Teaching the Felted Vessel Class
Last Sunday, I taught the Earth Day Felted Vessel Class at the Pittsburgh Knit and Crochet Festival. It was a fabulous learning experience – learning experiences are always positive. Of course, they are!
Being preoccupied with teaching, I forgot to take photographs during the class. (I truly appreciate how there was a staff photographer for the Felted Hat Class at the Contemporary Craft). So instead, I will share some of my preparation photos and those of the students’ completed pieces.
Behind the scenes preparation
Here’s are a few of the pre-weighed fiber kits that I prepped for the Felted Vessel Class. They contain four colors of Merino wool, bamboo fibers, and hand-dyed continents. (I surmised that there would not be enough time for the students to cut out the somewhat fiddly continents).
Another aspect of preparing for a felting class is saving plastic milk containers. Here’s some of my collection. Can you see how each lid has holes drilled in it? (You can easily drill holes with a battery-powered drill). The holes allow a gentle sprinkle and work better than the ketchup bottles, which tend to displace fibers with each squirt!
Then, each container is half-filled with soapy water, made from dissolved olive oil soap. While you might need more soap for a hat, there’s no need to fill the entire container for a small felted vessel. In actuality, I probably could go down to ‘quart size’ milk container; a felted vessel does not require a full half gallon.
As my family drinks more milk than quart-sized, buttermilk. this is what I can get via recycling. Plus, the soap solution is less likely to slosh out in a larger container. None splashed out on my drive to Pittsburgh!
If you know of a handier way for students to ‘sprinkle’ the soapy water, please, please share in the comments below. I’ve thought of ball brause sprinkler gadgets, but they are somewhat expensive and not necessary for beginning feltmakers.
Finally, here’s my hand showing how to lay bamboo fibers on top of the Earth. This photo is from when I was doing samples for the Felted Vessel Class.
Students Sharing Their Creations
Not surprisingly, the students in the felted vessel class had lots of experience in creating fiber arts, but, they had not wet felted before.
As a hand-spinner, Heather knew a lot about fibers and wanted to see how she could use her fiber stash! She generously taught us how to pull on and ‘draw’ on the roving so that it would shingle more evenly. This was a new tip for me!
If you like, here’s a YouTube video made by another fiber artist that demonstrates the process.
Here’s Heather shaping her felted vessel.
My second student looked familiar because we had met before. Like myself, Cheryl Hopper is a member of the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh. You can see her, and a selection of her beautiful needle felted landscapes in one of my previous blogposts, Focus on Felting. Scroll down to the Needle Felting section.
Now, I bet you’re wondering where all the other students are, right?
So while I was ready for a dozen, we had a lot less. In fact, only three students registered. Of these, only two came on Sunday morning. Perhaps, the third student needed to be elsewhere?
Anyway, the challenge of filling classes (or at least for me with my classes) is a continuing ‘learning topic’ for me. In the future, I’m hoping to get better at ‘inventing’ classes that students want. I thought that the Felted Earth Day Vessel looked like a cool project. Perhaps, compared to other classes at the Festival it seemed too expensive? Or perhaps there is less demand for feltmaking amongst knitters?
Additionally, I need to get better at understanding ‘teacher-stuff’ like class-size limits. This was the second time that there was a confusion on my part of mixing up class size limits with class size minimums. Can you say ‘Doh’? Next time I will be a ‘paper-waster’ and print out emailed communications from organizers. It seems that I need to read emails more carefully. End of whine.
However, not to worry about wasted efforts. All of my pre-drilled milk containers and felting kits will ‘come in handy’ with two upcoming felting classes. And you shall be spared hearing about them (endlessly) in advance because they are for groups. Therefore, I don’t need to ‘rustle’ up students. Hooray!