Friday, November 19, 2010

Felting Study Group

The Potomac Fiberarts Gallery is composed of members of the Potomac Fiberarts Guild. Not all members of the Guild are members of the Gallery, but all members of the Gallery must first be members of the Guild. The Guild meets the second Saturday of each month and often has nationally known speakers and workshops in various aspects of fiberarts. In addition, the guild has several small study groups which meet on a regular basis to study one facet of fiberart in more depth. Study groups include but are not limited to wearables, felting, dying, metalwork, color, design, and weaving. We push each other to learn new techniques. Many of the items we work on in the study groups lead to items that end up in the Gallery.

Yesterday, I attended a meeting of one of the felting study groups (felting is so popular, there are 2 study groups) which was held at the studio of Bev Thoms in Dickerson, MD. In addition to studying felting in general, we are preparing for an exhibit that will be held March 10 through April 2 at the Allegany Arts Council's Saville Gallery in Cumberland, MD. Bev's studio will also be on the Countryside Artisan's Studio Tour Dec 4-6 and 10-12 where many felted as well as other items will be available for sale.

Zita, Roz and Francine prepare their tables for felting by covering them with plastic.

Wool is fiber derived from sheep. The individual hairs have scales that when heated and/or agitated slide over each other and lock together forming a mat know as felt. Here Roz is preparing to lay out wool roving (wool fiber that has been cleaned, smoothed out or carded and dyed) from her stash bags.

Francine is in the process of laying out thin layers of wool. She will cross the first layer with other layers going in opposing directions. Is a scarf on her mind?

Bev is laying out a single layer of wool onto a backing of cotton gauze. When the wool shrinks, the cotton will ruffle. Silk is also used in combination with wool to produce thin airy felts referred to as nuno.

Bev is rolling wool fibers into a tiny cord in preparation for decorative elements.

Bev is now adding the decorative details to her prospective table runner.

Roz has laid out wool in a specific shape with plastic between layers to produce a hollow form.

Zita is laying out wool to form a flower with plastic resists between the petal layers so that the petals do not stick together when felting.

After the wool is laid out on a plastic backing in whatever form the artist wants, the mass is covered with screen or netting and wet with warm soapy water, patted down to insure that the water has penetrated all layers and rolled up around a core such as a pool noodle and tied. The resulting log is then rolled back and forth to agitate the fibers into sticking together. Terri is rolling her piece by hand.

The log may also be rolled by foot.

Dallis is rolling a small amount of wool around some pencils to make a cylindrical wool bead. Note the finished pod structures felted by Roz on the wall.

Versatile Dallis rolls a her potential wool bead in her hand while at the same time rolling a larger piece by foot.

Terri unrolls her piece to check how well the fibers are sticking together. She will then roll is back up in the opposite direction and roll more. The rolling will be continues in all 4 directions until the piece is thoroughly adhered. The netting must be removed before it becomes enmeshed into the wool. The process of felting involves the wool fibers becoming attached into a mat. Agitation then continues as the fibers shrink and thicken. This process is called fulling.

Finished flowers by Bev, Roz and Zita that may become brooches or an embellishment on another item such as a hat or purse:

A finished felted picture by Bev:

In addition, in preparation for our group exhibit, we are sampling ways to make a large installation piece to hang as a focal item in the Allegany Arts Council's Saville Gallery in March. This is the first trial of felting leaves onto tulle to produce a large piece to enhance out exhibit. You'll have to visit the exhibit to see what we finally come up with. Joanne

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