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сряда, 16 октомври 2013 г.

What is a felt, Filz or vilt?

The Wool - Reinvented material - ancient as humankind, modern nowadays!

As a part of the general trend of turning to natural materials in our lives triumphantly is returning an ancient material that accompanied mankind since the dawn of its existence - the wool!
This precious material who became 2-3 centuries ago the reason for the industrial revolution (remember England), sometimes was reviled, ignored or considered as a plain and simple in the recent past, is about to get a new, different fame - that of a tool for creative expression and uniqueness.
The techniques through which the formless pile of wool composed of thousands of individual fibers becomes fabric are many and varied. Better known are weaving and knitting.

Felt and felting process

Another different, but no less laborious and even hard and painful process of turning shapeless mass of wool in fabric, is possible by the unique quality of the wool fibers to tangle through a process called felting as the final result is a very strong work, known as felt, Filzvilt, keche, voilok, plast and many other names in diferent languages and cultures.
Since there is no the weaving of pre-spun fibers in a specific sequence on some basis, the felt can generally be attributed to the so called nonwoven fabric.

When I talk about felt, I mean the only matter and the articles made ​​of wool and not by polyester that is petroleum product, which is mostly industrial felt, which is a substitute, i.e. replacement, that has quite different characteristics and do not possess the physical, aesthetic, plastic and artistic qualities of wool source.

Actually felt in English and Filz in German means the process of creating products of wool, and the works themselves, which can be a flat shape as fabric, cloth, carpet, wall hanging, a picture, or even as fashionable now to say - in 3D, ie volume creations with utilitarian or purely artistic purposes.
Felt experiencing a triumph in the world during the last 10-15 years. There is an incredible boom in the demand for products of felt and its use as a material for art. Besides wool jewelry like brooches, necklaces, earrings, bracelets through felting are created accessories like scarves, bags, belts, hats, gloves. Incredibly original are felted clothes - dresses, coats, ponchos created in this technique and the derivative of it - nunofelt. Any type of accessory or clothing can be wearable piece of art and haute couture collections of many world famous designers regularly include felted creations.
Of course, retained was the oldest application of felt in the form of carpets, rugs, blankets, pillows, even homes.
Even today, in the steppes of Mongolia people live in round houses - yurts made ​​of light wood construction and large clothes of felted wool. This type of home is built for a few hours, as well as breaks up in order to move to a new location with lush grass for the grazing of sheep.
Magic wool is a great insulator. The best rug for your home is made of wool. Garment of wool away from frost and overheating, isolating and preserving the body heat. Wool takes a huge amount of moisture, thereby protecting the body and legs of the common cold. People who like to walk in the mountains know that especially in the winter is a must to be with woolen socks and underwear. Being with wet feet in wool socks you will not get cold even spend so few hours away!














What we do not know about the felt?

Many people today have not even heard the word, but the felt were known to the old Bulgarians. You can see wonderful examples in some museums as "Lyutova" and "Oslekova house" in the Bulgarian town-museum Koprivshtitsa - gorgeous, huge, thick carpets with the Flower of Life!

Felt (plusti) have been known in northwestern Bulgaria up to 18-19 century, and in all country regions with developed sheep farming and naturally the most popular were in the mountains. Unfortunately, the skills to create them among Bulgarians somehow been lost in the course of the 19th century and replaced ubiquitous by the weaving.
Some Bulgarians use the terms "rolling", "ownloading", "crushing" or "fulled wool" for such technique though these last not accurately depict the process of felting. The etymology of the Bulgarian word is based precisely on the felting process of wool fibers by rubbing, rolling, beating, crushing, fulling. The end result is possible precisely because of this quality unique to wool fiber. Used wool is not spun. 
Felt products have been well known since the deep antiquity. There are suggestions that this kind of fabric is the oldest, made by mankind. Some felt clothing, hats and rugs were saved and are 2500-2600 years old.
An interesting detail is that medieval knights had a garment called "gambeson" - both clothing and armor. It has performed the role of armor for the poorer knights who could not afford metal. So this gambeson was namely of felted wool!
This practice was probably known to the soldiers in the East, speaking of that himself mythical king of Ithaca, Odysseus had felt like armorGood felted wool in a certain thickness is difficult to be torn apart by bladed weapon and protected the most ancient warriors. We can only guess whether the ancient Thracians also had similar armor and if the garment similar to male cape (yamurluk), was not made of felt.
Some time ago I learned with surprise from Discovery channel, that the most expensive and most beautiful cowboy hats are not made ​​of leather, namely of wool felt processed to perfection. Such a hat is worth a nice stallion!


Felt in contemporary Bulgaria

Up to the middle of the XX century were particularly popular felt (Filz) hats, which is another application of this co-eternal material. Thus, the German name Filz of this matter has acquired popularity in the country, replacing the old local name "plusti". With the passing of the fashion of felt hats, even as a term, the felt (Filz) was almost forgotten.

Only recently people in Bulgaria started to hear, notice, see and recognize products from felt. Common in today's more mature generations of Bulgarians is a negativity, even abhorrence of wool as a material, thinking about it as rustic and simple. Thank God that the world has become a "global village" to stop being ashamed of natural things and revise attitude towards such eternal material - the wool.

Fortunately, young people and children do not have prejudices of their parents and with pure heart approach to the magic to create with







The essence of wool

Wool is a natural and living matter. Yes, alive!
It is a protein fiber, and when it is not subjected to aggressive chemical treatment, reacts as a living being. Responds with love to the love, likes air and light!

 The wool is extremely flexible material for art. It often called "the warm clay" not accidentally. You really can create almost everything with wool and to breathe life in your creation!

Often I leave the wool to guide me in the making process and then we together form the most wonderful our creations!
I love working with all kinds of wool, because each type of wool, by the the roughest to the finest merino, has its own peculiarities and it is unique. Just like people!

I think each wool like any person has its own purpose and whoever's got to create something with wool, should be able to handle each type of it. After all, the first step is mastering the means of expression. You have to know the opportunities to be able to express yourself through the wool as means of expression. If you are painter, you learn to paint with different type of paints and colors, to use auxiliary materials, acquire many techniques and when you move on, then you can choose from.
The wool gives the freedom of expression. Its primary form, rather amorphous, causes the imagination and provides the opportunity to be recreated without limitation in space.









The felting process

The process through which the wool becomes the cloth by felting differs in certain stages of that by weaving or knitting:
raising sheep
shearing of wool
washing wool
cleaning the wool by hand
→ combing the wool - hand or machine carding
wool dyeing
arranging woolen fibers for felting
real felting process
further dyeing, if needs
finishing operations depending on the product and wanted final result
The stage of dyeing may precede felting process but may be subsequent.
Rarely can work with non carded wool, a process that is quite difficult and less masters practicing it.
Today, people who are making felt usually buy processed wool, some of them are dyeing it by themselves, and some of them are performing some of these labor-intensive and not very attractive processes.

Felting sheep wool and turning it into a cloth, artwork or textile sculpture is a unique process that is characterises only this type of fiber (and some camel's and lama's fibers).

It is possible by the pineal body of the wool fibers which under the action particularly of rubbing opens its flakes, and they mesh in those of the other fibers.
Thus, the air and the distance between the fibers is reduced to yield a single, extremely strong structure!

The ancient way of felting, surviving to our days is related to wetting of wool, preferably with warm water and rubbing, rolling, ownloading, hitting, crushing, fulling. In more recent times, to the water was added and the soap solution. This is the so called wet felting, a technique that provides great opportunities and dominated the way of work. It is best suited for creating flat shapes - large fabrics, wall panels, carpets, clothing, scarves, bags, etc.!


In more recent times was invented another main felting technique made by needle punching, which is performed with special needles, called felting needles (Filz Nadels in German). This is the so called a dry technique (dry felting, needle felting), while it does not wet the wool and felting process goes through multiple reciprocating motion of the needle or needles, which intertwined threads of wool and create one unified structure. Needlefelting is preferable in the creation of small, mostly volumetric shapes, where necessary attention to detail and sculpture making skills.

Both felt techniques wonderful combine to enrich the final result.
In the last decades of the 20th century invented a new technique, which is experiencing a boom right now. Nuno-felting or nuno felting is a technique of felting of wool with tissue. "Nuno" translated from Japanese means "tissue". Wool and used ready fabric become one thing in the process of felting and form an entirely new structure, which has a very interesting relief and color.
The most interesting, aesthetic and exquisite combinations are obtained when paired with wool fabrics are made of natural fibers such as wool, silk, linen, cotton. It should however, the fabric to be with loose structure.
In all cases, the final result of the combination is always unique as a work of art that can make the wall hanging, accessory or clothing.
Of course, besides beautiful design, felt products must possess certain characteristics to be identified as felt.


Qualities of felt

Felt is not unspun wool that you buy to felt, although you may encounter carded wool as commodity named ''felt'' in some Bulgarian stores. This is a term that is the result of ignorance!

Felt is not a prefelt - semi-fabricated sheet of wool, mostly made by machine or sometimes by hand. Prefelt, as its name suggests, is a half-felt. Please make the difference! Live in Bulgaria and in Internet space I often see "ready" products that are at the stage, even prior prefelt! Similar decorations can carry various names, but not a felt!

Felt is solid and homogeneous. Real art is to make felt to look ethereal and still be solid!


Well felted product does not break under normal tensile, it has no stretching or it can be minimal for some articles. If the final product is a bag, garment or shoes, carpet, there should be no stretching. Then the criterion for good felting are some special bulges that are formed. Then the cloth has a structure similar to the boucle. The size of these bulges is dependent on the thickness of the wool fibers - by finer wool they are smaller, by roughly fibers they are greater.


The strength and good felting also mean that Felt product retains its original form during use and cleaning - does not deform and does not break!
This clearly also means that the felt is well colored - ie color is not run, when it washes by hand in cold or lukewarm water, as is recommended for products made ​​of natural wool. Also means that there is no coloring on the skin by wearing such cases typically hapen with product from China and India.

To make a quality felt creation it must be well thought out and implemented as an objective
and purpose. Never forget that this art form is applied!

So besides artistic qualities, it is necessary to hold that minimum practical requirements for certain types of product.

If this is a handbag, for example, the strength of the handles is crucial.
If these are slippers, convenience is the criterion. If this is a hat - lightness and good












And so - What is it felt? Is there a place for felt in our lives :)?

To sum up in one sentence, by felting from the fiber of wool was prepared fabric or spatial structure in different sizes and volumes.
This process may take different time and efforts. For example, creating a felted flower brooch takes an average of 2-3 hours, and sometimes, depending on the complexity and artistic conception may take much more. Days and even months may be necessary for the manufacture of something bigger  such as wall hanging, carpet, yurt.
Laying of wool itself and the subsequent felting process for bigger felt projects associates with a lot of movement, physical effort and performance that can be compared to hard physical work or strenuous exercise (training) in the gym. One who deals with felting knows what I mean!

By adding to this great labor expensive materials too, because now even the ordinary wool is not cheap, but traditionally merino wool, silk, linen, yarn, lace and other possible additions have serious prices, do not be surprised why the felt products are expensive!

Besides hard work and precious materials in the felt products, they are consumed much time, desire and love, without which they simply would not have happened!
Because only wish to sell is not enough!

Felt takes passion, inspiration, desire to materialize own ideas, enthusiasm and really, really Love to what you are doing and what you are creating!
Svetlana Kostova
The reference to the source is acknowledged with respect to my work. Thank you!

Svetlana Kostova. What is a felt, Filz or vilt? - http://svetlanaarts.blogspot.com/2013/10/what-is-felt-filz-or-vilt.html




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