What is Felting

What is Felting

Wet Felting

is the incredibly ancient and seemingly magical process of taking fluffy wool, adding warm water and soap, bashing the living daylights out of it and ending up with beautiful tactile wearable art.

nuno felted cowl

Felting occurs when fiber is moist, alkaline and physically agitated. The warm water and soap causes the scales to swell open, and the filaments knit together when massaged and agitated, the knotting then causes shrinkage which results in a dense strong felted fiber.

Many cultures have legends as to the origins of feltmaking. Sumerian legend claims that the secret of feltmaking was discovered by Urnamman of Lagash. The story of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher relates that while fleeing from persecution, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks.

Feltmaking is still practised by nomadic peoples (Altaic prople) in Central Asia and northern parts of East Asia (Mongols), where rugs, tents and clothing are regularly made. Some of these are traditional items, such as the classic yurt (Gers), while others are designed for the tourist market, such as decorated slippers. In the Western world, felt is widely used as a medium for expression in textile art as well as design, where it has significance as an ecological textile.

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About Orlaith

Orlaith Murphy is a mixed media artist and a horticulturist. Living in Wicklow, her art reflects and embraces her love of nature. Orlaith believes that, the patterns and colors of nature can be found in all things and if we are receptive to the infinite design influences found in the natural world, the creative possibilities are endless. E-mail: orlaith@orlaithmurphy.com