I was delighted to be able to teach a basic feltmaking workshop to lovely class from St. Brigid's National School in Limerick.
Each class was run for four weeks, two hours each week. This was my first, experience in teaching a large group of children in different ages (there were 17 pupils in each). Before that I run some volunatry workshops for adults and kids in Limerick community centre and some individual workshops in my studio.
In preparation for the workshop I went to buy loads of sushi mats, and got a very surprised glance in Tesco as I was buying 20 sushi mats at once! I also had to order special Bonsai tree sprinklers, to be shipped from Germany cause these are nowhere to be seen in Limerick.
We were lucky to be able to work on tiled floor, but despite that the kids were usually soaked by the time we finished. Firstly because of the easiness with which you can sprinkle the water from the sprinklers, and the fact that the kids had to sit, as the floor got wet and increasingly slippery. There are no easy solutions there but to explain that one has to use as little water as possible! The other solution is to use sponges. So I can recommend sponges for younger children whilst sprinklers could be used with the older ones and preferably for a large project. Finally one can use loads of old towels to remove the excess of water.
Based on this experience I have got some interesting conclusions to share:
- In my opinion it is possible to teach kids how to make good quality felt, finished to a specific standard
- that if a child had a previous artistic experience, such as playing instruments or painting, he or she may find it easier to deal with fluffy wool
- that it is important to show that feltmaking could result in making something useful and potentially sealable
- that it is important to teach step by step, making sure that each person has arrived to the same stage in the process, otherwise everything falls apart and some children would end up over-felting their projects.
I taught my class, how to make simple key-rings, a mobile phone pouch, some wool painting and simple flowers. At the end of the course I have gathered the pre-felted paintings to make a large wall hanging in my studio.
Here is the photo before the felting started. Laying on the floor is the prefelt, with the intividual paintings. Its messy!
Finished hanging drying in the sun
Next day I met up with the class to reveal the wall hanging. I was emotional. I saw their faces and I knew they liked it!
The school has got the permission to build an extension so the wall hanging will be placed in the hall of the new building!
Here is myself explaining the process:
Many thanks to Betty, the principal of St. Bridgit's School for facilitating this workshop!