An ancient fabric, felt was a lucrative end-product of the North American fur trade. But its uses go far beyond beaver hats.
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Felt is an ancient material that helped propel the economy of the New World thanks to its popularity during the early fur trade.
Now, an online exhibition is exploring the history of this versatile material. Beaver Hats to Hockey Pads, presented by Kathryn Walter of FELT studio in Toronto, looks at the many historical and cultural uses of felt.
Felt is created by pressing animal fibres until they latch together, and is the oldest known textile.
During the fur trade era, felt from beaver furs was especially prized by hatters thanks to its lustrous qualities. Since the nineteenth century, felt has largely been manufactured from wool. And more recently, felters have utilized synthetic materials such as rayon and acrylic.
Thanks to its elasticity and absorbency, felt became an important engineering material as countries embraced industrialization. It also remains a popular material in art and design. Explore the online exhibition at FeltStudio.com.
Neevingatah (meaning “something to hang” in Inuktitut) is an art form unique to Canada that emerged in the 1950s with the Arctic Co-op movement. The neevingatah wall hangings typically feature felt appliquéd pictures. This piece, titled, Young Woman,...