How Felt is Made
Feltmaking, or how I make wet felted hats
There are many ways to create felt: some makers knit and then full (shrink) in the washing machine; while other artisans take loose fibers and poke with sharp, barbed needles (needle felting).
I prefer the ancient method of wet felting to create my felted hats. Using three to five layers of wispy wool fiber, I evenly layer around a flat resist, ‘painting’ with various colors of wool, silk, and bamboo. Then, soapy water is sprinkled on to relax the fibers, and aid in entangling. Gently, I rub the surface of the loose wool to make felt. As the fibers interlock, stronger effort is needed: massaging and throwing the felt so that it shrinks further. I often use my vintage washboard! Then, I rinse out the soap and shape and drape on a wooden hat block.
Using fine millinery techniques, each hat is styled to bring out the best in it and YOU, the wearer.
Each hat is created from very soft Merino wool, a natural fiber with enchanted properties. Did you know that wool resists fire and water, and also is renewable and sustainable? Similarly, felt is wonderful: lightweight, strong and flexible.
I like to say “Practical.& Fantastical” because felt is a medium that has everyday functions; yet, has endless creative possibilities.
The most amazing thing about felting hats is that it creates life within me. Ideas bloom, upon more ideas. Some ideas are fueled by technical challenges, while others are based on autumn leaves, the Chrysler Building, color optics, and hinted emotions.
Feltmaking truly invigorates and has brought me much happiness; I hope that sharing my felted hats will bring extra happiness to YOU.
If you’re interested in learning more about feltmaking, please join The Jottings, my weekly newsletter. When I lived in Pittsburgh, I had the lovely opportunity to teach felting to several groups. Hopefully, I will teach some more this year.