Felting and nuno-felting
Felt(ing) is one of the earliest forms of textile processing. Asian nomadic tribes started spreading all over the continent thousands of years ago. Wool becomes felt when it is subjected to moisture, heat, and pressure. Hot soapy water makes the wool slippery, and causes tiny scales on the fiber to “open up”. The scales prevent the fibers from backing up again after they slide across each other; with agitation, the fibers get hopelessly tangled together.
Nuno-felt(ing): Nuno means “woven fabric” in Japanese. The technique was
discovered by the Australian Polly Sterling and named by her
Japanese assistant. Nuno felt is a woven fabric with one or more layers of wool and natural fibers such as silk, cotton and viscose felted together. The combination of wool in thin layers and silk gives a very light and airy, sometimes even sheer fabric.
The wool is split in small quantities and applied in thin layers on the chiffon silk basis, creating the desirable patterning. When the surface of the basis is covered with the required wool then the whole scarf is poured with hot soapy water and covered either with a thin cotton cloth or with thin plastic. Then it is rubbed, at the start softly and later harder, up to the point that the wool is nearly affixed to the silk basis. After that the scarf, as it is wet, is wrapped in two towels, one inside and the other one is rolled outside. It is fulled (rolled) on a flat surface and continuously poured with hot water till the wool is completely attached to the silk basis and the scarf has taken the desirable dimensions. Sometimes it is also needed to throw the scarf on the table in order to become firmer. At the end it is rinsed changing between warm and cold water. The whole process contributes in shrinking the scarf in an irreversible way to create a mat that can’t be separated!
For more photos during the process: nuno-felted scarf -She’s like a Rainbow- during the process…:-)
She’s like a Rainbow by Rolling Stones