A new skill that the students in Earth Art have been learning is making felted slippers. Over two weeks, each student created a pair of felted slippers. Many were surprised by the length of time, amount of manual labor, and the virtues, such as patience, persistence, and determination, required to make the slippers. Nonetheless, it is a project that the students enjoy. Even the Headmaster was drawn into the process this semester! (Photos at the bottom of the page.)
Visiting artist, Terry Arnold, who is also the mother of an alumnus, introduced the students to the craft and the activity. Terry lives on a farm where, among the other small farming enterprises such as operating a CSA and small sawmill, she raises sheep and turns the wool into various woolen goods such as mittens and felted slippers.
The process of felting the slippers begins by placing layers of cleaned and combed wool onto a tracing of a student's foot. After building up multiple layers of wool around the foot pattern, the felting process starts. The felting involves lots of manual 'felting' of the wool using hot soapy water. Gradually, as the wool is 'felted' together, it shrinks to a size that eventually fits exactly the felter's foot.
Finishing the slipper includes a leather sole, a yarn-decorated slipper hole to hold one's foot, and needle felting by hand, which adds color, design, and detail to the slipper. The end product is a warm, very comfortable, and quite beautiful, hand-made product that the students enjoy making. Sometimes, the slippers end up being offered as gifts to a friend or loved one.
Photos contributed by Jennifer Anderson, Marketing and Enrollment Associate, and Robert Eady, Earth Art Teacher.
- staff stories