Sculptural Felting workshop at Arrowmont - June 2018 by Shana Kohnstamm


It's hard to believe it's been nearly a year since my first teaching experience at Arrowmont and I'm delighted that the good folks there invited me back for next season. The class is limited to a cozy 12 students and Shannon Owen, studio assistant extraordinaire, has agreed to join me for an encore of this felting survey. Link to Workshop

June 3 - 9, 2018    Sculptural Felting Course Description:

While wet felting wool fibers has been around for thousands of years, needle-felting as an art form is mere decades old. In this class, both techniques will be employed to create solid three-dimensional objects with an emphasis on form and color. Using wire, found objects and wool itself as armature, students interested in creating dynamic sculpture will explore their own designs. Wool varieties, tools, surface design and finishing techniques will be covered. Needle-felters wanting to try wet-felting or vice versa are encouraged to attend though all skill levels are welcome. Note: Both techniques require repetitive arm & hand motion.

Flying Solo at Nashville International Airport by Shana Kohnstamm

FlyingSoloInviteFlyingSoloInvite2 You must RSVP to this show at BNA (Nashville International Airport) but if you've never been to one of these openings I highly recommend it. Being at the airport without the anxiety of switched gates, delayed flights and lugging baggage is an experience unlike any other. My work will be in a Greeter Case on the A/B side for 3 months so look for it if you're welcoming visitors to Nashville.


*Note to long-time readers: I've relabeled the section heading on my website from "Blog" to "News". If you're reading via an RSS feed this won't affect you at all, however the frequency and tone of my updates will (and truthfully, already has) changed. Since starting a morning writing practice over 6 months ago, blogging no longer serves my needs.

I will continue to update, of course. It's been an incredible year and I look forward to sharing it with you on whichever platform you use.

Art of the South 2015 & Nashville Collage Collective by Shana Kohnstamm


I have been cultivating a new habit of  journal writing in the morning instead of picking up my internet. It's a very useful practice but then I don't really feel like writing again during the day...hence the two month blog absence. Did you get my Spring newsletter???   CLICK HERE.  It included all this:

  • Aculeus" Rides Again + upcoming shows
  • Touched: A soft sculpture exhibition
  • Periscope Artist Entrepreneur Program
  • Dyeing House Gallery collaboration
  • Newest Work
  • An About Face(book)

This week Dyeing House Gallery will finally publish the long-awaited interview and they are promoting it as a "mystery", even though I've been talking about it for months now. The pieces I made for this have all received proper titles (Flocculent Succelent, Florapod, Pillowed and Santuario) and will be offered at reduced prices for charity. Being their first artist in this program came with a few hiccups though overall it's been a very worthwhile endeavor. Annalisa Chelli has been a sweetheart to work with!

"Sheebie Jeebie" is now on display at Turnip Green Creative Reuse as part of the Nashville Collage Collective show. It's so fun to see it out in the wild!

"Sheebie Jeebie"


On Friday I'll drive to Memphis for the opening of Art of the South at Hyde Gallery, Memphis College of Art. I haven't been to Memphis as an adult so this will be an adventure. Apparently, the opening will be held during a monthly Trolley Night, where all the art galleries and businesses on South Main will be open and the trolleys run for free. I decided to treat myself with a night's stay at the Peabody Hotel!

That's all for now... and keep your eyes on my Facebook page. I'm feeling like a give-away will happen soon!


Open House at GfG+S & December shows by Shana Kohnstamm

There are three art events I'm participating in this week! The first opens this Thursday in East Nashville. It is a group show at the new Red Arrow Gallery called TAKE HOME ART ((I don't know why they are yelling either... everyone wants to take art home.)) Over 35+ artists from Nashville and Joshua Tree are represented and it is, as the name implies, a cash & carry event. The 2nd show opens Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina at Artspace. That show is titled: Fine Contemporary Craft of the Southeastern US. I'm so honored to have two of my sculptures included... like gushy-happy-oh-my-they-really-like-me-kind-of-honored.

And lastly, and probably the one I'm most excited about is my own Open House on Saturday. This will run from 3pm-6pm. Perfect for those on their way to (the insanity that is) Porter Flea and before the First Saturday Art Crawl begins.


As you can see in the picture below, I have emptied my vaults (aka living room/dining room) to clear out space for new work. Most prices are reduced 30%-50%.... the older the piece is, the bigger the markdown. And since I'm practicing a very zen-like dis-attachment, prices start at $45 and nothing higher than $375*. Even for me, it's kind of ridiculous.

IMG_3852So come and TAKE HOME ART! (heh)

**Cash & check preferred.

Dubious Courage goes Zzooooooom... with pictures! by Shana Kohnstamm

The Dubious Expedition show opens a week from today, and I was fortunate enough to drop off my work in person last week. Maybe it's a good thing that I won't be there for the opening because all the previews/sneak peeks of the pieces coming in for the show are so yummy that I'd want to buy everything! Sputnik Sweetheart Anemone

"Bullula Circumfrictus" - bellyside. Wool, mica, acrylic.


The Courage Unmasked exhibit is now open at Sarratt Gallery on the Vanderbilt campus, through November 21st. Open and free for viewing. With over 50 transformed radiation masks, it is a very sobering and heartfelt show.

"Release/Reform/Renew" at Sarratt Gallery


More pictures!! Here are a few pieces that have come to completion since my last post. Although I haven't been as present in the studio (Tahiti) in the last few weeks, with travel and deadlines to get ready for, it does feel like my knowledge base is growing exponentially.


"Chrysalis 4" (back) - wool, wire and acrylic


Something strange in the garden


I've been taking Fiona Duthie's online Surface Design workshop, with loads of techniques arriving every Friday. Some of these techniques I've been using since the very beginning (like making spikes and craters) but others have really sparked my imagination (nuno inclusions!).  One of my main objectives this year was to push the "Research and Development" of materials and I think that's been a very successful endeavor.


You know those little toy cars that you pull back, creating tension and then you let them go and Zzzzoooooooooooooom?! That's kind of what I feel like right now, in an artistic sense. Here's maybe a better analogy: For the last 4 years I have been learning a new language of wool/soft sculpture. I've learned a lot of the vocabulary, discovered the nuances of dialogue, had some incredible instructors, picked up "slang" from the internet, drafted my own lexicon and started babbling. Now I'm ready to really start telling the story of my work. It's exciting and invigorating and slightly terrifying.

But first... one more workshop, and this one I've been waiting for for quite a while. I'll be studying with Lisa Klakulak starting this Monday in her home studio in Asheville, NC. As thrilled as I am to be spending quality time with Lisa (who I know from back in her Nashville days), it's the post-workshop days and weeks and months that I'm truly anticipating.. my "Go Zzzzzzzoooooom" time!

So, if you're around Asheville for the Southeastern Animal Fiber Festival, drop me a note. I'll be in workshop Monday - Wednesday and then at SAFF on Friday shopping and stocking up for some serious studio time.

How-To: An approach to 2D wool-painting (A pictorial tutorial!) by Shana Kohnstamm

"Painting with wool" is a phrase you'll see often when it comes to flat feltwork. There is a very painterly aspect to it, and in some ways it's even better than paint because the wool never dries. Placing color without commitment or pulling it up allows for a lot of creative freedom.

This blog post isn't about composition, color or content. It's all about planning, preparing, felting (wet, needle & machine), and presenting your artwork for a finished, polished product.

So let's start where most people finish: the frame!  Why do this? Flat felt often looks best when it's FLAT. Even if you have 3D elements included (see "Rise to Raise") the cleanest image will not have wrinkles. Framing also lets you hide all those fuzzy edges.

Here is an 8" x 8" frame. I've taken out the plexiglass (which I don't intend to use in my finished piece) and I'm using it to measure out how much acrylic craft felt to use. Hint: Using plain old craft felt reduces shrinkage and keeps the image from being skewed while it's being worked. For this piece, I'm adding approximately 1/2" to my total width and marking it with tailor's chalk. Taping off the edge isn't a great idea, since the tape will pull all sorts of fiber out with it later.


Next, I lay out my image... a little here...


A little there....start needle-felting the layers, adding colors and moving shapes as needed.


A little eye....keep needle-felting...


Yes, I know I skipped ahead! And yes, I know that's felting-phenom Zoe Williams!

At this point, all my color is on. I have checked my image size against the frame and it's all good. You could stop here, but I take it to my trusty felting-machine.


A felting machine is nothing more than 5 needles and a pedal for speed. It only goes up & down, so you will not get any nuance, which is why I use it after I'm sure there is nothing more I want to add to the piece.  It pushes the wool through the acrylic felt VERY VERY fast, so you really have to pay attention. Otherwise your image might be punched through to the back in no time.


Close up of the machine-felting. The right side has been worked well after just one pass. The left side looks very fluffy still.  So why use the machine at all? It's an enormous time saver. Thousands of uniform pokes in a matter of minutes.


Of course you could stop here, but the machine has left a very distinct uniform poked pattern and so I take it even further and wet-felt to get rid of all those holes.


Wet-felt with olive oil soap gel. Shana's hint: make your own soap gel. It's easy! You might get a little more shrinkage, believe it or not. Rinse with hot water then cold water. Gently roll it up in a towel & squeeze. Then let it air dry overnight.


Close-up of the needle-machine-wet-felted image. So smooooooooooth!


Adhesive backed foam-core is your friend! Cut a piece just slightly smaller than the plexiglass, since your felt will wrap around it and add to the dimension. Rusty razor blades are not your friend. Shana's hint: When cutting foam-core, make a shallow cut first to 'break' the paper skin, then go deeper. Remember to always use a cutting mat underneath and a clean sharp blade for best results.


Felt on adhesive backed foam-core is forgiving, so don't worry if you don't get it placed correctly right away. When it looks right, check it in the frame to make sure the placement is exactly where you want it before you press hard & start taping the edges down.


Tape 2 edges down with artist's tape. Masking tape will work, too. Avoid duct tape, scotch tape, double-sided tape, and the like. I have a tape fetish, but that's for another post.


Unless you're really good at making hospital bed corners, or origami swans, you're probably going to want to cut off the corners to make the foamcored-felt fit in your frame. And yes, you could cut them off before you tape the first two edges but I want to make sure I'm not removing any material that might leave a hole in the front.


Tape all around. Shana's hint: Putting the tape on the felt first and stretching it to the foam core will give you more control. Shana's secret power: Every time I tear a small piece of tape, it looks like the state of Tennessee.


Pop it in the frame, add the frame back and VOILA!!


A clean professional finish to your felted artwork!

I hope this was useful. You may also enjoy my post on 12 Inexpensive Felting Studio Tools. If you have thoughts on more step-by-step tutorials you'd like to see me cover, please let me know.

And if you like this blog, please add it to your reader and/or sign up for my seasonal newsletter here.

Twelve inexpensive felt studio tools by Shana Kohnstamm

I regularly find myself on the look-out for items that can be used in the studio, that aren't necessarily intended for studio use. While I don't mind spending more on quality materials, sometimes my most useful tools came to me free or for under $10. Thrift stores, discount stores, hardware stores and yard sales are often a treasure trove of ideas.

For agitation, I was tickled to find this pet food tray. Not only is it a great surface for wet felting smaller objects, but it can be used as a washboard. Same with the soap dish (Thank you, Dollar Store!). It bends easy to go around smooth rounded surfaces. The exercise ball is heavier than it looks. I use it for fulling only.

Ribbed surface (pet food tray), exercise ball, soap dish
Ribbed surface (pet food tray), exercise ball, soap dish

I don't often need to blend my own colored wool, so spending $60-$100 on carders simply didn't make sense. So, when I saw these grooming brushes at my local pet store for $4 a piece, I couldn't resist. Perfect for rolags and small batches. The pink shiny fingerguards have saved my little fingertips more often than I'd like to admit. I've only seen them offered by FiberInfusion on Etsy. Eyebrow & bikini razors are fabulous for shaving finished pieces.

"Blenders", small razors, finger protectors
"Blenders", small razors, finger protectors

One of my favorite "cheap" tools is this salad spinner from a store that rhymes with Shmig Shmots. For quick drying pre-felts or smaller objects that simply won't towel dry easily.  The shelf liner is ribbed and make for a great alternative to bubble wrap.

Salad spinner, ribbed shelf liner
Salad spinner, ribbed shelf liner

I can't tell you how often I use tulle in my practice. It's great for laying out delicate designs. It's great bundled up as a 'scrubber', although it creates a lot of soap foam. Most importantly, its fabulous for blocking (shaping wet wool.) A friend of mine gave me oodles of tulle leftover from her fabric stores. The smaller the weave the better, but even the larger stiffer tulle can be useful in stuffing & shaping a vessel.


Speaking of shaping, binder clips are a great tool for creasing/pinching felt. I have them in all sizes.  Foam-covered wire comes in handy for stabilizing and hanging wet felt. Some are from New England Felting Supply & some from a leftover kid's toy called Toobers & Zots.

Binder clips, Foam-padded wire, hanger clips, rubber bands
Binder clips, Foam-padded wire, hanger clips, rubber bands

Workspace ergonomics is essential for good studio health. I grabbed some inexpensive PVC pipe and a hacksaw to raise my wet table to a comfortable height. And the padded flooring was the best $15 investment! Before finding it in my price range (Costco), a doubled-up yoga mat worked well for standing on for long periods.

PVC table riser, padded flooring
PVC table riser, padded flooring

I think that was more than twelve, but I hope this has been helpful for both newbies and experienced felters & crafters alike. Did I miss anything? What are your favorite non-traditional tools? Please share!