Fun, fast and furious felting in the classroom!

Wow, Wednesday’s session at St. Mary’s School, Drumlea in Leitrim with 26 third, fourth, fifth and sixth class pupils was great fun and really full on, everyone made amazing pieces and Clare (the principal) and I felt as if we had run a marathon!  Dubbed a ‘taster’ session, the idea was that I would get to meet the students and they would get to see a little bit of what felting was all about and have the opportunity to try it out for themselves before we start on our main project for the residency.  My game plan went out the window to a large degree when I realised how enthuastic and raring to go all the students were, theory was kept to a minimum and really we just got stuck into things almost from the moment we had the room set up.  Clare had asked the children to bring any old buttons and beads that they could lay their hands on and everyone had the opportunity to make a piece of flat felt which next week they will embellish with the found objects.  Luckily I had brought the prepared prefelts because otherwise we never would have got as much done as we did, after a brief demo from me everyone selected the prefelt base that they wanted to lay their design onto.  One amazingly interesting thing was that most of the children chose the natural black base in preference to the bright orange, totally the opposite to what Clare and I anticipated.  I had brought a lot of scraps of wool and prefelt and they all dived into the pile of fibres, mayhem for the next hour and a half!  As with any group of people, young or not, imagination, concentration and abilities were varied.  I had to RUN around the room to keep up with the questions and lend a guiding hand if I thought that ideas needed a little bit of extra help in their execution.  Skipping to the end of the taster session (very short at 2 hours from start to finish) ALL the students had a beautiful piece of flat felt which they will now embellish before my next visit and we will stick to the front of their workbooks to document the residency.  I have set up a new blog to document the residency from both my perspective and the students perspective so if your are interested check it out over the weekend as I will be loading images of their work on the internet over the next couple of hours.  Clare and I had the opportunity to discuss our next step for the project later in the evening and we have decided to let the students really direct our process.  I would like to do some more individual work with the students to hone their technique and then a collaborative piece to hang in the school could be a nice idea, possibly incorporating felt, weaving, recycled materials and a bit of stitching.  Anyway, I will keep you updated about what is happening, now I need to tidy up my studio AGAIN in preparation for tomorrow’s full day beginners workshop here at Clasheen.


Experiment with plastic, awards, spiral neckpieces and production line of prefelt


Detail of plastic onion net in felt

Detail of plastic onion net in felt

Here is an image as promised of the experimental piece I felted using wool, silk, alpaca, scrim, mohair and an orange plastic onion net.  Using a typical Irish seascape for inspiration I created a wet felted piece suggesting rocky pools, frothy water, fishing nets and swirling sand.  It was great fun to do and now I am going to ask all my pupils in Leitrim to collect these nets as I really think that we can use them in some of our work for ‘Craft in the Classroom’.

I had a great evening at the Irish Blog Awards in Cork on Saturday.  It was a LONG drive up and down but well worth the effort, stylish hotel (amazingly the Cork International Airport Hotel!), the ladies tea party was a hoot and the ceremony itself great fun.  Congratulations to ‘Irish Blogger of the Year’ Suzy Byrne who’s blog Maman Poulet won the gong Best News/Current Affairs Blog as well as the top award.  You can check out all the winners in the various catagories and a big word of congratulations to Damien and all his crew who organised such a great fun event.

I was pretty tired yesterday after my 6 hours driving so decided to relax by making two more spiral neckpieces (pictures in Flickr), very relaxing!

Today it is back to the grindstone as I have a production in line up and running making prefelt to use for my first session in Leitrim this Wednesday.  I have decided that since we will be having a 2 hour ‘taster’ at the school the best way of ensuring all the pupils make a successful piece of felt in the allocated time is for them to lay out their design on a backing of prefelt, hence the production line!