felting adventures


Here’s this weeks experiments with scrap felt. Don’t ever use permanent marker! I also learned that the shoe pattern should be cut just a little tight because the felt is going to give just a bit.

I’m having a lot of fun adventures with researching felt techniques and then trying them out right now. Going back to my fascination with having warm feet I’m working on patterning and stitching skills to recreate a type of shoes dated from between 4th -1000ad found in Chinese Turkistan. I’m excited because some of the earliest felt found shares the same technique with these shoes which in turn are similiar to traditionally produced felt quilted pieces made by the Torgut people of Mongolia to this day. I have seen pictures of Mongolian felts in gers that basically look like Italian trapunto (sp?) where you have a running stitch making the outline of the pattern thru out the piece. I wish now I had saved a pictured of it cause I haven’t been able to find it again. Actually, just now I thought to pick up my copy of “Feltmaking and Wool Magic” and there in the back on page 120 is a picture in the middle of the page that says “Quilting (Mongolia-Torgut Tribe…”. All the embroidery discussion has excited me and I decided to make something using it. A similiar technique is being used by Hungarian felt artists for hats and other felts sold to the reenactment community but I’ve been unable to track down any direct documentation so it’s hard to know if this style is based the school of thought that the Magyars shared a culture with the Urghurs or if somewhere there is an extant object to base them on. I’m just dying to know!
http://collections.vam.ac.uk/objectid/O88584; has a picture of a shoe excavated from a fort/outpost along the Silk Road which is id’d as being from between 400-1000 ad. The scale patterning on it in running stitch is the exact same pattern as on the small sample on page 120 of “Feltmaking and Wool Magic”. How’s that for interesting??? I worked yesterday to modify the clog pattern from a packet I had ordered from Simpleshoemaking.com earlier in the year and now that I have made a pair of shoes similar to these out of scrap felt I’m ready to take the next step and make some that are much better (I hope). If you type in Stein into the search field (Bless you V!!! ) it brings up all the fellow’s finds which include some amazing fabric pieces and silk banners but also more shoes. Based on the uniformity of design and pieces found I’m going out on a limb here to say that you could argue for leather bottoms that could be snipped off and replaced as needed. There are also a few shoes that are felt quilted between plainwoven wool fabric that are interesting as well. Now though to track down the history of Mongolian “quilting” on felt! Since the finds of woven shoes outnumber the finds of felted shoes you almost have to wonder if the felt shoes could have been a trade item? This comes to mind that there must have been a Mongolian felt trade due to Mongolian felt rugs being found both in Tibetan monasteries and collections in Japan http://www.tcoletribalrugs.com/chinese-art-pics/chineserugarti.html. It’s something I’d like to explore further.

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One thought on “felting adventures

  1. julie@greatwool.com

    Nice blog post. I love felting techniques even more so now that I have a Hungarian daughter-in-law. There’s a great cultural museum in Budapest that’s full of classic costumes where color and patterns identitfied families. I too have dreams of felting coats by hand but think I’d need a small army of 16 year olds with strong shoulders to do it all!
    I don’t know where you are located but Shepherds Harvest Festival in MN has a Kazakh Yurt coming and the owner – who I guess has studied Mongolian felting techniques will be giving demos.
    Thanks for your thorough presentation.

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