Last week I had another really enjoyable and unusual teaching opportunity. The Southern Highland Craft Guild in Asheville, North Carolina of which I am a member, was hosting a group of international teachers for a morning of craft and relaxation on their day off from their studies. These teachers were studying different teaching modalities in the USA on a grant from the U.S. State Department. The program provides funding for a small number of highly accomplished international teachers to take part in an intensive professional development program, which includes a broad range of educational classes and faculty support while residing in the USA for 6 weeks.
I was one of 2 teachers who was privileged to teach a workshop to the 17 teachers at The Folk Art Center. The workshop I taught was a 2 hour introduction to the art of felting. The other instructor was Laura Simms, another fiber artist who was teaching an introduction to marbling on cloth. Laura took half the group and I took the other half.
I had several goals for this special workshop. First in this brief introduction to felting I wanted to provide a hands on, fun experience where each participant would make and embellish a small piece of felted cloth. Second, I provided some historical context about felting through the centuries around the world. Thirdly, I wanted to show the various raw materials used to felt with and show several different types of finished felted products.
To do this I brought in several types of raw wool- some of which was from my own shetland sheep, some commercially prepared wool sheets, some hand dyed merino wool, and several of my Nuno felted garments and accessories. I gave a handout with a brief history of felting. Then we moved on to experience the actual felting process.
I had prepared individual felting kits which included 3 different colors of merino wool, an outline of a 10 x10 square to be filled in with the wool, sprinkling bottles, bubble wrap and plastic sheets to cover the wetted out wool. On the table was another pile of assorted wool bits, yarns pre felts and sparky fibers so everyone could embellish their piece as they wished. It was so much fun to see men getting into felting for a change. Everyone seemed to be very into the process asking questions, and wanting additional information about felting. Some of the teachers even shared some thoughts on how they could incorporate felting into they own classroom curriculums.
The day was a lovely one for me, the teachers all said how much they enjoyed learning about felting and I was thrilled they all were so involved in the process. They were so enthusiastic and inquisitive. One woman couldn’t wait to do more of it when she got back home to her country, maybe another felter was born !
I am grateful I had the opportunity to teach this class.