Feb 20th, 2013

Needle-Felting with Botanical Subjects

Text & photos by Judy Thomas, Adult Education Instructor,  Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden


Works by CVABA members, Anne McCahill and Kay Linfberg

Works by CVABA members, Anne McCahill and Kay Linfberg

Works by CVABA members, Anne McCahill and Kay Linfberg

Works by CVABA members, Anne McCahill and Kay Linfberg

Needle felting is an old craft, but it is on the cutting edge in botanical art. I just finished teaching a session of  “Needle Felting with Botanical Subjects” in the Art in the Garden program at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden. What a fabulous class it was, with wonderful students! Below are some samples of their amazing work. The only other botanical needle felting class I have ever heard of is in Scotland, and I think this is the only such class in the United States.

In the class, we discussed tools of the trade and how to use them, felting methods and techniques, suitable wools for needle felting and some ideas about botanical subjects, composition and dimensionality. We follow some of the same rules as other visual arts in regard to composition, but color theory and use is different in needle felting than with other media. Botanical felting is less like color mixing, and more like pointillism, where colored wool fibers are laid side by side to create an illusion of a color blend.

The next confirmed class is scheduled for November. In addition, I will be demonstrating needle felting  in the Lora Robins Library in the Education and Library Complex at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden this weekend, Feb 23 and 24, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.,  so come see me.    In addition, Judith Towers will have a loom for visitors to use to try their hand at weaving with natural dyed yarn of many colors. She will also demonstrate spindle spinning — how to make yarn by hand — and how to use flowers, fruits, leaves, nuts, bark, and even mushrooms to make dye.  With Orchids Galore in the Conservatory, and  a “petal pounding” activity for children too, there will be lots to see and do.

Want to learn more about needle-felting? My students and I will also be demonstrating needle felting on April 27, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.  at the Powhatan Festival of Fiber.

Note: this post originally ran on Needlin’ Around, on Feb. 17, 2013.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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