In Reviews & Recommendations

Last month when I was in NYC, I was fortunate enough to visit the Cooper-Hewitt exhibit entitled Fashioning Felt. It runs through September 7th and I highly recommend it!

I couldn’t resist picking up this book about the exhibit in the gift shop as well as this amazing felt sea anemone brooch by Vacide Erda Zimic from Peru.

The description from the Cooper-Hewitt website:

This exhibition will explore the varied new uses of felt—an ancient material, believed to be one of the earliest techniques for making textiles. Made by matting together wool fibers with humidity and friction, felting requires little technological expertise and is an extremely versatile material. The exhibition will begin with historic examples of felts, showcase innovations in handmade felts, and feature contemporary uses of industrial felt in a range of fields, including product design, fashion, architecture, and home furnishings. The exhibition is being organized by Susan Brown, assistant curator, Textiles.

Do yourself a favor, if you have any interest in felt or felting, you’ve got to at least take a moment to visit the museum’s website to view the photography of the artwork.

The only part of the show I was allowed to photograph was the felt yurt in the conservatory. Yurt. Isn’t that a great word?

This is called the Palace Yurt by fiber artist Janice Arnold. She used the technique of felting wool fibers through sheer drapey silk fabrics for a translucent ethereal result. This technique is sometimes referred to as nuno felting.

The exhibit blog has a video of The Making of the Palace Yurt which is truly amazing. You can also watch Martha Stewart take you behind the scenes of the exhibit as she had Curator Susan Brown and designer Janice Arnold on the Martha Stewart Show last month.

This kind of felting is a lot of work but I’m itching to try it sometime! Today I saw a book at Borders called Uniquely Felt by Christine White (no relation!) that has some very detailed how-to’s.

Have you been to this exhibit? Have you tried nuno felting?



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Showing 20 comments
  • Sonja

    OMGoodness, Betz, my kindred wooly & word spirit- I about fell out of my chair when you wrote, “Yurt, isn’t that a great word?” I’m a total word nerd, and work in our county Building dept. This past week I checked over some plans for a yurt. All day long I went around saying, “Yurt, say it, it’s so fun!” Came home and told my hub, let’s build a YURT! Too funny.. The felt show sounds wonderful. Oh to be close enough to go. Thanks for the photos to ooh over.
    P.S. – I love your new book!

  • Jodie

    Hi Betz,
    I have nuno felted once before – great reds and oranges into some black tissue silk.
    It is a lot of work but the end result is pretty impressive.

  • HomeSweet Jenny

    Wow… That is incredible! Thanks for sharing!

  • Susan Brown

    I love the picture of the little girl lying on the bench, reading. Thanks for showing the exhibit as a place where you can relax and have fun with your kids!

  • Betz White

    Welcome Susan Brown! Thanks for the comment. We had a great time. If you email me I have another great shot of the reading girl for you (she’s my niece).

  • Marisa

    Wow, that installation looks really super cool. Thanks for the photos.

  • Potiron

    Thank you so much for posting about this exhibit and the museum, I’m going to NYC in 2 weeks and I’m adding it to the list of things I want to do!!!! Plus it’s in my old school’s neighborhood, I’ll couple it with a trip down memory lane!!!!


  • Felt Sew Good

    I’m envious that you got to see this exhibit! I saw a piece on the exhibit, and an interview with the artist Janice Arnold, on the Martha Stewart Show. Then I had to go to the museum website and check it out further. It looks really amazing!

  • Eduardo Miguel

    It is very good for seeing the good examples of the good transformations in independent art of the material, art is always art and who makes it and practises with love and passion always makes it well but it has cases as its work that surpass the espectativas, congratulations of Brazil.

  • Cris

    Your blog is really amazing :O

  • Georgia

    I saw this advertised somewhere and thought I REALLY should go. Now I will.

  • Carrie

    My friend has an Etsy shop (kneek.etsy.com) where she sometimes sells nuno felted scarves. They are beautiful! I haven’t done it yet personally, but I want to make some curtains for the kitchen using the technique :)

  • gingerbread stars

    It is nice to connect with materials and techniques that have been around for so many years. Seeing the past and reinventing it for the future. Great pictures!

  • Karen L R

    Love your blog. I’ve heard from several friends about this amazing exhibit, and even though I am not a city girl, I may put myself on the train and get myself down to NYC to see it.

    I’m hosting a fabric giveaway over at my blog, check out my Friday posting for details. I think part of being green is sharing…

  • Janice Arnold

    It is a pleasure to hear the positive responses to my Palace Yurt installation at the Cooper-Hewitt!

    Just for the record, I don’t really consider any part of my work or technique to be “Nuno” felting. While this is a common term used by a lot of people, I think it is a bit misleading. I prefer to use the more descriptive word ‘hybrid’ for the process. “Nuno” is actually a Japanese word meaning fabric, as well as the name of a Japanese corporation founded in 1984, manufacturing a wide range of textiles.

  • Betz White

    Welcome Janice! Thanks for your comment. I apologize about the “nuno” felting reference. I hesitated to write it because I knew I hadn’t seen the term used anywhere in the exhibit. However, I wanted my share the term with my readers so that they could have a way to find how-to books and other info on the topic.

    Thanks so much for the clarification!

  • Janice Arnold

    Hi Betz, No need to apologize at all… it is a commonly used term, and the word is mentioned in the Fashioning Felt catalog.

    The English language just doesn’t have enough words for Felt and the felting process. In Central Asia, the motherland of Felt, there are thousands of terms to describe the various steps and variations.

  • Elmtree

    Thank you very much for putting up the links to the amazing exhibition , being in New Zealand ,I hadn’t heard about it. I have been a felter for about 10 years now , and I agree with the’ magic’ quality of felt. We also use the term Nuno felt here in NZ , describing the fusing of open weave fabrics with wool. We have a southern hemisphere felters convergence coming up in September , whereby we meet with many Australian felters for a whole glorious week of exchanging and donating demonstrations to each other. I believe around 140 will be attending. Ofcourse we are very fortunate to have so much raw material here!

  • red2white

    Betz, thanks for this interesting info. I have read about this exhibition a lot and would love to have the catalogue, can you recommend to me where to buy one? I ma in Scotland so would have to order on-line. Many thanks in advance!

  • Heather

    I’m finally going next weekend. I can’t wait to see it!

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