I've just been taking a felting class at the New Britain Museum of American Art, in a sunny room with a panoramic view over Walnut Hill Park. Every Sunday for four Sundays, teacher Robin McCahill toted bag after bag and box after box of felting supplies into our classroom and let us have at it.
Felting, by the way, is the process of making fabric from animal fibers such as wool. Unlike woven or knitted fabric, felted fabric is matted together by hand, with the use of a lot of elbow grease. The two types are wet felting and needle felting, each involving a different method. I'm an almost-beginner, and I needed a lot of guidance, and Robin, the teacher, was wonderful, flitting back and forth between and among us as each of the eight students made her own unique project--felted landscapes, scarves, a rug, a bowl, even a glamorous puppet with high heels and false eyelashes.
I started with a wet felting project, creating new morning glories for a small wall quilt I'd made last summer.
The morning glories I originally created were okay, but wow, look at the felted ones!
I like the felted ones a lot better: more interesting texture and three-dimensionality.
Above are the original morning glories. Aren't the felted ones more interesting?
Next, I tried a felted landscape, based on this photo of the Farmington Valley, taken from a westward-facing ridge in Penwood State Park. This is what I've made of it, so far:
Next I felted some Jack O'Lantern mushrooms (omphalotus olearius) based on this photo, also taken at Penwood State Park:
Next I'm going to create a knitted backdrop for them, using a pattern called beaded rib, and Kathmandu yarn (merino, silk, and cashmere) to simulate a tree trunk.
I wasn't the only one who had fun in this class!
She's a great teacher! Patience personified.