Archive | Workshops

Refined & Consistent..Small Scale Solid Form Felting














The next class running in the STRONGFELT STUDIO in Asheville, NC is Solid Form Felting Techniques, June 19-21. We will be working small in this class so there is room for a few more participants if you think this direction in felting will be advantageous to your creative envisioning! We’ll first focus in on the dry fiber preparation for specific forms like balls, hoops and cords (the components these pieces are made from) and learn methods for repeating the same forms. By creating systems, a foundational understanding of the materials is established that allows us to reach further… to experiment with success…to innovate.


2Then learn different ways to connect these basic components together to begin the designing process. How thick will a cord be? Will it taper or have a dramatic change in diameter? Will it undulate between cord and form components? What will the spacing be between components? Will the components be intersected by the cord or hang from it? And so on…



These four neck pieces have an encased mirror as the centerpiece. This is one of the topics of focus in the Resist-based Pendants workshop, June 26-28. In that class we learn about small scale hollow form sculpting using interior an exterior resists. For the encasement study, we use resist material around the object to enlarge the surface area so the wool fibers can shrink snug against the object.


3From the Solid Form class in the STRONGFELT STUDIO last summer, Susanna Hohman is seen here designing a piece with repeating cords of the same diameter and skillfully keeping all the ends dry so she can connect the cords to other components. Tinker Toys really…what can you build from the basic forms? Want to come study & play! Send me an email

MD Sheep & Wool Festival 2015

As a result of classroom constraints and the amount of activities that occur at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival, I had to shorten what is typically a 3 day class on the subject of Solid Form Felting into 2 days. This space was full of food vendors the remaining days of the festival and yum.. found myself indulging in some damn good goat cheese over the weekend! One of the most challenging aspects of developing course curriculum is deciding what are the most important and helpful approaches to share and of course, what can be fit into the time. Elise Miller is pictured below right, laying out a color gradation cord, enthusiastically participating despite a recent injury. Good thing we weren’t doing any rolling!











We focused on how to prepare the wool fiber dry into basic forms such as spheres, cords, discs and hoops with just enough air space so not to have the form collapse when wetted out and not to tight that the wool has no airspace to shrink into. Below left, Erin O’Donnell is connecting a dry barrel clasp to her dry cord and to the right Mary Ann Robinson is looking delighted as she fulls her form components into a cohesive singular piece of felt. Next scheduled Solid Form Course at the STRONGFELT STUDIO is June 19-21, 2015!!










I am often asked if I have sheep, which is always somewhat amusing to me as I can’t imagine having time to raise animals with the making and traveling that I do, nor the space in my downtown Asheville property! It is always a treat, though, to be around the animals that grow the material that I have spent so much of my time manipulating. Below left is an image from the fleece show where one can handle the fleeces from a wide variety of breeds and purchase if so desired. Take a look at this gorgeous silver Merino fleece on the right! Looking forward to working some of this in the future.












While walking the barns, I encountered this incredible coat on a Corriedale and wasn’t surprised to learn it took the prize for its breed and was on the way to a shearing workshop. The sheep were only an aspect of my delight as I also encountered my wool angel, Mary Scott of Serendipity Farm & Studio in Suffolk, VA. I met Mary at the Natural Dye Colour Congress in Ames, Iowa back in 2001 in a Mushroom Dyeing workshop. I had just begun my exploration of felt and this shepherdess became a fast friend educating me about breeds and helping me to get my hands on some fantastic wool over the years. Love you Mary!




Sculpting Hollow Form, April 23-26, 2015

It had been just a few weeks since the first STRONGFELT STUDIO class in early April, but this crew got to see all the terraced beds blooming with color and texture. From the left: Karin Fish, myself, Susan Kaplow and Nina Denninger.














Nina’s hands are in action below, exploring the raising of a form from a 2-D plane by fulling the differential shrinkage into the third dimension. The ladies then employed the same concept of placing partial felt density into the layout, but this time while wrapping a resist. The increased area from both sides of the resist provides more height for the form’s walls as well as an ability to close the mouth of the form. Karin and Susan are refining their fiber layout around the resist, so to not bulk up the area at the edge, which would impede the raising of the form once the resist is removed.

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My demonstration piece showing the art of less, is more! Negative space, or areas of thinner layout, result in more dramatic forming as these high shrinkage areas can undercut the low shrinkage partial felt leading to concave and highly protuberating form.










Nina’s form below and to the left, in the process of being fulled by using the STRONGFELT tool to not only agitate the concave areas but also to block and stretch the protuberations. Of course, this level of muscling the felt is in response to the strength of the fulled felt and shouldn’t be applied when the felt has less integrity or it will tear up or pill the surface. It’s all about intent…you have to prepare the form you are wanting by how you lay out the weight of fiber and on what shape resist and then think about how you agitate the wool from the beginning of the process to the end! Lastly, a little refining by way of steaming, shaving, stitching and applying shellac. Great class ladies!! Next course on Sculpting Hollow Form, Sept 17-20, in the STRONGFELT STUDIO, Asheville, NC!





















Fabric Fusion April 2-5, 2015

A rather joyful group started off the 2015 workshop schedule at the STRONGFELT STUDIO last weekend with a course on all things related to the coercing of wool fibers through pre-structured fabrics.  We isolated variables in the fabric fusion process through a variety of studies to learn the range of possibilities that each variable offered. For instance, how much hair the hand of the maker allows to penetrate the fabric when the area and type of fabric and the amount and type of wool are the same or the control….the scientific method in action!










Then there is the density of fabric as a variable shown here by Elaine Evans…










Also the integration of partially felted sheets of wool! Depending on the integrity, partial felt can create a resist to hair grasping the fabric allowing the fabric color and pattern to be more bold and can also be used to refine the edges of the fabric as demonstrated by Becky Hope Mallory below. Structural design in wet felting is all about ‘hair availability.’










Oh and can’t forget to mention the wonderful linear effect of the hairs of the partial felt edge navigating to the surface shown in Elizabeth Childers sample….nor the simplicity of solely edging the fabrics to create a stain glass effect.










So, so many aspects of felting to grasp and there is nothing like a hands-on workshop to get a feel!  Check out the STRONGFELT STUDIO, workshops topics and the remaining 2015 schedule


Driving Lessons


imageAll my machines reared up and ready to drive for this coming weekend’s workshop! My first Singer was gifted to me by my mother at 16 when I began sewing clothes with my friend Dana Shroeder. The Janome I purchased while a resident at the Appalachian Center for Craft  after receiving a brief lesson on free-motion embroidery from another textile resident, Alec Slinde, back in 2002. A no whistles Bernina I serendipitously acquired from Karen Newgard’s mama, Betty, when I killed the Janome’s motor just days before a show deadline! I killed the Bernina’s motor eventually too and had it reconstructed by the oh so skilled Phillip May. And lastly another used Bernina via John Lucas because a lady can never have too many machines (especially when I drive so fast and hard)! They are all equipped with free-motion feet, have different ranges of pressure foot height to allow for off-roading or working various thicknesses of felt and a range of speed control based on their pedals. The next STRONGFELT workshop that includes free-motion embroidery will be held in Columbia, NC at the Pocosin Arts Center, May 21-24, 2015.

First STRONGFELT workshop of 2015!

BT201_SM_11_2010_detailCleaning house and preparing to welcome participants to my studio for the workshop, Felt Fusion Through Substrates: Texturing, Edging and Free-motion Embroidery this weekend, April 2-5!! We’ll be exploring resisted texturing by applying different weights of partial felt to our felting layers, edging fabrics with partial felt for straight edges as well as shaped edges (as pictured) and free-motion embroidery for details, texturing the surface and stiffening elements. So excited! The next open class is May 21-24, Foundations for Wet Felting: Fiber Variations & Shrinkage Calculations…a fantastic class for those beginning their felting explorations and those looking for more control of their results!

New Solid Form Felting

newI am excited about these new solid felt form elements in some of my felt pearl cords. They offer little windows that bring whatever color you may be wearing into the composition and the interior shapes play nicely with the undulating oval shapes throughout the cords.

Registration opens today around 2pm for classes at this years Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival!  I will be offering a two day class in Solid Form Felting Techniques there or sign up for a three day course at the STRONGFELT STUDIO June 19-21 with an expanded offering including the incorporation of partial felt to achieve more defined shapes and the lovely color bleed effects you can see here as the yellow core fibers travel to the surface of the black felt skin on top.

Bringing it All Together!!

A bit of STRONGFELT production in the studio today making elements for a number of clasping systems for a new series of neck pieces. For those of you who’ve taken my Solid Form Felting Course you know this…tiny tiny partially felted balls with dry connectors and lots and lots of those fun little hoops! lol! I will be offering this course at the Maryland Sheep & Wool Festival April 29-30 and at the STRONGFELT STUDIO June 19-21 for those interested.