Wet felting book review

Oct 21, 2023

"Filzen: Alte Tradition, Modernes Handwerk" (German version)

"Felt: New Directions for an Ancient Craft" (English version)

by Gunilla Paetau Sjöberg

This might be the best book about wet felting I have. And I do have many 😊

It’s over 20 years old, it doesn’t have amazing photos and it has a lot of text. So, it might not be the first book to grab your attention when you look at my bookshelf.

I have it in German, but there’s also an English version.

So then, what makes it so special?

I think it’s the most complete wet felting book I’ve ever seen. I could call it a felting encyclopedia.

Let’s have a look inside, so that you can see what I mean.

It starts with an incredibly complete History of felt and it covers different felting traditions found in Europe and Asia: from hat making in Hungary and shepherd coats in Turkey, to the felt masks worn by the Vikings, and socks and shoes made in Sweden, Norway, and Finland.

It then dives into felting techniques from other cultures: there’s the yurt and rug making in Mongolia, the embroidered felt from Kashmir and the particular rug design from Turkmenistan. 

Then there’s a very complete chapter on wool selecting, washing, dying and carding, as well as wool care.

Only then does the book dive into felting per se. The author talks about the shrinkage rate, how to organize the working space, types of soap, needed tools.

She then jumps into the fulling methods, how to repair the felt when something goes wrong, different ways of applying surface design to the felt and how to felt with machines.

The next chapter is incredibly interesting since it’s about sculpture and relief in wet felting. It also focuses on mask making.

The author then shows us a collection of art objects and goes over to the “useful things in felt”. She starts with clothing and talks about the stitches using in felting. From clothing we go over to hats, to shoes, gloves, and bags.

The next topic is the usage of felt for children’s clothes and toys, and well as its possible role in schools and education.

It's really an incredible book. One of those you come back to again and again.

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