Luciferins Material Explorations

Luciferins: Surface Manipulations with Fibers

After knitting many tubes and hanging them in the studio, I reflected on the visuals and the tactility. The size is good. I love the sturdiness of each of them as well as the softness. Yet, I’m unhappy with the busyness of the surface texture. It also might be problematic with the graphics and effect the crispness of the visuals.

I decided to do some resist felting with added surface textures. I had done a few experiments. So I did a large scale experiment with variations in surface texture. I’m interested to work in the scale that the final piece is. This gives me a better idea of how the piece will look, as well as production needs. So, I went about creating one. I started with a resist that was 3 feet by 110 inches.

Working one something this large required a bit of maneuvering and planning. A plastic resist is on the inside. Then wool roving needs to be laid out on either side. Plastic needs to be laid down on either side of the outsides, to also assist with flipping. My work table for fibers is 2.5 feet by 5 feet. So, I also needed to roll the work as I was laying out the wool. This was quite a bit to get my head around. Visioning and planning is *so* important.

The plastic layering really helps to manage all the fibers. This was important because laying out this much fiber (4 layers on each side, on a 3 feet by 9 feet), ended up taking a lot of time. 

After finally getting it all down, I began the wetting the fibers with warm water to bind the fibers together. Then using rolling the big log. The goal was to get all the layers to bind to one surface, but not to begin shrinking.

Once fully dampened, roll, roll, roll.

Then, once it’s all moving as one surface, I let it dry out completely. Since the work is so large, it’s an undertaking for each stage. Yet, I have to work in shifts, due to my own work schedule.

After drying, I sewed segments of cotton thread across the piece. This thread, once pulled, will then create vertical folds.

lots cotton threads
lots and lots cotton threads

Once all the threads in, I began pulling them to tension. This was great, because I could start crafting the form. This was exciting because I was  finally at the point in creation that I wanted to experiment with.


I started cutting the cotton thread, shortening it. This allowed for greater control of the folds and to craft the surface. I also began to debate the ultimate tension of the folders before I did the final stage of felting. I preferred the look of them a bit loose. Yet, leaving them at that point for the final stage of felting may not work out. Previously I had worked with the fibers extremely tight during this stage. Leaving them loose may not result in the effect that I am after.

After finally getting to a point satisfied with the folds, I dampened them with hot water and began agitating them.

After all the agitation, it’s time to dry out. So, I spread this out on a drying rack in front of the radiator. Thank goodness it’s getting cold here in Brooklyn and our radiators are churning out the heat.


As I pulled out the threads, I could finally see the textures from the folds. I could also see the overall surface texture which resulted from working with such extreme heat with the water in the final stages. That caused extreme shrinkage with the fibers that were at the site where the water met the fibers. This was unexpected, but intriguing. Yet, I’m not sure if it will make it in the final version.

Lots of shrinkage

It’s amazing how much the fibers shrink.

Overall, this is a direction that I want to pursue more. Moving to a smaller size is key. This one ended up too large. Getting them closer to the size of the ones knitted would be ideal. Next iteration, I’ll get more adventurous with the sewing of the fibers, doing them in smaller segments but larger blank spaces in between the sections that are sewed.

comparing iterations
Detail of surface manipulation
Luciferins – fiber iterations;