September through last week has been a very educational experience for both myself and a young intern. Chloe Walier approached me a few months ago with the burning desire to learn how to make felt. In our conversation she stressed she would do anything, help me apprentice/intern all in exchange for the opportunity to learn how to make felt. Now, Chloe, who is recently eighteen and a senior in high school and has gone an alternate route for her last year or so of high school education. She works, she has gotten certified as an herbalist, she will be trekking for 5 months or so with an outdoors group all working towards the completion in her HS diploma. Apparently in New Hampshire, high school students have the opportunity to have an inter/externnship count towards a course credit.
Chloe came into the studio just as I was beginning to build inventory for my Open Studio Sale in November and I was working primarily on scarves. She helped me in all aspects of felt making, as I made items, she worked along side me, or I set up and felt and she would learn how to wet felt it, or she would learn the very challenging art of creating feather weight scarves without getting thin spot holes in them! Chloe worked in the studio about 6-10 hours a week (2-3 mornings a week) Within about 2-3 weeks as we worked, she asked what I thought about being able to work with her school in getting the felting work she was doing to be accepted as one of her last needed credits. The credit was a Tech (that's technology!). She mentioned that the quilting class in the school was a tech class, so perhaps... She connected me with her guidance councilor, who gave me an outline to fashion my course work after. Once I finished that, it was Chloe's job to take it all to the principle for approval. She presented the program, brought along pieces that she had worked on in the studio, my letter of introduction (who I was and my work experiences) and the course outline. He was very impressed at the opportunity she created for herself and approved it hands down.
In between production work, we discussed, marketing, cost of supplies, selling costs of items, how she envisioned seeing herself using felt making as a means to some end somewhere along the line in her life. We even did a photo shoot of my scarves as it came closer to my event, and she was my model. We structured her final project, she wanted to make a cape. Lessons included design, garment elements, how they would work together as a group of items - a collection. and ultimately the idea of what makes a collection cohesive. We planned for the final presentation to be at the least the finished cape and the sketches for the other accessories she was picturing. If she had enough time she could make the other accessories.
Now, you say, wait a minute, you said this was all for a Tech credit? Where does technology come into play with the world's oldest natural textile? What technology is involved in making felt other than using an occasional felting needle? High School Tech is: using multi-media technology and the computer. So we decided that she would "Journal" her adventure on Facebook page. She created a second page for herself and then photographed, we also videoed some things, researched felters on-line, (as well as scoured my felting library) down-loaded images from her camera, up-loaded images to the internet, created an on-line video, created an on-line event, invited hundreds of people to show her final project, have many people respond to seeing the project....that's what the Tech part was all about!
I am sad to see her leave for her next adventure, I have cherished having her in my life and studio for the past few months, and shall be wishing her well in all of her very big adventures as she sets off into life!
I have posted a few studio shots through the past couple of months on my blog and showed a few from Chloe doing her final felt project, but posted below is her final project.
Her garment is worn by three friends and then herself, done as a photo shoot, and uploaded into a musical video of stills. All the styling and ideas are hers (perhaps with a bit of input from her friends I don't know for sure) And it is very much her personality!
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