In recognition of American Craft Week, the Green Bank Art Center, Green Bank Gallery and Pocahontas County Arts Council provided several classes to crafters of all skills and levels.
On Saturday, fiber artist Ann Grimes taught students the art of needle felting. Each participant received a kit to make a felted owl which included enough wool to take home for a second project.
Needle felting is accomplished by using treated wool and a special needle to poke the wool into a piece of art. When making a flat design, the wool is poked into a piece of felt held stationary on a piece of foam. Once the design is complete, it is lifted off the foam and may be framed. For a three-dimensional design, the wool is poked into a ball of wool.
The wool is colored using special dyes, food coloring or even Kool-Aid.
Grimes, a Tamarack artist, became a fiber artist after years of teaching art in West Virginia public schools.
“I taught forever,” she said. “I taught in Tyler County at the high school; then I taught at Ritchie County at the high school; and then I moved to Jackson County and I taught at two elementary schools. Then we finally moved back to Wayne County where I’m from, and I taught elementary there.”
It was a favor for a friend which led Grimes to working with wool.
“A friend of mine who teaches P.E. asked me to take her mother to a spinning class and I said ‘sure,’” Grimes recalled. “I’d never done any kind of spinning, weave with wool, anything like that. Mostly, I did painting and drawing.”
At that first class, Grimes fell in love with spinning and working with wool. The instructor let Grimes take her spinning wheel home to practice. After a month, she was hooked.
“It was absolutely wonderful,” she said. “I took her spinning wheel home. I played with it. I loved it. The next month I went back and she said she was getting another wheel and let me buy the wheel I was using. I bought it, and I started taking classes at Mountain State Art and Craft Fair. That’s how I got into it.”
Grimes focuses her time on needle felting and creates two-dimensional and three-dimensional works of art with colorful wool and reclaimed sweaters.
The class at the Green Bank Art Center made three-dimensional owls which Grimes said are perfect for Christmas ornaments or to hang somewhere in the house year-round.
Friday, Cynthia Gurreri led a fused glass class and Stephanie Gasior Danz taught students to make stained glass beveled glass Christmas stars.
American Craft Week was founded in 2010 by Craft Retailers and Artists for Tomorrow (CRAFT) as a way to celebrate American crafters and the art they create. The 2015 celebration was October 2-11. Galleries, artist studios, craft festivals and museum across the country participated with sales, exhibits and classes.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org