Children’s felting workshops during Kilkenny Arts Festival

On the Wednesday before Sigrid returned home I was facilitating two children’s felting workshops for the Kilkenny Arts Festival and she was kind enough to give me a hand!  The organisation was supurb from the festival committee side of things and when we arrived in the morning Sigrid and I found every help available that we could possibly need to ensure the success of the day.

Participants and their great felt from the morning workshop!

Participants and their great felt from the morning workshop!

We were lucky enough to be working in the Parade Tower of Kilkenny Castle, a beautiful building that is actually the oldest part of the castle complex.  With some friendly help from the festival volunteers we set the tables up in a U formation and got the wool and bubble wrap all set up before the first children arrived for the 10.30 workshop.  The morning session was actually supposed to be 7 to 9 year olds and the afternoon 10 to 12 year olds but in actual fact ages got a bit mixed up along the way and we had a cluster from all the ages attending both sessions.

Inspired by a mobile phone

Inspired by a mobile phone

As the children arrived Sigrid manned the weighing scales and asked each of them to choose two colours, these would be the colours for the background of their piece of flat felt.  We had some gorgous colours of Icelandic wool and what was most interesting to observe was that many of the children in the first session choose green and teal.  None of them choose red in the morning whereas in the afternoon session several children choose a red and purple combination, quite an unusual observation we thought as we didn’t prompt anyone in any way!  I gave a quick demonstration of how to lay out the background explaining how the colours mixed and then the children were able to start experimenting themselves.  Once the background was laid out in several layers (we had weighed the wool to make sure that everyone would have a thick enough background and used batts as they are easier for children than tops) the children then had the fun choice of what they wanted to select to embellish their work.  I had various scraps of prefelt which we had cut into shapes, loads of different wool fibres in a range of colours, plastic onion sacks, wool yarn and some artificial hairy yarn which incorporates into felt amazingly well.

Mother and daughter

Mother and daughter

Initially I asked each child to choose three pieces of prefelt and two or three other embellishments, as only one of the participants had every felted before I didn’t want them to be too swamped with all the choice.  Once they started to add the extras if any child needed more of anything they were free to collect it from the materials table but in general limiting the embellishments proved a good idea!  Once everyone was happy with the lay out of their piece we started wetting out and rolling the work.  This proved to be an area where all the volunteers were excellent, little hands sometimes find the rolling difficult to begin with but everything really went along very smoothly indeed with a small bit of adult assistance.
Swirls and spirals

Swirls and spirals

As per usual the wetting out and soaping proved very popular with the children although nothing compared to the last process where I let them all throw and thump their felt onto towels laid out on the floor!  I explained simply how the rubbing, rolling and throwing all helped to felt and full the fibres and by the end of both workshops we had some outstanding work for all the children to show off to friends and family.  All in all Sigrid and I thought that the workshops were a great success and thanks to Sigrid for taking the photos, you can check images of every child’s felt by clicking through to Flickr.
Children with their brilliant work, volunteers and me at the afternoon session!

Children with their brilliant work, volunteers and me at the afternoon session!

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