I got a new title this past week- Craft Pusher. I think I’ll embrace it.
It happened when I was teaching an introductory workshop in needle felting, also known as dry felting, at the Tacony LAB. The “LAB” is a community art center in the local neighborhood where I live in Northeast Philadelphia and I work there as a coordinator as well as instructor. I had eight students around the tables shaping wool roving into small whimsical forms. None of them had ever tried needle felting before and each person was enjoying it immensely with the room experiencing periods of near silence with only the sound of poking needles.
The classes at the Tacony LAB are free and include all supplies. Introductory classes like this are a great way to try out a craft you are interested in without investing in tools and materials. In the course of the workshop, it became apparent that many of the participants wanted to continue in the new techniques they had learned.
“These free workshops are really starting to cost me.” one lady said with a laugh. “I’ll need to go buy some of these needles and the wool.”
“Tell me about it!” said another. “I took the Intro to Enameling and enjoyed it so much that I bought a kiln!”
In the course of the discussion that followed, I was labeled as a Craft Pusher. I’m happy to embrace it, as I have found it a delightful experience to bring new techniques and art forms to students who may not otherwise get the chance.
In the course of the workshop, I was busy working on an experimental piece that combined both vitreous enameling and needle felting into an eye pin or brooch.
My life has always been surrounded by craft. Tools, materials and processes have shaped my approach both as an artist and educator. It fuels my curiosity about the ways that different techniques can be used in new ways. As a jeweler, interaction with the body and wear-ability are as important as the quality of the work, but as an artist and process geek, I can not help but constantly investigate new ways of making.