Archives for posts with tag: felt-making

YES! We did it! We opened our doors to the public…

in the midst of the celebration

On November 5th, we had a  party and business-launch and vernissage of art! It was a fabulous evening.

We are proud and happy to announce that we are HERE. You can join us!

Tammy is available for full consultations and mini consultations.  Please email tammy.schmidt.herbalist@gmail.com to book an

Tammy Schmidt, CHT

appointment. Her herbal dispensary is stocked and beautiful.

Tammy is also excited to announce a series of really cool workshops this winter.  Would you like more information?  Email fleurbain@gmail.com to sign up for our newsletter.

private or drop-in painting classes with Natasha Henderson

Natasha is in Fleurbain during regular gallery hours, 3pm to 6pm Tuesday through Sunday. She also is hosting a variety of drop-in and pre-registered workshops in painting, feltmaking, and other creative endeavours. Please call 514-504-3290 or email fleurbain@gmail.com for more details!

Natasha Henderson, BFA

The beautiful Espace Fleurbain is ready for you…

Talk to us about hosting your event, about space rental, about your verdant ideas about life in the city.

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nesting bowls in felt are cozy, homey, and cute

Felt bowls are cute, no doubt about it. Little fuzzy display bowls that can fit into one another, that’s even cuter! I decided to make some nesting bowls today, and documented the process to share with you.

If you know how to make felt already, and are looking for a craft that will provide you with two or three hours of crafting and will be suitable for an Easter display or gift, look no further. If you haven’t made felt at all yet, I would advise you to first try making a piece or two of flat felt, to get an idea of how felting works.

some of the basic supplies

To start, I gathered my basic felting supplies. I used bubble wrap, soap, a kettle of water, loose wool (roving), scissors, and a measuring tape. You might also like to have a towel on hand, a bowl, and perhaps some paper and a pen.

a trick to cut your templates: fold them in half to ensure each side is even

I thought that I’d like to make three little nesting-bowls. I choose three colours of wool roving that coordinated well together. I decided to blend colours for two of the bowls, and wanted to add dashes of all the colours on all the bowls. I had intended to just make single-colour bowls, but I couldn’t help myself! Obviously, you can use whatever mix of colours you would like.

The basic procedure for making the bowls, no matter what size they are, is relatively simple. The challenge was to make bowls that would “fit into” one another… to account for sizing and so forth. I decided to make a simple bowl shape, then add 1 inch on every side for the next size up. I added about an inch or so to THAT one for the largest bowl. I cut all these templates out of bubble wrap. In retrospect, I’d have preferred to have made some smaller bowls, too. However, as I had saved my templates, I can make smaller ones at a later date.

three layers of roving, and the template on top

To begin any sort of resist felting, lay out three layers of wool roving at right angles to each other, so that they extend about 2 inches past the template-size. In this case, I made sure that the top of the bowl didn’t have this extension, because it would be left open in the end. If I’d wanted to make a more spherical object, I could have extended the top end too. I like to lay my template under my piece of bubble wrap as a guide for the first overlapping layers. However if you find that is too hard to see through the bubble wrap you are working on, you can trace the template shape onto a piece of paper and place this under the bubble wrap to guide you. Remember it is important to extend up to about 2 inches PAST the template-shape, in order to create a meshing of wool.

Once the first three layers of roving have been placed, gently spray some lukewarm water onto them. Be gentle, allowing the water to just fall onto the wool. Next, place your template on top of this. Make sure that the top aligns with the top of the wool. Remember there should be almost 2 inches of extra wool all around the rest of the shape. Take this extra wool and fold onto the template.

encased, with soap on it... ready for boiling water!

The final step before really felting is to lay three more layers of wool roving, at right angles to one another, on top of this. Try to fill the entire “template” area, even though much of it is covered around the edges. This will ensure that there are no holes or awkward seam parts to your bowl.

Spray the wooly work again, being gentle. Then drizzle  pure dish-soap overtop. Pour some boiling (or very hot) water on it, and then lay another piece of bubble wrap on top. Pat it (if it’s not too hot to do so!) and rub it. Pay special attention to rub the seam area… we really want the wool there to mesh quickly. After a minute or so of patting, flip the work over, and pat the other side.

pay special attention to the edges, to ensure the wool meshes

Try opening the bubble-wrap up to rub the wool directly. Within a minute or so of patting and rubbing, you should be able to gently lift the object. Pry open the top part, and gently rub the edges. If it’s fused, force it open. It’s ok at this point; you can do almost anything to this malleable mass.

this doesn't look much like a bowl... but it will!!

Lift the object, turn it in your hands. Rub the inside and outside of the seam area. If there are sparse patches or holes, try adding a little more wool roving on top. Put some more soap, a dash of water, and gently rub it in your hands. Work on the seam area, and rub the entire object.

Turn it inside out, and rub the inside on your bubble wrap. turn it back outside-out, and rub the whole object on the bubble wrap. Keep it open, don’t allow it to lay flat again.

After a few minutes, you can gently drop the object onto the table. Do this a few times, trying to hit a different part of the bowl each time. Start to hit it harder; and focus on any bumps or strange parts. It is almost magical, how the wool will tighten into felt as you do this. It will shrink quite a great deal, too! If you have a bathtub nearby, try hurling the wooly mass into it several times. Start more gentle, then hurl with all your might.

while hurling, rubbing, getting the bowl felted and fulled and shrunk. ten seconds later, the seam had disappeared. Like magic.

If the bowl is cold, pour some more boiling or hot water on it. Friction, compression, and heat all conspire to turn wool into felt. So, more heat can’t hurt!

Finally, when your bowl is looking like a bowl, set it. You can set it “rim-side-up” on a table, or you can stuff it with bubble wrap (like I’ve done in the examples) and turn upside down. Like a sweater that you lay flat to dry, wool felt will have a memory. It likes to maintain the shape that it is left to dry in.

after being felted, fulled, and rinsed, I formed my bowls by cramming bubblewrap into them, and leaving overnight on my table.

If you are in the Montreal area and would like to take a felt-making class, please be in contact with me. I will be teaching this technique (and more!) in workshops of varying lengths. Happy felting!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

some of my earlier experiments

One of the benefits of teaching to fully engaged students is the challenges that they present to you. I am teaching a weekly course on felt-making; the first class for this new group was last week. All of the students were keen to learn, to do, to make. Outside of the enthusiasm that they brought to the class, they had all done research beforehand on the craft of wet-felt-making.

When we started the class, I gave them a brief run-down on how felting works, what the science is behind it, the basic stuff. Then we talked a little about what we would do over the next twelve weeks. Some of the students were very keen to try out some specific techniques; techniques that I’d seen others do but, admittedly, haven’t done myself. When the internet offers such a wide array of videos, blogs, and instruction manuals, it was a pre-educated group of crafting students who entered my classroom the other day!

a student in the beginning stages of making a hat

This presented a challenge and an opportunity for me to grow. While the class is on, I am “on”. I am engaged fully with the students, I guide and help and demonstrate. Sometimes I must step back and allow them to discover things on their own. During this work-time, they are concentrating and I am quietly watching what they do, or I am preparing for the next step. While this is happening, I think about what we will do in the future, what would serve my clients/students best.

Much of art-making and maintaining a practice in it is about editing. Editing specific works, editing time so that the media of choice fit into one’s life, and editing things that might not seem to fit together until they do. I have, classically, fancied myself to be a bit of a trail-blazer type whenever I’ve started something new. I would quickly learn all I could about it, see what appealed to me, then go off on my tangent to experiment with what I chose. This is normal, I think. However, when I have students who want to try out all the different things that one can do in a chosen medium, I need to be ready to teach them these things I’d seen, not tried, and had previously discarded from my own milieu of work. Because of this, over this weekend I performed some experiments with feltmaking.

there are many ways to make felt, and many potential things to teach

There is a funny thing about this situation. By prescribing myself time to experiment in things that I’d not really been personally interested in before, I have been actively pushed to make use of my new knowledge. An example: felted soap. I make and sell felted soap, now, because I needed a little something to fill in about an hour’s worth of class. Felted soap seemed interesting, sort of cool, and something easily portable for students to make and take home in one day. Now I sell my little bubbly creations in many shops around town, and on my Etsy page. Benefit!

fabric-enriched scarf - the successful experiment

A second example of a recent experiment is building fabric into the layers of wool. A student last week was keen to try this, so I agreed to teach it. I took some time to try it out, and last night I made a very beautiful scarf using this technique. A little back-story is due; as I’ve mentioned before, I once had a job in the fashion industry. While working in a sample-making room I saved scrap pieces of fabric. I prevented good, small bits of fabric from stuffing the landfill. I have many little squares of printed cotton, and I’d been trying to force myself to sew out patchwork bags and skirts out of them. I like sewing from time to time, but not sewing boring things like grid squares. Last night I took two of these squares, and ripped them into strips. I added the fabric into the scarf, and presto! It was a success. I will be making more of them, and adding another aspect to my scarf-making business!

I am looking forward to the next couple of experiments I’m planning… a large vase, and sushi jewelry in felt. Who knows what will be after that! I’ll certainly keep the dialogue open with my students, that’s for sure.

Natasha Henderson is a painter and fibre artist based in Montreal. She teaches art and felt to adults and kids. You can check out her Etsy page and personal website if you’d like to see some of her work.

Crafting something from basic materials is a rewarding activity for anyone. When you have made something “from scratch”, you develop a sense of intrinsic accomplishment and pride. In addition to the pure joys of making, there is the final physical object that you can use and display. Crafting and art-making is good for you, and can be used in a therapeutic manner.

A child makes a piece of felt.

When people make new things, they need to focus. When people learn new crafting skills they coordinate their minds, hands, and memory to work in synch. People with short attention spans, various levels of learning abilities, or who find it difficult to connect with the world can develop their focus and connections. I have seen this seemingly magic process in classrooms, where I have taught workshops in felt-making and sewing. Little children with major problems really do love learning, and hunger for the sense of accomplishment achieved when they learn a new skill and have something exciting to share with their parents after class. This sort of craft-therapy is useful to increase children’s engagement with the idea of learning. Focus is a skill that can be exercised like a muscle. The more a child uses the “focus muscle”, the better they are able to use this “muscle” in “sports” other than crafting… it really becomes one of their skill-sets.

A child shows off his weaving.

Crafting in a therapeutic manner also increases a person’s ability to connect with others, to adapt into the role of being a student (or a teacher, for that matter). Problem-solving as one navigates learning the new (yet often traditional) techniques of crafting creates team-building, forms human connections, and encourages storytelling. An example: A group of teenagers get together to learn how to knit. There are problems at first, some of the kids don’t want to be “Grannies”. One of the kids becomes a bit of a leader, saying “Well, I loved my Granny. She was cool.” The kids settle down, reminisce, share some stories, and help one another with their knitting. They have formed connections with their past and with one another, and are acting both as students and teachers as they learn their new (old) craft.

Very young children learn how to sew by hand.

Development of fine motor skills and hand/eye/mind coordination is another benefit to crafting and art-making. Obviously, if one takes a pencil or paintbrush in one’s hand and applies it to paper, there is a cause and effect. The artist is making something. The artist sees what happens when they move their hand a certain way. They try it again, a little bit differently this time, and see the changes. They register this change, and with practice the movements and effects become skills of which they are more in control.

Through art and craft therapy, people learn new skills, feel pride, and reconnect with traditions and a sense of history. They develop hand/eye/mind coordination and learn to focus. Crafters can work in teams or groups to teach others their skills. Crafting is social, fun, and a beneficial activity. As a person who has led several arts and crafts workshops with all sorts of people, I must say that the idea of a career as an Art Therapist is an exciting one!

Natasha Henderson, Montreal

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