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VICTORIAN FELTMAKERS INCORPORATED
Felt is best described as a non-woven fabric structure formed by the
interlocking of unspun fibres. The oldest known form of textiles, felt
made from animal fibres has been found in Neolithic tombs. It is
created by the application of moisture and agitation and requires no
bonding agent. The process of feltmaking is irreversible. Felt can be
made from any animal (protein) fibre, however wool is most commonly
used, due to its strong felting properties.
Felt is a most versatile fabric, combining many features such as
strength, insulation, pliability and sound absorption. When made as a
thin fabric it can be used for clothing, hats and fashion accessories,
while thick felt is often used for boots, bags and sculptural forms.
Feltmaking in Australia has undergone an enormous surge in popularity
and interest over the past two decades. There is an increasing number
of practising feltmakers committed to exploring and celebrating the
never-ending potential of traditional handmade felt as a modern art and
craft medium, for use in both functional and wearable art and craft, as
well as applications in the field of fine art.
The History of Felt
Although the certain origin of felt is unknown, it is in all
probability the earliest form of textile. It is from the Central Asian
Steppes that archaeologists have so far found the oldest examples of
felted fibres, dating back to 6000 BC, thereby predating woven cloth.
The process of making felt has remained virtually unchanged for
hundreds of years. The minimal equipment needed to produce felt and its
innate durability and water-resistance made it an ideal fabric for
people living in a harsh climate. Felt was most commonly produced for
use in tent coverings, clothing and blankets and until this day the
Central Asian nomadic people continue to use felt as an important part
of their living environment.