Crafting three-dimensional art from wool

May 10, 2021

MARION — Wool, soap and elbow grease.

That’s all it takes to make felt. And under the instruction of artist Kristina Goransson at her felt workshop on May 8 — part of the Marion Art Center’s SouthCoast Spring Arts programming — participants were able to turn that felt into a three-dimensional structure.

Goransson showed a group of nine participants how to turn wool into felt, and how to turn that felt into a three-dimensional object.

First, you separate the wool and spread it on a flat surface. Next, put a cut out piece of plastic bag on top of the first wool layer (that’s what separates the layers, allowing you to create three-dimensional shapes like bowls and vases), before adding another layer on top.

Then, you douse the wool in soapy water and pat the wool flat.

Once it’s sturdy enough to move, you can start pressing it into a washboard, or, if you’re less concerned about forming an exact shape, ball and squeeze it in your hands.

The felt begins to shrink and dry, and eventually, you’ll have a piece of art in your hands.

After Goransson’s demonstration, participants in the class set out to make their own felt art.

“I think people were very ambitious,” Goransson said. “Hopefully they will try it again.”

Participants worked on bowls, vases and flower-like structures using colored wool.

While the pieces weren’t completely finished by the end of the workshop, Goransson said that once the art dries, it can be wetted and remolded again.

Donna Miguel, a participant in the workshop, said she decided to sign up because she’s new to the area, “and I’ve never actually seen this before.”

She said it was a good way to “spend some time during the pandemic that’s not actually about the pandemic.”

Another participant, Roberta Oakley, said she’s made felt using needles before, but never “wet felted” — the technique used Goransson’s worksop.

“I think I might try it at home,” she said.

Oakley said the workshop was about what she expected it to be.

“No surprises,” she said, “I just think it’s fun to do — and the results can be striking.”

The workshop was Goransson’s first since the start of the pandemic. She said felt art is a hard medium to teach online because “so much of it is about feel.”

“I’m a little rusty, but I think it went well,” she said.