The Art League Blog is taking a trip down memory lane and reposting some of our most popular resources on sharing your art online! Please enjoy this post from the vault, originally published September 11, 2015.
In our fiber arts studio, 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 guide to the fiber arts and a rundown of what’s in store this school year.
To see the full slate of fiber arts classes and workshops through the summer, click here.
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, …
- What can I take? See all our felting classes & workshops
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”
- What can I take? Check out our previous nuno workshops
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. Sprang is an old way of weaving that makes an elastic, net-like product.
- What does it make? Scarves, towels, placemats, belts, tapestries, hammocks (sprang)
- What can I take? Browse all our weaving classes & workshops
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
- What can I take? See all the options for knitting classes
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? Check out last year’s hat-making workshops and stay tuned for new opportunities!
Joomchi is handmade paper. It’s a Korean technique that’s similar to felting, and the finished paper has an attractive, textured quality.
- What does it make? Handmade decorative paper.
- What can I take? Search for joomchi workshops
This is a dyeing technique. It’s a Japanese method for resist dyeing fabric in different ways by binding, stitching, wrapping, and so forth — think tie-dyeing, but with more possibilities.
- What does it make? Your own designs on silk, cotton, or other fabrics.
- What can I take? Shibori: Tie-Dye on Steroids
That’s not all! You can also take classes in spinning (make your own yarn), rugmaking (for rugs and wall hangings), and surface design and dyeing.
To browse or search the full catalog, visit our School homepage.