Felt is a textile. It is not woven or knitted but is a constructed fabric - the earliest known to humans. Felt can be made by machine or hand and develops when wool (or other natural fibres) are tangled up. I prefer using merino wool as it felts together more quickly than other varieties, sometimes incorporating fibres such as silk to develop designs onto the surface.
Each wool fibre has a series of overlapping scales. When you pour hot water onto the wool fibres, the scales open up. Then, when you rub it, the scales interlock and close up tighter than ever. The wool's waxy coating gives felt a water-resistant quality.
About the Feltmaker - Avigail Ochert
I'm an MA qualified artist educator and former teacher and have been running art workshops since 2001. I combine my feltmaking practice with work as an environmental educator based at Kew Gardens.I've worked with a wide range of participants including schoolchildren of all ages and abilities, young offenders, the elderly, children/young people and adults with specail needs, family groups, refugees and a charity supporting bereaved children. My workshops take place in many settings, from schools to community centres, museums, galleries and outdoor spaces.
Feltmaking and creativity
I am passionate about developing children's creativity: my workshops engage learners on many levels and are sufficiently open-ended to allow children to make creative choices. Participants may explore a theme selected by your learning setting, for example, I have led feltmaking workshops based on the four seasons, healthy eating, happiness, environmental issues, and concerns around identity. I enable younger users to explore colour and texture through a multisensory approach. I often take children's drawings or designs as a starting point and I teach older children and young people how to develop their drawings into handmade felt using a painterly technique I have developed. Students have worked with me to create hanging felted panels as well as using 3D techniques, sometimes combining feltmaking with centrecane or other structures to explore form. Where it's appropriate I encourage an experimental, mixed-media approach, for example incorporating other fibres into felt and stitching into it. Workshops usually end with a mini-exhibition, allowing time for reflection. Artwork I've created with participants has been exhibited in schools, galleries and outdoor spaces. Each project I work on is unique, tailored to the needs of participants and I aim to encourage each child individually, enabling them to learn and apply new skills in a fun environment.