Kay Dudek used felting processes, both wet and dry, to make the orange beads in this necklace. She added wood and metal beads for artistic effect.
What can you make with wool? If you visit Kay Dudek’s studio in Fort Collins, you might believe the answer is — just about everything.
Purses, jewelry, lampshades, hair ornaments, vessels, sculpture, toys, flowers, and art to frame and hang. Kay makes all of these plus shawls, mittens, and fabric without spinning, crocheting, knitting, or weaving.
The tiny scales along the surface of wool fibers catch on each other permanently when the fibers are rubbed together mechanically. Add a little soapy water, and the scales join even more strongly. The process is called felting — needle felting if the wool is dry, or wet felting if soap and water are used.
When Kay works at the felting process long enough, she can turn fluffy wool fibers into dense objects that have almost no give to them, like the orange beads in the necklace pictured above. Continue reading
After spring shearing reveals their faces and their long, thin necks, alpacas bear a remarkable resemblance to their relative the camel. These alpacas are grazing west of Fort Collins, on the farm of Anne and Richard Phillips. (Photo used with permission of A. Phillips)
On the west edge of Fort Collins, County Road 38E changes from one of the city’s busiest streets (Harmony Road) to what could be designated a scenic western byway. It winds around campgrounds at the south end of Horsetooth Reservoir, nestled where the plains appear to tip up in a salute to the foothills. After passing gracefully through a sprinkling of homes on the reservoir’s southwest edge, it breaks into rolling grassland interrupted occasionally by the short but rugged cliffs of grass-covered plateaus.
Eventually the road goes by the Masonville general store, where it takes the name Buckhorn Road, and soon reaches the alpaca farm of Anne and Richard Phillips. The Phillips’ flock of almost 150 alpacas can be seen grazing near the road almost any time of year. The large red barn, which looks brand new but has stood through 125 years, is used only for storing equipment, Anne told me. Alpacas become ill in enclosed spaces and do better under simple three-sided shelters.
I had met Anne at the Estes Park Wool Market last month. Her unique jackets of felted alpaca and silk had swung gently as she hung them from rods above her booth so they could be seen on all sides. She invited me to visit the farm – the home of Prairie Moon Alpacas – to see her studio and learn how she made her colorful jackets. Continue reading
Fran Bowen of Fort Collins creates bears for all occasions by felting wool. The polar bear, center, is a work in progress and will soon be dressed for the season.
Fran Bowen’s felted wool animals would bring a smile to my face any time of year. Right now, however, they’re especially fun as Fran decks them for the holiday season. Some of the bears and mice have been growing fluffy white beards, donning hats with white tassels, or trying on colorful scarves. Meanwhile, the deer are wearing Christmas ornaments around their necks, and the newest birds are looking slightly sparkly. Angels and Santa Clauses of felted wool have joined them for the season.
No matter what special occasion Fran’s bears might be celebrating throughout the year, one thing remains the same: They’re wool through and through, and so are their accessories. Continue reading