Felt is a textile material that is produced by matting, condensing and pressing fibers together. Felt can be made of natural fibers such as wool or animal fur, or from synthetic fibers such as petroleum-based acrylic or acrylonitrile or wood pulp-based rayon. Blended fibers are also common.
Wooden rolling pin used during the wet felting process
In the wet felting process, hot water is applied to layers of animal hairs, while repeated agitation and compression causes the fibers to hook together or weave together into a single piece of fabric. Wrapping the properly arranged fiber in a sturdy, textured material, such as a bamboo mat or burlap, will speed up the felting process. The felted material may be finished by fulling.
Only certain types of fiber can be wet felted successfully. Most types of fleece, such as those taken from the alpaca or the Merino sheepcan be put through the wet felting process. One may also use mohair (goat), angora (rabbit),or hair from rodents such as beavers and muskrats. These types of fiber are covered in tiny scales, similar to the scales found on a strand of human hair.Heat, motion, and moisture of the fleece causes the scales to open, while agitating them causes them to latch onto each other, creating felt. There is an alternative theory that the fibers wind around each other during felting.Plant fibers and synthetic fibers will not wet felt.