Creating felt

I am always excited when I’m about to felt. It’s wonderful to use the wool of a beautiful sheep. When feltmaking it’s not only the process of creation but also a experience of touch and feel. Different wools behave differently. There are many ways to reach the end result but within that there is always an element beyond your control. And that is the essence of making felt.

There are hundreds types of sheep and each has it own characteristic with individual fleeces varying. I get the wool, ethically sourced, from reputable suppliers, directly from breeders and locally, when possible. Besides the well known Merino wool, I enjoy using other type such as Jacob, Kerry Hill, Finnish, Norwegian, Corriedale, Galway, Belgium, French merino… And I am still discovering. Of course, the wool choice depends on  what I want to create, if I need more texture and structure or a smoother surface.

I discovered the craft of felting years ago and attended technical workshops and masterclasses with international tutors over the years. Developing my own design and process is always ongoing but once you work with wool felt, you discover there is no limit.

WET FELTING is the process I  use most to create felt. Felt is a non-woven fabric  made from natural wool fibres. Stimulating the wool manually with soapy water, pressure, frictions and rolling results in felt. The felting process starts when microscopic scales on each fibre of wool move and link together. The fulling process makes the felt shrinks significantly.

Depending on the type of fibres and the techniques used, the felt can range from dense to light, rigid to soft, transparent to opaque. The type of fibre used is important to obtain the desired effect. Shaping and sculpting the felt during the felting process lead to a wide range of possibilities. Felt  can be made into almost any shape or size  and is easily moulded into useful products or beautiful art pieces.
(Artisanal felt is not to be mistaken with industrial felt which contains mainly artificial fibres and is made using machines.)

I sometimes use NEEDLE FELTING technique. It is useful to sculpt a piece of wool into a figurine for example, but also to add details to any wet felted piece. With no water this time, only the needles are used to tangle the layers of carded wool fibres until the desired effect is reached.

NUNO FELTING  is the art of wet felting over another type of fabric. Often silk is used as a base fabric but all type of fabric can be used obtaining different effect as  felting occurs.

KNIT FELTING  can be simply achieved by putting  100% wool knitted pieces into a washing machine cycle. This will felt and shrink the wool pieces which can be shaped into a finished form.