Cur­rents

An an­cient fab­ric, felt was a lu­cra­tive end-prod­uct of the North Amer­i­can fur trade. But its uses go far beyond beaver hats.

Canada's History - - CONTENTS -

Heart­felt his­tory. Brush Strokes: Emily Carr’s Van­quished. Mu­seum re­vamp makes his­tory. Putting the First World War un­der a lens. Con­nect­ing with Canada.

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,...

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