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събота, 11 януари 2014 г.

History of Felt and Feltmaking - a short review

THE WAY OF LIGHT. Artist - Svetlana Kostova - LAnAArt, Bulgaria. 
Size: approximately 2.30 x 2 meters = 90.6 x 78.7 inches,
thickness at about 1 - 1.5 cm = 0.4 - 0.6 inches.

Net weight: 4,5 kg.
Felt is a non-woven fabric formed when sheep's wool or animal fur is subjected to heat, moisture and pressure or agitation. Soap, or an alkaline environment, helps the felting process. Heat and moisture cause the outer scales along the fiber to open, and the soap allows the fibers to slide easily over one another thereby causing them to become entangled. The wool fibers are made up of a protein called keratin. The keratin in the fibers becomes chemically bound to the protein of the other fibers thereby resulting in a permanent bond between the fibers, making the felting process irreversible.

Bulgarian felt artist Svetlana Kostova is demonstrating wet felting technique on the courses she teach.

Felting is technique requiring much less equipment than other textile techniquessuch as weaving
Despite of hard phisical working the main advantage of felting is that over other textile techniques it is producing a finished product in much less time. No one knows for certain how humans first discovered the felting properties of wool and animal fur, but several ideas suggest how early humans may have become interested in making felt.

Matted wool may have been noticed on the sheep. There are sections on the fleece of sheep that under the influence of heat, friction and living conditions in the shed, as well as by grazing of herd are matted and form a kind of fabric that can not be torn, the fibers can not be separated in the process of carding of wool.

Wool fleece, photo by Svetlana Kostova - LAnAArt.

The oldest archaeological finds containing evidence of the use of felt are in Turkey. Wall paintings that date from 6500 to 3000 B.C. have been found which have the motif of felt appliquè. At Pazyryk in Southern Siberia in the Altay mountains archeological evidence of felt was found inside a frozen tomb of a nomadic tribal chief that dates from the fifth century B.C. The evidence from this find shows a highly developed technology of feltmaking. (These felts are in the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia. Some pieces can be seen on the museums web site, www.hermitagemuseum.org) 

Photo: http://rada-rukodelniza.ru/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/pazyiryikskaya-kultura-11.jpg

The Romans and Greeks knew of felt. Roman soldiers were equipped with felt breastplates (for protection from arrows), tunics, boots and socks. The earliest felt found in Scandinavia dates back to the Iron Age. Felt sheets believed to be from about 500 A.D. were found covering a body in a tomb in Hordaland, Norway.


Today felt is still in use in many parts of the world especially in areas with harsh climates. In Mongolia, nomads live in felt tents called yurts or gers. 


In Turkey, rugs, hats and other items are made of felt. In South Central Asia nomadic tribes use felt as tent coverings, rugs and blankets. Shepherds use felt cloaks (kepenek) and hats to protect them from the harsh climate. In Scandinavia and Russia, felt boots are produced and widely used.

In recent years, worldwide there is a revival in the interest in felt making with contemporary design and techniques that are enriched continuously.

Source of text with corrections and additions by Svetlana Kostova: http://www.feltcrafts.com/history.html 
Pictures by Svetlana Kostova - LAnAArt: http://picasaweb.google.bg/svetlanakostova1212


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