i tought myself a new skill today. Felting! I got a kit with needles, roving and a foam board for $10 on ebay. The. Watched a few youtubes.
Heres a brief turorial on it.
Gently pull off lengths of roving ( roving is combed wool) and lay out onto a piece of bubble wrap (or you can needle felt it first like i did just to hold it all together). Build up layers, about three, of your chosen colors and design. I went for a field with a lake.
Then you can wet felt it! Squirt some dish liquid over the top. Then pour a little boiling or very hot water to cover it. (Not too wet). Then cover with more bubble wrap (or plastic like me).
Gently press and work circles over the surface. You dont need much agitation to felt it especially at first as you might seporate your design.
Then cover with a towel and gently roll squeezing out excess water. Roll it between your hands back and forward a few times to continue felting.
If you are using bubble wrap make sure he bubbles are on the felt this helps agitate it. Then remove your feted mat and rinse carefully in cold water pressing any excess water out. Then, put it in the dryer. This might seem odd but the heat and motion finishes the felting.
This is it out of the dryer. Dont forget it will shrink.
You can add more if you like, mine was a little thin in places i should have used more roving. I needle felted extra to cover the gaps.
Then needle felt your embelishments. I used small balls as rocks, needle felting them first on the foam block to get the shape then onto the playscape. Then felted some flowers. The cave is made by needle felting a flat brown piece with some green at the bottom on the foam block then felting it onto to the mat in my desired shape.
All up i spent about $2 on materials (i only used up the dark green roving from the kit). And it took me about an hour for the mat and another 30mins for the embelishments.
The process of felting is basically that wool has tiny barbs that cling to each other. So if you rub it together they bind kinda like velcro. Wet felting is helped by the hot water and soap which expand and shrink the fibers making them cling, needle felting is achieved because the needle has tiny barbs on it which pull through the other fibers to felt (a great reason not to stab yourself with one).