What Is Nuno Felting?
Nuno felting involves the bonding of sheep's wool into a sheer fabric like silk gauze. The resulting felt is lightweight but tough with dynamic surface textures created from a variety of fibers.
This unique method of felting was first invented by Polly Stirling, a trailblazing textile artist.
Who Is Polly Stirling?
Polly Stirling is a Nimbin-based artist who started making felt over 25 years ago and is at the forefront of the development and growth of the art form in Australia.
She is a contemporary feltmaker and inventor of the nuno felting technique. In her creative endeavors, Polly draws inspiration from nature.
The Invention of the Nuno Felting Technique
During her early experimentations, Polly Stirling invented a clever technique based on her personal experiences, paintings and poems. Working mostly with natural fiber fabrics, she combined wool and silk in 50/50 ratio in a process known as carding.
The mechanical process of carding involved cleaning, intermixing or disentangling fibers to make a continuous web. During the process the fiber is passed between different moving surfaces.
Polly Stirling later reversed the process, putting wool into the fabric, which produced conglomerated felt. The resulting material is what she called "nuno felt".
What Is Felting?
Felt is a popular textile material achieved through matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Common fibers used in felting are sheep's wool, synthetic, natural fibers or blended fibers.
Common synthetic fibers include petroleum-based fibers, rayon or wood pulp. The felt textile is very versatile and has fire-retardant and self-extinguishing properties that make it perfect for a wide variety of uses and applications.
The History of Felt
The history of felt is not exactly known, but by the 7th to 2nd century BC, evidence of felt was found in Mongolia and Siberia.
Apart from felt found in their tombs, the people applied the technique to horse blankets, jewelry, clothing, wall art and blankets. Nomadic movement later introduced felt to other regions of central Asia.
Different types of Felt Fabrics
There are different types of felt fabrics based on material or the manufacturing process. These include:
- Pressed felt
- Needled felt
- Woven felt
- Fur felt
- Acrylic felt
- Rayon felt
- Wool felt
Pressed felt is one of the oldest materials around, it is produced from compressed fiber and used as a filter.
A common type of felt is pressed wool felt manufactured through a mechanical pressing of pressure, heat or moisture to produce densely interlocked wool fibers.
Needled felt is a process whereby thousands of needles are used to intertwine the felt fibers together to form a compacted homogeneous material.
The technique associated with woven felt is the weaving of yarn and wool fiber into a cloth. It is then felted under pressure and stream, which interlock the fibers making it extremely strong and durable.
Fur felt is made from smooth animal hair like rabbit or beaver. This pressed felt has a non-woven textile surface and is common in hats.
Acrylic felt comes in a wide variety of colors; they are not as soft as wool and will melt when exposed to heat.
Rayon is a semi-synthetic fabric made from dissolved cellulose, which is converted to an insoluble fiber cellulose that look like silk.
Needle Felting Kit
Wool felt is non-woven and involves wool roving, heat, moisture and an agitator. They are compacted together tightly to form pure wool felt.
What Are the Tools l Need for Felting?
The tools you need for felting depends on the type of felt you want to produce. However, the basic tools are:
- felt needles
- core wool
- a pad
For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.
- Which type of Felting did Polly Stirling invent?
- Nuno Felt
- Woven felt,
- Pressed felt
- Which felt is a semi-synthetic fiber
- Nuno Felt
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This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.