Why You Should Use a Handheld Sander for Wet Felting
If you are a fiber art novice just learning how to wet felt, using an electric handheld sander might seem intimidating.
But it is a lot easier and less scary then you might think!
The first thing every one worries about is the mixing of water and electricity. I have honestly never even once had a problem, but if you are worried about getting your sander wet follow these simple safety rules.
My model is the 7558 Finishing Sander by Black and Decker but this model has been discontinued so it is harder to find. However, the Steel Grip 2401198 Finish Sander 1/3 Sheet is a current model that works similarly.
Each sander has its own "personality" and as you spend time using yours to felt projects you will begin to understand it better. You will know when to glide it over a spot, when to press down hard. There are actually a lot of things I do with my sander on my own projects that are just second nature because I have been using the same model for 9 years. Felting a project is a conversation between you, your sander, and the wool. I call it an art rather then a science because it requires a certain eye and awareness to master using a sander, especially on more delicate projects. In the end using a sander is a personal choice and I hope this short article helps make that decision a little easier for you.
Lastly, here are some “safety precautions" that don’t work and actually hinder your felting.
Unusual Felting Tools That You Might Already Own
You would be surprised how many common household items I use in my workshop to make my hats and other felted creations. Sometimes Grumpy Husband gets a little grumpier because he can't find a pot lid or a particular plastic spoon I "borrowed" from the kitchen for my latest project. As you consider your own crafting projects keep in mind that figuring out how to make an item requires just as much creativity as it takes to actually sit down and make it. You may not need that expensive specialized crafting tool after all!
To help inspire you as you puzzle out your own crafting projects here is a quick list of three common household items I use every day in my workshop.
Item One: Wooden Skewers
I've actually been using wood skewers for a long time and I've amassed quite a collection of different sizes and lengths. If you do any kind of sculptural felting these wooden sticks are perfect for holding up different parts of the project until they dry. The pointed side of the skewer means that the stick will not move and it will not damage your project. I also use the skewers to smooth or shape parts of my projects that my fingers can't reach.
Item Two: A Baby Powder Bottle
Wet felting requires a good amount of water spread out evenly across your wool project. Early on I started using empty baby powder bottles to apply water because they have several benefits. They stand up easily when you put them down, so they will not roll around or leak in between water squirts. The holes in the top of the bottle sprinkles and spreads the water out evenly. They hold a good amount of water which can save you a trip to the faucet on those larger projects (and they are pretty easy to fill too). But the best reason to use them is because they do all these things and are inexpensive to purchase. You can get one from the store for a dollar or two compared to specialized "hand sprinklers" that have fewer benefits and can cost up to $20.
Item Three: Flexible Placemats
Much of the work I do is sculptural, especially when it comes to my hats. That means that I need 3D structures that I can layer my wool on. To make these structures I tend to use flexible cutting mats or flexible plastic placemats. I cut them into pieces and tape them together in such a way that I can create various 3D geometric shapes. I have created cones, pyramids, tubes, and even cubes. The plastic mats are water proof too, so they can stand up to my wet felting projects. Just make sure to get some good quality duct tape too.
I hope this short list inspires you to think outside of the box as you plan out your next crafting project. Remember, at the end of the day it doesn't matter what means you use to make your project (silly or serious). It only matters that you have created something that you enjoyed making and that you (and others) can appreciate. Make the story of your creation as fun and interesting as the item itself!
More Tips Coming Soon!