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I believe that art enriches and informs our lives everyday in many positive ways. Sharing those experiences, whether as an artist or as an appreciator, is part of the pleasure. I welcome your comments and hope you find something of value: a laugh, an insight, a new idea or just a happy moment. Enjoy art!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Felting Frenzy Finds Fun

Taking a break from my canvas and oils recently, I ventured with several friends to the Penland studio of Cynthia and Edwina Bringle to dabble in the craft of "felting."  We were to take dyed wool, unspun, referred to as "roving" and craft a hat.  (Edwina Bringle is a widely respected weaver and textile artist and she was game to be our guide.)

Herewith I will give you the short version of a day that included a lot of new techniques, sprinkled with giggles, amazement, laughter and a sense of wonder.  We were decidedly amateurs which made it all the more interesting.

We dove like madwomen into the tubs of gorgeous wool, so soft you could barely feel it beneath your fingers.  Best laid plans went out the door as we were seduced by color.  This was the "roving."

We measured the ounces needed for our hats and were surprised that so much weighed so little.

Edwina demonstrated how to (and how NOT to) separate our wool into small pieces that would be applied to the form of our soon to be soapy rubber ball.  Believe me, this was much harder than it first appears!

The first layer down becomes the inside of the hat, the next layer is filler and the final layer is color and decor...unless, that is, your second layer creeps forward to show...or you add a fourth layer...or you don't alternate the way you apply the several layers.  It looked like a wig shop for a weird mardi gras.

The next techno tool was panty hose!  Really.  Legs removed.  Each "ball" needed three layers of life sucking panty hose applied (with 4 hands) over a delicate wool covered, possibly rolling ball.

My covered hat, note the roving beside it as well as Edwina's "hat" waiting in the wings to be hosed.

Now Edwina demonstrates the brutal method of beating the ball/hat in a tub of soapy bubbles.  We had practiced earlier how the finger pounding marries the fibers together, binds them would be the more accurate term. taking them from fine wool fibers to a thick felted cloth.  Anyway, we all gasped when she said no less than 5 minutes of pounding was required.  And she timed us!

We peeled off the panty hose and immediately began to tug and fold and slap our hat around...really!  We ran it thru hot water and shocked it in cold water.  We sculpted it and then folded again to shorten or lengthen the shape.  Edwina was our expert guide but then again, she kept saying "well, this is your first attempt, just see what happens."

And so we did:

Ta-da!  Were we proud or what?

And yes, we all want another go at that we sorta know what we are doing.  How incredibly satisfying to make a surprise.  I certainly intend to wear mine.  What a fun day in someone else's sandbox.

Playing in Color,

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