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A combination of all felting techniques discussed below.

Felting

Anne Sheikh

Felt is the oldest man-made fabric. The origins of felt date back to Neolithic times. Felt is made from the wool of sheep and other animals. Each strand of wool is comprised of over-lapping scales (like human hair).  When strands of wool are subjected to heat, moisture and agitation these scales open and become entangled with the open scales on other wool strands. When many wool strands together are subjected to these conditions they form a dense wool fabric. Some of the desirable qualities of felt fabric are its warmth, water repelling properties, and the way it doesn’t fray or require seam finishes. When used for artistic purposes felt can be formed into vessels and shapes, combined with other fabrics and embellished and embedded with other fibers.


Steps

  1. Creative handmade felt involves simple tools, supplies and techniques. Wool fibers (in the form of roving or batts), a hot water source and liquid detergent along with table space and towels are all that is required. When techniques other than simple hand felting are used a few additional supplies are needed. Several different felting techniques can be combined in the same piece.  
  2. Simple felt uses only wool roving or batts (for beginners Merino is easiest to handle). Roving is thinly layered at right angles and then sprinkled with a mixture of hot water and liquid detergent and then agitated. Agitation begins gently and progresses to forcefully as the fibers start to bond together and form a fabric. 
  3. Applied, laminated or nuno felt are names that refer to felt that is made by forcing wool fibers into a base fabric. The base fabric needs to be woven loosely enough for wool fibers to penetrate - commonly silk chiffon or cotton scrim are used. Wool fibers are laid on top of the base fabric or the base fabric is sandwiched between two layers of wool fibers- again, heat, detergent and agitation are used. The fibers then penetrate the base fabric and bond into it. 
  4. Needle or dry felting- specially designed barbed needles are used singly or in multiples to lie in thinner strands of fiber and more tightly control the design process. The above sampler is a combination of all of these felting techniques.