Tibetan Felting at Family Art Labs!

I have been hearing about how cool felting is since I began my work here at the Rubin Museum (back in September 2012).  I learned how to felt through a mini workshop with my fellow coworkers and was very inspired by their exceptionally imaginative designs.  It wasn’t until I had the opportunity to lead my own felting workshop at Saturday Family Art Labs that I realized just how cool the felting experience really was.

Weather cooperated with us this month and we had a full class.  We began with a little discussion, focusing on how the people of the Himalayas make felt.  We found out that felt comes from the wool of yaks and has many useful purposes.

After we learned a little bit about how Himalayan people make felt, we took a trip to the galleries to search for yaks and items that might be made from felt – hats, belts, blankets, and boots.  The galleries inspired families to go back to the Art Studio and create their own felted designs.

After a short demonstration of each of the steps to creating felt, the families got to art-making.  They selected from a variety of colors of wool roving, carefully separating and criss-crossing the pieces in thin layers, one on top of the other.  The interactions between the adults and children really helped to set this workshop apart from a class of exclusively adults or children.  Both the creative choices and technical details were equally shared among all.

After we layered the wool, we applied soap and added alternates of warm and cool water before rolling it into bubble wrap to begin the matting process.  To mat the wool, we rolled the bubble wrap between our hands repeatedly.  This part of the process is where all the magic happens…the more friction that is added, the better matting and the more matting, the stronger the felt.

All in all we had an amazing day and I am happy to have been able to share the art of felting with so many families.

If you want to do some felting at home, click here to watch a helpful video that uses similar techniques to those we used in our felting workshop.

I’m looking forward to April’s Family Art Lab where we’ll be making Magical Masks!

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