After receiving several inquiries and requests last fall about teaching felt-making I decided to give it a go. I’ve taught felt-making before, but always returned to studio work with little desire to continue teaching. However, after much thought I decided I would like to try again. It sounded like fun. And of course, who wouldn’t want to give others the opportunity to fall in love with one’s very own passion?
I have set up four workshops over the course of this winter. The first one, learning to make a nuno felt scarf, took place this past Saturday. 10 women came and we spent the day making felt. Here are some pictures of the students hard at work.
Ooops…lunch break. Hard work for some. I actually found one of the biggest challenges of the day was to get people to stop working, sit down and eat lunch!
It was fun, at least for me. From the feedback I’ve received, the students enjoyed it too. It was also exhausting. However, each person left with a unique and beautiful scarf.
I’d like to show off this one particular scarf. It was made by a woman who earnestly informed me at the outset that she is not at all creative. But she had this dragon fly pin with her and she wanted to make a scarf she could wear with it. Here is the scarf layed out. (Yes, it is nuno. The silk is underneath). I regret not getting a photo of it once it was felted.
Here is our group photo, everyone draped in their scarf.
As teachers always say, I learned some things from my students as well. I realized that there are skills I have and small helpful tricks I know that I often think are common knowledge. Or at least common knowledge amongst fiber people. You know, that ain’t necessarily so. Something I was reminded of on Saturday. It has helped me to appreciate that much more all I do know, and those who have shared their knowledge with me.
Out of the workshop came some interesting questions as well. There is a point in felt-making where beginning students get a bit impatient. It is the rolling part of the process. It seems like it goes on forever. In truth it’s about one hour of physical work. One is rolling, rolling, rolling — but nothing is happening. Then BINGO ! and the wool has migrated into the silk and is ready for the next step. I am always afraid I’ll lose people during the rolling.
I was talking to my friend, George, about this. George is a fine woodworker. He mentioned he thought most crafts went through a stage that involves long periods of physical labor for the crafts person, but seems to result in no changes in the product. This is so different than say, painting, where every effort causes changes. An interesting insight.
Ah, back to the questions…..Have we as a culture become so out-of-touch with making things that we have expectations of instant creation? Are we so used to going to the store and receiving instant gratification (if we can just get the thing unwrapped) that we no longer appreciate what it takes to make something? One of my students said, in the middle of this day, “Now I understand why when I see these scarves for sale they are so expensive.” It reminds me of a quote I read years ago, though I’ve altered it a bit. “It takes a long time to make a beautiful piece of felt, just like it takes a long time to make a friend”.