What is felt?
Felt is a non-woven textile that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Our felt is made of 100% raw sheep wool from Nepal. We choose to use undyed, natural wool to get slight color variation in the finished product.
Photo Above: Raw, uncarded wool.
How felt is made:
It all starts with wool roving: carded lengths of wool are separated into small tufts and layered together. Next, warm soapy water is applied to layers at ninety-degree angles to one another. Repeated agitation and compression causes the fibers to hook together into a single piece of fabric.
Photo below: Workers in the pressing department soap the raw wool.
Once the fibers interlock, the furling process starts. To get the strong properties of felt, the craftsman must roll and press the felt. This process takes skill that is handed down from generation to generation in Nepal. With this agitation process, the fibers become locked tightly to achieve the toughness for which felt is known.
Only certain types of fiber can be felted successfully. Most types of animal fleece, such as that taken from alpaca or Merino sheep, can be put through the wet felting process. These types of fiber are covered in tiny scales, similar to the scales found on a strand of human hair. Wetting and soaping the fleece causes the scales to open, while agitating them causes them to latch onto each other, creating felt. Plant fibers and synthetic fibers will not felt.
Photo above: Nepal workers that craft our felted wool products.
Felting dates back 6000 years. Many cultures have legends as to the origins of feltmaking. Sumerian legend claims that the secret of feltmaking was discovered by Urnamman of Lagash. The story of Saint Clement and Saint Christopher relates that while fleeing from persecution, the men packed their sandals with wool to prevent blisters. At the end of their journey, the movement and sweat had turned the wool into felt socks.
Because wool is naturally water and stain resistent, we find it fitting for the table. We love the visual qualities of raw wool and let the natural fibers shine. A simple blanket stitch is applied around the edges and woven vertically to give a finished, sophisticated finish to our hand crafted pieces.