Crafting A Remedy For Troubled Times

Categories: Craft, Visual Arts

Felt Alive_560.jpg
Courtesy of Kay Petal,
These woolen celebrities were created by master needle-felter, Kay Petal, and more can be seen on her website,
Currently on view at Lawndale Arts Center is Tobiah Mundt's "Being." At first glance, you might wonder what these whimsical and menacing figures are constructed from. Some have limbs and bulbous bodies, others are literally bursting out of frames. Our favorite creature is happily chomping on Cheetos, some of which are strewn across his potbelly.

Mundt's pieces are created through the process of sculptural needle felting, in which raw wool can be formed and shaped using a large barb. This is far from an original invention. Needle felting kits, tips and techniques can be found all over the internet and in your local craft store. Odds are your grandma or reclusive aunt dabbled in this art form decades ago.

Putting a new twist on the favored craft form, we attended the "Monstering" workshop recently, led by the artist herself, where we got the chance to make our own monsters.
Admittedly, we were foremost drawn to the class by the sub header on the website, "No sewing and stuffing, just stabbing and poking." Who doesn't love stabbing and poking?

As advertised, the workshop involved plenty of stabbing and poking, and, unfortunately, many times our own fingers were casualties of the process. The 34-gauge needle is not forgiving.

Kaylan Tannahill
Making our creations at Tobiah Mundt's workshop at Lawndale Arts Center.
But within minutes we were rolling and tacking on big woolly clumps of color like old pros. Our fluffy orbs began to reveal gaping mouths and sprouted twisting teeth and horns. Here we sat, within a class of predominately middle-aged women, making the most sinister things out of wool you've ever seen.

Kaylan Tannahill
One example of a malleable monster.
In the end, there was something therapeutic in all the repetitive piercing, and we felt a little less stressed at the end of the class. If the entire nation adopted needle felting as a remedy for these pressure-filled economic times, our country would look like "The Trouble with Tribbles" episode of Star Trek.

Kaylan Tannahill
Finished beasts

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