time to rinse them

rinse and dry in shade

for tie-dyed effect:

place 1 1/2 to 2 oz wet wool in large glass baking pan (13 in x 8 in x 2 in or so)

add hot water to barely cover wool

sprinkle with 2 Tblsp white vinegar

sprinkle with 4 pks drink mix

do not stir

place pan in sunny window 1 1/2 to 2 hours or longer (see above note)

rinse and dry in shade

I have also used Durkies' and McCormick's food dyes in place of or in combination with Kool-Aid with good results. Use about 50 drops of food color per quart jar if using the food dye alone or start with between 5 and 15 drops in combination. Also, Easter egg dyes, but these tend to fade in sunlight. Experiment!


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