I was reminded of Pauline Verbeek-Cowart‘s Felt Lace X-Change yesterday when I checked in on the Cooper Hewitt Design Blog.
I first encountered this fabric years ago when visiting Bethanne Knudson at the Oriole Mill to see what was going on. Bethanne always has something cool up her sleeve and at the time made me promise multiple levels of secrecy before showing me this incredible structurally inventive piece of fabric.
I was immediately taken.
This piece of fabric sits in an interesting space between modern technical and simple traditional. Aesthetically its one of the most modern fabrics you’ll encounter. The two layers of fabric intersect multiple times to create dimensionality that is deepened by the open structure of the ground cloth. At the same time, the yarns disconnected from the felting, the ones that escaped the process, remind us that this is not a mass manufactured textile. The textile is presented without color to let the structure come through and speak for itself.
I know from seeing the fabric before and after felting, that this relies on a precarious process of finishing. Most people would look at the unfinished fabric and take it for a terrible mistake, that it was just a pile of yarns on a grid, and without proper finishing, that’s all it would be. Pauline wouldn’t have gotten here without a firm understanding of fibers, felting, and weaving. It was a deliberate invention born out of the understanding of process.
You can buy one of Pauline’s scarves here: Etsy