Monday, April 17, 2006

A bit of history on the making of Needle Felt Hats

What are Needle Felted Hats

Needle felted hats are coming of age. A few years ago Suzzanne Higgs took dry felting techniques to new heights when she turned her needle to felting hats instead of soft sculptures. She designed foam forms for needle felting hat shapes. Now lots of fiber artists are taking up her lead and experimenting with turning wool batt and wool roving into wearable head gear. Some artists use a completely dry felting method, others combine dry and wet felting methods.

True felt is not woven or knit -true felt is a nonwoven fabric created by friction. The friction or agitation binds fibers together. The more tightly the fibers cling to each other the denser and firmer the felt. In wet felting; water, heat, soap, and agitation combine to force the fibers to cling together. Dry felting relies mainly on agitation created by movement of a multi-barbed needle or needles into a mass of fibers. An entirely different method than seen in other current felting trends where a woven, knit or crocheted fabric or items is submitted to agitation/heat;moisture after construction to felt the fabric or item. In any case the felting results a dense, lofty, beefy fabric or item.

Dry, needle felting appeals to many artists because it is less messy and takes fewer steps than wet felting. The ability to put it down and come back later to do more work can be a tremendous advantage. One must however, be able to focus on the work and watch the needles, which are long sharp and cause great damage to human tissue. It really really hurts to get stuck with these needles. Challenges to dry felters are to achieve consistent depth while keeping a smooth overall surface, to get a dense even felt that will not come apart with use, to maintain a firm nice looking edge. Too thin and a dry felted item appears fragile and floppy; too thick it can look bulky and heavy.

Any how this is my understanding and offered up as such. As always comments welcome.

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