Making Conductive Felt by Hand

Intro…

In this project I wanted to use/experiment with conductive felt but unfortunately it was not easily available, therefore I decided to make my own felted shapes and added conductive thread to make it appropriate for the project.

I experimented with shapes and materials all with the same hand felting technique. Hand felting is a simple technique, which is quite a long process, and repetitive. It consists of using a specialized felting needle that would be used to puncture into the loose felt to make various shapes, sizes and designs.

How Its Made/Process…

I begin the felting process by first retrieving a large sized sponge and set it on a table then place the fabric I want to experiment with on top. Since my pieces are small sized using the sponge was easier to use. I take thin piece of loose felt (since I want an intricate design) and start to form my design on top of my fabric, then I start to repetitively puncture my needle through the felt until its flat and most of the fibres have gone through the fabric to secure your materials and designs in place.

After needle felting in my designs, I place the conductive thread over my designs and using the same felting needle to puncture through the thread to keep it in place.

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Loose felt – merino wool

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Silk felt (inside plastic baggy) with wool yarn

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Cutting organic cotton and hemp fabric – prepare for felting

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Placed on top of felting sponge

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Using my hands to place felt into place (purple felt is also wool) and using the needle felt to puncture it into place. End result of felted in shapes after being punctured.

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Back of fabric after being needle felted into place

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Felted heart designs

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After design is complete, I add conductive thread on top of the felted designs.

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Finished purple hearts.

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Silk/wool blend felt – shaped acutely into a heart on top of a felting sponge

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Continuous process of hand felting with needle – added more silk felt to fill in small space inside the heart shape and make it more thicker. Used fabric scissors to cut off excess felt and make the heart shape more prominent.

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Added conductive thread – felted with needle in a spiral shape for a design aesthetic. Started process of felting a ball.

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Added conductive thread – felted at the bottom and worked my way up.

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Finished felted ball – wrapped conductive thread around – wrapped the pink wool yarn afterwards.


Resources & Different Uses of Felt

OCAD U Fibre Studio Room #201 (equipment can only be used by MAAD students but I think materials can be purchased including felt needles)

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Examples of Canadian designers and their felted products

Left: https://www.etsy.com/ca/listing/250217773/toronto-maple-leafs-blue-felt-ornament?ga_order=most_relevant&ga_search_type=all&ga_view_type=gallery&ga_search_query=toronto%20felt&ref=sr_gallery_3

Right: https://rimanchik.com/collections/bags/products/felt-no-2-tote?variant=6076087045

It is not 100% guaranteed they hand felted the bags, probably used a different method but it is the same idea but faster process.


Materials

Conductive Thread – Creatron Inc. 647-349-9258

Wool Felt White – Fibre Studio @ OCAD University

Silk Wool & Purple Wool – Romney’s Wool Queen St West Toronto

Felt Needles – Fibre Studio @ OCAD University 416-977-6000 ext.267

Pink Wool Yarn – Romney’s Wool Queen St West Toronto 416-703-0202

Organic Cotton & Hemp – Fibre Studio @ OCAD University

Felt Sponge – Can only be borrowed from Fibre Studio (cannot leave studio space)


Imagined Uses

The handmade shape of hearts give off a childish vibe. I can see the silk-felted heart being used as a nightlight for children and the purple hearts can be used as a mobile above a baby’s crib.

Wearing Light – Augmented Voguing Shirt

Born from the queer and predominantly black youth in Harlem, ballroom has grown to an international scene and still serves as a platform for all types of creativity. Participants compete at balls where they try and win different categories and make a name for themselves. The best known of these categories is performance (vogueing) which has found mainstream recognition with dancers touring with Rihanna and FKA Twigs.

The most common form of vogue now is vogue fem which consists of “…Dramatics(which emphasizes stunts, tricks, and speed) to Soft (which emphasizes a graceful, beautiful, easy flow and flow continuations between the five elements)” Voguing

Catwalk: Catwalking is an exaggerated feminine walk where the legs are crossed over each other, the hips are thrust from side to side, and the hands are thrown forward in opposition to the legs.

Hands: In performance the hands of the performer should tell a story. Often this is the component of performing used to throw shade. For example miming an expression of horror at the way the opponents face looks.

Floorwork: This component demonstrates the competitors sensuality as they roll, twist, and otherwise move on the ground in such a way as to capture the attention of the judges.

Spins and Dips: This is the showiest component of vogue. These are the turns on beat, and the drops to the floor. A spin or dip is only done correctly when it executed with the climax happening on the beat.

House of Nuance

For this piece I wanted to use a noise reactive inverter to respond to the harsh vogue beats and to arrange the EL wire to create a stylized feminine curve that voguers strive for.

Parts List

Part Number Part Description Quantity Supplier Cost
ELWRE-050802 EL WIRE – RED 1 Creatron Inc. $13.99
ELPWR-086100 EL WIRE SOUND ACTIVATED POCKET INVERTER 1 Creatron Inc. $15.95
BATTH-411109 AA X 4 CELL BATTERY ENCLOSURE 2 Creatron Inc. $1.95 x 2 = $3.90
COPER-010561 COPPER TAPE – 5MM (50FT.) 1 Creatron Inc. $5.50
TOOHH-009317 HELPING HAND WITH SOLDERING STAND 1 Creatron Inc. $14.00
TOOCU-151826 26AWG PROFESSIONAL WIRE STRIPPER 1 Creatron Inc. $12.80
TOOCU-008794 4″ DIAGONAL CUTTER 1 Creatron Inc. $4.00
5mm Black Heat Shrink 1 Creatron Inc. Unknown
N.A. Invisible Thread 1 Creatron Inc. $3.38
N.A. Black Shirt 1 American Apparel/previously owned $0.00

Circuit Diagrams

Circuit Illustrations

An illustration of the circuit layout

This piece was not as well realized as I would hope but I gained experience sewing with clear thread and working on a mannequin. Future iterations would involve drafting a specific pattern, ordering sewable EL wire and diffusing the light through fabric choices.

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