Santa Barbara Felted Fibers
Valerie McLean

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Felting is nothing new…it has been used in this world for centuries.  What has changed is the artistic design and use of felt.  No longer is it only utilitarian, scratchy and hard, or one-dimensional, like a billiard table cover but it can be something soft and billowy, exciting and sometimes just wild and crazy.

               

The tactility of wool, its forgiving character, its malleability, its ability to follow the direction your hands are giving it leads to a very satisfying experience.   Felting can be very simple…anyone can learn…yet can also be very complex.  What you do is up to you and how far you take it is only limited by your own creativity and inspirations you gather from the world around you.

Felting is the actual making of fabric from layers of wool fibers (Crocheting and knitting are never involved) by using a little soap, water and agitation, commonly known as elbow grease.  Wool fibers are barbed and when these factors are all in place, the fibers open up and grab onto each other, tangling and matting until cloth is formed.  The wool has no sub-structure it attaches itself to, it attaches to itself; it is the structure.  As it is being made, it is worked and molded, called ‘fulling’, to strengthen and harden it.  What happens next is up to the wool and my own flexibility when the creative design ends up going a different direction than I planned!