Wednesday 24 April, Carin Madsén Kollberg, IFA International Officer met about twenty French feltmakers and chairman of Feutre Art Textile in the small town of Felletin. Her task was to present IFA and create contacts for an increased exchange between the two associations. The French association Feutre Art Textile has done a great job of marketing the craft and making it more established. Nevertheless, they are about the same challenges that I experience in other countries. It is important to communicate and show today’s more modern feltmaking and work to ensure quality.
Feutre Art Textile started in 2009 because of the need to meet others with the same interest and do things together. Since then, they have done a lot of work and since autumn, feltmaking is an approved art craft form within the organization National Nationale des Metiers d’art. The fact that the name of the organization’s name contains the word “art” should not be interpreted as being an artist organization. Their focus is more what we call handcrafts. The organization works to utilize the artisan’s interest and increase their ability to establish an income on the craft. The approval of feltmaking as a self-established form of arts and crafts opens up in order to exhibit more exhibits together with other types of arts and crafts and give practitioners certain tax subsidies.
While the association obviously is happy about the approval, it also means that they need to define and clarify what felt as handcraft actually is. What was found is that felt belongs to the “non-woven fabric” group. And that the craft must be unique and not mass-fabricated. Define it as unique is a good definition for it is easy to say that the craft must be handmade. But then you get lost in the next step. How to define items made with pre-felt and machine-made fabrics. Whether the object is made of pure wool or from painted or other machine-made material, the object will ultimately be unique.