We know kids love getting messy in the art studio, but this weekend, we took messy-ness to a whole new level when we tried our hand at making felt! Local artist Lizzy Wetzel was our guest teacher and led a family workshop inspired by works of art in the Art of the American Indians: The Thaw Collection exhibition. About a year ago, Lizzy visited an exhibit that featured dozens of native American horse masks. She was so inspired that she started creating horse masks of her own.
We created an opportunity for the families in the workshop to have a similar experience to Lizzy’s as we spent time looking at and sketching the Nez Perce (Nimi’ipuu) or Cayuse horse mask on display from the collection.
Then off to the studio we went! Lizzy demonstrated the process of piecing together wool and wool roving to create a design for a miniature horse mask.
Then it was time to add water,
scrub with soap,
roll back and forth (lots of muscle-power required!!),
dunk in bins of water,
squeeze, and voila–miniature felted horse masks!
I think the favorite part of the workshop for parents and children alike was seeing how a material can be transformed. We can mix paint colors or smudge charcoal lines, but there’s something really wonderful about feeling soft wool roving change into durable, strong felt in our very hands! Everyone was amazed by how much the wool shrunk as we agitated, rolled, dunked and squeezed the fibers to make them interlock.
Needless to say, we had dripping wet towels and puddles of water to clean up afterwards, but it was definitely worth it! If you’d like to try felting at home, here is a good tutorial.
Posted by: Leah