ATHM educators, who are often textile artists in their own right, know how experiencing the art, history, or science of fiber artistry can enrich the community, and can enrich artists themselves as a hobby, a passion, or for some a livelihood. This drives us to bring our passion out to the community, and to draw the community in to experience what the Museum has to offer.
Providing a venue for textile arts classes is one of the most direct ways to “pass on the fun” of textile arts to the community. Skilled weavers, spinners, quilters, and felters revel here in guiding new crafters in these arts. Ultimately, students can tailor their experience to meet practical needs, like weaving tea towels to sell for income, or as a purely creative outlet. I particularly enjoy sculping small animals (very small) using needle felting techniques. I find it fascinating how easily wool congeals when poked – poke in the right spots, and you get a tiny German shepherd, or tiny border collie.
I thought of selling them, but I don’t want to part with them. They now keep me company in the nooks and crannies of my office, delighting me and my visitors. They also serve as models to inspire new felters in my workshops to copy, or better yet, develop their own creations and styles – I consider that success.
While our curators present sophisticated exhibits in our changing galleries, in the Education Dept. we have the great fortune of being able to showcase the casual fiber artists we encounter in the community – in part because we can, in our hands-on room, the Textile Learning Center (TLC). Meghan Cryan had entered an imaginative set of crocheted muppet dolls
in a 4H contest at the Bolton Fair last year, and she let us put them on display in our TLC afterward. They must have been so much fun to make – so glad she let us borrow them for a time. Children must smile when they see them while playing in that room – and very hopefully, are inspired by the potentials of creativity. It is truly a gift to know how to bring joy and wonder to others. Aren’t we lucky. Come join us.
Sue Bunker – ATHM Director of Education