An Art Form Most People Just Don’t Know About


Funny, I don’t even keep up with writing my own blog, because it takes me so long to organize my thoughts and formulate my words, but when a fellow textile artist asked me to be a guest writer for her blog, I rose to the task. I wrote a short blog on felting, which is what I do — on my days, nights and weekends. And since I took the time to write it for her I would like to share it with you as well.

A little background first.

I recently met Roxane Lessa, an extraordinary quilt artist, at the Piedmont Crafts show  in Winston Salem, North Carolina. I was a ‘wanna be’ so this was my ‘in person’ jury trial. She said she saw me walking around in the most intriguing felted creations, and had to check out my work. Turns out she bought one of my felted tops that was just too perfect for her in every way.  I was flattered she bought the top, and I was flattered that she asked me to guest write for her blog.

Nuno Felting: What It Is and What It Takes to Do It

Not many people know about Felt or the Art of Felt making. While some people have a vague childhood recollection of what felt is, the image they conjure up is one of a material that is stiff and non pliable. This is a far cry from the felt that is made today for fine art to wear garments.

I have been making felted art wear for 5 years now, and before that I was a painter for 25 years.

Felting is the oldest non woven material known. It dates back to 500 BC. Nuno felting is somewhat similar to traditional wet felting but can produce very different results. By manipulating a minimum amount of loose wool fiber through a loosely  woven base, a felted fabric with characteristics quite different than traditional felt occur. My nuno felt is very lightweight, with wonderful drape and flexibility. I often work with many different types of materials besides silk enabling me to get a wide variety of unique textural effects.I love the dyeing the wool and silks. Not only does it take advantage of my ability to use color but I get to create colors and patterns that are my own, just like when I painted.

Here are a few of the steps in the felting process.

Felting collage

Developing the color palette and making the dyes for the wool and silk:

felting color palette

The painted silk- over 4 yards of it:

painted silk

Laying the wool on the silk very lightly:

wool on silk

The wool is laid out and wetted , ready to roll.

This table is 56 inches wide.

The finished piece after hours of rolling, rubbing, kneading, throwing, shrinking, and  shaping. The Reward is  a beautifully designed, ever so soft Nuno Felted shawl.

Elynn Bernstein in felted jacket

Felting is an adventure. You just never know exactly how a piece is going to come out,  I guess if I did – it wouldn’t be the kind of art I would want to pursue.

Please visit my website to see more of my work .

I would like to say a few words about The Piedmont Craftsman Guild.

This guild does a very cool thing. They allow a perspective member, one who has passed the first jury hurdle ( photos of their work), the opportunity to set up their booth and sell their wares. The artist gets the chance to experience the show first hand, meet the clientele,  sense the atmosphere, and see the quality of the other artists in the show. On the flip side, it gives the jurying committee the chance to view the work the artists’ work in person.

I am pleased to report,  I did get into the Guild  and look forward to participating in future shows. This Guild has a sense of humor, and does things with style. They throw a wonderful catered opening night party with music,  gifts and awards. They have a sense of humor- evident, even in the guidelines they put forth for setting up your booth. They had me laughing when reading the absolutely dry material for complying with show rules- not an easy read.

5 Responses to “An Art Form Most People Just Don’t Know About”

    • amanostudios

      yes most people do not have any idea how felt is made and photos can help a bit. Of course what is pictured is only the beginning of a very long laborious , other wise known as a labor of love.

  1. Maria Sachs

    I have very recently started to get very involved with felting and came across your work on the World of Wool site. It’s very special and very inspiring.
    Maria Sachs
    American living in Switzerland


Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)