May 13, 2008

Two Wild Weekends in a Row!

What constitutes a "wild weekend" for The Treadler? Mass quantities of fiber, lots of people, and experimentation going on everywhere.

On May 3rd I was invited to host a station at the Duluth Art Institute's Family Day. I'm guessing there were 100 kids and parents there. Those in attendance got to throw their own pots on a potter's wheel, meet a local children's book illustrator, paint, sculpt and (at my station) needle felt for the first time.

Dry felting involves a very sharp, barbed and brittle needle that is over 4 inches long. The mother in me was extremely nervous, "Please watch your fingers while you're stabbing...Stop a minute, You have the needle upside-down..." I must have said those two statements about 1000 times. But, the child in me was enthralled with the creativity that went on relentlessly for over 3 hours. I saw everything from rainbows to rat necklaces created before my very eyes. No one was hurt, the adventure was fascinating and fun and, my nervous twitch has completely subsided.

This last weekend I went to the Shepherd's Harvest Sheep and Wool Festival. I'm guessing there were about 5,000 people there. This adventure is near the Twin Cities in Minnesota, about 2 hours drive from my own stomping grounds, a great chance to get aquainted with fiber addicts I haven't met before.

As a hand spinner I participated in the "Fiber Sandwich" fund raiser to benefit Heifer International. A fiber sandwich is a pot luck layering of all kinds of wool and fibers layered "hoagie-style" on a very large table. All the fibers were donated by various shepherd's and vendors at the festival. Each hand spinner was given 4 oz. of the sandwich to spin into yarn that was then sold in a silent auction format with the proceeds to buy farm animals for people in developing countries. It was a success on many different levels. And, the hosting guild invited me to their weekend retreat next January where I'll share a fringing technique with them and get to participate in their other class offerings.

I also met a doll maker, Oddest Goddess, with an unusual and fascinating style. She had a nice body of work at the Festival and I enjoyed talking with her and viewing her wonderful dolls. I've added her link to my list if you'd like to take a peek.

On the dark side, I couldn't find a blending hackle anywhere. The search goes on for that. Also, I increased my fiber stash (something I vowed not to do) leaving my husband to mutter, "What fresh hell is this?" as I unpacked from my travels. He'll soon come to appreciate my new vast array of silky, colorful bamboo fibers. Did you know that commercially dyed bamboo spinning fibers cannot go through the commercial drying process? They catch on fire. Processors have discontinued dying them because they require an additional step of air drying. I have the last of some most beautiful "rovings" in absolutely stunning colors for my future doll work. Bamboo spins a lot like silk. It looks much like silk. It feels a bit like corn starch as you spin it. I think it's fantastic.

I'll soon be posting a picture of my "Insect Whisperer", (a little gnome-like man riding a grasshopper). These needle felted dolls were awarded 1st prize at the festival. I'm going to bask in the glow of that for a little while before selling "Claude & Hopper" on ebay.