HOW TO FELT AND FELTING
MANY DIFFERENT STYLES OF FELTING,
BUT THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY TO DO IT!
WOOL, WATER, PRESSURE, FRICTION AND HEAT.
JUST TRY PUTTING SOME WET BUNNIES IN THE SUN
TO RUN AROUND AND YOU WILL FIND OUT THAT IT
IS NEARLY IMPOSSIBLE TO PULL APART THE FELTED MATTS.
YOU JUST HAVE TO CUT THEM OFF.
THERE IS THE IDEA THAT ST.
THE PATRON SAINT OF FELTERS AND HAT MAKERS,
PUT WOOL IN THE BOTTOM OF HIS SANDALS AS
HE TREKKED OFF ON A HOLY MISSION.
THAT IS POSSIBLE, BUT ARCHEOLOGY AND
SCIENCE HAVE SHOWN US THAT FELTING HAS BEEN
AROUND A LOT LONGER THAN THAT DEAR OLD SAINT.
MAYBE AS LONG AS ABOUT 30,000 YEARS OR MORE!
Clement I, was the 3rd Bishop of Rome about 100 A.D.
He is the Patron Saint of Hatters in England
and is celebrated on November 23.
The Persian people's philosophy was that King Solomon's son was tired of weaving
waterproof matts and wanted to make them without using a loom. Well, he tried and
tried and tried and nothing would work. Night after night he tried. One
oppressively hot, humid and desperate evening, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, the
son became so frustrated and flustered and angered that he threw a temper tantrum, jumping
up and down and crying huge crocodile tears. Finally, after he exhausted himself he
threw himself down into the pile of fiber and found that he had felted it to perfection.
Thus, he was the discoverer of felting.
The Mongolian thought is that the nomadic
tribes often used sheep skins to sit upon
while they rode their horses. Perhaps one hot and
humid day of hard riding turn the skins into some great felt.
A group of Mongolian nomads work together to make felt
the traditional way.
I HAVE BEEN TOLD THAT ANOTHER
PATRON SAINT OF FELTMAKER'S IS
SAINT FEUTRE OF CAEN, FRANCE....
OF COURSE, HE IS ALSO GIVEN CREDIT
FOR DISCOVERING FELTMAKING.
IT IS MAKES SENSE TO THINK
CAVE MAN GOT COLD TOOTSIES AND THOUGHT
IF THAT GIANT CRITTER COULD STAND THE
ICE UNDER ALL THAT FUR, HE WOULD JUST
HAVE TO HAVE SOME TO TRY WRAPPED AROUND HIS FEET!
I AM NOT
THE BEST FELTMAKER, PROBABLY NOT EVEN A
GOOD ONE, BUT THERE ARE MANY OF MY FRIENDS WHO ARE..
AND.... THEY ALL FELT DIFFERENTLY FROM ONE ANOTHER.
THE COMMON THREAD IS HOT WATER, A SOFT DETERGENT AND RUBBING.
I CAN NOT EXPLAIN HOW FELTING WORKS,
BUT I CAN TELL YOU THAT WHEN THE HYDROGEN BONDS ARE BROKEN BY
THE MOISTURE AND HEAT, THE WOOL'S STRUCTURE CAN BE RE-SHAPED. THE HEAT DRIES THE
WOOL AND NEW HYDROGEN BONDS ARE FORMED ON THE WOOL STRUCTURE AS THE WATER ESCAPES.
THE NEW HYDROGEN BONDS MAINTAIN THE WOOL IN THE NEW SHAPE. HIGH HUMIDITY CAN CAUSE THESE
HYDROGEN BONDS TO BE BROKEN AGAIN.
I AM NOT EVEN GOING TO
ATTEMPT TO GIVE YOU A METHOD,
BUT INSTEAD DIRECT YOU TO THE PLACES THAT I GO FOR HELP
WHICH IS CAN BE FOUND ON MY LINKS PAGE.
YOU WILL FIND SEVERAL OF THE METHODS USED FOR FELTING THERE.
the felt is fulled the finer it will be.
Felt has no warp, selvage, it will not ravel or fray
it can be cut and blocked into any shape.
Wool felt has high thermal insulating properties.
It absorbs shock and sounds.
Felt is more impervious to water than
untreated fabrics and it can be dry cleaned.
The properties of felt effects its application.
Lack of tensile strength and drapability limit the use
of felt as a general clothing fabric but it is especially
suitable for blocking into hats.
Felt is also suitable for slippers, shoe insoles,
ear muffs, pennants and table padding.
Lately we have used felt to make hats, caps, vests,
skirts, boots, scarves and many other wearables.
It's insulative and noise absorption properties
lends itself to various industrial uses.
The purpose of
fulling was to scour and cleanse the cloth, to eliminate all the grease and dirt and then
to felt the cloth, by forcing the fine, scaly, and curly fibers to interlace and matt
together to give the cloth a necessary cohesion, strength and to shrink and compress the
cloth, giving it greater density and weight per square foot, fulling could shrink the
cloth up to 50% or even more.
The photo above is of an ancient medieval wool press.
Probably part of the FULACHTA FIADH.
(See new web page)
There is a link to a great website on this subject on
the link page.
HERE IS A
GREAT PHOTO SHOWING THE STEPS
FROM THE ANIMAL TO THE END PRODUCT OF A HAT.
Here are some ancient drawings from Panckoucke's Methodologies,
Actually called "Encyclopedia Methodique( 1787) from several centuries ago. In
it are very detailed accounts of the felting process.
The Rabbit Pelt
2. Pullers" Removed the
coarse guard hair while holding the pelt on his knee. He used a large knife or
tweezer and plucked out stiff hair.
3. "Fluff" a prepared
fiber pile often called "fluff" arranged, beaten, and matted to an 4
ft. long oval shape. The fluff then goes through a "basoning", heated and
steamed and formed into a cone shape. During this process, Carrotting was
done using a solution of nitrate of mercury (caused Mad Hatter's disease). This
solution caused the scales on each fiber to pull away from the hair shaft which enabled
the felt to be better felted.
4. Shaping the fiber, starting to
felt. During"Planking", the cone shape is dipped into a solution to
toughen and shrink the cone, which is now smaller, sturdier and stronger.
Shrinking" or felting
7. Perfecting the shaping
8. Blocked Crown. The hat is
dried and stiffened over a hat shape or hat block. It can be
shaved, sanded, lacquered or waterproofed.
9. Hat prepared for brim trimming
Now, the hat can be embellished with a band, feathers, leather strips and is
usually edged with a soft fabric.
Often hats are lined with a satiny fabric
10. Finished product. A perfect hat.
Pancoucke's was hired to write
everything he could possibly
find on everything he could possibly think of.
He did a great job and his findings
are still considered to be excellent!
He gives very detailed accounts of making felt hats
click on the photos to enlarge them
This illustration shows the
making of felt hats.
The fibers are prepared or "bowed" to align them
and work them into form.
The bow actually looks like a violinist bow.
The bow hung from the ceiling directly over the fiber.
The bow was actually "twanged" repeatedly over the fibers.
The first part of this process vibrated the dirt out of the
fibers and pushed it through slats letting it fall onto the floor.
Then it was further bowed in order to accomplish the
necessary aligning of the fibers.
You can look at the photos below
and imagine the processes used to felt hats.
figure 14 in the above photo shows the giant bow.
sketches are also from
showing different things
having to do with hats
and different headgears.
shaper are being formed, strengthened and
shrunk using heat, water and manipulation.
The plank or trough has changed little over the years.
For centuries these troughs were used in the felting process.
One of them was big enough for 3 men to walk around in..stomping on Fullers earth and
stale human urine
along with other ingredients to affect the fiber.
A cap maker's
workshop from Jost Amman's Book of Trades, 1569.
On the right, the caps are felted and shaped over a barrel of heated water. In the
middle, the other worker beats them to soften them and to detach the loose hairs, and
another shears them. Those completed are ranged on the shelves at the back and appear to
have a textured surface.
hats at Battersbury's factory, Stockport in 1911; (above)
The planking room in which the felt is worked until it is the right size, consistency and
shape. The planks on which the men work have changed little since the 18th century.
This is soft felt finishing
Here the hats receive their final block and check.
The blocks were rotated and heated by machinery.
The men's informal soft felt hats can be
seen on the bench in the foreground.
above shows a man using a felting machine.
The next few
articles are from an late
1800's manufacturer and builders book.