30 September, 2009

This week's demo: Felting with Chad Alice Hagen

Apparently I am a bit dense for not knowing who Chad Alice Hagen was before this week. I've seen her work before, I'm sure of it; I've browsed her books at the library. And yet it took me until tonight at the demo to put two and two together, and to realize that the fiery redhead whose class projects looked amazing every time I went into her studio was the author behind Fabulous Felted Hats, Fabulous Felted Scarves, and Feltmaking (in the Weekend Crafter series), and more recognizably:
I mean, don't you feel like you've seen one of those somewhere? Maybe I'm just hanging out in all the right yarn stores.

Anyway, tonight's demo was by Chad on the topic of this particular brand of thin, lightweight felted material at which she excels. Chad's class this week ("Felt, Resist, Bead") has been churning out stunning art pieces, which they have dyed and felted themselves. Today they started adding beads to their work, one at a time, like little drops of shininess on the matte wool background.
An example piece, with twig
(Seeing those piles and piles of beads and thread and colors makes my palms feel itchy, in that ohmygod I want to make one NOW kind of way. Anyone know what I'm talking about?)

Anyway, tonight's demo focused on the "Airey Fairy Scarf," which Chad makes by first laying out the right size strips of merino roving:
Then, once it's all laid out the way she wants it (a grid-like rectangle with open cells), she wets it with a fancy German bonsai tool and beings the many steps required to coax the fibers from fluff to felt.
And finally, when the fibers have fused together and are strong enough to hold their own, the scarf is spread out and tweaked and smoothed into just the right angles.

To view these pictures and more, see the Flickr set.

Chad is hilarious, so tonight's demo really was like learning about felt and going to a comedy club at the same time. Seriously. One of the highlights was Chad making her students do a live interpretation of wool fibers and what happens when they get wet and soapy and agitated:

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