Tuesday, September 29, 2015

DIY: Needle Felted Postcards

Hey there, buddies! I hope y'all are doing swimmingly. Here in lovely Tennessee, we're in that moody in-between summer/fall phase which makes is impossible to dress without being horribly under/over prepared. Don't believe me? Lemme paint y'all a visual: Today it was 80% rain/80% sunny/99.2% cloudy/chance of sweating your butt off in the sunshine/chance of freezing your butt off in the shade. It's no wonder my sinuses are causing brain swelling. Tho with a brain the size of mine, a lil swelling never hurt nuthin. There's plenty of real estate between these ears o' mine.

During one of those moody fall days this weekend, I had the wonderful, super-duper, uber-exciting opportunity to teach a workshop at Nashville's Frist Center for Visual Arts! 
That's right, this crazy art teacherin' lady got to teach adult-sized artists my fave craft: needle felting! Our creations were inspired by the Postcards of the Wiener Werstatte which translates to the Vienna Workshop. The Workshop began in the early 1900s and was a means of turning your life into a "total work of art" (sounds fab, right?). Meaning they sold everything you could ever desire as a lovely artistic creation so that your life simply permeated art. The best seller at the time? Postcards! And that's the basis of this incredible exhibit. 
My buddy Rosemary Brunton, associate educator for community engagement at the Frist, lead us through the exhibit, filling us in on the history and allowing us time to explore and sketch. When we returned to the studios, this incredible group of art teachers, fiber-arts lovers and workshop-junkies (you know who you are!) were busting with ideas for their needle felted postcards. 
That's right, we created needle felted postcards! AND mailed them (more on that shortly). We created these little 4" X 6" masterpieces to tiptoe into the fine art of needle felting. It allowed the participants to watch me give a short demo and explore the medium in anyway they wanted. It was a fun and quick-ish intro for the crew. If you wanna catch a snippet of what they learned, you can check out these videos I filmed a while back that will walk you through the needle felting basics and supplies. 
Supplies purchased from Amazon:

*  Clover needle felting tool
*  Replacement needles, fine
*  Roving, variety pack of colors
*  Cushion. I prefer the Clover brand bristle brush but you could use foam in a pinch
*  Fabric to needle felt on. YOU CAN NEEDLE FELT ON ANYTHING. Seriously. Jersey, acrylic felt, wool felt, wool, cashmere, you name it. Shoot, sometimes even your flesh but that's usually after a glass or three of wine. Which I don't recommend.
Stabby-stabby-stabby. It's seriously a stress reliever! 

Exploring on an inexpensive material like acrylic felt or muslin will allow you to really explore the medium without getting hung up on doing it "just right".
These participants did a fine job of really trying out their new craft. I love this spiral!

You can simply use roving in needle felting or you can combine it with yarn like the example on the right. I've only used wool yarn when needle felting but was told that even acrylic yarns would work.
 I love the three dimensional quality of this piece! 
 And this one! This and the one above were created by my art teacher buddies whom I've dubbed my Pensacola Friends! These lovely art teacherin' ladies drove all the way from Pensacola to attend the workshop. They were so sweet and fun, I loved having them! 
I can see this being a great exploration of the use of line and shape for older students. This piece is just so happy!
Once the postcards were complete, we wrote messages on card stock and hot glued them to the back. We popped them in the mail...but, sadly, Rosemary informed me today that they were returned to her. She was kind enough to stuff 'em all in envelopes and resend them. Lesson learned...but it was such a great idea, I thought! 
Once our practice pieces were complete, we moved on to a larger format work of art. Some participants sketched their design in chalk as I often do. I love using chalk on fabric as it "erases" pretty easily (just look at any sleeve of any sweater of mine!).
Others just dove right in with the roving like this van Gogh's Sunflowers-inspired piece.
 Did you know you can needle felt felt to felt? Did you know I can use the word felt in one sentence three times? How does that make you felt, er, feel? I love this piece...just wait til you see it complete!
 I loved everyone's unique ideas and hearing about their inspiration. We had such a happy group that loved to share ideas, thoughts, awkward youtube videos (what WAS that hand-held needle-felting tool/vibrator thing?!). 
 I love the graphic nature of this piece.
And my Pensacola Friends were all about the texture! I love the idea of "yarn painting" with needle felting. I never thought of that!

 Text-ure, baby! Love all the feels!
 Didn't I tell y'all it was amazing?!
 Did I mention that there were art teachers in the house?! This one needle felted pencils onto a pencil case that she hand embroidered. Oh! AND made that wet felted button. WHUUUUT?!
Alright, art history buffs, can you spot the artist-influence behind this tabby-cat piece? If you guessed Georges Rouault, you are correct! I love the stained glass quality of this piece.
 Look how painterly this piece turned out?! I love it!
Seriously. I could not have spent my Saturday with a more fun (funner!) bunch. Thank y'all for making my workshop such a blast to teach. And special thanks to Rosemary and the Frist for allowing me to do so! 
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  1. Wow! I so want to try needle felting after looking at this post! And the finished pieces of work are so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I want to know when you have a Nashville workshop please! I would love to learn a new art.

  3. Liliana10/01/2015

    but can we talk about your sweater tho? totes fabu!

  4. I loved this! Thanks again! ^_^

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