I ended up having to rip all the felt off the piece I was talking about way back in December. It was just too tedious. If I worked on it for more than about 20 minutes in any given day, I would end up with a throbbing pain in my left hand that sometimes woke me in the middle of the night. Totally not worth it.
I still think it’s important for this piece to exist, and for it to have a skin, so I went back to the drawing board. I tried several different approaches, including covering the whole thing with paper. Nothing felt right. It was really frustrating.
Finally I ended up making a lot of small doilies with some off-white fingering-weight wool yarn that I found stashed in a corner of the studio. I’m sewing them onto the wire frame with a curved needle, and applying the felt on top of them. It is taking a long time, but it’s a lot easier on the fingers than trying to put the felt directly on the wire. I can work for long stretches without hurting myself.
I spend so much time looking at it that this is what I see when I close my eyes:
Here’s a wider angle. You can see where I’ve started to apply felt over the belly:
Almost everyone who’s seen it has expressed dismay that I’m covering the doilies, until I remind them that this thing is a lamp and will have a lightbulb inside. The lace will still be visible when the light is on. So there.