At every show we do, we try to offer a make-and-take so people can try out felting. I have the fun challenge of coming up with easy, quick ideas... and lots of them! I strive to have a different project each year, so folks can collect the "souvenir" button of the year. It's a fun way to spread the love of felting, and everyone enjoys it.
At the National Art Educator's Conference, we made acorns. Since it was St. Patty's Day, we made green ones the first day, using my hand blended Cheviot batts, which are full of color and sparkles. As I sat at the demo table in the first few minutes of the show opening, people began to wander over. Before long, there was a table of teachers laughing, felting and comparing notes on how stress-relieving this was. People strolling by peeked through masses to try and see what they were doing.
What I love about art teachers is that they are always eager to try something new. They don't hold back! At other shows, lookie loo's might gaze in at the felting. I'll lure them in and ask if they want to make a cute acorn too, and there's a 50/50 chance they'll say no thank you. But here? I barely got the words "do you want to make" out of my mouth and they were nodding enthusiastically. Didn't matter what we were making, they were in. They'd elbow in to find a little space on the table and the rest would gladly scoot a little closer so they'd fit. I'd turn to help get another person started and at the other end of the table, new recruits were getting taught by "veteran" felters almost done making their first acorn.
It's a giving spirit, and so refreshing to see. People helping people! Strangers connected by community; connected by this drive to create, to learn, to make art. What I get to see, as I am at that demo table, warms my heart and sends joy to my spirit. We laugh together, we share our stresses and the candid conversation that flows as we create together is priceless. My face hurts from all the smiling, but it's a great feeling.
That is art; in it's truest sense, art imparts beauty to the viewer. But when we participate in art, it beautifies us from the inside out. It brings out a smile that lights up our face. It lifts burdened shoulders and we radiate with strength. It refines our character and lets our joy shine through.
It might be just an acorn, but I believe it is a whole lot more than that. A person leaves with more than just an acorn. They carry that transforming beauty into the world, as they paint the canvas of their life.