Painting with Wool
My youngest daughter’s school, l’école Marc Chagall in Tel Aviv hosted an art fair and I was one of the guest artists to come in and teach several classes with the students. Parent and community artists came to the school to teach students their specialty medium; sculpture, oil painting, life drawing, photography, the art of video, intro. to classic movies, sculpting with clay, collage, painting with wool, pastel drawing, oil pastel drawing, fruit and veggie scultpures and drawing with words and music were all taught. All the student work was displayed at the end of the “studio period” in a wonderful art exhibit, hosted by the principal Phillipe Zarka.
The students were not familiar with working with wool, needle felting or painting with wool, so they were introduced to a new art medium and had the opportunity to practice their English all at the same time! I had the students “paint with wool” because I thought this technique would be easier than 3-D needle felting more suitable for a larger age-range of students. Painting with wool involves a piece of flat wool as a canvas, a felting needle and colored, coarse wool, such as shetland or New Zealand fast felting batts. I ordered my materials from this website (where I found great wool, a large variety of needles and great prices: http://www.esse.co.il/en
The first step to painting with wool was making wool canvases that the children would “paint” on. I laid out white, wool, tufts all in one direction, then a second layer on top of the first layer with the tufts of wool laid out in the opposite direction (laid out as you would in wet felting). I then needle felted the wool flat with a large handle with 10 needles. I turned the large wool canvas over and needle felted the other side, I did this several times. I applied a third layer of wool tufts and needle felted again. (You can also wet-felt a large wool canvas if you prefer) When the wool canvas was strong and “fabric-like”, I cut it into many squares for the children to “paint on”.
Once the wool is cut into squares, it is ready for the children to apply colored pieces of wool, felted into the wool with a felting needle. I taught the older grades (4th, 5th and 6th grades) as I felt they could deal with the sharp needles the best. I explained how to handle the needles and how not to break them. In all 3 classes only 2 people stuck themselves with needles, one of which was a teacher and only 1 needle was broken out of 50 students! Everyone enjoyed this craft and I look forward to teaching more students and a larger variety of grades at next years art fair.
By the way, for you needle felters out there, this is a great activity to do with your own children with your wool scraps.
Each child was supplied by a sponge (felting surface), a wool canvas, a felting needle and handfuls of many colors of wool. I showed the children how to outline with a strip of wool and I pointed out the graphic paintings compared to the watercolor looking paintings.