WHAT IS FELT? – Joan Casey

WHAT IS FELT?

Felt is tangled wool or hair and felting is a natural process that occurs unaided by the human hand – just think of what happens to your hair if you don’t brush it!  The felt-maker takes this natural process and manipulates and refines it to create a strong, dense fabric that has many uses.

Felt may well have been the first human-made fabric, pre-dating other fabric-making techniques such as weaving and knitting.  There is possible evidence of felted animal hair at the Stone Age site of Catal Huyuk (6500 -6300 B.C.) in Turkey.

HOW IS FELT MADE?

Felt is made when moisture and heat are applied to sheep’s fleece using friction and pressure.  By alternately rubbing and rolling the moist, hot wool, the individual fibres in the fleece begin to mat together, eventually resulting in a piece of dense fabric.  This is called wet-felting.

A more contemporary technique is needle-felting.  Felting needles have tiny barbs along their length which, when driven through the fleece, tangle the fibres together. Many felt-makers today use a combination of these two techniques.

For more information or to see a wide range of my felt pieces visit the Market House Craftworks shop page here.