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Let's talk 'Nuno'!

It doesn’t sound very English - so what does ‘nuno’ mean and what has it to do with wet felting?

Developed in the early 90s by Polly Stirling and Sachiko Kotaka, nuno felting combines an open weave textile with wool fibres to form an entirely new fabric. Nuno is the Japanese word for cloth.

In the nuno felting process, wool fibres migrate through the cloth (quite often silk), fusing both together. The resulting fabric is finer than traditional wet felt and therefore is more suitable for lightweight luxurious clothes. Even wedding dresses have been created from this most exciting of felt fabric.

Creating nuno felt takes patience! If the wool fibres haven’t migrated through the textile before the fulling process begins, the end result will be 2 separate textiles - the open weave fabric and a piece of basic felt.

Personally, I love the crinkled effect of nuno felt - produced during the fulling process when the wool fibres shrink but the fabric doesn’t. An open weave natural fabric, such as silk or cotton scrim is ideal for nuno felting. Synthetic fabrics can be used but have less ‘grip’ than natural ones and therefore the wool fibres can easily slip out during the felting process.

The ‘depth’ of crinkles will depend not only on the thickness of the fabric used, but also how open the weave is. Examples below show nuno felt made from a variety of silks and also a thicker ‘Laura Ashley’ cotton. You will see how the silk nuno has finer crinkles thnn the heavier cotton nuno wrinkles.

Sometimes, the wrinkled effect isn’t

desirable at all ….. Laminated, or fine nuno felt uses a fine layer of wool to act as a glue between the silk and possibly a

layer of exotic fibres such as tussah silk or viscose to produce a very fine fabric which drapes beautifully with a lustrous sheen.

Sometimes though, the more wrinkles the merrier! This is especially true when the effect is used in wall hangings and other 3D felt art. The textured effect can also be used as embellishment on items such as bags and scarves.

Felt making really is more than just a bundle of wool fibres! As an aside……. I started buying vintage saris as a source of reasonable priced silk for nuno-felting and went to Delhi to meet my ‘supplier’. That visit in 2016 began my love affair with India and the start of many trips including my inaugural ‘Evans Escapes’ tour with a group of lovely ladies in 2020 …. But that’s another story!

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