Exposing Myself...

When one of the visitors at my FeltUnited exhibit yesterday used the above term and I knew I had the title for this blog post. :-)  Yes, the purpose of the exhibit was not only to expose myself and my work to the public, but also to expose visitors to felt and all the wonderful things you can do with it.  I have to say, felt just speaks for itself. 

Back in March, I wrote a grant application to purchase a felt rolling machine. My plan was to get the rolling machine in July, figure out how to use it in August and September and then do a community rug project for FeltUnited Day.  I really wanted to incoporate FeltUnited Day into the plan because being an international celebration of felt, it's such a wonderful way of uniting felters the world over.  But that meant that I had only one week between events to make my first rug ever and get an exhibit of my work ready for display. 

I didn't know back in March that I would be working and selling lots of things in the Minnesota Lamb and Wool Producers booth at the State Fair, or that I would be judging the Handspun Skeins at the Wisconsin Sheep and Wool festival, or that I would be travelling to meetings and in the midst of serious decision-making with the Shepherd's Harvest planning committee. But in order to fulfill my grant project, that rug was getting made last week one way or another.  And I have to say, it was quite a challenge at times. Two pounds of wool and too much water added made for some technical difficulties.  Which was actually a very good learning experience. Here it is:
Yes, it's primitive, but it's a rug! I love the colors, and I love walking on it.  Not that I've gotten to do much of that yet because I don't want to get it all dirty.  It still needs to hang at the elementary school so the kids who worked on creating the pre-felt for it can see the fruits of their labor. 

The blue background was done in two sections in the kiddie pool and the other colors were cut out of the prefelts people made in the ziplock bags last weekend.  I needled them loosely onto a one pound batt of wool that I had dyed green.  The entire rug is made of  wool from my Shetland Mules (50/50 Shetland/Bluefaced Leicester).  It took the dyes well and felted well.

I wetted it down (too much) and tried to roll it up and get it downstairs without getting susdy water all over my house.
After several hours of rolling and unrolling, flipping and turning and rolling some more, the felting was done and the fulling was underway.  I love the fulling process, it involves squeezing and dropping the wet soapy felt until it shrinks down and starts to pucker up a bit.

These three worked on making prefelts last week and I was happy to see them and their mom come to see the finished rug.  There are lots of prefelts leftover, I could make a whole SERIES of rugs with them - and I just might!

 This is my friend Sue, who helped me get the exhibit set up and served the refreshments. I always appreciate Sue's help and excellent listening skills. I don't look forward to her and Toby heading south for the winter, but somehow I'll manage.

Some of my pieces were works in progress, like the nuno-felt vest above.  I just need to hem the silk and finish up the shawl collar. The fabric for this vest was one of my first projects on the rolling machine.
Thanks to Barb for sticking around for the nuno-felting demo. Thanks to everyone for coming including my aunt and uncle from St. Paul, MN.  There was even a visitor from from Hungary! 

Now that FeltUnited Day is over, I look forward to exploring more feltmaking on the rolling machine - including more garments and more rugs. 

This activity is funded, in part, by a grant from the East Central Arts Regional Arts Council with funds provided by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on Nov. 4, 2008.


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