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Felt coats and mittens are soft and warm. Many shaped hats are felt, and nowadays colorful hats that are more freeform are all the rage. Artist Jo Thompson is indroducing felt-making in a one-day workshop from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Fuller Lodge Art Center.
Felt has been used for producing headwear for many centuries and is perhaps the oldest textile material. Archaeological evidence shows that from very early on, people had discovered the tendency for fibers to mat together when warm and damp, many years before they learned how to spin and weave yarn. Felt is made by a process called “wet felting” where natural wool fibers, stimulated by friction and lubricated by moisture (usually soapy water) build into cloth. Felting leads to a fabric with no set grains, so it can be molded into forms, or sewn without concern for edges raveling.
Thompson’s enthusiasm for making felt “magic” essentially began when she learned that felt is believed to be the earliest form of textile making. She headed for Konya, Turkey to study the traditional wet felt method with Master Mehmet Girgic in 2008, and subsequently studied with American Master Horst who influenced the development of her free form.
“Listening to the wool speak its mind allows me to turn off mine!” Thompson said. To prepare for creating her one-of-a-kind felt pieces and too, for the “Felt What We Feel” class she offers, she hand dyes fine Australian Merino fleece and then moves into her passion of coordinating colors and textures. “My versatile creations come alive as unstructured, original softness, delicious to look at and comfy to wear, with undulating edges and spontaneous tendrils of whimsy. I encourage freedom to wear each piece however one feels (no front, no back, no right, or wrong way). The beauty of free choice…it’s what I felt.”
Join Thompson for (feltfree.com) learning both traditional and contemporary methods. Participants will make a hat and a “practice technique” item to be determined. Dress prepared to stand and splash and bring lunch.
The class is limited to eight participants. In order to ensure that the class is held register before the end of January. The cost is $60 plus a $30 materials fee with a maximum of eight participants. Stop by Fuller Lodge Art Center at 2132 Central Avenue to register, or call 662-1635 to register by phone with a credit card.