It was love at first sight for me, because of its density and thickness and its vibrant colours, but a number of the reasons to love this beautiful, non-woven wool fabric are invisible.

tom_roberts_-_shearing_the_rams_-_google_art_project

  1.  It’s a renewable resource. Sheep continually grow their wonderful woolly coats which are sheared each spring.
  2.  It’s naturally fire resistant and is self extinguishing.  If you hold a match to genuine, 100% wool felt it will start to burn — but if you take the lit match away the fire on the felt will smoulder and go out on its own.
  3.   It has high thermal insulating properties and this is what makes wool felt brilliant for a tea cosy.  (It is also extremely sound absorbing but that probably doesn’t matter for tea cosies.)
  4.   It’s naturally water repellent — spilt tea, for instance, will first bead on the surface of wool felt giving one the opportunity to quickly blot it up.
  5.   However it can absorb liquid four times its weight which make me think it would make a good door mat — if it wasn’t so pricey ;)  It also means wool felt makes great shoe inserts — insulating and absorbing the sweat or dampness.  Unlike anything polyester (plastic).
  6.   The European 100% wool felt that FoTC uses is the best in the world. Unlike made-in-you-know-where felt which, in my experience, can be easily shredded, this European felt is manufactured to the very highest quality and they’ve been making it for over a century.
  7.   It’s manufactured in an eco friendly manner. The thick, colourful European felt is made to Oeko-Tex 100 standards which mean its manufacturing creates no toxic waste. Children could chew on it and live to tell — although not recommended!
  8.   Frankly it just feels great.  It has a wonderful soft yet sturdy hand-feel which is an important quality for items we touch on a daily basis.

Felt cleaning A

Some interesting things that are (or were before being replaced by a plastic fabric) made of 100% wool felt are:

  • shoe inserts
  • piano hammers, bass drum strikers and timpani mallets
  • chalk board erasers
  • music cassette tapes — a tiny cube held the tape to the sound head
  • roofing felt
  • shoulder pads
  • Valenki — a type of traditional Russian footwear which are warm and dry and with good traction for walking on dry snow when the weather is frosty.
  • In the automotive industry it has been used to dampen the vibrations between interior panels and also to stop dirt entering into some ball/cup joints
  • for framing paintings — laid between the slip mount and picture as a protective measure to avoid damage from rubbing to the edge of the painting.
  • in millinary — many hats including fedoras
  • horse saddle felt
  • house and sound insulation batting — still being done

chalkboard_duster  borsalino_fedora

timpani_sticks

When I was in England a few years ago I came across a fascinating book on the felt industry there.  The industry, like so many, is now pretty much gone.  While some of the reasons the industry disappeared may be considered short-sighted it is certainly true that most industry has a finite life-span before something new — sometimes something wonderful — comes along and replaces it, changing the labour demographics and economies of towns and even nations.  Plus ça change…n’est-ce que pas?

the-felt-industry-book-cover

But wool felt has experienced a recent resurgance in the design and DIY fields.  Beautiful furniture and household wares — including tea cosies, french press coffee cosies, mug warmers (!) — as well as fashion items are available and can be found through quick, easy internet searches.  (Try duckduckgo.com for non-tracked searches.)  For a great collection of contemporary wool felt pieces by designers and artists (ahem, including flockofteacosy.com) you might be interested in this Sydney Morning Herald piece from a few years ago.

Modern tea cozy in Burnt Orange wool felt Modern Mug Cosy Purple  Neu Coffee Cozy in Industrial Fel

Flock of Tea Cosy’s shop.