Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A Time to Rest

Wow. It's been a pretty intense time, and I'm ready for a break. Textile camp wrapped up last Friday.
Here is the project I did with 26 kids in textile camp. I gave each child a small inflatable ball, about 5 inches in diameter. They wrapped their ball in 3 layers of wool (Harrisville fleece). I had prepared the wool beforehand by separating the batts into managable strips of wool. Each layer used about 4 strips to cover completely. The last layer took the most wool, since it had to cover the ball and 2 layers of wool. Finally, they wrapped novelty yarn around the outside of the wool in a random fashion. This was decorative and helped hold the wool in place when covering the whole thing with nylons.
On another day, we wet-felted the covered balls. The kids did well, but I discovered how hard it is to keep them moving when they've decided they're tired of rolling! I told them that they'd just have a ball of fluff if they didn't get the felt nice and hard. What I didn't tell them was that I was going to tumble all the balls in the dryer. This was partly to harden them up a bit more, but mostly because I wanted them as dry as possible when I cut them open to remove the ball. I did that part myself, at home, because I don't have enough scissors for the kids to do it themselves. Plus, to be honest, I didn't want them to puncture the balls I used. They were hard to find in that size and I want to be able to use them again!
I presented them their bowls on Friday, making sort of a big deal about it. They had the option of adjusting the cut edge, adding some beads, or other embellishment. Since some of the kids chose not to add anything, I gave them the option of making some simple beads, and demonstrated jelly roll beads to them.
When the evaluations come in, I'll have a better idea how camp went. It seemed to vary from group to group, which were divided by age. And, alas, I have no pictures because I was just too busy with the kids to stop and take pictures of them. But the bowls all came out well, and I think the kids can be proud of what they made.
This was my first time teaching, and overall, I think it went well. I would do it again. It occured to me, about mid-week, that the kids learn a lot more than a textile skill. They have to learn perserverence, patience, kindness, self-control, etc., etc. So camp is a good experience for them for more than one reason.
Right after camp finished on Friday, I left for the Midwest Felting Symposium in Madison, WI. Susan McFarland, of Susan's Fiber Shop does an amazing job of bringing together teachers, vendors, and felters from everywhere. It is a great opportunity to meet and take workshops from some of the most well-known felt makers in the country, and a few from other parts of the world as well.
Lisa Klakulak (kla-KOO'-lak) from Ashville, NC gave a good workshop on making a 3-D handbag (one with a flat bottom and side gussets) using a 2-D resist. Among the techniques we learned was making good strong cord for the handles, grafting cord together for longer handles, and attaching the handles so that the finished product was one solid piece of felt.
The tricky part for me was figuring out the placement of the cuts, in order to make the flap and gussets. But I really liked the workshop and am letting my brain ruminate on what we learned. I'd like to apply the techniques to some vessels.
The other great thing about MFS was meeting some of the wonderful people that I had only met online. Hi, ladies! You know who you are!!! There was quite a contingent from Minnesota there, and several of us took the handbag workshop with Lisa.
Of course, it was "intoxicating" as someone put it, to wander through the vendor booths. Lots of books, and tools, and beads, and buttons, and silk, and yarn, and wool in just about any form you can think of.
And, every year, there is a wonderful gallery of work brought in by participants. The diversity and craftmanship is something to behold.
Sunday night, when I got back home, I couldn't sleep, so finally, I got up and started writing down all the ideas that kept popping into my head. I have lots of new things to try out now. But first, I need a little break.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Midsummer

Goodness, it's been a long time since I've posted.
Now, I am in the midst of teaching at the week-long textile camp. On our first day I taught the basics of felting. We did beads, so the kids could get the feel for working with the wool and see how it changes when you add water, soap, and aggitation. Today, we started on some small bowls, done on inflatable balls. We "dressed" the balls in 3 layers of wool added decorative yarn, then covered them with 2 layers of nylons. Thursday we'll do the wet felting, and Friday we'll do the finishing touches.
Friday, after camp, I leave for the Midwest Felting Symposium in Madison, Wisconsin. Lisa Klakulak is teaching a two-day workshop called: Felting Three-Dimensional Mini-Handbags. I know it will be fun.