Now that our extended summer in Alexandria seems to have ended, you’re no doubt looking for ways to warm up. We don’t recommend cozying up to our ceramics kiln or an acetylene torch, but our classrooms do have a safe source of renewable energy: your creative spark!
One way to get your art on this winter is to visit our fiber arts studio, where you can weave, felt, knit, dye, and hook your own wardrobe from head to toe. With classes including spinning and dyeing, you can learn about pretty much any part of the process, except for shearing the sheep. If functional art isn’t your style, you can also make fine art to hang on your wall. Class topics range from traditional to contemporary, and there are plenty of entry points for the complete beginner!
Our fiber arts department draws on a wide variety of traditions and cultures — not to mention a few thousand years of history — so there are lots of different terms in our class catalog that you might not recognize.
Here’s a quick and dirty guide to the fiber arts and a rundown of what’s in store this Winter.
Everybody knows what felt looks like and feels like, but what is it? Basically, you take a bunch of loose fibers (roving) and tangle them up so they make a solid piece of fabric — either using hot soapy water and friction (wet felting) or a notched needle (needle felting). There’s a new method, nuno, below.
What does it make? Let’s see: flowers, slippers, sculptures, clothes, accessories, houses, …
Nuno felting was invented in the 1990s and exploded in popularity shortly thereafter. It involves felting a small amount of fibers onto some other fabric — silk, say — for a lightweight, flexible product with a distinctly textured surface.
What does it make? Clothes and accessories with “drape”
Weaving brings together multiple yarns, using a floor loom (like in this video), a card loom, an inkle loom, a frame loom, or any number of other ways. The warp thread runs the length of the fabric, and the weft thread runs back and forth across it. There are countless types of weaving — see the catalog for a rough idea.
Tapestry is “weft-faced weave,” which means only the weft yarns are visible: perfect for weaving pictures. Our tapestry instructor teaches Gobelin techniques in a contemporary style. And a sprang workshop was recently added to our catalog. It’s an old way of weaving that makes an elastic, net-like product.
What does it make? Scarves, towels, placemats, belts, tapestries, hammocks (sprang)
In contrast to weaving’s multiple threads, knitting uses one long yarn, looped on itself to build a fabric. (The word comes from “knot.”) Where woven fabric is stretchy on the diagonal, knits are stretchy along their length. This is also a good place to note that knitting and weaving aren’t necessarily limited to the fiber arts — check out knitted glass and woven photographs.
What does it make? Clothes, accessories, yarn bombs
Millinery’s a word that just means hat-making. Someone who makes hats is a milliner. Naturally, hats can incorporate many different materials, like felt or straw, and even non-fiber materials like feathers. Fascinators are small headpieces that are attached with a clip, comb, or something similar. Hat blocks are carved forms that a hat is shaped on.
What does it make? Hats!
What can I take? Currently, there are no millinery workshops scheduled.
Did you know: The Art League's Art Camp is the longest running visual arts camp in the area! We've been here for more than 30 years! While sadly we can't find any photos from the '80s (please let us know if you have any lying around), let's take a look back at the last several years of burgeoning kid artists and eight years of fun at Art Camp!
Summer is the time to get your feet wet and try something new! So sit dive in to a new class or workshop....color, or collages, or even Japanese papermaking! With 135 classes, 51 workshops and 102 art camps...there's something for everyone!
From textile work, to cherry blossom chasing, to capturing your favorite blooms in watercolor—The Art League has you covered. What's your Spring "thing"?
Did you know?
You can support The Art League every time you shop through AmazonSmile!
Simply set The Art League as your chosen charity, and every time you shop at smile.amazon.com, a portion of your purchase will be donated to support our mission to share the experience of visual arts with the community.