Make Felt Not War
In February 2022 in a cozy Irish pub in Hungary Corinna Nitschmann drank hot chocolate and Péter Póth a cold beer while sitting depressed by the actual political happenings: Putin attacked Ukraine. The world was shocked, we were frozen…what should we do? What can we do? Does anything make sense to do while other people are deeply suffering next door and we are having our drinks here? Shame…
Make Felt Not War is the most complex and international project for wet felters until now. It is a cooperation of more than 600 participants, aged from 3 to over 80 years from 23 countries and different continents. We aimed to make a peace-felt after the Russian-Ukraine war started in February 2022.
Read here about the concept to understand and enjoy the following photostream more.
The color of peace is...
…mostly blue and green. Than white and gold and pink and then other colors follow as the answer from my readers was.
So our peace felt should be green and blue.
Not the blue and yellow of Ukraine. Peace should be forever and everywhere.
How I got looots of pre felt pieces...
Peter recommended hiring a P.O.box at the local post office because there might be days that the envelopes won’t fit into our letterbox.
He was right…
Approx. 2 months long day by day I went to the post office, and gathered smaller and bigger packages stuffed with green-blue pre-felts for our community work.
Not only lonely felters have sent their works but families, friends and felt communities, kindergarten groups, crafting communities of disabled people, small children, and husbands who have never felted took fibers and created.
Lately the number of pre-felts ended up over 600.
Here we felted
That’s the House of Heritage in Budapest, the capital of Hungary in Europe. It’s a wonderfully renovated building that works as a cultural center for Hungarian folk arts mostly.
1. step: Scratching the back of the pre felt pieces
Enthusiastic felters came together on a Friday morning to bring everything together and make magic with those many different woolen tiles that should be in a pre-felt stadium. That means they shouldn’t be fully felted but still halfway fluffy so we can felt them together with a backing.
As we got also a lot of firm felts we first had to scratch the back to make it fluffy again. So the backing fibers can catch them while felting and fulling the giant rug.
2. What's the concept?
There came a lot of very detailed and concrete motifs. Should we put them into different piles? Or should we attach them as a border around a big watercolor rug?
Let’s sort everything by colors and shades! Let’s start from the light shades to end up at the darkest colors.
So we started sorting and putting the pieces from one end of the bigger table towards the other end, going from bluish over to greenish.
3. Working on two felting tables
After reaching the end of the first table we went on the second felting table.
They are very big tables with waterproof covering, 3 cm high edges all around and a built-in sink drain in one corner.
Fortunately, the room has a loft so we could go upstairs and take look and arrange some pieces new if some didn’t fit well in the ensemble.
The felts should later be attached on one side.
Don’t think, these two tables were enough. Here you see the 2/3 of all pieces, the dark ones, as much as on the bigger table, are still gathered on the floor behind the smaller table…
4. Felting the Rug
After the surface looked well we turned over every single piece so the front side looked downwards and we layed out the backing of wool batts.
We then rubbed and rubbed with soap and water and some ladies also felted with a sander over the whole surface.
Felting with a sander lets the wool fibers migrate a bit faster as the sander makes very fast micro-movements. With our palms we can’t make such fast movements of course.
But sanders are loud and caressing soapy wool calms down.
Bea Németh the lovely Hungarian felt artist and teacher was our host in the House of Heritage as she’s been teaching felting here for ages. (Sorry, no. She’s not so old. She’s been working here for a few years.) She is an absolute pro in felting big rugs with tratitional felting methods.
After rubbing a lot so the pinch test showed that fibers are attached already we made the very first curious peep under the felt…does the pieces stick or not…Hamlet couldn’t had been more curious…
YES!!!!! So let’s go on rolling!
Also the second table is carrying the wetted down wool layers already while laying a long pool noodle on the table as a rolling core for rolling the first rug.
After rubbing we went over to the traditional rolling technique for making felt.
It makes the work a lot faster if the wool will be wetted again and again with hot water between the rolling acts.
5. Surprising Helpers...
The craft studios in the building have big shop windows so that people on the street can see crafters working and they might get interested.
In this location usually tourists walk in this street and stand curiously in front of the big windows.
So when I recognized five guys watching inside discussing what the heck we might do there, I waved to them to come in.
I was sure they won’t.
In a few minutes they stood at the door…
– Hi, do you speak English or Hungarian?
…and they got the first lection of felting in their lives. I was really amazed at how interested they were, thank you again, guys! ❤️
That’s how it looks from inside when people are stopping by. Otherwise she i Klára Gera, a Hungarian felter specialized for birds, animals, lovely scenes.
Our new friends from the Netherlands started to sweat while rolling. But it went well while singing a Hungarian and a Dutch song.
Why is Turkey the only land where this hard work is men’s work??
Changing the places is essential while rolling because everyone is pressing in a different way but the felt should be evenly felted of course. So every participant has to move to the next place after some time until everyone got back on his starting position.
In the same time a group of young persian looking men were peeping inside. Unfortunately they didn’t want to come in.
We were very very happy to see that wool really grabs everything if it is fulled well. All the different felt pieces sit well on the base. Also the very thick and firm ones.
6. The next felt rugs...
After the first rug with the lightest colors was standing ready felted in the bathing tub, the second one had to be rolled of course.
And so we had an empty table again for puzzling with the darkest pieces.
Rolling the second rug with the middle shades and laying out the darkest greens and blues.
(Pst, again someone standing in the window and watching…)
It’s already half past six in the afternoon and it’s getting dark outside. So we are more visible while rubbing the third, the darkest colored rug.
So let’s switch off some of the lights.
From outside that’s how we looked like then…
“Last man standing”…uhm…lying.
On the wet rug. But he might have liked it. He’s a friend, not a tourist.
At the very end at 9 pm we layed out all three pieces on the floor. As they are wet of course all colors are darker than they will be when dry.
The middle piece has to be rolled for a few minutes to make it a bit narrower and the darkest piece has to be stretched a bit more to get even edges for the whole felted wall hanging but for today it is done.
I send a very big hug to all felters who have send their pieces and those many helpers who brought their arms and hands on this day, in the morning or hopping in during the day and also after work. ❤️
Gustav Klimt would like that I think…
The pieces will get some closure solution so that they can be attached to one piece but also opend up to these three different parts.
They are still waiting for the last rolling act but as we’ve have foggy and rainy weather already since The Big Felting Day they are waiting a bit on my fence because I want to finish them on the terrace instead of carry them upstairs to the studio room. My sheep like these curtains I hope.
The very ready wonder-felt will be exhibited in institutes wherever there is interest to show this fantastic result of international community work for peace. If you would like to invite it, just send me an email to corinna at cornitfelt dot com
So stay tuned...
I will show the ready, dry, whole work in an upcoming blog post.
Photo credit: Azary Andrea, Hunyadváry Szilvia, Major Attila, Németh Bea, Nitschmann Corinna