This file is a collection of various messages having the common of teaching
others how to make felt, that I have collected from my reading of the various
internet fiber lists, although they are primarily from the feltmaker's list.
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate
topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous
information was removed. For instance, most of the message IDs were removed
to save space and remove clutter. The comments made in these messages are
not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the
information given by the individual authors. Please respect the time and
efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of
these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from
these messages, please give credit to the orignator(s).
Pat Spark, Manager of the Feltmaker's List.
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INDEX QUESTION/ANSWER TOPICS
|COMMON PROBLEMS WHEN TEACHING?
LAYING OUT THE WOOL UNEVENLY
|COMMON PROBLEMS WHEN TEACHING?
STUDENT USING WRONG FLEECE TYPE
|QUESTION: WHAT TO TEACH TO BEGINNERS?||WORKING WITH LARGE GROUPS OF KIDS: FELT IN A BAG. Here is a tutorial on this method.|
|FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS:
|FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS:
|WHAT SHOULD I CHARGE FOR TEACHING? WHAT CAN MY GROUP EXPECT TO PAY A FELTING TEACHER?|
|FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS:
MAKING FELT OVER A ROCK OR PIECE OF WOOD.
|FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS:
|Rosemary Brock's site for teaching felt balls to kids.||Ashford Company's site for teaching felting to kids.|
COMMON PROBLEMS WHEN TEACHING? LAYING
OUT THE WOOL UNEVENLY
*Carol MacLeod, 27 Oct 1996. My head is spinning. I just returned from Nova Scotia where I gave a 1 day beginners felting workshop, my first! It was encouraging to have all the 11 participants privately thank me for a great day. Many had tried to felt without success so I had to try to solve those problems too. It was a lot of fun and I got paid plenty too! Now for a question...what are the most common problems encountered when giving a class such as this? I found that those who had tried it weren't layering the wool carefully enough and so would get lots of holes in the felt, visible when held up to the light if not immediately apparent.
*Sadelle Wiltshire, 27 Oct, 1996. About layering help.... that seems to be a common problem with beginners. Perhaps the initial project could be of a dark wool, laid over a white background, so the students can better see their holes?
*Sandy Mubarak, 28 Oct, 1996. Like Sadelle's post, when I teach I use a brightly colored (robin-egg blue) rubberized nylon table cloth on each work surface to encourage my students to develop the habit of watching for thin spots while they lay out their fiber and when they begin to work it. Suggesting holding up in the sunlight as soon as it holds together also can help. Teaching is so much fun. The students learn from each others' mistakes so they progress much faster than if they had to make them all themselves. I encourage them to share their frustrations and mistakes as a learning time and we all laugh and have a great time enjoying the nurture of creativity.
*Pat Spark, 28 Oct, 1996. Teaching the folks to lay out the wool correctly, both from roving and batts is one of the things I find that I have to really watch with beginners. I try to set up situations in which both types of prepared wool are used in a class so that I can demonstrate the differences in laying out both.
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COMMON PROBLEMS WHEN TEACHING? STUDENT USING
WRONG FLEECE TYPE
*Pat Spark, 28 Oct, 1996. Another problem is that they understand the different properties of the various wool types. Even with breed names listed in the course materials list, they often bring the wrong fleece. Also, many people get in trouble at home because they don't choose the right wool for the felting job they want done.
I usually start folks I haven't worked with before with making a small test sample. (see TESTING YOUR FLEECE FOR ITS FELTING ABILITY) This allows me to introduce such things as: the various processes of the making felt (felting and fulling), the way the wool feels at various stages, how to choose fiber for felting, how felting happens, etc. It's a fast way to get them to understand a lot of data. Then I prefer to have folks make a larger flat piece before going on to 3-D. However, this isn't always possible.
Most often, I am teaching a one-day class on a certain topic. If the class is on brimmed hats, I find that they can make one even if they haven't felted before. I just have to take them through the stages slowly. So, in a 6-7 hour class, we would get the small test sample done, a lot of lecture about how and why wool felts, time to choose a hat pattern, make the template, weigh the wool, make the hat, and possibly get it blocked. I don't usually have time to do more than that with them. Plus, beginners are always very tired at the end of the day because they are using muscles they just haven't used for a while and they haven't had a chance to build them up like those of us who felt quite often.
I also spend a lot of time talking about the possible difficulties they might encounter with various types of fleece. (This is while they are working, to kind of fill in the time.) People do not usually have difficulties such as large flaps forming along the edge of the resist, the felt seams not holding together, while they are in class. I can usually catch any problems before they occur. But they need to be told the possible problems and how to fix them (both before and after they occur). Anyway, these are some of the things I try to keep in mind when teaching. Oh, another thing. Over the years, I have tried to learn to hold back some of the information from beginners. I have a lot of energy and in the old days when I tried to throw everything into a one day class, the students were just overwhelmed. This is why the specific topic classes work well for me and I think for the students as well (in the long run.)
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QUESTION: WHAT TO TEACH TO
*Jamie Fischer, 22 Oct.1999. I went and got myself in a big mess. I was telling a friend about all the wonderful things I am learning about felting. How much fun it is. How the basics are so simple and fun, but that as you go further it becomes a true art form. Anyway she asked me to teach a class to a group of ladies from our church. The class should last about 2 hours. Help! What is your opinion. The class will be in January. Would you do a pair of mittens, or would you stick to a simple piece of felt? I would really like to finish a project with them. I mostly lurk on this list. I understand that most of you are artists, and I just dabble, but I really appreciate all the information that you share.
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FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS: FLAT
*Carol MacLeod, 27 Oct. 1996. In my first class, I started them with a flat piece and by the end of the day some tried a tea cosy made with a resist....for my own sales I make tea cosies from 1 flat piece and stitch a seam because it's much much faster. I always find it hard to sell any molded pieces for the price I need to make it worthwhile (including rent of booth, meals, room and my selling time) but the flat pieces sewn together can be made fast and sell well.
*Sadelle Wilthshire, 31 Jan. 1996. I also enjoy teaching felting to kids. At another folk fest in the Capitol region of NY in June, I regularly volunteer at the Children's tent, and am known as the 'fiber person' there. <g> This year I tried an experiment - we had about 15 kids of all ages show up at 7:00 pm for a group project, and group felted a banner-sized piece on the picnic table. It worked pretty well, the older kids helped the younger.
We laid out 3 layers of wool roving pieces, overlapped, in one color, and then I let the kids decorate to their hearts' content with leftover colors on the final layer. We wet it down, soaped it up, and did the intial felting, then rolled up in screening and bamboo, and transferred it to the ground. The kids rolled and rolled and stomped, etc. In the end, we got a solid, pretty funky looking flag sized piece of felt. My main lesson is to make the decorating colors the same fiber as the rest, as some of them needed to be stitched into place a bit, but I can't complain too much as this was donated wool and the kids were happy. <g> This year I will test all my donated wool.
*Pat Spark, 22 Oct. 1999. I would stick to something simple since it's going to be your first time as a teacher and their first time as felting students. What about a small, simple flat piece of felt? They could do simple inlay, maybe hearts for Valentine's Day. The flat piece could become a hot pad, or trivit, or something useful like that. Or just be for decoration. You could pre-make the stack of criss-crossing wool layers, about 12inches square (or a circle, or.....). Then the people could just wet them down, apply their inlay designs are felt them. Use a fast felting wool so that the results will be quick. I am doing something like I describe above for a 4H leaders training meeting next week. But I have only 1 1/2 hours. I've made some pre-felts, have cut shortish lengths of fuzzy yarn (I will also have glitz, colored fleece available for inlay)and have made the 12" background stacks (merino). I will cover the tables with plastic. At each person's work space there will be a sponge, bowl of soapy water, piece of bubble wrap, small length of PVC pipe (See FELTING HINTS FROM THE FELTMAKER'S LIST for information on PVC rolling bars), felting net, 2 ties for closing the rolled up felt, (handouts with list of fiber sources, description of the process, 4H felting information, etc.), and anything else I can think of between now and then. Oh!, the tupperware lids I have them use to help speed up the felting stage. (See FELTING HINTS FROM THE FELTMAKER'S LIST for information on Tupperware Lids.)
*Nancy Langford, 26 Oct. 1999. When I talked to about doing an interesting flat piece, like I did with 160 girl scouts in the last 2 Saturdays, I did NO inlay work. I had them use 2 layers of white, then lay-out colors for the 3rd layer, such as blue for sky, green for grass, and layout a rainbow, animal, or whatever, but no inlay work. This is a great first project! (By inlay work I refer "inlay work" as something partially felted and cut-out with a scissors, as in my vests.
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WORKING WITH LARGE GROUPS OF KIDS: FELT
IN A BAG.
* Janet Reich, April 8, 2000. Here's one more for the list of projects to try out with kids: You might try flat felting in a ziplock bag--instant felt and easy for all ages. Comfortably fill a sandwich size ziplock (the sturdy ones work better than the flimsy, cheaper ones and can be re-used) with scraps of fleece, add a squirt of soap and enough water to thoroughly wet contents. Gently press air and excess water out, seal and happily mash and whap the bag until felt forms. Once felted, the piece (held to squareness by the bag) can be removed, briefly fulled on a washboard or doormat or whatever's handy, and once dry glued to a folded card or pressed into service as a dollhouse rug.
*Kristi Moore, April 8, 2000. I think for felting with children zip lock bags are the greatest. A piece of bubble wrap with the small bubbles ( I get my rolls at Wal-Mart in the packing supply isle) cut to slide into the zip lock bag. It keeps the piece flat and the design intact. Lay the wool out on the bubble wrap, then slide it dry into the bag. Pour the soapy water into the bag seal it and kneed gently. you can roll it in a mat.. press on it. Leave it lay and walk away. If you get the bags for the freezer you can put names on them. Small plastic teddy bears can be wrapped in wool layed out on the bubble wrap and put into the bag. With the bags the mess is greatly reduced, you don't have to worry about the soap bothering the skin.. and it's amazing how quickly you have felt. I have made pot holders with the pieces. Just a idea.
* Jill, Feb. 28, 2001. I have done a lot of these groups. The neatest way to do it. Is Get gallon size zip lock bags. Put a piece of batting inside bag. Then have lots of colored wool. Let the children design on the batt in the bag. When they have finished that. Add a touch of hot soapy water in bag seal. Then let them rub outside of bag till felted. You can take them home at that stage. Make sure each child's name is on the back. Sew them together. Or rinse well let dry and glue them to a piece of yardage felt . I have found out leave space between squares children like to sit on there square. What ever you do they will love. Happy felting.
*Mary Cecil, March 12, 2001. Hi to Velta and others interested in the zip-lock bag technique I used for the children's felting. The venue was a children's festival on a Sat. from 10-1. The felting was just one of several activities available. This was not a classroom setting and we had no idea how many children would be attending. I prepared bags ahead of time by putting 6-8 different colors of carded wool into small zip-lock bags. I used 2X3 inch bags, but snack or sandwich size would work. The smaller hands could cover the 2X3 bag fairly well. After the children select their bags, follow these steps:
1. Have the child hold open the bag while you squirt in some hot soapy water.
2. Holding the bag upright they gently squeeze to work the water into the wool.
3. Lay the still open bag on an absorbent towel and have them run their hand from the bottom to the opening to flatten the wool and push out the excess water.
4. Close the bag and lay it on a rubber mat. Press gently to the count of 25, turn the bag over and press gently while going through the ABCs.
5. Then press and squeeze more vigorously for several minutes until the wool is holding together well.
6. Open the bag and, with the wool remaining inside, dip in hot water then squeeze out, dip in cold water and squeeze out, then back in hot water and squeeze.
7. Add a small amount of hot soapy water and zip closed. Now they can really work it hard. Clapping in their hands, banging on the table, etc.
8. Remove the felt and rinse in hot then cold water. If they want it firmer, dip in hot water again, add soap directly to the felt, and have them work it some more.
9. Do a final hot then cold rinse, roll in a towel, then gently stretch to shape.
10. Most of the kids wanted help with the shaping. Butterflies were easy to create and if the felt ended up in two pieces, then they made double winged butterflies. I had some black chenille stems to wrap around the body and make antennae. We added yarn for hanging. Most wanted to wear theirs around their neck and then they could later cut the yarn shorter for an ornament.
From start to finish it took the children about 15 min. with my Corriedale wool. I had originally planned to have them lay out a design before placing in the bag, but when our table was mobbed we gave up that idea in a hurry. I had one person helping me, and I could have used two more.
I used a crock pot for the hot water and tested it frequently to be sure it wasn't too hot. I did the rinsing for the real little kids. I put the soap bottles in a pan of hot water on a hot plate behind us. On the plastic covered table I put a long length of that bumpy rubber drawer liner to help speed up the felting. I had lots of heavy towels handy and kid-safe scissors in case they wanted to cut a different shape. I had several items on display that I had made from the zip-lock felt -- pendant, ornament, note card design, coaster, doll house rug. The ages of the children ranged from about 12 down to some who could barely see over the table. The little ones had help from their parents. We enjoyed it and the children and parents seemed to also.
*Jill, March 14, 2001. I have done this. You take a gallon size zip loc bag. Place a batt of wool inside. Then I let the children decorate it on both side. With small pieces of colored wool. Tell them thin not globs of wool. When it just how they want it. Put a small amount of warm soapy water in bag. Help them seal bag, you'll want most of the air out of bag. Then let them rub away. Within 15 to20 minutes it should be felted. Teachers love no water on the floor. Best of luck. Jill
*Lisa, April 9, 2001. On Sunday I ran the baggie felting project at Passion Fair at our church. About 50 kids and a couple of adults made butterflies in just under an hour (they rotated through different stations at their own pace, most stayed with us for 10-15 minutes). I followed the wonderful directions posted earlier and made just a few changes. Since we were specifically looking to make butterflies, ahead of time I stitched a body (back stitch) and antennae down the middle of a six inch piece of targhee roving and then plopped it into a 5x6 zip lock baggie (it was spring break and a nice mindless activity). At the event kids got to choose bits of colors and glittery yarns to put on the wings. We followed the rest of the procedures pretty closely. I think next time kids will get to choose the pre-filled bags as some of the colors got lumped up by the little hands. The targhee wasn't the best felting wool, but it did work, and who knows, maybe the Kool-Aid dyes on the wool hampered things a bit Some of the results were pretty lumpy looking, but everyone really liked making the things. I think smaller baggies would have been even better at containing everything so the wings wouldn't spread out so much and get thin in places. Thanks again for the discussion on this, I'm having 4th grade Accelerated Readers try out the pouches that were recently discussed at the end of the month.
*Betty Kirk, March 17, 2002. Last Friday I participated in a "Meet the Artist" at an elementary school. There were 5 artists in the gym and five classes would come in every hour and 15 minutes. I talked to each group about sheep, shearing, raw fleece, clean fleece, carding, layering carded wool and the use of moisture and friction (rolling and rubbing in our case) to make felt.
Each child got a sandwich zip lock baggie of white wool batting about 3" x 5". The students were allowed to add 2 pieces of dyed wool on top (limited them to the size of a quarter for the colors.) Luckily, I had a lot of moms to help with the rest of the process. The moms poured 1/4 of a bag of water mixed with soap from prepared 2 lt bottles. The students laid the bag on the table with the open end held up and gently pat the wool to completely wet the wool. Then they held the bags over aluminum trays and poured the water out. Next they rolled the bags to finish removing the water. (We had a funnel and kept recycling the water.) After the rolling they zip locked the bags and rolled the bags on the table in all four directions. Then they could pick them up and gently rub them between their hands. At this point the moms were using markers to put the names of the students on the bags.
I finished up by telling them the bags were not to be opened until they got home (although most of the teachers were collecting them.) At home the students were to take the bag over a sink, open it, take the felt out and rinse the soap out. Then they were to take it to a parent and ask where a safe place would be to let their handmade felt dry.
I'd like to thank Suzanne Pufpaff for sharing her felting in a baggy technique or I would never have attempted this with the 450 students: 4 - 1st grades, 3 - 2nd grades, 3 - 3rd grades, and 5 - 4th grades.
*Jill Gully, Nov. 21, 2002. An alternative to the plastic bag method that allows for a little more tactile experience is to have the kids use a lipped cookie sheet. Using something like my Beginner Kit, they can lay the little bamboo mat out on the table, lay out their wool on the mat, then lift it on to the cookie tray (the ends of the mat will lap over the sides a bit). They then cover their wool with the screen, drizzle on the water and soap and rub on the surface of the screen. Once they have flipped the wool over and rubbed the second side, they can then roll it up in the screen. At this point I have them put a small hand towel or a face washer on the tray to give the rolled-up mat some grip. When they roll back and forth, much of the water will be soaked up by the towel, and the tray will contain what little extra pools around. I routinely do kids workshops this way and have little to no water to mop up. If they have small cups of water or bottles with holes drilled in the cap (or a drinking water bottle with the squirt-type cap), they can apply the water to the dry fiber without having excess running all over the place. From a time point of view, I find my merino is one of the fastest felting fibers.... and of course, the kids always love the choice of lots of bright colors!
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FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS: FELT BALLS
(SEE ALSO: MAKING
*Jill Gully 26 Oct, 1999. Following is my method for an easy way for beginners to make felt balls. In two hours, they should have time to make a ball and a small piece of flat felt. (Link to Jill Gully's web page to see her article on making felt balls.}
FELT BALLS Take a large handful of raw fleece and stuff it tightly into the
toe of a pair of old knee-highs or a portion of the leg of a pair of hose
with a knot tied at one end. Work the fleece down tightly and tie another
knot at the top of the ball of fleece to secure it in a ball shape. Dunk
it in hot water and then squirt it well with soap gel. Rub gently at first
and then with increasing pressure until fibres begin to creep through the
hose (about 5-10 minutes). Carefully cut the top knot and remove the partially
felted ball. Take your colored fiber and lay it out in three or four layers
in a piece large enough to wrap around the inner ball. Place the wet inner
ball in the center of the colored fiber. Wrap colored fiber around the ball
and carefully tuck it all back into the panty hose. Try and compact the fiber
as much as possible before tying another knot to hold it in. Again dunk the
ball in hot water, squishing gently to allow water to penetrate the entire
ball. Add more soap gel and rub between cupped palms with increasing firmness
as time goes on. When fibers or small pills of fiber begin to form on the
outside of the hose, carefully cut off the knot and peel the hose off. Be
careful not to cut into the fiber of the ball if possible. If that happens,
apply a generous amount of soap gel to the damaged part and rub gently to
smooth the surface. The hose may be partially attached to the ball, but just
pull gently to remove it. Add more soap gel to the ball and continue to rub
and roll with increasing pressure until the ball is firm and hard. Rinse
and allow to dry or put in tumble dryer with a load of clothes to dry and
harden the ball.
*Wendy Dryer 28 Oct, 1999. I have taught a few beginner felt classes now. I find the balls work better for beginners than a flat piece so we do that first. I give each student 1/2 oz of wool (pre weighed). Starting with just a bit, they wrap it around a finger and pull it off. Then the progressively take more and more and wrap it in criss cross layers around the first, getting it a little wet from a bowl of warm soapy water between each pair of students. I use an assistant to keep this water warm from a pan on a hot plate. Pour the old back in the pot, ladle some hot water out, etc. Finally I put out bits of colored wool (Jill Gully's fine merino!) for the final layer. I caution them about how it will stick to wet hands, don't expect an exact pattern, just go for color, and rub gently to get it attached. Children often end up with tabs of felt hanging off the ball. I usually just wrap a final layer of base wool around it for them to contain the odd tabs, and get a good skin on it for them, before they add the color. I keep these groups to 8 so I have time to monitor and help everyone. I have found that people with a fiber background are much faster at learning this than others, of course! Also, I use the lids of large plastic storage tubs for individual work surfaces. Each student gets a lid (18" X 30" approx). This contains the water, and many of these lids have ribs on the surface, like a washboard, which helps for fulling! Just go to your local Ames or Wal-Mart and check out the variety. I can use the tubs for storage between classes and just take off the lids for a class! It is so easy to pick up a lid full of cooled water and dump it back into the pot. When adding the color layer of merino, I encourage them to use the wet effect of the wool to artistic expression! We get some wonderful wiggly lines and odd shapes. I love the way the colors layer and show through each other. I tell everyone to use only 2 or 3 colors at the most. For balls for babies I use 1 1/2 oz. of wool. For dog balls I use 2 oz for medium size dogs (labs, Australian shepherds, etc, the 50 lb size).
In a 2 hr class, after the 1/2 oz ball we make a flat piece. Again I have the wool all measured out so each student gets the same amount. We layer and wet, crisscross layer and wet. I have found spray bottles useful for wetting the layers. Then drizzle with soap gel (or Joy or Dawn, whatever!) and rub gently. This piece usually ends up being a coaster or hot pad. Color goes just on the top. This is ONLY because most of my wool is white, (got it for free) and the color merino is expensive! I have not done any dying yet, though I bought some dye months ago! My second class is beads and the larger 1 1/2-2 oz balls. For beads we make a snake of various colors and cut it up after felting. The cut up pieces can either be left as is, squished into lentils before fulling, or rounded into little balls. They can then be made into a necklace or earrings. It's amazing what you can do with snake pieces! I planned a third class but never held it. We were going to make vessels around either a block of wood or a balloon (my favorite). Use different colors for inside and out for contrast. Cut the lid off carefully but leave a little attached for a hinge or reattach it with a bit of needling. A large bead or two can be used for a handle on the lid, or try a twig or a twist of vine.
* Dana, November 22, 2002. I recently did some felting with my nieces (ages 6 and 8). I prefelted balls in the washer - just the cores, using pantyhose. I took along dyed wool - a variety of types, most of which I didn't know what it was. I showed them how to wrap the ball cores in the colored wool and felt it - I had a squeeze bottle of soapy water and some towels on hand. It was not too messy, mostly needed the towels to get soap suds off hands and to squeeze the soap out of the balls. If you use dyed merino the felting will go pretty quick. They then have a fun thing to take home - useful as a toy or a Christmas tree ornament or a cat toy. I had actually hired my nieces to felt them for me to sell at a Christmas sale, and the older one churned them out at a pretty good clip. The younger one got bored pretty fast and didn't finish even one (she's the very-short-attention-span type). But if you prefelt the ball cores, it's a good manageable project for even very young ages. I threw the finished balls in the washer when I got home and they felted down nice and firm, but the kids can also simply rinse them well when they get home. The nice thing is they can throw them in the washer when the cat has clawed them up to a fuzz (or the baby has drooled on them).
Another option is making bracelets out of felt - roll strands of roving like a "snake", but leave the ends fuzzy to connect with each other. You can braid them, use colored wools, or string chunky beads on them. I think Chad's new book has a couple of kid projects in it, too ("Roll Snake Roll" comes to mind). Good luck! Sounds like this group would also be fun to do a rug with in the spring, when they can get outside and tramp on it with bare feet. Dana
*HS, November 22, 2002. I remember one summer that I was asked to work with fibers with a special summer program for about 100 children. The ages varied and I was to do this in the school auditorium. I just took hot water in a thermos and had a couple of runners to fill it when it got low as we felted over cookie sheets. The kids didn't do a good job in shaping the balls so we patched most of them. That is not hard, once they get a sort of round form, then they began rolling again until they all had felt balls. We had a big bucket to rinse them in to get the soap out and they all left with felt balls after we rolled them in towels to remove excess water. I used rainbow painted roving that was of many grades combined, some Merino, some Corriedale but I did a sample first to make sure it would felt quickly.
At this time of year (Christmas), I would use red and green wool to make the balls and then they could put metallic thread around the ball to add a festive touch and result in a more attractive ornament to hang on the tree. You can take a big needle with yarn threaded and sew near the top to make a hanger for the ornament, tie a knot at the top and it is ready to hang. It really doesn't take that much time when you have helpers. The helpers don't need to know anything about felting, they catch on quickly and make great runners when you need something. This is just another suggestion for felting where you have neither running water nor drain but excited children when it comes to working with felt. HS
FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS: POUCH
*Suzanne Pufpaff, Sun, 25 Mar 2001. People have asked about the pouch project I did with a group of kids. Here is the description: The felt pouch is done over a plastic resist on a tray to contain the water and mess. I found some really neat platters at a local dollar store that worked really well. They were actually deep enough to hold a whole liter of water without spilling.
Items needed. Netting cut to 2X size of tray, Tray, plastic pattern cut to fit nicely in tray, 1 litter soda bottles with holes drilled in the lids which contains about 1-2 tablespoons of soap to litter of water, wool. (The plastic resist was made from 6mm plastic you can find at any hardware store. Old shower curtains, or softener salt bags will also do the trick.)
1. Lay netting on tray so 1/2 of it is on tray and 1/2 in hanging over to be ready to lay over project.
2.Lay plastic pattern in center of tray.
3.Add three layers of wool over pattern. I like to use batting because its faster to lay out a layer of batting than shingle a layer with roving.
4. Wet down wool with water bottle. Since there are holes in the lid, it is just sprayed onto the surface.
5. Lay the net over to wet wool and gently press down.
6. Flip to other side.
7. Remove netting from this side and bring the excess wool from the other side up and around the pattern so that it is snug. The edges are also wet and this helps things stay in place.
8. Repeat steps 3 through 7. (The net is removed in step 7 only long enough to roll the edge around the pattern and add the additional wool. Then the net is put back in place. The whole project is kept in the net until the felting process is complete and it is ready to have the project cut and the resist removed. Even then I put it back in the net for the beginning of the fulling process so the wool sticks to itself and not to the hands working it.
9. Think of the pouch having 8 directions.....top, bottom, side, side (side 1)...flip and top, bottom, side, side, (side 2). The pouch needs to be rolled from all 8 directions about 35-40 times depending on the wool used. (Roll it up just on itself, without a rolling bar, but covered with net.) Before the rolling begins, the excess water is squeezed out of the item into a bucket along with any excess water in the tray. Only one squeezing is needed.
10. After all the rolling is done, the pouch is check to make sure the fibers are holding together. If they are, a slit is cut (determined by the style of pouch desired) and the plastic pattern is removed.
11. I usually have the student roll an additional 50 times across what would have been the folded edge of the project.
12. Then the pouch is just bunched up in the hand and squeezed back and forth between the two hands until fulling is completed. Usually this means about 1/3 shrinkage in size.
13. The pouch is rinsed and the students can take it home.
I did this whole process in exactly one hour with 4 groups a day for 5 days of middle school and high school students in a week and almost everyone completed a perfect pouch. I think there were about 10 that either didn't have a perfect bond on the seam or were not completely done with the fulling at the end of the hour. I think students need to be at least 10 and able to follow basic directions to do this project.
FIRST PROJECTS FOR A BEGINNING CLASS: MAKING FELT OVER A
ROCK OR PIECE OF WOOD.
North American Felter's Network: February 2000, Issue 31. Article: SIMPLE FELTING PROJECT Making Felt Over a Rock or Piece of Wood Pat Spark © 1998
1. Use wool that is easy to felt, clean and carded.
2. On the felting table, lay out 3 even layers of the wool in a shape about 3 inches bigger than your rock or wood.
3. Put a felting net over the wool and dampen it slightly with warm/soapy water. Remove the net and put the rock in the middle of the wool.
4. Fold the wool over the rock so that it is completely covered. Add more wool if there are any holes.
5. Carefully slide the wool covered rock into the toe end of a nylon. For a large rock, you can use the body end of pantyhose and tie off the legs.
6. Lower the nylon coated, fleece covered rock into a bowl of soapy water. Push against the rock to remove any air from the packet.
7. Using a twist tie, secure the end of the nylon tightly around the rock.
8. Rub all over, by hand. If your hands are not slippery, you may need to dip them into soap gel so that they are lubricated.
9. Rub 10- 20 minutes. Make sure the nylon is not sticking to the fleece.
10. Remove the nylon. Massage and rub a while longer to make sure that the felt is becoming hard.
11. Look at the felt covered rock and decide where you want to make your cut. Cut your hole and remove the rock or wood. (Or leave the rock in, see below.)
12. Finger massage the cut edge and turn the felt container inside out and work it some more if the inside is too soft.
You can leave the rock inside the felt to make a paper weight. This can make some wonderful animal paper weights. Cover the rocks with fleece and felt it in place. Then make felt balls for heads, rolls for tails, legs, etc. These can be sewn or glued onto the felt covered rocks. Embroider face, whiskers, etc. Voila, a felt zoo!
QUESTIONS: WHAT SHOULD I CHARGE FOR TEACHING?; WHAT CAN MY GROUP EXPECT TO PAY A
*Ann McElroy, Aug. 13, 2005. I have been wondering how teachers who travel charge. I would like to get someone to come teach at our guild sometime but I am thinking the cost would be prohibitive. Do you charge travel, room and board, and the cost of the class? I realize the costs would vary but could you give an approximate range of your costs. Pat went to the Yukon last year that's a huge travel expense. But I also hear some of you going overseas to teach. I am assuming you would be going to more than one place.
*Theresa May-O'Brien, Aug. 13, 2005. I do some traveling to teach. For Traveling teachers generally speaking the costs include: a. travel b. class fee (varies with size of class and number of days) c. material fee d. (often folks put the teacher up and feed them)
*Andrea Graham, Aug. 13, 2005. Sorry this does not answer your question but rather is asking a similar one! After volunteering many hours teaching to various groups, I am at the point where I am being asked "Do you teach?" at every show and opening I attend (imagine that!). I am really lost as to what to charge. Of course, instructors with a great deal of education and experience would command much more (and should) but I feel I have a fair bit to offer as an instructor. What do you charge for mileage? Rate range for half day/full day? Separate materials fee? Anyone out there have any guide lines? Sort of the same question as Ann's!
*Ann McElroy, Aug. 13, 2005.When someone from out guild teaches a class for the guild we get paid $25.00 an hour. The class fee doesn't usually include the materials fee. The guild then charges enough to cover the cost of the instructor and a small profit to keep the guild and our rented space open. The materials fee should not only cover the coast of materials but the time and gas going to get the supplies, time and effort and materials in making up the supply packages plus a reasonable profit as you are retailing the supplies not wholesaling them.
*Elizabeth Armstrong, Aug. 14, 2005. I came to teach in the States in 2000 (before the world changed) and taught at 5 different venues - My price structure was worked out as follows: A. Airfares: International and internal flights B. Daily fee for teaching - Each place I taught at was a 2 day workshop C. Accommodation: I was billeted all along the way so costs were avoided there. (This would depend on the tutor - some prefer to be put up in a hotel.)
I added up the airfares and divided them by 5 and added on the teaching fee. This was the fairest way of doing it. So each group paid the same airfare amount and teaching fee. So if you want to get a tutor in your area - from a long distance, try to get other groups in your city/town/state interested as well so that you can all share
If I go away to teach locally it is pretty much the same, if I teach within the state I charge petrol or train fare. Usually you know how many miles/km's you can get out of your car - so I would say to the organizer it will cost 1 and half tanks of fuel ie $60.00 etc. Incidentally we have 2 international teachers due in the next few months they are both teaching in a number of places across Australia.
*Chad Hagen, Aug. 14, 2005. Ahhh teaching, I've been teaching feltmaking for over 25 years and each new venue is always a surprise.
But teaching is a job/career of the felt teacher, and it includes much more than those 8 or 9 hours a day meeting and greeting eager students, demonstrating tricky felt techniques, mopping up water, praising all work, encouraging the timid, downcast and depressed, pulling the over achievers back to the class topic and providing consulting for life style changes. Opps did I mention clean-up, sweeping, washing and once this year, the requirement to wash the studio windows (I didn't).
So treat your instructors with the same care and financial rewards as you would your family doctor, were he/she to actually make house calls. For that is what we really are - the felt doctors - that introduce you and your friends to skills that will change your life, make you much happier and provide fabulous tools and ideas that will bring your whole family together over the soapy kitchen sink. And think of the workouts you receive! A whole body reconditioning that would have cost you $$$$ at the spa, and with olive oil soap, your hands will feel like they have been to see the manicurist.
And for every day I teach, I spend another entire day getting ready.
That time has to be paid for too! All that measuring out wool, chopping soap blocks, figuring out the syllabus and writing all the handouts (and Xeroxing them and stapling). ordering all supplies, ironing clothes, digging up samples, loading the car (after cleaning it out) and driving, driving, driving up hill and down dale.
But I love it, and others do too. And examples of our teaching-love is all the time and care we give to all students, young, old, and indeterminate. Look at what you leave with at the end of the day, and look back at your teacher, sprawled across a chair full of wet towels, sweat drying on her face, eyes staring blankly, and hopefully clutching an envelope that will at least cover the gas and masseuse. Her paycheck for mortgage, food, cats and credit card payments. Never enough for a retirement fund, or a night out on the town. It is our choice and our life.
So with that in mind:
yes, you pay all travel costs.
And you pay all meals while she is at your location teaching. Some places do a per diem (usually $25-50/day) which is great. Also please remember that after a long day of teaching, some of us just want to go to sleep or mindlessly stare at the TV, book, wallpaper instead of going out for a late nite pizza and beer with the entire class and friends. Hotels are fabulous as long as they are not the ones frequented by ladies of the night and truck drivers who park outside your window with the engine on all nite. Also hotels which have had a recent murder are not great choices. Where would YOU want to spend a restful night? B&B are great fun if they are close to the teaching venue and feature fabulous French or regional cooking and sheets with over 300 count sea island cotton. And maybe a cat. Staying at someone's house can be great, if the teacher has their OWN room, preferably with a TV and her own bathroom. Private bar is optional. But again remember that the teacher is not free entertainment for family and nearby friends no matter how exotic and fabulous she may be during teaching hours.
Let's see, travel, food, lodging, yes, how much to reimburse your instructor. This is a great variable, and I notice over and over that no one discloses their teaching fees. Some schools have regular set fees and no discussion. Guilds may have a regular fee also, with a higher amount if the teacher is well-known (ahem). I know a well known book maker (the craft sort) who charges $500/day and gets it. (hint, hint) But mostly the daily teaching fee for shops and guilds and groups of intelligent learners can range between...Oh heck! I really don't know. But remember that experience and skills count for extra at this point. We've paid more than our share of dues and anyone over 50 should get extra battle pay.
I'd love to talk to teachers and find out what they charge and form a feltmaking union. I have taught for $25/day in the early 80's when I didn't know a sheep from a goat and have received university pay rates of $2300/week when I finally figured out the difference. Some groups I'll charge a lot because they can afford it, some I teach for free because they are on welfare and have 15 kids each. Just think of how much your plumber costs each hour. Then re-examine your funding. And it goes without saying, I hope, that offering kittens and puppies and even first borne children in exchange for teaching is never acceptable. And to be practical, because I am, if the instructor is coming from far away, YOU organize a few more teaching venues and share the travel costs.
And more and more instructors have to supplement teaching with their private "Felt Shoppes". This is where they can make a few bucks for taxes, hopefully. The felt stores have their books, wool supplies, tools, etc. Not a lot and most of us are rather shy about the whole necessity. So please, don't ask the teacher to give a percentage of all her sales to the group. She is selling below cost anyway, and because she is desperate to gain a few dollars to feed her kitties at home, she may agree, but inside she is weeping at the thought of her darlings eating more store brand crunchies.
So I have NO idea if this helps, but I am sitting here, at 12:14 p.m. on Sunday, August 14th and I leave tomorrow to drive 11 hours to the Michigan Fiber fest and nothing is packed. And after teaching 5 classes there, I drive 14 hours to Northampton, MA to visit friends who greet me at the car door with a cocktail, and then I leave for the FELTER'S FLING of which I am VERY EXCITED, and teach there and then I drive another 18 hours home to my kitties and my house and I get to stay here a while. I forgot to mention that you should always offer your instructors Starbucks Coffee in the morning!
Opps! I almost forgot. In addition to the already sent babble about teaching, class size is very important. Ask the instructor for their max and minimum student numbers and abide by that. Depending on the subject taught, an assistant who really works with the teacher may be necessary. A few schools (where I love to teach) pay by the student which is a fabulous thing.
*Suzanne Pufpaff, Aug. 15, 2005. After about 10 years on the road as a felting teacher, I had the opportunity to open a fiber carding business that includes a teaching studio. I still love to teach, but the carding part of the business is what actually pays the bills. This gives me the opportunity to be a little more flexible with the teaching.
When I do a mill tour which includes a small felt project, I charge $7.00 per participant for up to 20 individuals. When I teach to a project of the students choice, I charge $25.00 per project. Anywhere up to 4 in the class, I can usually make something along with them which then goes into inventory and helps cover cost. (It also gives me an excuse to have felt play time.) Five or more and its more centered on just teaching. When I'm teaching in the studio, the prep is rarely more than 30 minutes and there is no travel or packing time and I get to sleep in my own bed and feed my animals. I have currently set up the mill to only be open Monday thru Thursday so it does allow me to do some weekend teaching and then its mileage and $150 per half day of teaching. If I have to pack, I won't travel anywhere if I'm not guaranteed at least a $100 plus gas funds. So even an evening lecture has to come up with at least that.
Here is what Michigan Fiber Festival pays: $150.00 per half day (3 hours of teaching) for experienced teachers. This goes down to $75.00 per half day for novice instructors. Materials fees are paid directly to the instructor by the students and the festival encourages the instructor not to charge more than $15.00 per half day of instruction. Festival pays up to $250.00 for travel expenses unless there is board approval for additional funds and provides housing and one meal a day. This is less than some events and more than others but it's a places to start.
*Marianne Dubois, Aug. 15, 2005. I have been very interested in the "how much for teaching" thread. Chad-your post was wonderful, funny and yet still full of important
considerations! Below is a rather lengthy description of how I arrive at my class pricing. I hope it helps. Until I wrote it out I hadn't really thought about how many details I cover- no wonder it has taken me so long to develop this (and it is still changing).
I have been teaching for about six years now. My fee schedule has evolved. Currently, I aim to make $20-25 an hour (which is less than my day job- and not including benefits), but my thought is that if I can't make close to that amount, I might as well stay home and use the time to create felt at my studio. I will teach for less under certain circumstances, for example, I teach for my local weaver's guild for much less because they're my buddies, I also teach at my son's school for only the cost of materials.
Currently the type of venues I teach at are: fiber-related retail businesses, galleries with an educational component, schools or colleges (to date short term continuing-ed type courses), local or regional fiber events, private clients who set up a class and provide a location, craft guilds, and my home studio. Each of these venues has different needs. Some have established fees for all teachers, some let me name my own price, some are for-profit and others are working through arts grants that pay the fees.
Some venues have lots of space and good access to water, some want me to bring all the supplies, some want to supply the wool (so I need to adjust my materials fees accordingly). I actually like it when I don't have to bring the wool for a large class (less schlepping of stuff, less figuring, weighing, and measuring), though if I was set up for retail and had lots of wool to sell, I'd be less thrilled with this arrangement.
When I talk with a new group about organizing a class, I ask what the space is like that I'll be in, what they want me to supply and what they want to supply (for example: is the materials fee included in the class costs or is it paid to me on the day of the class), and what they want for a minimum and maximum class size. I am starting to get picky about teaching in places that have room for five students, want a minimum of ten students, have one small sink and a hot plate and would like me to bring all supplies including tables! I can always decline a request if it just doesn't seem like a good teaching environment and I can't convince the organizer to improve the conditions. I want the students to have a good experience, and that can be difficult if the physical location is not right- after all they are paying the money for the class.
I provide an itemized estimate that shows the teaching fee for the hours taught, materials costs (with a list of what I'm providing), travel costs, and my "set up" or prep fee if I in fact charge that out. That way they know not only what the total amount is but how I arrive at that cost (also it helps me keep things straight on my taxes so I don't pay income tax on travel reimbursement or on materials!). If asked, I will give an estimate based on the number of students (figured out basically the same way I do my studio class costs), but I have had less call for this of late, and it isn't my preferred way of pricing.
The way I set the pricing structure when teaching at my studio: I usually charge per person, and the per person costs go down as I have more students (up to the max that my studio will hold- about 6 people depending on what I'm teaching); I figure the per-person cost depending the length of the class I'm teaching and what I want to make for that amount of time then divide that by the number of people.
I do have a materials fee, and that includes class materials and handouts. I should probably add in a bit for the work to get the materials prepped and stuff packed- I have only recently started adding a half hour to my hourly class fee computation to cover class set up and breakdown and all the prep. A half hour isn't enough but what I try to do is work with the person who is coordinating the workshop- two places I regularly teach at schedule me to teach back-to-back classes (either two in a day or on two consecutive days) so I only have to set up once for the two classes. That allows me to charge out fewer hours, and I often have less travel time.
If I am teaching within 25 miles of home, I don't usually charge mileage. Beyond that distance, I do charge the (U.S.) government rate. With gas costs going up so much, I may have to revisit not charging for up to 50 miles of driving. I also don't charge for that driving time.
If I were to teach where I needed to fly to get to the locale, I would expect to have my plane fare and other travel expenses covered (lodging, food, local transportation), but I would do whatever I could to minimize those expenses in coordination with the sponsor of the class, including teaching for multiple groups to be able to spread out the cost of the transportation. The only time I did teach far from home I was on the west coast, I stayed with relatives and treated it as a vacation so I only
charged my regular fees, with no additions for travel.
I know people who charge less for their classes, and I know that I've lost a few opportunities to teach because of what I charge. But I am now at a point where I teach just about as often as I can and still keep my family, day job, and pets happy with me! I'm very happy with how the classes are evolving, and feel that for myself I've reached a pretty good balance with having time to pursue my art and having the fun of introducing others to the fun of feltmaking. One of my main considerations is that I like to teach, and if I feel overworked and underpaid, I'll burn out. Conversely if I feel I am fairly compensated, I'll be able to keep it up for a long time.
*Jane Altobelli, Oct. 24, 2005. Suzanne: Thank you so much for setting out this fee schedule. I, too, teach and I am certain that the $250 per whole day plus mileage and kit fees that I charge turns some potential class schedulers off. I feel that this is the least I can charge because the preparation time takes FOREVER! People don't see this, but if the class is not prepared well, it sure won't go well. I recently taught my tiny needlefelted teddy at the Creative Sewing and Needlecraft Show in Toronto and I had 18 students for my half-day workshop. None of them had ever needlefelted before. If I had not gone overboard in my preparations (I even threaded the sewing needles with the black thread needed to sew on the tiny beads for the eyes and embroider the nose) that would have meant time wasted in unnecessary effort on their part. Everyone completed their teddies (at least the component parts) and only a few left with some limbs still to be attached.
*Lori Flood, August 15, 2005. I charge $30 per hour on the road teaching (plus all the other expenses that have been discussed) and a $30 materials fee per student per day. However, I only charge $20 per hour in my studio since I don't have to pack everything up. I can handle 1 -3 students in the studio and they can divide the stipend among them although each will still have the $30 materials fee. For guilds and others that I have a soft spot for, I try to make the mileage closer to the actual cost of gas - instead of the usual federal rate (gas plus vehicle wear and tear). I also try to stay with a host and I'll pretty much eat anything to keep it all on the cheaper side. I do however, usually find guilds to be the most generous when it comes to meals and drinks (good bourbon straight - if your taking notes). Our local arts center only pays $12 per hour to teachers so I arrange my own classes independent of their programs and just pay for use of a workroom. If I can find someone to organize the class, pull together the students, and collect the money, I offer them a hostess "prize" just like Avon or Pampered Chef might do. Right now I am letting the "hostess" take the class with no materials fee if they can arrange a class of 5 or more students.
*Ruth Walker, Oct. 9, 2005. In a previous post, the following was stated: "You could give out a supply list prior to the class and ask your students to bring many of the things they will need and where they can get them. That takes the pressure off you to find it all and charge the right amount to get your money back out of it."
I would like to respond to this: While it is important to send out a supply list, there is A) no guarantee that the person hosting the class will actually disperse the supply lists to the participants, and B) the participants may not be able to find what you intend for them to bring. Or C) the participants may show up saying something like this, for
example: "I didn't buy control top pantyhose because they were too inexpensive." (My reply, "Geez! I didn't ask you to buy an 8 harness loom for the class!" ... all in jest, of course.) Now I provide all the supplies and charge for them. The participants don't have to go out looking for much of anything, the host doesn't have to feel guilty about not handing out the supply list (and scrambling once everyone shows up with... nothing), and I know we'll always have the right pantyhose.
*Sue Pufpaff, Oct. 10, 2005. I have to agree with Ruth. Having been on the end of host, participant and teacher. It really is easier all around to just, as a teacher, plan on providing all the materials and supplies and not worrying about students or anyone else forgetting. And after all, one set of teaching supplies will last through many teaching experiences with limited additions needed.
*Elaine Luther, Oct. 10, 2005. As a teacher, I have the opposite problem, that I don't feel the need to have a supply list, but some art centers require them. So I have a list, where I stress that the items are all optional. I provide everything, as has been suggested here. As a student, it drives me nuts when I have to go all through my house and visit three different stores to buy strange things like 2 feet of window screen, when the teacher could have gotten it for all of us in one stop. I'd gladly pay a premium, even, to not have to run all around town.
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