Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Magic of Felting - Transformations

Young children learn through experiences that shape their neural development, experiences that activate their senses and build connections with, and extend, knowledge they already have. These experiences – with people, places and things – are part of the experiential curriculum we provide at our kindergarten. ‘The Magic of Felting - Transformations’ is an example of this.

At Manaia Kindergarten we often comment on how lucky we are, to be located in the vibrant community of Whangarei Heads, where the yearly Easter Art Trail is testament to the many artists and artisans who inhabit our lovely peninsula.

Recently one of our local fibre artists, Tricia Culina, generously offered to spend some time with us at the kindergarten, teaching us about ways wool can be transformed.

Haeley with her friend Natalie's lamb.
Many of our children are familiar with sheep – they are a common sight in paddocks around the community.  A year or two back, Holly’s dad arrived at the kindergarten with some sheep and his shearing gear, and gave a shearing demonstration (Blogpost Nov. 2013). We still have some of the wool from that time.
On her first day with us, Tricia guided the children in using the drum carder, and hand carders, to transform the tangled pieces of fleece into soft and fluffy wool. The tamariki needed to listen carefully to Tricia’s instructions for using the drum carder, to keep their fingers safe during the process and to know when and how hard to turn the handle. 

The hand carders required skills too:  laying the fleece in the right direction and pulling the paddles in opposite directions to comb the fleece out. The children crowded around the table, waiting for their turn. They delighted in the softness and lightness they were able to achieve with this process of carding wool, holding it against their faces and smelling the ‘sheepiness’ of it.

On her next visit Tricia brought some dyed, carded wool and taught children and teachers how to make a ‘geode’, a felted multi-coloured ball. Around a central ball of wool, the children layered their choice of colours, until they had a soft fist sized ball.
With Tricia’s help they poured hot soapy water over the ball, and then gently squeezed and squashed the ball, around and around.

As they worked the ball, they could see it getting smaller and feel it getting firmer. Tricia explained how the fibres were shrinking and becoming matted together. It required perseverance for the tamariki to reach their goal, a firm ball half the size it had started from. But there was an exciting moment waiting at the end of all that mahi.  When their ball was ready, the children watched with anticipation as Tricia used the big scissors to cut it cleanly in half. Eyes sparkled and smiles widened as the beauty of their work was revealed – every one different but every one a delight to its maker and others watching. 

We would have loved to keep those beautiful geodes at the kindergarten for all to enjoy but the children’s attachment to them was too strong.  They insisted on taking them home to show their whanau that very day - and what better reflection on their learning than to share with their families all they had found out about the magic of felting.

Many thanks to Tricia for all her time, her gentle guidance and the sharing of her expertise. We look forward to our next opportunity to learn about transforming wool with her. 

Posted by Anne  22nd November 2016


No comments: