Saturday, November 7, 2015

Fabric Construction – Felt[1-3]
Art Resource

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

This is the forty-fifth post in the "Art Resource" series, specifically aimed to construct an appropriate knowledge base in order to develop an artistic voice in ArtCloth.

Other posts in this series are:
Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms
Units Used in Dyeing and Printing of Fabrics
Occupational, Health & Safety
A Brief History of Color
The Nature of Color
Psychology of Color
Color Schemes
The Naming of Colors
The Munsell Color Classification System
Methuen Color Index and Classification System
The CIE System
Pantone - A Modern Color Classification System
Optical Properties of Fiber Materials
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part I
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part II
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part III
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part IV
General Properties of Fiber Polymers and Fibers - Part V
Protein Fibers - Wool
Protein Fibers - Speciality Hair Fibers
Protein Fibers - Silk
Protein Fibers - Wool versus Silk
Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Cotton
Cellulosic Fibers (Natural) - Linen
Other Natural Cellulosic Fibers
General Overview of Man-Made Fibers
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Viscose
Man-Made Cellulosic Fibers - Esters
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Nylon
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Polyester
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Acrylic and Modacrylic
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Olefins
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Elastomers
Man-Made Synthetic Fibers - Mineral Fibers
Man Made Fibers - Other Textile Fibers
Fiber Blends
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part I
From Fiber to Yarn: Overview - Part II
Melt-Spun Fibers
Characteristics of Filament Yarn
Yarn Classification
Direct Spun Yarns
Textured Filament Yarns
Fabric Construction - Felt
Fabric Construction - Nonwoven fabrics
A Fashion Data Base
Fabric Construction - Leather
Fabric Construction - Films
Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins
Fabric Construction – Foams and Poromeric Material
Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns
Weaving and the Loom
Similarities and Differences in Woven Fabrics
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part I)
The Three Basic Weaves - Plain Weave (Part II)
The Three Basic Weaves - Twill Weave
The Three Basic Weaves - Satin Weave
Figured Weaves - Leno Weave
Figured Weaves – Piqué Weave
Figured Fabrics
Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements
Crêpe Fabrics
Crêpe Effect Fabrics
Pile Fabrics - General
Woven Pile Fabrics
Chenille Yarn and Tufted Pile Fabrics
Knit-Pile Fabrics
Flocked Pile Fabrics and Other Pile Construction Processes
Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms
Napped Fabrics – Part I
Napped Fabrics – Part II
Double Cloth
Multicomponent Fabrics
Knit-Sew or Stitch Through Fabrics
Finishes - Overview
Finishes - Initial Fabric Cleaning
Mechanical Finishes - Part I
Mechanical Finishes - Part II
Additive Finishes
Chemical Finishes - Bleaching
Glossary of Scientific Terms
Chemical Finishes - Acid Finishes
Finishes: Mercerization
Finishes: Waterproof and Water-Repellent Fabrics
Finishes: Flame-Proofed Fabrics
Finishes to Prevent Attack by Insects and Micro-Organisms
Other Finishes
Shrinkage - Part I
Shrinkage - Part II

There are currently eight data bases on this blogspot, namely, the Glossary of Cultural and Architectural Terms, Timelines of Fabrics, Dyes and Other Stuff, A Fashion Data Base, the Glossary of Colors, Dyes, Inks, Pigments and Resins, the Glossary of Fabrics, Fibers, Finishes, Garments and Yarns, Glossary of Art, Artists, Art Motifs and Art Movements, Glossary of Paper, Photography, Printing, Prints and Publication Terms and the Glossary of Scientific Terms, which has been updated to Version 3.5. All data bases will be updated from time-to-time in the future.

If you find any post on this blog site useful, you can save it or copy and paste it into your own "Word" document etc. for your future reference. For example, Safari allows you to save a post (e.g. click on "File", click on "Print" and release, click on "PDF" and then click on "Save As" and release - and a PDF should appear where you have stored it). Safari also allows you to mail a post to a friend (click on "File", and then point cursor to "Mail Contents On This Page" and release). Either way, this or other posts on this site may be a useful Art Resource for you.

The Art Resource series will be the first post in each calendar month. Remember - these Art Resource posts span information that will be useful for a home hobbyist to that required by a final year University Fine-Art student and so undoubtedly, some parts of any Art Resource post may appear far too technical for your needs (skip over those mind boggling parts) and in other parts, it may be too simplistic with respect to your level of knowledge (ditto the skip). The trade-off between these two extremes will mean that Art Resource posts will hopefully be useful in parts to most, but unfortunately may not be satisfying to all!

A fabric is a structure made from fibers, from yarns or from non-fibrous substances (e.g. plastics, rubber, metal etc.) Of these, the fabrics made from yarns are more complex and usually more expensive than those made directly from fibers or non-fibrous materials. Fabrics are usually pliable and they can be made into garments, fitted over furniture frames, or used in the home and industry for specific purposes.

The fabric construction charts give an overview of the many methods used to make fabrics. There are many variations on each method.

Fabric Construction Chart.

Felt refers to fabrics made from wool, whereas nonwoven applies to fabrics made from other fibers. In both the felting and the nonwoven processes, the fabric is made directly from the fiber.

True felt is a mat or web of wool or part of wool fibers held together by the interlocking of the scales of the wool fibers.

Felting is one of the oldest methods of making fabrics. Legend has it that it was discovered accidently. As men prepared for long journeys, they protected their feet by putting carded wool in the bottoms of their sandals. When they removed the wool it was a firm mass, created because of the heat, moisture, and pressure from their feet which made the wool fibres into a fabric. Primitive peoples reproduced this process by washing wool fleece, spreading it out while still wet and beating it until it had matted and shrunk together in fabric-like form. In the modern process layers of fiber webs are built up until the desired thickness is attained and then heat, soap, and vibration are used to mat the fibers together and to shrink or full the cloth. Finishing processes for felt resemble those for woven fabrics.

C. Dorfler, felted garment with corrosion patterns inspired from fragments of Iron-age textiles found in Hallstatt (Austria).
Courtesy of C. Dorfler.

Felt can be made from fur, cotton, rayon or other man-made fibres, mixed with wool as well as wool only. Felted fabrics are not as strong as those made by weaving, since the fibers are not as securely fastened together. Felts may also pucker when exposed to moisture and are seldom washable. They can be easily shaped for hats and slippers. Because there are no threads to unravel, felt is ideal for circular skirts, scarves and household uses that do not require hemming of seam finishing.

In 1992 Polly Stirling - a fiber artist from NSW, Australia – developed nuno (Japanese for cloth) felting. The technique bonds loose fiber, usually wool, into a sheer fabric such as silk gauze, thereby creating a lightweight felt that can either completely cover the background fabric or may be used as a decorative design and so permit the backing cloth to be revealed. It often incorporates several combined layers of loose fibers in order to build up color, texture, and/or design elements in the finished cloth.

Polly Stirling’s Nuno Felted Dress - Butterfly.

The nuno felting process is in particular suited for the creation of lightweight fabrics used to make wearable art such as scarves and skirts etc. The use of silk or other stable fabric in the felt creates a fabric that is resilient and with the incorporation of other background felting fabrics - such as nylon, muslin or other open weave fabrics - can result in a wide range of textural effects and colors.

Nuno Felted Scarves@Felted Pleasure.
Material: Super fine Australian merino wool, tencel.
Color: Multicolored fabrics.
Approximate Dimension: 166 cm (length) x 39 cm (width).
Courtesy: Felted Pleasure.

Needled Felts
Fibers, which have no directional frictional properties need to be mechanically entangled in order to form felts. This is done using barbed needles.

The products of needle felting are used for carpets, under-felts, upholstery and blankets and in industrial applications.

Needle punching. The barbed needle tangles together some fibers from each layer of the web.

Cross-section of a needle-punched bonded fabric. The upper layer is dyed cuprammonium staple, the lower is modacrylic staple.

[1] A Fritz and J. Cant, Consumer Textiles, Oxford University Press, Melbourne (1986).
[2] E. J. Gawne, Fabrics for Clothing, 3rd Edition, Chas. A. Bennett Co., Peoria (1973).
[3] N. Hollen and J. Saddler, Textiles, 3rd Edition, MacMillan Company, London (1968).

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