I taught a brand new class this last fall at the Illinois Art Educator's Conference titled "Think Big- Fiber Art Installations". Turns out it was a big hit! We had about 20 teachers in the class and what a team-building experience it was!
I divided the group into three. Each group had a station. They were given about 10 minutes at each station, then rotated. One station was creating the background, laying wisps of merino wool on the silk gauze background. Another station made prefelts- merino wool that is wet felted only enough to hold up as a fabric, but still fuzzy enough to attach to the base. These were to be made into circles. The last station created a large sphere of colors with fun bits of sparkles, bamboo and yarn incorporated in.
When we got all the components made, we arranged it together on the background. The entire design, along with colors and shapes, was decided by the group on the spot. I provided expertise and supplies, the rest was them!
Then it got messy. In a fun kind of way. Water. Soap. Bubble wrap. You can guess what happened next. Laughter ensued. Sleeves got rolled up. We rubba-dubbed and splish-splashed our way through the wet felting process of fusing the fibers to the silk fabric base. Nuno felting as it is called, it makes a splendid fabric that is lightweight yet solid. It is the technique I use for all my art wearables. This time, we were using it to make a large 4' x 7' wall hanging.
We were so giddy from the fun and creativity, that the rolling process went by quickly. Before long, the fibers were fused and we has a wonderful piece of art. Oooos and ahhhhs were exchanged among the group. We decided such a fabulous piece could only have one purpose: to become a donation back to the organization.
Well, as happenstance would have it, I saw the President and Vice President of IAEA a few weeks before the National Conference, and I casually mentioned that we wanted to give the piece to them. They were ecstatic, as they were looking for something really eye catching for their display and raffle at the National Art Educator's Conference.
So how about that for the right time and place? Our art got to not only touch the 20 teachers who created it, but thousands of teachers who saw it at the NAEA conference. A noble cause I'd say! Giving back always results in something more in return. Generosity has a way of sowing sparingly the seeds to reap a bountiful harvest!