Friday, April 15, 2016

You put the lime in the coconut. . . Um, why is there wool in my blender?

Fear not intrepid adventurers, this blender, like the crock pot, toaster oven, and immersion blender before it has gone on to weirder things than it was originally designed for. As flocking was originally a byproduct of the manufacturing of wool cloth (I'm going to assume from when the cloths were fulled and shaved, but I haven't found specific mention) it isn't something I can lay my hands on. Well, that is not precisely true. Flocking fiber is easily obtainable from woodworking suppliers as craftsmen use it to line boxes (look, no fabric Ma!) and cover duck decoys. It is, however, made of rayon and nylon fibers rather than the historical wool. I have ordered some to try out so I can compare the durability and texture of whatever madness I manage to make and what the pros sell. You can get a kit with the flocking fibers, the color matched adhesive, and a mini-flocker that pumps air. Amazon carries them so I should be getting one on my doorstep soon.
In the meantime, I wanted to try some ideas out. A few years ago I saw an episode of The Fabric of Britain focused on the history of wallpaper and there was this wonderful section on the 18th century fad of flocked wall paper as well as of its origins in 1634 when Jerome Lanyer received a patent for the manufacture of flocked paper in Engliand. Allyson McDermott walks Paul Martin through the historical process of making the stuff. There are supposed to be some clips at the link under the picture but the aren't currently working for me. It could be my geographical location so I included the link in case it works for others. I would really have loved to watch it again to refresh my memory. One thing that I do remember clearly, however is that Allyson has a giant box to shake the paper and fibers in.

That is important, because I have a feeling this is going to be a lot like glitter. It will never, ever go away. There's a traditional family Christmas story that was told by my mother as I was growing up of the first Christmas that she and my father had together in their little apartment. My mom decided to flock the tree. In the kitchen. She also decided to make paper Santas with bottoms made of folded magazines spray painted red. Another project she chose to take on in the kitchen. The red flocking was apparently a sight to behold and was still very decorative come spring. As it remained until they moved.

While it is lucky we own our own home and thus my genetic legacy of harebrained crafting ideas won't get me thrown out on the street, episodes like the time I poured candles and reconditioned our countertops with beeswax in the process have made my husband wary. So I guess I'm getting a box with a good lid before I do anything of any size. First experiments will therefore be little samples.

Deep breath. Here goes. I started by taking a wool remnant I had hanging around and cut it into little bits with scissors.

That gave me a start. Obviously no consistency and it's not nearly fine enough.
 I threw it in my Ninja and pulsed it for about 4 minutes. I knew that wasn't going to be nearly long enough, but I could see some of the smallest bits being fine enough and I have a limited amount of time while my twins are at Kindergarten, so there's a deadline I'm fighting.
 I put a stencil down and brushed glue onto a cream silk taffeta. As I said, not fine enough, and not enough of the fibers that are, but I'm seriously encouraged. I'm using a generic craft that dries clear since that's what I had and I'm testing the wool first. I will need a heavier bodied, slower driving glue and I want to try tinting it to deepen the color of the finished design. Excitingly though, I think this might actually work. I'm going to chop more wool today.

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