Felt and the Arts: Celebrating the Uses of Felt in Design, Framing, Conservation and More

Scene of quaint house and colorful landscape created with needle felt.

October is National Arts & Humanities Month. In honor of this official celebration, the Booth Felt Co. Inc. is sharing some of the excellent ways that our felt rolls, felt dots, adhesives, wool and SAE wool felt products help our customers in the arts and arts-supporting fields brighten this world with their beautiful creations and thriving cultural institutions. 

Though we often describe ourselves as industrial felt makers, the Booth Felt Co. Inc. has long been a partner to talented artists, craftsmakers, and professionals in the framing, museum, and conservation fields. From incredibly creative felt artists to masters of resin casting to detail-oriented gallery staff, our customers in the arts world continually inspire us and even teach us a thing or two about the seemingly infinite uses of felt products.

Felt and Art and Picture Framing

Remember in college, when you slapped a concert print on your dorm wall with sticky tack? Quite a different approach to art display than you probably take in your “grown-up” home or apartment. The long and illustrious history of picture framing and display begins in ancient Egypt and Greece—yes, really!—and for a long time, the frames were considered as much works of art as the paintings and pieces they held. (Looking for a great resource on modern framing? Check out the excellent Picture Framing Magazine.)

You don’t see it, but felt is in there, protecting and preserving!

So what role does felt play in framing? First, a lesson in frame construction. Whether your frame is ornate and housing an antique painting or a traditional wood frame for your family portrait, it will have “rabbets,” or recessed grooves, set along the interior to hold its contents in place. (Our friends at Wood magazine break down the most simple frame construction process here.) Professional framers and conservationists take great care to ensure that no element of the frame rubs against or gives off acids, fibers, or other potentially harmful emissions that might harm the displayed artwork or photograph. Adhesive-backed, acrylic felt tapes are often employed to line the rabbets of frames, providing a non-abrasive barrier to protect the canvas, photo, or paper from acid migration and excessive rubbing. The acrylic composition is resistant to moths or other pests that might otherwise wreak havoc on natural wool fibers over time.

When it comes to hanging, adhesive felt dots, often called “bumpers” and available in a number of colors, can be applied to the bottom back corners of a frame. These self-stick felt dots help keep the frame straight and protect your wall from scratches. They also provide some air circulation behind the frame, which prevents the buildup of dust and deters bugs and other pests from nesting. To repeat an oft-used quote from Vincent van Gogh, “A picture without a frame is like a soul without a body.” We couldn’t agree more. 

Art Education

From the most illustrious university art departments to the hardworking art educators at your local high schools to the tiniest crafting hands at nursery schools and daycares alike, felt is a staple of today’s arts programming. Fiber arts and textile courses often explore manipulating felt through both wet and dry techniques to create clothing, sculptures and other decorative works as well as incorporating various felts directly into mixed-media works of art. The imaginative artists who teach often find myriad uses for our felt by the yard and pre-cut discs, strips and dots, which come backed with adhesive or plain.

No Valentine is quite as sweet as a felt Valentine’s Day craft!

Felt and Sculpture

The world of 3-D art is vast and, if you look around, integral to our everyday lives. From the café where you have your morning coffee to the most prominent museums around the country, sculptures are our collective emotions, opinions, and history manifested in physical form. Booth Felt customers include talented sculpture artists who work in a wide range of mediums, from bronze and steel to glass to wood, resin, and more. The process of creating a beautiful work of sculpture is much more involved than you might even guess. (Check out this detailed description of how talented master sculptor Nano Lopez brings one of his artworks to life.) 

“Tracy,” by master sculptor Nano Lopez

Felt is a part of these artists’ unique processes in a number of ways, from providing a highly durable covering for a sculpture’s base to serving as the important protective material during packing and shipping to a customer. In fact, museums and art galleries use felt, which is non-abrasive yet extremely strong and impervious to the elements, on a daily basis to protect and display their precious artworks. 

Felting and Textile Art

If you are a regular on Etsy or Pinterest, you might already be aware of the truly incredible spectrum of artwork, sculpture, decorations, toys, accessories, and more that talented felters and felt artists are producing from our favorite material. Using a wide variety of methods, from needle felting to feltmaking and fine art, textile arts produce wonderfully tactile and inventive large-scale murals, decorative pieces, furniture, costumes, clothing, and accessories. The results are astounding, melding old-world tradition with often very modern aesthetics. 

Have you ever wanted to block out the sound of a noisy neighbor or nearby coworker? We bet you’ve never explored the idea of covering your wall in a beautiful felt mural to improve your acoustical situation. World-reknown felt artist Mary-Ann Williams does just that. Perhaps you’ve shopped for earrings before, as a gift or for yourself. But have you ever seen handmade felt jewelry like those designed by artist Lisa Klakulak? The wonders of felt are truly infinite.

The adorable and lifelike creations of Northumbrian needle felt artist @thegentlemanfelter

Do you have a unique or artistic way you are using Booth Felt products? We would love to hear about it! Send us a message to share your love of felt or post a picture to Instagram with the hashtag #boothfelt.

Categories: Customer Spotlight | Framing | General | The Arts