When it comes to learning how to felt wool, there are several different processes that can be used. The most common process is called wet felting.
Wool and other animal hairs have directional scales and kinks. Friction stimulates the scales and causes felting; the scales bond together to form a cloth.
Felts are not woven, but condensed and pressed. They can be handmade. Items composed of the material have been used to make tents, rugs and clothing (such as felt boots) for thousands of years.
The exact origin of felt-making is unknown. Several different cultures, including the Sumerians, claim to have been the first to discover the process. One legend is that men fleeing persecution packed their sandals with wool. The sweat and movement was all that was needed to make wool felt.
In wet felting, natural woolen fibers are moistened with soapy water. The scales are rubbed against each other at a 90 degree angle until the desired result is achieved.Industrial felting machines make use of barbed needles. No water is used.
The needles can be fitted in hand-held tools. Some crafters use them to “sculpt” wool. Until 1941, mercuric nitrate, which contains the toxic heavy metal mercury, was used in the felting industry. The process was referred to as carroting. It was particularly popular for making men’s hats.
Felt hats were handmade using rabbit or beaver fur. The mercuric nitrate solution caused the fleece to separate easily from the skin. Once separated, the fleece was passed through wet rollers to cause the fur to felt.
Hatters were exposed to the toxic fumes of the mercury and many were poisoned as a result. You may have heard the saying “mad as a hatter”. Some of the symptoms of mercury poisoning include memory loss and psychiatric disorders. The use of mercury to make wool felt was banned in the US in 1941.
Artificial felts are made using industrial needles. Some handmade felts contain synthetic and natural fibers. A minimum of 30% of the fibers must be wool or the fabric will not hold together.
In India, steam rollers and a shallow pool of water are used in felting. The unwoven fibers rotate in the pool as the steam roller passes back and forth over the material.
If you have access to natural unwoven wool fibers, you could use the wet felting technique to make your own handmade felts. Learning how to felt wool is not difficult. It’s merely time consuming.
Other Sites/Pages You May Like
If you like to make homemade gifts, you will find gifts to keep warm and many other unique homemade gift ideas for kids and adults to help you with your gift giving.