A material-led investigation into the creative potential of British 'waste' wools for fine craft felt-making

Clay, E.S (2013) A material-led investigation into the creative potential of British 'waste' wools for fine craft felt-making. PhD thesis, Bath Spa University.

E S Clay PhD Thesis.pdf

Download (73MB) | Preview


This thesis describes the practical investigation and analysis of traditional materials and processes used in the production of hand made felt. Specifically, the research examines the potential of certain British wool types that are currently undervalued (and often overlooked in the production of fine craft felt). These wools are frequently referred to as ‘waste’ wools. The research further explores aspects of the UK’s wool economy and the problematic issue of waste wool. The aim being to locate and articulate the creative potential of a selection of these wools within the field of fine felt craft practice, and in so doing raise an awareness of their potential diversity and relevance. The investigation questions felt’s marginal status within the textile hierarchy, and problematizes notions of the familial and self-conscious attributed to felt craft by some of its makers. By examining distinctions between craft and industrial felt production, the research considers both the opportunities and limitations of these relationships within the context of designer maker practice. The purpose and focus of this material-led examination is to develop inventive, progressive methods in fine felt craft and couture application seeking material currency with appropriate use of waste wools for handwork production. The practical experimentation was conducted using a practice-led research approach through which materials and sampling methods emerged within a studio-based environment. The study focuses on the use of carding, wet and dry felting and post felting manipulation of surface design using hand-pleating applications. Whilst not specifically suggesting new techniques in felt-making, the modification of existing processes has formed a central part of the contribution to new knowledge created within the work. Therefore the qualitative nature of the research methodology establishes a new perspective on both the value and integrity of British waste wools for the production of fine craft felt-making. The portfolio of fabrics produced confirmed the suitability of materials for fine craft felt-making and further suggested their appropriateness for product development and use. The fabric prototypes and exposition collection evidence new design concepts, situating the practical investigations in a cultural and critical context and in so doing reposition the material in a more valuable and original light. The sampling process identified key areas for innovation and aesthetic appeal suggesting that further research could be developed using other wools and wool blends. From this thesis emerges a vibrant platform for fresh interpretation and potential for British waste wools in fine craft felt-making, further strengthening the creative interplay between material and technique.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of Bath Spa University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Subjects: N Fine Arts > NK Decorative arts Applied arts Decoration and ornament
Divisions: Bath School of Design
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.17870/bathspa.00001734
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2013 12:35
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2023 13:30
URI / Page ID: https://researchspace.bathspa.ac.uk/id/eprint/1734
Request a change to this item or report an issue Request a change to this item or report an issue
Update item (repository staff only) Update item (repository staff only)