The Bennington Sustainable Food Project is cooking up a storm in the kitchen in preparation for the Co-op’s debut at Sunfest tomorrow.
This afternoon I got to participate in the coolest workshop. As part of celebration for CAPA opening, the artists of Studio Claudy Jongstra who made art for CAPA have come to visit for the weekend (all the way from the Netherlands!). These artists make giant felt tapestries from sheep’s wool and dyes (two hang in CAPA right now). They raise their own sheep and grow the plants to make the dyes so it’s all sustainable and really natural. When I heard they were doing a felting workshop, I knew I had to be there.
They came with a bunch of wool and different dyed wools that had to be shipped across the ocean. They laid out all the wool before the workshop began (as seen above) so we could get a sense of how many different materials you can get from just one kind of fabric. Many of the wools were beautiful colors and they all had different textures to them.
It was explained to us that making felt is quite the same as putting a wool sweater through the washing machine. Because of the water and soap, the fabric starts to stick together and cling to become one mass.
They showed us how to lay out the wool carefully in a pattern and then pour water onto it with soap to rub softly into the fabric. A circular motion of the hand and a gentle touch are the key elements to getting your wool to stick together properly! The texture of the wool goes from matted and fluffy to a smoother and silkier feel. Watching the transformation was like watching magic happen! I couldn’t believe how quickly the fabric changed. The felting process is fast if you are as good as these women were.
After the demonstration we got to choose our wools! Violet (in the photo) and I decided to work on one together. Before we started, we got a little silly (as you can see).
Eissa was working next to us. He was way excited about making a cool design with lots of different felts. Could not contain himself.
Here I am pouring water on our first attempt. Did not go so well unfortunately. We lost the pattern we wanted with the gold streaks. We were told this was because when you have too many layers, you lose the ability to allow for all the fabrics to cling together. We decided to try again! Once more, with feeling!
This is my painting professor Ann Pibal who had introduced the artists at the beginning. It was really fun to have her around for the workshop! I had had class with her the morning before and we were both talking about how excited we were. She was making a really long felt tapestry all out of one type of wool, so hers stuck together a bit better than mine and Violet’s did.
Take two for India and Violet! Our second attempt went much better! Here it is on the table with the soap we used to rub into it. I thought it looked like an ice cream flavor or marble cake, but that seemed weird because it was around this time that I realized my hands would smell like sheep forever.
When everyone was finished we rinsed them out and laid them out to dry in the drawing studio. I was pretty impressed with some peoples’. Everyone did a really great job for a beginning felting workshop. Would love to get my hands on some sheep’s wool so I could try it again. Anyone?
-India K, ‘12