Have you ever signed up for a workshop when you weren't quite sure it would offer what you need to know, or if that direction is where you want to go?
And then when the workshop is over, you head home with your mind swimming with new inspiration and you realize you made a darn good decision - for once, that month...?!
Resist dyeing on hand felted wool was something I knew nothing about but I did know that at this juncture in my beading life I was keen to explore different textiles on which to sew all those tiny beads. I had been working primarily with Indonesian batiks so when a friend suggested this workshop, the first thing I did was to Google the instructor's name (I Google everything so that was nothing new) and whoa, not only did this gal seem like a barrel of FUN, she also created very beautiful work with felt. I figured if all else failed and this wasn't going to be a medium for me, at least I would have lots of laughs and view a whole bunch of really wonderful felt art.
Workshop photos courtesy Molly GreenIf you haven't heard of Chad Alice Hagen, let it be known she is a whirling dervish felt dyer extraordinaire. For five days she had us kneading, pounding and squeezing merino batts. We then clamped, pinched and folded the felted wool around the weirdest objects you can imagine - like tongue depressors, popsicle sticks, office clips, clothespins of varied sizes, rusty bits of this & that and lots of stained whatyamacallits. Then into the dye pots they all went, while we danced - yes, that's right, danced. Warning: Chad makes you do a "dye dance" - it's tradition - although no dance skills are required on the paperwork you fill out before attending one of her workshops. It was a hoot!
The dancing must have worked because we watched while the dye pots transformed our little swatches of felt into quite remarkable something-elses...
The Pacific Northwest Art School on Whidbey Island, WA, was the site for our workshop. They have an excellent workspace for these kinds of textile shenanigans - a table for each participant with power access for a task light, several sinks and easy access to outdoors, which is where the dye pots lived.
You have no idea what you're going to get until you unfold that felt. There is a lot of big B.O.L.D. color with this type of dyeing and by placing your bundles into successive pots of color, the variations in design, color overlays, are endless.
This red one was rolled on the diagonal around a metal tube, then tied with rubber bands
Those yellowish stripes on the bottom? Tongue depressors!
And all those half circle shapes? Big 'ole office clips. Who knew?!
I'm especially fond of the subtleties that happened, like this filigree in the corner...
When it came time to begin stitching and beading, we each had about 35+ pieces to choose from. Out came the threads, the stashes of beads. Our work tables started to look like this:
...and bead coveting galore!
After deciding to cut up & then stitch together three different felts (is that a word?), I finally put my beading needle through that first bead, through my first felt, and oh la la, little did I know that sewing beads onto felt was gonna be like sewing through butter. There is no better word than YUM.
On this cold & chilly winter solstice eve,
I wish for each of you
the warmth of what you love,
the fine colors of vivid imaginings,
good & true companions,
the many blessings of laughter
dancing when you least expect it.