Explore Fiber is a collaborative website showcasing and exploring fiber as a fine art material.
As a life long fiber artist, I knew that I wanted to bring fibers into my art classroom when I started a second career as an art educator. My personal fiber background is very diverse and includes experience in sewing, embroidery, knitting, crochet, needlepoint, basketry, wet felting, needle felting and hand weaving.
The two main fiber areas I’ve brought into my high school classroom are weaving on looms and needle felting. I have created a fiber studio through grants and donations. Because I have been involved in the state wide fiber community for many years, many of the donations have come through individual weavers and guilds from around the state of Texas. You can see the depth and breadth of the donations I have received in this Thank You video to the fiber community at large.
To learn how to weave on a loom, I start my students out on a simple Schact 15” rigid Heddle loom to make a scarf. I have lots of yarn that my weaver friends have donated to my program, so there is a wide variety of materials for them to choose from.
After they have made a scarf, they get to graduate to one of the floor looms I have set up in the fiber studio! I can’t tell you how much they love it, both boys and girls!
I also do needle felting with my 10th grade PreAP students. They have a choice of creating either a 2D or 3D project. It has been one of the top loved projects in my program. I have been amazed with some of the work they have done! I like to get feedback from my students every year about the work they make, and am especially interested in their thoughts about working with fibers. Here are their responses to questions I posed to them.
Hard Headed by Karlotte W
Question: Discuss your original design idea. How did you choose it? Were you able to execute your design successfully? Why or why not?
Karlotte’s response: Originally I was going to do a 2D piece, but you changed my mind by showing me that bear skull video. I don’t even remember why I wanted to do a skull in the first place; I think I saw a really cool drawing that inspired that idea. So, from my first plan my project changed completely, but I think for my new design I ended up making a really nice product. It took a lot of attention to detail to bring the design to it’s final form.
Evergreen Dragon by Kathie S
Question: On a scale of 1 (really hard) to 10 (really easy), please rate the needle felted art work you created and how you would rate it.
Kathie’s response: I would rate the difficulty a 7 because even though I drew it in the sketch of my piece, I thought about how I was going to put the piece all together during the making of my piece. I think my piece developed very well by imagining how the end product would look.
Never Accepted by Divya P
Question: On a scale of 1 (I hated this) to 10 (I loved this), please rate the needle felted art work you created.
Divya’s response: I would most likely give it a rating of a 9 out of 10. The reason is because sometimes I felt like giving up on the project when I couldn’t figure something out or I couldn’t get something to work a certain way, but that is where I also found it was really fun. When I did solve the problems and I figured out how to work around the project, the learning experience is what was really enjoyable. In the end it was all about having fun and exploring and that is exactly what happened.
Across the Bridge by Riya G
Question: Are the projects you have created interesting and valuable to you? Do you think other people in your generation have an interest in this?
Riya’s response: Yes, I think that they are interesting and valuable because it gives our generation a glimpse into the past history of art. This is because I used Monet’s techniques incorporated in my art work to create something unique.
Crazy by Ana L.
Question: Do you think working with fiber to make objects (whether they are “art” or “functional”) is an important material to include in an art program?
Ana’s response: Working with fiber is important. Fiber is a very important material to include in art programs. It will give students the chance to experiment with something new. Most students are just taught with the traditional materials. An art class should teach their students that art is everywhere in in everything. The students should not be limited to just working with the traditional materials.
Aurora’s woven scarf
Question: On a scale of 1 (really hard) to 10 (really easy), please rate the woven scarf you created.
Aurora’s response: I would rate this a 10. Weaving a scarf is the easiest thing. It seems complicated at the beginning but it’s very easy, even a child could do it.
Not everyone was as thrilled with the fiber projects as these students’ responses, but the majority of the students (at least 75%) ranked it in the upper ratings of 7-10. That is how I know that the work we are doing is successful, when my students create work that they are engaged in and proud of.
One last question I had was for additional comments they might have outside of the questions I asked them. Christina N replied:
I think in order to raise interest and overall use of fiber materials, it has to be exposed more, especially in the ‘art world’.
Well, Christina, that is exactly the mission of Explore Fiber!
If you have your own fiber story to share, please contact us and we will share it on the “Your Story” page of the website! We want to see more and more art educators bringing the fun of fibers into their classrooms!