Teen exploration of art where wool fibres become a bowl was underway at the Alix gallery. Fibre artist Patti Cook was showing students how to colour and entangle the fibres into shapes.

“This is my love. Sculpting with fibre,” said Cook, an instructor with the Judith and Norman Alix Art Gallery teen art workshops. Wool fibres are pulled from a bundle and worked with soap and water. They become entangled or joined into a workable mass. The process is called felting. Cook likes to use wool from merino sheep as it behaves very well during felting. The felt can be coloured with a dye and items like plants, rusty nails and walnut sticks. The mass is rolled with the items inside then tied tightly and dropped in the pot of dye. The dye colour dominates the felt but the other items become colour highlights.

Brigitte Chenard is familiar with fibres as a knitter and crocheter but wanted to try the felting process. “I like making things. You can make whatever you want,” said Chenard. Felting pushes the boundaries allowing the creation of functional things like bowls or Dr. Seuss-like beings, said Cook holding up one of her creations that resembled a life from another galaxy.

The workshop also taught the teens needle felting. Specially-designed needles are pushed through the wool to bring fibres together tightly to create shapes. These shapes can be added to creations made through the soap-and-water wet felting. Student Jamieson Smith, who described herself as a sort of an artist, very much enjoyed working with the wool.

The fibres workshop is one of four organized by the gallery at no cost to participants although donations are accepted. “We want to engage youth,” said Anna Miccolis, community education coordinator for the gallery. It is part of making art accessible to everyone. Teens who enjoy the workshops will return to the gallery as adults, said Miccolis.

Teen Neil Tucker called the fibres workshop a good time and a chance for a new experience.

The workshops attracted 40 teens. Next week it will be Raw Beats when an analogue DJ will be teaching the fundamentals of using turntables as a DJ. The final workshop will be teaching silk screen printmaking. The last two workshops are full but waiting lists are being compiled by the gallery.

By Neil Bowen, Sarnia Observer
Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Original Article