The local Ottawa Guild had been optimistic in the latter part of 2022 and started to reschedule workshops, unbeknownst to us the evil covid was friends with 2 influenzas and invited them to drop by too. So we wound up with students and instructors out sick by the end of November into December. This was also the month my new workshop had been booked. I had offered to teach a chickadee or a tiny dragon but had been requested to make a Thing since Elizabeth, the workshop coordinator and I had not been able to decide on a definite thing. This is the description that was listed for the workshop.
“Description: Jan is paralyzed with too many possibilities for an item to use to teach needle felted sculpture, thus we announce a workshop in needle felted THING creation. Jan will probably decide more or less what the THING will be before the workshop but it will be a surprise for students. You will create your THING using three dimensional needle felting. By the end of the workshop, students will have the skills needed to go home and make a THING of their own choosing. Previous felting experience is helpful but not necessary. Good eye hand coordination is very helpful (those needles are sharp).”
As soon as it was scheduled, I started to work on organizing a brand new workshop. I quickly figured out this scope is a bit broad, so making a small basket protecting thing would help. I had admired an amigurumi mix-and-match monster making book. “Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters” by Kerry Lord. Using the simple shapes from crochet to inspire the students, should give absolute beginners an achievable target and those who have felted before the opportunity to try four different wire gauge hands or wings and a tail.
The notes covered wire and needle gauges, fibre, fibre preparations (carded vs Combed it can make a difference), then wrapping. I had gone through and followed a couple of my projects and showed how I had made and built the armature, as well as a few wire augmentations I have had to do over the years. Most of that last section is actually in the blog posts! I finished off the notes with a list of books they may want to investigate and three online sources of videos.
If the various flues and covid were not enough of a challenge we had our first big winter store about to hit. I think most of the worst went south of us. I wonder, what the states could have done to offend the weather? After some debate with Elizabeth it was decided that since the forecast was to have the storm ending by Saturday morning, we would see how the roads looked closer to the workshop. The snow had momentarily stopped and the workshop was declared a go. I had collected the supplies together and then pulled the bags of fibre to go from the basement. Glenn hauled and loaded it all into the car. He and our new neighbour also cleared out the end of the driveway and we made a brake for the Guild Studio on the other side of Ottawa.
1-3 it’s impressive how much wool you can stuff in a Kia Soul!
The side streets were not the greatest, but the highway was fine and the parking lot had been cleared!!!
4-5 Arriving at the Guild and dropping off the stuff
He carried in the bags of wool, the box of armature things and the couple boxes of supplies. Then went and found the missing tables.
6 Tables found and now I can set up!
He set them up in a C or U pattern so I could sit in a rolling chair in the center and help any student without a lot of standing and bending over.
7 18 pages of Notes, Foam kneeling pad, A piece of pool noodle, 2 sizes of dowels, finger cots, wooden single needle holder. Still to add will be the needles.
8 I also had a few needles for them to see what difference a gauge will make.
9 the books just past the needles
You may have spotted I brought a few possibly useful Books; Comparative Anatomy (Animals Vs. Human) Cyclopedia Anatomicae: More than 1,500 Illustrations of the Human and Animal Figure for the Artist by Gyorgy Feher. I also had a book on Anagarumi to give the students some ideas. Edward’s Crochet Imaginarium: Flip the pages to make over a million mix-and-match monsters by Kerry Lord. (Kerry Lord also has a book on crocheting sheep! Toft Sheep – 18 Crochet Sheep Patterns (uses UK terms))
10 a couple of my sculptural books.
Armature/Sculpture books I brought to show the students; A Masterclass in Needle Felting Dogs by Cindy-Lou Thompson, Needle Felted Kittens: How to Create Cute and Lifelike Cats from Wool by Hinali.
There are now quite a few good books on sculptural felting with or without an armature. I had a list of 14 that they may want to keep an eye out for.
11 I also brought sustenance and plastic inspiration
The Ottawa guild has always wanted to have small class sizes to insure good student-teacher ratios. Most workshops have a maximum of six students. With the first snow dump of the year and 2 types of flu plus covid, I was a bit worried that it may not run. In the end, we had one student driving over an hour to Ottawa and made it safely but one was sick and another with a sick child. So we ran with four students. Three went for Anagarumi-based Things and one went with a Kraken/Octopus combo. They were a bit bigger than I had envisioned but they all still had their armatures in time to have lunch.
12 Armatures are underway
We had two Things with four arms and a tail, one with two arms a tail and wings, and the octopus creature used pipe cleaners (ok now there called Chanel stems since there are not a lot of pipes to clean anymore) to see how that would help with wrapping later.
After a lunch break, they started to wrap the fibre around their armatures.
13 wool wrapping begins
I brought a couple of types of fibre preparations. This would let them see the difference between carded (which makes a woollen yarn) and combed (which makes a Worsted yarn). I am going to talk about this more in a future post.
14 This thing was being helpful by holding fibre for its creator, even when that was not as helpful as it sounds.
15 this thing is developing fabulous wings.
16 Unlike my last octopus this one has 8 arms! The pipe cleaners were found easy to wrap over.
A little way into wrapping, the students all realized it takes a bit of time to wrap, so instead of rushing and risking lots of punctured fingers, they decided they would like to add a second half to the workshop and focus on surface work. I did spend part of the time they were wrapping to show them a couple of options for adding fluffy furry surfaces.
17 two of these things arms were added to increase its head.
18 This one still has all four of his arms and is now standing on his own.
By 4 pm we had good shapes developed and no major bloodletting due to rushing.
19 the octopus is starting to emerge
20 the thing with 4 arms has now received a head
21 the winged thing has temporary eyes and looks like he is looking forward to getting wings.
The class while not quite finished seems to have had fun to this point. We will get a bit of time scheduled for part two to finish the outer layers in the new year. It’s always hard to estimate on time for a new workshop and the pace the students will progress at. Not pushing for speed, I think is the way to go for this one. Needle felting yourself is not conducive to creating more needle felters!
I hope you will get to take some time over the holidays to do a bit of needle felting. If you are at a loss for what to make you may want to peruse the Anagarumi Monsters for a bit of mix and match inspiration! Happy Hanukkah, Mary Christmas, Happy Solstice and Happy Holidays from the Mer Family, the Scott-Martin Family and the rest of my felted menagerie.
PS is it just my dyslexic brain or is this date really cool 12-22-2022 (if only we had 20 or 22 months it would be perfect! OK, the last few years have felt like years containing more than 12 months) but I hope you can enjoy such a fabulously numbered day! See you Next Year!!