Felt is a non woven woolen fabric. It is windproof, water repellant and fire proof. Felt is believed to be the oldest man made fabric. Besides its applications in the world of fashion and, not to be confused with roofing felt, it has many varied modern applications including – damping vibration, cabinet bumpers, stuffed toys, billiard tables, gaskets, insulation, nibs, even as an external cover for tents.
To turn loose wool fibre into felt, one only needs to agitate and compress the wool fibres. Using warm or hot soapy water, or diluted vinegar, accelerates the process.
A technique called nuno felting has been recently developed; this enables one or more fabrics to be incorporated with felt. Felted items made this way can be used in milder weather conditions and fit more comfortably with today’s life style.
Most of my work is hand dyed. It is fascinating to have your own palette. For synthetic dye, I only use acid dye; this is a type of dye that only requires household vinegar to activate it. I am very conscious of the impact of dyeing on dyer, user and environment. I use my best endeavours to ensure the least negative impact.
I am also working with natural dyes. I gather and grow dyeing plants in my garden. Moreover, I buy traditional medical herbs from Chinese herbal shops. Natural dye has been around for thousands of years in China and it is a pity that we may lose this wisdom in this modern world where speed takes precedence.
Although some natural dyes are said to be less colourfast and light fast than synthetic dyes, I believe in the philosophy of integrating my work with mother nature and being ecologically accountable – this is a fundamental part of my pursuit.