History of Needle Felting

October 6, 2021 0 Comments

You can use felt to create anything, from vehicles and instruments to picture lines and pads to pad and make folders. But, the most interesting and exciting use of felt is to make dolls or sculptures. Dry felting is a popular way to make animals. This is because wool can be used to replicate their fluffy hair and hide. The needle felting process transforms wool into realistic-looking animals, food, and trees.

Felting is a term that most people associate with wet felting. Felt was created around 5000-4000 BC, when wool-producing sheep were domesticated. Because sheep were the first domesticated animals, they were kept primarily for their meat, milk and skin. This changed when sheep were kept for their wool which was used in making clothes.

In the 1800s, needle felting was first discovered. In 1859, the first patent for a needle punching machine was issued. These machines were originally designed to create padding and striking from soldiers’ haircuts, meat fibers, and other materials. The alternative method of needle felting to make felted fabric was not using soap or water.

The felting industry produced felt for many purposes, including carpet underlay, car carpets, and other uses. The tennis ball is the most well-known product of felting. A felted covering is used for the tennis ball. It has specific properties.
Eleanor and David Stanwood, who had moved from California to Martha’s Vineyard in the 1980s, worked with Belgian felt producers. A few textile mills still processing wool in their carding machines were owned by the felt makers.

With the advent of cotton and manufactured fibers, the history of fleece usage was slowly changing. The ranchers didn’t know how to manage their fleece. The ranchers started by making fleece batts for blankets and sofas. However, they also tried other things with their tools. Eleanor and David wanted to make light batting to use in quilts and comforters. Eleanor purchased felting needles at the mills and made felt with them. She is a creative individual and has developed many different types of felt-based products, including quilts and wraps.

Ayala Tapai, a Californian textile artist, came across these felting needles through some means. A friend had given Ayala a few needles and also gave her a needle punch machine. A friend gave Ayala a few needles and a machine to use in her kitchen. Birgitte Krag Hansen, a Danish felt craftman, learned the process through Ayala. Birgitte was making sculptural felt using the wet felting technique. This technique can be used to create three-dimensional primary pieces.
The process quickly spread throughout Scandinavia.

The art spread from the North Sea to the UK, with trolls and fairies and pixies all over the world. With some examples from Japan, needle felting is on the verge of achieving the same fame as wet felting.

This technique was slowly adopted by the rest of the world. Some fiber artists were the first to incorporate it into their work and pass the knowledge on to others. Many artists were familiar with wet felting before it was popularized. This is how needle felting became popular around the globe.

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