Note: they are not paying me for product placement, and if they were I’d question their judgment.
I noticed some Artfelt kits on a shelf at The Mannings on Saturday, and immediately gurgled over the pretty colors in the roving but didn’t pay much attention to the other supplies involved in the kits. I didn’t buy any, either; I’m poor and low on square footage, so my purchases were minimal. I did, however, make a note of the kits for further research. This is what I found on their website:
It’s not needle felting. It’s not wet felting. It’s not fulling. It’s Artfelt® – and it is revolutionizing the way we felt. The Artfelting technique utilizes Artfelt® paper, a patented new paper specifically developed to ease and speed up the felting process. Artfelt® is simple to learn, quick to do and requires no knitting or previous felting experience.
Heh. I find their opening pitch amusing. “It’s not needle felting, it’s not wet felting, it’s not fulling,” it involves doing ALL OF THOSE THINGS. Granted, the total time commitment probably ends up being a lot less than doing the same job in all needle-felting or regular wet felting, and it doesn’t involve knitting anything first. A more accurate pitch would probably be something like, “It’s needle felting without the hours, it’s wet felting with better control, and it’s fulling without having to knit something first!” Still, you need equipment used for needle felting, you have to put your faith in Artfelt while you get your project soaking wet and roll it up, and you need access to a clothes dryer.
But as I said above, the appeal of the kits isn’t really in, “Wow, that Artfelt technique looks like so much fun!”, it’s more like, “Ooooh, lots of roving in pretty colors!” So then I thought it might be fun to just order a bunch of roving from them—a few hanks of tops, a couple skeins of pencil roving—and then just do whatever the fuck I wanted with it, which might not even involve felting anything.
Yeah, well, their price point sort of tosses a wrench into that idea. $10.50 for 50g of multicolored tops? Are you fucking kidding me?!
The most interesting detail of their company, however, is the fiber range they offer. All the roving they sell for their felting technique is either merino or a merino/silk blend. This makes me wonder: is their patented Artfelt method possible with coarser fibers? If it doesn’t work as well with anything other than the finest of fine-wool breeds, why not? I really don’t think it’s a good idea to restrict any type of felting—including high-precision felting—to the finest of shrinkable fibers. Felting is the sort of craft that lends itself well to items meant to withstand some abuse, in which case more rugged (and somewhat cheaper) fibers are in order.
Something tells me their special paper is really no different from any other water-soluble fabric already available at craft/fabric stores, but that said, the paper does seem more reasonably priced than the wool.