Handi-Hour Crafting: Felt Flowers

  • Public Programs Coordinator Gloria Kenyon demonstrates crafting for the next Handi Hour program at the Renwick Gallery of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

    GLORIA KENYON: I’m Gloria Kenyon, Public Programs Coordinator for the Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery, and for this Handi-Hour project, we’re going to be revisiting felting, inspired by the "Disrupting Craft: Renwick Invitational 2018" Tanya Aguiniga’s felting work that she did early on.

    We’ve done felting before, so this is just going to be a refresher for you. So I’m going to show you a couple of different things that I’ve done and the basic felting technique. This is a little bit of a landscape that I’ve created; it’s just three different colors. We’ve worked them together – you can see on the back where they’re coming together. It’s nice and flat. You can turn it into a wall hanging.

    This is our felting needle. You can use it as an individual needle. This has a plastic cylinder that covers the needles that when you put it into the unlocked position, it slides down. It has five needles. These are incredibly sharp needles. They will draw blood. If you are felting, please be careful. I do not want you to get hurt. I also sometimes find – and this is where the cylinder is really helpful – if you hold the piece up and push through this way, you can get some better felting, but then again the needle is protecting you. If you push it towards you, you can see where they are.

    This is felting wool. You can just order it, it comes in, as you can see, all these different colors. It’s really fun; it’s super soft. A lot of times, you can make really tight balls and animals. I love to do landscapes and flowers – something a little bit unexpected with wool. So we’re just gonna take this yellow, and I’ve pulled it apart and then I’m balling it back up, and it just gets kind of fuzzy. Imagine a sweater.

    So we’re just going to puncture this felting wool until it comes together, and this actually does take some time. You can see as you continue to puncture it again and again, it comes together, and it tightens up. You don’t need to watch me map this whole ball together, so we’re just going to set it aside.

    This is a Georgia O’Keeffe-inspired calla lily I worked on. Everything in this is felted, so we have our little felted stamen, our felted stem, our petals. It’s about three-fourths of the way finished. Our stem is mostly finished. You can see, though, there’s still some rough edges. You can still see the little bits and pieces of the flower. So with this, it’s a little bit different from the ball because we want it to stay pretty flat. You can just see I’m puncturing it. So we’re just going to do with this what we did with the ball. This is one where I find that holding it up and gently puncturing it makes it go a little bit faster. You can see a couple of weak places, like right here and right here, and we just pull the wool together and slowly run the needle over it repeatedly, and it’ll help fill in those gaps and holes.

    So we’re almost done with our flower. You can see it’s coming together. We’ve got a nice little highlight, we’ve got our stamen, we’ve got our stem. We just want to make sure everything’s nice and adhering together; you don’t want it coming apart. So, where there’s the joins, where the stem and the stamen all come together, I’m going to just gently puncture. You can actually see the little holes from the needles as it comes through because it’s so thick.

    So there we have our flower and its stem, our landscape. This is yet another fun felting project. For more projects like this, please check out our videos on YouTube, you can search “Handi-Hour.”
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