The 11,000 year-old technique of felting is given a modern interpretation at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum's exhibition "Fashioning Felt" through September 7, 2009. The exhibit, which showcases felt-woks by more than 25 creatives in the fields of fashion, architecture and product design, explores the origin and unique benefits of felt, as well as past and present interpretations of the medium.
Believed to be the first man-made fabric, felt is composed of wool fibers that have irreversibly locked together on a microscopic level after intense exposure to humidity, friction, and pressure (the word derives from an Indo-European definition of "strike, beat, pound"). Felting can be performed by hand or machine, and results in fabrics that range from stiff, heavy and thick to supple, light and thin.
Making felt is also environmentally sustainable, as practically all raw material is used in the final product and recycled wool can be reincorporated into new felt. It's versatile applications stem from a laundry list of desirable qualities. It is naturally water repellent, windproff, fire retardant, provides excellent insulation, shock and sound absorption, and can be cut without fraying! Pictured above: Palace Yurt Installation (photo: Matt Flynn)
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