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Creative carding - go colour crazy....

"Carding" may not be the most glamorous of tasks, in fact it's easy to think of it yet another thankless non-felty background chore which no one sees, takes up a lot of time and is actually quite hard work, both mentally and physically a) you can get really bored (especially if it's the same shade you're mixing and there's lots of it!), and b) you get really tired (all that to-ing and fro-ing with the arms, tugging and scraping of fibres!) And yet, power is in the hands of the carder - consider this: at no other point in the felting process are you as in control of your felt as you are when you are carding.

I LOVE EXPERIMENTING WITH COLOUR AND HAVE A MRS CROPLEY ("VICAR OF DIBLEY") APPROACH TO CARDING...with a few fibrous sprinkles and a handful of wool, you can create a unique piece of felt full of zingy tones and shades. For example, what happens when you card a tuft of red, pink, orange, and yellow merino with a dash of aquamarine, and chartreuse green? OK, mix those colours on a paint palette and you'd probably end up with a hideous shade of brown. When carding wool however, the good news is that fibres can be blended to create a new colour, and still maintain their own identity. Card those same colours for anything from 30secs to two minutes and you'll have yourself a gorgeous, golden, fiery blend of reddish hues with delicious streaks of cool aqua and sea green.

PERHAPS THE FIRST THING YOU NEED TO DECIDE IS THE OVERALL EFFECT THAT YOU'D LIKE TO ACHIEVE. I have on occasion got too carried away and added about 10 different colours to my carders, the result being colour overload (dirty brown!) Think about the warmth and coolness of certain shades, the decision of adding more of certain shades and less of others. If, for example, you'd like to create an unusual shade of blue then the bulk of your fibrous mix should consist of cooler blue-ish shades (Mediterranean blue, some Tanzanite, some Cornflower.) That would be your blue-ish base mix. Then you can be a bit more creative and add perhaps a tuft of Damson, a wisp of Spearmint and a sprinkling of Jonquil yellow.

For a garden green effect, hmm, maybe some Grass, some Chartreuse, some Pine for a greeny base mix, followed by a tuft of Olive, Sunset, Amber and microscopic sprinkling of Ruby. The best wisps and sprinkles in your carded mix will usually consist of complimentary colours (colours at opposite ends of the colour wheel) e.g yellow and purple, blue and orange, red and green, etc.

FOR FURTHER INSPIRATION TRY PLAYING WITH EFFECT FIBRES - "Throwster's waste", tussah silk, bamboo fibres, wool nepp. All of these will add something special whether it be texture or surface shine. I've tried shredding up decorative fabrics, dismantling ribbons, unwinding sparkly knitting yarn....whatever works for you...HAVE FUN!!

*Tip for all those felt artists out there - silk and bamboo fibres are great for adding shimmer effects to seas and skies!!

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